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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Three's Company: Season Three
Three's Company: Season Three
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // November 2, 2004
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted November 9, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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2003 marked the death of John Ritter, a charismatic actor/comedian who fell victim to an unknown heart complication at the young age of 54. Although he appeared in films as varied as Sling Blade and Problem Child, Ritter was best known for his starring role in Three's Company, a popular sitcom from the late 70s-early 80s. Well, perhaps 'popular' is a bit of an understatement: it ran for an unprecedented eight seasons (1977-84) and featured a total of 172 episodes. There were two spinoff series as well: the short-lived The Ropers (1979-80) and Three's A Crowd (1984-85), which aired after Three's Company ended.

Needless to say, this show had a lot of fans.

There's a reason it was so successful: it was a good show, made funnier with great performances by John Ritter and the rest of the cast. It was never a staple of mine growing up---even in syndication---but I found it to be a nice diversion from whatever else was on at the time. Here's how the show started: when two women (Janet and Chrissy) were looking for a roommate, and a guy (Jack) quickly jumped at the chance to move in. The landlords wouldn't go for this, so he only got to move in after pretending to be homosexual.

There were plenty of misunderstandings and other amusing situations that made up the bulk of the comedy; in fact, I'm actually surprised the show lasted as long as it did. If it was created during today's different social climate, I'm not so sure Three's Company would have done nearly as well in the ratings (heck, I doubt anybody would have even bought the pilot!). Still, it's obvious that this show walked a very delicate line back then too, especially to be aired so prominently on network TV.

Unfortunately, the DVD debut of Three's Company was a little shaky at best. Essentially, the first season was a somewhat rushed single-disc release that didn't offer very much to fans, save for the first six episodes. The video wasn't as good as it could have been, and there were no extras worth mentioning. The second season was a much stronger release, boasting an improved technical presentation and more extras to offset the price of admission. Thankfully, this third season continues the style of the last, featuring 22 episodes and a nice assortment of bonus material. Although it's unfortunate that John Ritter couldn't be around to make this release even better, there's a great tribute and other goodies to keep his memory alive. Here's a brief rundown of what we get:

Season Three Episode List:

Disc One: Double Date, Good Old Reliable Janet, The Love Diary, The Fast, Helen's Rendezvous, My Sister's Keeper.

Disc Two: Chrissy and the Guru, Larry's Bride, Chrissy's New Boss, The Crush, The Kleptomaniac, The Party's Over.

Disc Three: Eleanor's Return, The Older Woman, Stanley's Hotline, The Catered Affair, The Best-Laid Plans, The Harder They Fall.

Disc Four: The Bake-Off, An Anniversary Surprise, Jack Moves Out, Triangle Troubles. NOTE: This fourth disc also includes the never-before-seen Pilot Episode #2 and the complete set of Bonus Materials, which are covered in more detail below.

If you've never been a big fan of TV sitcoms (like me!), Three's Company might not win you over. In retrospective, it doesn't bring anything new to the table other than a sexually-charged premise. Also, there are countless occasions where the gags run a little thin: although I wouldn't call Three's Company a one-trick pony, there needed to be some changes to keep things fresh. Thankfully, replacement characters---like Don Knotts' "Mr. Furley"---would take over for the one-joke Ropers (who left for their own previously-mentioned spinoff show) at the start of the fourth season.

After reviewing the first three years on DVD, though, I can see how Three's Company was able to stick around for as long as it did. At the risk of repeating myself, it's a show that people could count on for a few laughs on a weekly basis...and sometimes, that's all you need. Although Three's Company isn't as socially relevant as it was over two decades ago, there's a certain charm that makes this show a classic of television sitcoms. To make a long story short: there are enough laughs to make this DVD a great buy for any fan of TV comedy, and it's easily a must-have for fans of the series. With that said, let's see how this 4-disc set stacks up, shall we?

Quality Control Department

Video Presentation:

Season Two featured a solid video presentation, and the follow-up is just as good. Each episode is presented in its original 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio, and look reasonably good for their age. Although the transfer still seems a little soft---even by Three's Company standards---the colors are bright and there's no digital artifacts or compression issues to be found. Another good effort, but I'd like to see some more improvement in future releases.

