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Friday, November 08, 2013

The Blondes of Three's Company

I have to admit that I never thought that I'd be one of those people who would go and buy entire television seasons on DVD. I mean, what was the whole point of buying an entire television series on DVD when at some point they would be syndicated on cable television? There are websites which boast that they have free television programs available for downloading at any time (but do your research before you log onto the sites...otherwise you might end up crashing your whole computer). And while I myself have never used Netflix (I know, shocking, isn't it?), I hear that for a low cost, you can watch virtually any television episode you want.

But yet here I am. I'm confessing to going on a television series purchasing bender.

But lest you think that I am being absolutely frivolous with my spending, think again. After all, I am trying to keep my finances in order for the new year so I can embark on some brand new opportunities for myself. I've actually been buying them from my workplace at low costs, and I've also picked up a few DVD's at a relatively low cost from online retailers.

And one of the shows that I have been actively seeking out these past few weeks is the topic of today's Friday discussion.  

I don't know exactly what prompted or fueled my quest to get every single season of "Three's Company" on DVD, but I've been on a bit of a retro kick as of late.  I know that "Three's Company" has more or less been syndicated on cable networks since the early 1980s, and when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I would watch this sitcom every day during my lunch hour.  Of course, back when I was a pre-teen, a lot of the jokes and humour went completely over my head as I didn't have that much life experience at that time.  Now that I'm older, "Three's Company" has become a lot more fun and hilarious.

All the more reason for me to want to have the complete collection of the series.  That way, I can watch my favourite episodes whenever I want to.  I'm already almost halfway there.  I have seasons one, three, and five, and have number six on order, which means that I just need four more seasons to complete the set.

Now, you might be asking...why "Three's Company"?  Well, why not?  It was one of the more popular shows of the 1970s and 1980s, dealt with a subject that was extremely taboo back in those days (even though in 2013 it is absolutely no big deal for a guy to move into an apartment with two women), and featured the comedic genius of John Ritter, who in my opinion was one of the best physical comedians of all time.

But one of the things that made "Three's Company" stand out among other sitcoms of its era was the fact that the show had a revolving door of cast members.  Some were let go, some left of their own accord, and in the case of one, they left in a cloud of scandal.  By the end of the series run in September 1984, only John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt remained of the original cast.  The Ropers were written out of the series in 1979 following the creation of their own original spin-off program, Lana Shields only lasted half a season, Larry was a recurring character until season four, and Mr. Furley didn't join the cast until 1979.

And then there were the blondes of "Three's Company"...perhaps the role that was recast the most often during the show's eight season run.  Three different actresses portrayed the role of the third roommate in apartment 201, breaking bread and swapping stories with Jack Tripper and Janet Wood.  The characters that they played on the series "Three's Company" had their own distinct quirks and personalities that made them who they were, and depending on who was living in the apartment at the time, they certainly left their own impressions on Jack and Janet.

So, who were the three roommates with hair of gold that lived in the apartment that Jack and Janet called home for eight years?  Well, unfortunately I wanted to supplement this blog entry with actual clips from episodes, but since video clips of this series are so difficult to find, you'll have to settle for me trying to describe them as best as I can in this blog.

Played by Suzanne Somers (1977-1981)

Chrissy Snow was the first blonde roommate of "Three's Company", and when we're first introduced to her, she and Janet were cleaning up their apartment after a going away party for their former roommate, Eleanor.  Chrissy is the first one to discover a sleeping Jack in their bathtub, and Chrissy is also the first one to suggest that Jack take Eleanor's place as their roommate.  

As far as Chrissy's personality goes, I would consider her to be an absolute sweetheart of a character.  She treats people and animals with nothing but kindness, she is steadfastly loyal to her friends, and she very rarely has a nasty word to say about anybody.  Really, if there was any flaw that Chrissy seemed to have, it was that she was a little too trusting, and she was very naive...and as a result, she kind of came across as a stereotypical dumb blonde.  

And, yeah...she certainly did showcase that "dumb blondness" in a number of ways.  She said things that made Jack and Janet want to bang their heads repeatedly against a wall, and she often did things on the show that made you question whether she even had a brain in her head at all.  Who could forget the time that her friend came by for a visit and she almost ended up becoming a callgirl because of a misunderstanding?  Who could forget the time that she accidentally ate part of Jack's pie for a baking competition, and rather than throw away the evidence, she swallowed the whole thing!  Or, the time that she ended up joining an organization that more or less ended up being an extortion racket because she was charmed by a guru.

But then again, Chrissy did show that she was more than just a "dumb blonde".  She outsmarted that guru when she saw right through his facade (she knew he just wanted to sleep with her).  She also came up with the idea to substitute another pie to replace the one she ate.  While the idea eventually ended up leading into a pie fight, at least Chrissy showed that she was thinking quickly.  Either way, Chrissy ended up being a loyal friend to both Jack and Janet.

Well, that is until the fifth season of the show when salary negotiations turned sour and Suzanne Somers purposely missed tapings of the show as a way to make a point.  Well, that point was made all right.  Suzanne was fired from the show in 1981, and her role reduced to nothing more than a ninety second phone call that was edited into the end of certain fifth season episodes.  Interestingly enough, in those fifth season episodes, Chrissy seemed to become even more of an airhead than before.  Maybe it was revenge from the writers and production staff?  Who can say really?

At any rate, with Suzanne Somers off the show, Chrissy was written out by having her make a permanent move to Fresno.  And because of that, Jack and Janet needed a new roommate.

