Three's Company Season One by Chris Stewart (All reviews)
This is about as good as it gets for translating a British show for an American market. The number of failed attempts would fill a giant book and only a handful of successful gems stand out. The most successful of all has to be the US version of Man About the House, cleverly re-titled Three's Company.
Unless you've been living under a rock or don't have a TV, you probably know all about Three's Company. After a blowout of a party for their last roommate, Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers) and Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) find their tub filled with one hung-over Jack Tripper (the late John Ritter). They lack a roommate to help pay the rent and Jack is a culinary student living at the YMCA, so it seems a fortuitous meeting in the bathroom, but there's only one problem - The Ropers (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley.) Well, Mrs. Roper isn't a problem, being the hip lady that she is, but Mr. Roper is very old-fashioned and very uptight, so two girls and a guy living together is grounds for an eviction. The solution? Tell him Jack is gay, resulting in comedy gold and setting the gay rights movement in American simultaneously forwards and back by ten years.
In my childhood, TVs sucked. In my adult years, the TVs were great, but the tapes of old shows, well, sucked. So I just got used to watching muddy or washed out old shows. Thanks to the DVD utopia we live in, it's easy to see just how sophisticated old-school video technology actually was. Three's Company on DVD is vibrant colours, no errors, no banding and much to my surprise, there's a lot of definition to the picture (or at least more than I seem to recall.)
Mono! But digital. So, it's like, the best mono you'll ever hear.
Due to the untimely (which is fancy talk for "damn tragedy") death of John Ritter, who was scheduled to record commentary with the rest of the cast, the first season was released without commentary or extras. Anchor Bay did however add a preview page for the second season set (to be released in the Spring of 2004) which will be a Special Edition in memory of Ritter (presumably with cast commentary and Biography-esque documentary) and a screen promoting Ritter's charity of Choice, United Cerebral Palsy. A portion of the sales from the DVD is being donated to the UCP by Anchor Bay. It is for this reason that the disc gets a 1 in the extras department and this blurb.
Technically, the disc should get a zero, but I'm a sucker for a good cause and this one is a good as they come.
The show embodies the best (John Ritter's very funny physical comedy) and worst ("it won't reach!" "Well, try tugging on it") of situation comedy's and as such, the show runs hot and cold for me. I fondly remember watching it and I can't argue that it has a place in the TV history books, but it's pretty standard fair in many respects. Except for Janet's haircut in this first season. She was hot (or "bright" as Jack puts it)!
I love the front ends, even as simple as they are, and I like the idea of putting the episode synopsis on the same screen where you start an episode - no more fussing with the DVD insert just to figure out which episode is what. But the set features the two most annoying, well, lack of features. No "play all" option and no chapter breaks. Maybe it's just me, but after a first, nostalgic time, I can honestly do without a repeated theme song - the ability to skip it would have been nice.
Farewell Mr. Ritter. You worked your ass off and thanks to this show, you are essentially immortal.