While many people take umbrage with this show for being too disjointed with too high a turnover for a TV show, it’s my contention that “Three’s Company,” is the best show from the 1980’s. Like the transition to a good, stiff work shirt from a fast food uniform, Three’s Company really took physical comedy and stepped it up a notch; like Pac-Man in its many formations, Three’s Comedy really took its roots in the 1970’s and kept much of what worked about that time and made it their own. Jack, Janet, Chrissy, Mr. and Mrs. Roper, Mr. Furley, and Larry each fit in to their excellent roles and made Three’s Company one of the best TV show’s of all time; surely the best TV show of the 1980’s.
Three’s Company was the story of one guy, Jack Tripper, and his two roommates Janet and Chrissy. Jack and Janet were always there; Chrissy became Cindi (who was Chrissy’s sister) then Terri. Jack had a friend Larry who they would go out together and try to pick up ladies at their local watering hole; “The Regal Beagle” and they were seemingly always, ultimately rebuffed. The trio of Jack, Janet, and Chrissy share a two bedroom residence and also share a landlord. At first the landlords were the flakey Mrs. Roper and the mellow but easily agitated Mr. Roper. Then Mr. Roper became the very funny Mr. Furley, played to a T by the hilarious Don Knots.
In Three’s Company there are many things which were done that were summarily repeated in a variety of ways. The set and the whole show came out in the late 1970’s and was very low budget 1970’s with fake looking walls, simple dressings, and the two female roommates slept in twin beds. However look again and you’ll see the earliest fragments of what great sitcoms would follow. The Regal Beagle is an early descendant of “Cheers;” the screwy roommate scenario was replaced along gender lines in “Friends;” some could even argue that The Regal Beagle was an early incarnation of Central Perk. Moreover Jack’s character was a chef and was similarly controlling to Friend’s Monica. Mrs. Roper cast the mold for Phoebe; the roles of Larry and Joey were interchangeable as well. To say nothing of Seinfeld. Don Knots antics as Mr. Furley certainly influenced one Cosmo Kramer; just look at the physicality and the verve at which both actors go about their tasks and you’ll see it. Moreover the fact that Jack Tripper was an endless player living in relative asexuality with two beautiful women speaks largely to the template that Jerry Seinfeld would go on to fill and his relationship with Elaine. The fact that Larry is an up-again, down-again best friend who always seems to manage to land on his feet is also a comfortable shoe for George Costanza on Seinfeld.
There are scores more examples; the awesome theme song, the fun dress which held on to the 1970’s fashion as quickly as it would later abandon it, the way each of these actors seemed to reach down for that little something extra; earns Three’s Company with my vote for the best TV show of the 1980’s.