Played by Jenilee Harrison (1980-1982)

Enter Chrissy's cousin, Cindy, who moved into Apartment 201 at the tail end of 1980.

The thing with Cindy is that not a lot of fans claim to like her.  In fact, some people have claimed that the moment that Cindy Snow arrived on the show was the exact moment that the show jumped the shark.  But, I tend to disagree with this statement because while it might seem on the surface that Cindy Snow was just a carbon copy of Chrissy, there was more to her than met the eye.

You see, the first difference between Chrissy and Cindy was noticeable right away from the moment she appeared on her first episode.  Chrissy may not have been entirely book smart (or street smart in some cases), but at least Chrissy never really had any instances in which she was completely unable to...well...walk without knocking someone or something over.

Cindy was an absolute klutz.  Within the first ten minutes of her introduction onto the series, she accidentally hooked up Jack's girlfriend and Janet's boyfriend with each other, nearly took out Jack and Janet with a giant inflatable boat, and completely destroyed the kitchen table after she knocked Jack on top of it!  And despite this, Jack and Janet let her stay for the rest of the fifth season!

And, secondly, while Cindy inevitably ended up being a replacement for Chrissy (right down to even taking over Chrissy's old job), Cindy had her own mind, and she wasn't actually afraid to use it.  The problem was that Jack and Janet had already made their own minds up about her and felt that they needed to handle her with kid gloves because she was just as naive and...for lack of better word...braindead as her cousin.

Thing is that Cindy was hardly that kind of person at all.  She had a backbone and she could stand up for herself whenever the situation called for it.  If anything, Jack and Janet usually made things WORSE on their own!  I mean, who could forget the episode in which Jack and Janet believed that Cindy had let herself get abducted by a man only for Jack and Janet to discover that the man was really Cindy's father!  Or, how about when Jack came up with the conclusion that Cindy was pregnant when in actuality it was Cindy's friend who worked at the Regal Beagle that was expecting.  Though, admittedly, Jack proposing to Cindy was one of the funnier episodes of the season.

Still, there were some instances in which Jack and Janet's concern for Cindy was very much appreciated.  After all, had Jack and Janet not intervened, Cindy would have ended up married to a man she didn't even love!

And for what it's worth, I thought Jenilee Harrison did a good job, given that she was essentially cast at the last minute following the Suzanne Somers fiasco.

What was interesting about Jenilee Harrison was that she wasn't added into the opening credits until season six...which ironically enough was the same season her character moved out of the apartment to attend school at UCLA.  Jenilee would make sporadic appearances throughout the sixth season, but by 1982, she was off the show permanently.  And so the third blonde roommate moved in.

Played by Priscilla Barnes (1981-1984)

Terri Alden was the final blonde roommate to move into the apartment, and one thing that you might notice about her is that personality wise, she is so far removed from the Snow cousins.  She wasn't your everyday run of the mill blonde bimbo stereotype that "Three's Company" seemed to portray on every other episode.  

For one, while Cindy and Chrissy worked as office secretaries (a noble profession), Terri worked as a nurse at a nearby hospital.  And Terri had the brains to back up her position as well.  When she moved into the apartment, there were some instances in which I wondered if Janet had hung around Chrissy too much as Terri made Janet appear like a dimwit on occasion.

And, here's something else about Terri that made her stand out.  Unlike Chrissy and Cindy who immediately developed an instant rapport with Jack, when Jack and Terri met each other for the first time, they couldn't stand each other.  Mind you, it didn't help much that Terri administered a painful shot in Jack's buttocks on their first encounter, but needless to say, Terri didn't exactly fall for Jack's charms (which you had to admit were cheesy even for Jack Tripper standards).

Still, when Terri moved in, she and Jack eventually formed a comraderie, and she, Janet, and Jack easily became the best of friends for the remainder of the series.  But while Jack, Janet, and Terri became instant friends on-screen, Priscilla Barnes reportedly said in interviews that her three seasons of "Three's Company" were among some of the worst years of her entire professional career.  And this is coming from someone who ended up working a slew of B-movies post "Three's Company"!

To be fair though, Priscilla Barnes had nothing but kind words to say about her co-workers.  I think her comments were more or less directed towards the people who worked behind the scenes.  I don't have much more details other than that, but given how tumultuous things were on "Three's Company" in the middle of the series, it wouldn't surprise me if Barnes had to deal with the same sorts of issues that Somers did - although to a lesser extent.

Despite Barnes' unhappy experiences on the set, you never knew it.  To me, Terri always seemed as though she was having a great time on the show.  And, I'll let you in on a secret.  Terri's first season is actually my second favourite season of the whole series (right behind the near perfect season three).

And, there you have it.  The three blondes of "Three's Company".  

Chrissy, Cindy, and Terri.  Which one was your favourite?


  1. Season six was a great one, maybe the best IMO. The Teri character is underrated and Chrissy had gotten annoying by season 4.

  2. I have a soft spot for Cindy, but my favorite blonde was Terri.

  3. I have a soft spot for Cindy, but my favorite blonde was Terri.

  4. I liked all the blondes, I liked Mr Roper and Mrs Roper and Mr Furley. The only character I wasn't too keen on was Lana. With the benefit of hindsight I like Terri the best of all the blondes. Thanks for this post. I also have a pop culture blog and perfectly understand the hiatus and the passion as I've also had to take a minor break.