Good television is still out there, you just have to look carefully for it. Land on the major networks at prime time and you’ll find your average American entangled in some controversy they have to get helped out of – badly behaved children, silly marriages, broken down homes, poverty, unhappiness – you name it, there’s a reality show for it. Why this trend? We don’t need to go there again, do we? We are, or should be, in the seventh stage of grief: “acceptance and hope.” That’s a nice way of saying “failure and resignation.”
All is not lost, however. Starting March 17 at 8 p.m., TV Land is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the funniest ménage a trios ever to hit network television. That’s right, Three’s Company will be back on the air for a marathon of every single episode. It will include the pilot episode and also showcase episodes from the hit series’ spin-offs, The Ropers and Three’s a Crowd.
Honestly, can you think of a better way to spend your weekend than watching Jack, Chrissy and Janet insult each other and gang up on each other and make suggestive, and at times even lewd, innuendoes to each other?
The only drag about watching the Three’s Company marathon will be the revolving blondes brought in to replace Chrissie. There was no replacing Chrissie. Die-hard fans know this to be true. Just like die-hard fans know there was really no replacing Farrah despite valiant efforts by Cheryl Ladd, Shelly Hack and Tonya Roberts. Likewise, Priscilla Barnes and Jenilee Harrison were real troopers but somehow, the magic was just plain gone.
Of all of them, Suzanne Somers remained in the public eye, achieving some notoriety for the infamous Thigh Master. She really never went away and brought her Chrissy charm into the infomercial realm. Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet, worked a few times after the show, but was never in anything that popular again.
As for Jack (John Ritter), before his untimely death the actor worked steadily, even reinventing himself as a serious actor in films like Sling Blade. He was never as funny as he was when he played Jack Tripper.
Despite your best efforts to control yourself or face a lifetime of shame, you will probably laugh all the way through the Three’s Company reruns. Some television shows that were funny once never stop being funny.
It’s hard to believe 30 years have passed since that show aired. It reminds me that when I was a kid I watched the I Love Lucy and Honeymooners reruns, then 30 years after my mother and father were young and watched them for the first time. Of course, there are no critics to jump up and defend Three’s Company. They hated it as much as the American people loved it. It sat atop the ratings for most of its stay.
Three’s Company, as silly as it was, is part of our collective television past in a way reality programs never will be; they exist today and will never be watched again. They won’t be enjoyed by future generations because there is no there there.
They will bookmark a time in our history when audiences wanted to see “real people” doing “real things.” Three’s Company bookmarks a time when audiences wanted to see two girls and a guy dance around the obvious sex jokes. Perhaps it takes 30 years to finally forgive the show for not being more than it was.