Audio Presentation:

The audio is virtually identical to that of the previous two seasons, and just what you'd expect from a 25-year old TV show: a little dull, but audible and clean nonetheless. Presented in the show's original Dolby Digital Mono mix, Anchor Bay thankfully didn't fiddle around with the audio. In all honesty, it wouldn't have added much anyway. What you get here is a good audio presentation that gets the job done, featuring clear dialogue, music, and sound effects. Although this release isn't home theater demo material, fans needn't worry; Three's Company: Season Three won't disappoint in the least.

Menu Design & Packaging:

The menus for this season are generally consistent with those from the first two: appropriately-themed backgrounds are paired with the show's opening music to create the proper "vintage" atmosphere. Each episode is also presented with a brief summary, so make sure and squint your eyes to remain spoiler-free! While I'm disappointed that these episodes still lack chapter stops, this is a relatively minor complaint for an otherwise fine presentation. Menus and bonus features are all presented in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The packaging features a die-cut slip cover, and the four discs are held snugly in a digipak case with hinged plastic disc holders (similar to the Deep Space Nine season sets). While the cover art and overall look of this boxed set are still a bit on the generic side, the overall presentation for Three's Company: Season Three is still a solid effort.

Bonus Features:

First up is a very brief tribute to the leading man, Remembering John Ritter (4 minutes). This was newly created for this compilation---much like Season Two's "Always Leave Them Laughing" and "Eight Years of Laughter" tributes---and is hosted by co-star Joyce DeWitt. Basically, it's a few short interview clips with various cast and crew members, most of which have trouble choking back tears while sharing a few personal memories. Although I would have much preferred a combined tribute between these two seasons, it's a nice little introduction to the bonus features.

Next up is the second (and final) never-before-seen Pilot Episode. This was shot before Suzanne Somers was cast in the role of Chrissy (seen above), although the show was a little closer to a finished product than Season Two's "Pilot #1". Notable changes from the first pilot include a more finished set design, better comic timing (undoubtedly helped by new recruit Joyce DeWitt), and the main character's names are the same as on the series proper. The only glaring change that hadn't taken place yet is the awful opening credit sequence: to be honest, it's even worse than the first pilot! Anyway, this episode is an interesting little piece of television history, and will undoubtedly be an extremely surreal viewing experience for hardcore Three's Company fans.

Another interesting bonus features is an Audio Commentary for the episode The Bake Off with Chris Mann, author of the book "Come And Knock On Our Door". It's very much in the same style as his Season Two commentary for Days of Beer and Weeds: Mann is well-prepared for the track, offering plenty of insight for this episode. It's a shame there couldn't have been more of these, as one commentary track for each season is hardly satisfying. With any luck, we'll hear more from Mann in future season sets, and maybe they'll get some of the cast and/or crew to participate as well. There's also a new series of Interviews with Richard Kline and director Dave Powers---these are new inclusions, and we'll hopefully see more to come.

Next up is a series of three "Best Of" Highlights from the season, featuring Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and the Ropers in separate sections. Although this is essentially a rehash of episodes we've already seen, it's still better to have than not. Rounding out the extras is Blooper Reel, although it's a shame we couldn't have had another Photo Gallery like the one from the Season Two compilation. Even though the retrospective bonus material outweighs the actual behind-the-scenes goodies, Anchor Bay has successfully served up another nice batch of extras. Let's hope they can keep it up.

Final Thoughts

Anchor Bay continues to impress fans of this classic show with another solid 4-disc effort. Although they've still got several years to go before the complete Three's Company series is over and done with, they've done a great job so far. With a decent technical presentation and a nice assortment of bonus material, Three's Company: Season Three is one set that fans are really going to enjoy! Combine this with a very reasonable MSRP (which will no doubt be even more affordable on release day), and you've got another fine example of classic TV on DVD this year. Recommended.

Other Links of Interest

Three's Company Official Site and Fan Network
John Ritter filmography at IMDb
Three's Company: Season One DVD review
Three's Company: Season Two DVD review

Randy Miller III is a moderately affable art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.
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