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HTF REVIEW: Three's Company - Season One



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#1 of 4 Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

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Posted December 29 2003 - 06:13 PM

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THREE’S COMPANY
Season One







Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Year: 1977

U.S. Rating: Not Rated
Canadian Rating: Not Rated

Film Length: 146 minutes
Genre: Comedy Television Series

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles: none
Closed Captioned: Yes

SLP: US$19.99




Release Date: NOW


Proceeds from the sale of the DVD are donated to a charity very close to John Ritter, United Cerebral Palsy.


I’m not even going to attempt to sing the theme song of this title as an opening statement to this review. Everyone knows it already, and if you don’t, then you’ve been missing out on one of the most loved sitcoms of the late ‘70s and early eighties. Even if you missed it then, you still had an opportunity to catch it on the many re-runs over the years. Did I still hear you say you never seen this show? Ok, well then at least you have that opportunity now on DVD!

With the increasing popularity of television shows on DVD (who would have ever thought??!!), Anchor Bay Entertainment has responded to the high consumer and retailer demand for Three’s Company on DVD. As of November 11th, the first six episodes including the pilot have been available and bring Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and the Ropers to your living room.

This sitcom was born from a British comedy series called Man About The House. After its concept, it took a year and three pilots later to eventually air the series on ABC after being turned down by all other studios. Interestingly enough, Joyce DeWitt and Susanne Somers were not originally cast in their roles of Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow. Joyce got the role immediately after the recast and Suzanne got the role after two other actresses failed to fit the character envisioned. John Ritter was always Jack Tripper – the girl crazy guy from the YMCA. He fits this role so perfectly.

Even for it’s time, this TV show is full of sexual innuendos and is pretty provocative. No wonder I never liked this show when I was a little kid – this show’s dialogue was completely over my head and thus found it boring in comparison to all of those cartoons I watched and Family Ties(!). Watching it now, I think this is one of the funniest sitcoms I’ve ever seen! John Ritter offers a down to earth character that is of the typical male when females are around. His acting is dead on believable that makes no wonder of why they kept during the recasting of the other characters. Joyce and Suzanne offer charming roles as the girls looking for a roommate. Chrissy’s ditziness adds to the corniest jokes of all time – but it’s a loveable corniness that makes you want to laugh off your seat. Add in the sexually frustrated Ropers (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) and we’ve got a beloved sitcom…and beloved it was by many.

The six episodes presented here is the first season. It’s a short season only because it was launched as a spring replacement. The episodes are as follows:

A Man About The House
Jack is found asleep in the bathtub in Janet and Chrissy’s apartment the morning following a party thrown for the girls’ parting roommate. They decide to take Jack in as a roommate after they learn he is studying to be a chef. All they have to do is convince the landlords (Stanley and Helen Roper) to let him stay and their solution lies in a very gay way.

And Mother Makes Four
Chrissy learns that her mother is coming to visit her while Jack in moving in. Because her father is a minister and the family is strict on the “no boys” rule, Chrissy panics and convinces Jack to have dinner at a local pub during her mother’s visitation hours. Things get complicated as her mother decides to spend the night.

Roper’s Niece
It’s Janet’s birthday and Jack and Chrissy are preparing a ‘surprise’ party for her. But the Ropers have their niece Karen visiting and Mrs. Roper insists that Jack takes her out for a good time on Mr. Roper’s money. After seeing Karen, Jack has an eye for her and willingly accepts. He misses Janet’s birthday, and on top of it all is found kissing Karen. Karen later admits she jumped on him and Jack is in the clear with the girls after he presents a gift to Janet bought with Roper’s money.

No Children, No Dogs
Jack brings a puppy home but is told to lose it because there are no dogs allowed. After failing to get rid of it, Chrissy has an idea when Mrs. Roper mentioned her husband forgot about their 20th wedding anniversary.

Jack The Giant Killer
At the local pub, Jack’s manhood falls to a low when he fails to stand up to a bully who was rude to Chrissy. The situation becomes even more embarrassing once the Ropers walk in. Irritated from a toothache, he is determined to go back and put the bully in his place after he thought he acted too cowardly.

It’s Only Money
After fearing a burglar has stolen their rent money, the three roommates try to avoid their landlord. While they are trying to get a loan, Mrs. Roper convinces her husband to invite them out for dinner.


Video Quality? Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I was disappointed with the quality of this presentation. The 1.33:1 television show definitely shows its age. This release seems to be sourced from composite tapes and it clearly shows – there are occasional dropouts and moiré is visible on finer details. The overall look is dull, and No Children, No Dogs is the worst looking of all of them looking very washed out with no trace of defined blacks. The dark scenes show the tape quality limitation, as there is faint wavering noise present. Colours are muted throughout the series and never a hint of oversaturation is present. On occasion, flesh tones can appear a little pink or sometimes a little orange, but for the most part it is consistently natural looking. Resolution falls to the soft side. While a naturally sharp presentation with no bothersome edge enhancement, the source is without fine detail that could have been obtained from film. It is possible this release could have been rushed to the market after the passing of John Ritter or the original elements might not be in that great of shape (or missing). In any case, this release’s picture quality is mediocre at best.


Audio Quality? Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack adequately delivers a clean sound to the room. While not a full range presentation (not expected), the witty dialogue is always clear and you shouldn’t miss a creek of laughter from the audience. I can’t see this being any better other than with uncompressed PCM.


Special Features? Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Nope, not really. There is just an insert with pictures of the cast and a little tidbit of the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation that John Ritter supported. Oddly enough, the pictures inside the insert (and even on the case cover) are pictures taken from later on in the years of the show. None of them seem to be a collection of photographs from the first season. A little collage of pictures from the first season would have been well suited for the insert.

I think it would have been interesting to have clips (or the whole episode) from the original two pilots before the third one that we’ve seen here. These pilots would include the other actresses as Janet and Chrissy. Also the inclusion of audition tapes (if any) of the other two girls who tried before Somers would be a great too. What it would take to get this to disc is beyond me, but nevertheless these would be excellent features.

There are no DVD-ROM features available either.


Thoughts…

I can fully appreciate the comedy of Three’s Company for it’s likely scenarios and plain fun humour. I highly recommend anyone to pick up this release for content’s sake. Despite the mediocre picture, this is a must own disc for lovers of this show because it is unlikely this will ever be re-released anytime soon. Hopefully Season Two will look much better, as I can’t wait for it to show up sometime around the end of the first quarter of 2004.


03.12.29
Michael Osadciw

Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
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#2 of 4 Beast

Beast

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Posted December 29 2003 - 09:41 PM

Season 2 shoudl look a lot better. Since Season 2 is supposed to have quite a few extras. This release was rushed out, without the extras that were originally planned to honor John Ritter's passing.
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#3 of 4 David Lambert

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Posted December 29 2003 - 10:40 PM

Quote:
This release was rushed out, without the extras that were originally planned to honor John Ritter's passing.


Be careful.

There were NEVER plans to have extras on this release "to honor John Ritter's passing". John died the week prior to his scheduled time to begin recording supplements with Anchor Bay that would be used on this release. The vast majority of the supplements were focusing on him: interviews, possibly a commentary track, etc. I had this info prior to his passing, but had been asked not to make it public because anything could change. And change it did, in the worst possible way! Posted Image

With his death immediately before the time planned to record the supplements, Anchor Bay was faced with two choices: delay S1 for an indeterminate length of time and plan new supplements from scratch (the obvious focus would be to honor John's passing). Or just release what they already had completed, which was all six episodes from the very short 1st season.

It took Anchor Bay less than 24 hours of seeing and hearing feedback from fans who wanted John Ritter material on DVD *now* (so they could enjoy his brilliance) to decide what to do. A lot of folks have called this "cashing in". I don't believe that for a second. They were responding to a demand. Period, end of sentance.

I gave them my opinion that releasing this DVD sooner rather than later was the right thing to do. I, too, wanted it ASAP. And I still want other shows and films on DVD that starred John, esp. Hero At Large.


Going forward, Anchor Bay decided to "start from scratch" on extras that focused on memories of John, and use them instead on the already-planned Season 2 set (still no date for that, though I suspect it's not too far off...I have no idea if the sale of Anchor Bay will hold anything up, though).


Right plans, right thing to do all-the-way 'round. I look forward to seeing what they end up with on S2 extras. I hope that all surviving members of the cast participate. And I hope that they take time to honor other late cast members from the show: namely Audra Lindley and Norman Fell (The Ropers). Both had been acting since the '40s, and are missed as well. They played excellently off each other, and helped make the show a success.
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#4 of 4 RyanPC

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Posted March 06 2004 - 09:50 AM

Quote:
Be careful.

There were NEVER plans to have extras on this release "to honor John Ritter's passing". John died the week prior to his scheduled time to begin recording supplements with Anchor Bay that would be used on this release. The vast majority of the supplements were focusing on him: interviews, possibly a commentary track, etc. I had this info prior to his passing, but had been asked not to make it public because anything could change. And change it did, in the worst possible way!

With his death immediately before the time planned to record the supplements, Anchor Bay was faced with two choices: delay S1 for an indeterminate length of time and plan new supplements from scratch (the obvious focus would be to honor John's passing). Or just release what they already had completed, which was all six episodes from the very short 1st season.

It took Anchor Bay less than 24 hours of seeing and hearing feedback from fans who wanted John Ritter material on DVD *now* (so they could enjoy his brilliance) to decide what to do. A lot of folks have called this "cashing in". I don't believe that for a second. They were responding to a demand. Period, end of sentance.

I gave them my opinion that releasing this DVD sooner rather than later was the right thing to do. I, too, wanted it ASAP. And I still want other shows and films on DVD that starred John, esp. Hero At Large.


Going forward, Anchor Bay decided to "start from scratch" on extras that focused on memories of John, and use them instead on the already-planned Season 2 set (still no date for that, though I suspect it's not too far off...I have no idea if the sale of Anchor Bay will hold anything up, though).

Right plans, right thing to do all-the-way 'round. I look forward to seeing what they end up with on S2 extras. I hope that all surviving members of the cast participate. And I hope that they take time to honor other late cast members from the show: namely Audra Lindley and Norman Fell (The Ropers). Both had been acting since the '40s, and are missed as well. They played excellently off each other, and helped make the show a success.

Great post. I agree wholeheartedly- releasing the first season immediately was the right thing to do. Having no extras on the disc is completely forgiveable, IMO, especially since it's my favorite show of all-time and I was just happy to have the show on DVD at all. The picture quality wasn't bad, in fact I expected it for a show of it's age. It looks about the same if not better than the Nick at Nite presentations of Season One.

I was completely shocked with John's passing, I learned about it in school when they had it on the announcements along with the sad news of Johnny Cash's death. I almost didn't believe what I had heard, I even asked the homeroom teacher if I had really heard it. He was such a brilliant man who made so many people laugh throughout his life, but I suppose it was just his time to go. Posted Image

I simply cannot wait for Season Two, which is even funnier than the first. But I do want Anchor Bay to take their time with this release, so they can get it right and put some great extras on it.