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Three's a Crowd

Three's a Crowd is an ABC network sitcom and spin-off of "Three's Company" developed by Michael Ross, Bernie West, George Burditt, Martin Rips & Joseph Staretski. It was based on the British sitcom, "Robin's Nest."

The series aired from September 25, 1984 to April 9, 1985, lasting for one season & 22 episodes.

Plot

The series centered on Jack Tripper & his girlfriend, Vicky Bradford as they move into a new apartment together above the restaurant he works at, and Jack dealing with Vicki's wealthy father, James, who is the landlord of the apartment.

Cast

  • John Ritter as Jack Tripper
  • Mary Cadorette as Victoria "Vicky" Bradford
  • Robert Mandan as James Bradford
  • Alan Campbell as E.Z. Taylor
  • Jessica Walter as Claudia Bradford

Production

"Three's Company" had been based on the British sitcom, "Man About the House" (which aired on ITV in the United Kingdom from 1973 to 1976). When the series concluded in 1976, series producers Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer devised two spin-offs of the series.

The first spin-off was fashioned for actors Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce who played the popular George and Mildred Roper on the series.

The series, called "George and Mildred" ran from 1977 to 1980, and followed the Ropers selling their apartment building and moving into a high class neighborhood, the comedy arising from the seemingly lower-class Ropers and their relationship with their higher-class neighbors.

The second spin-off was written for Richard O'Sullivan, who played Robin Tripp (which would serve as the basis for Jack Tripper on "Three's Company") and was named "Robin's Nest" (which was also the name of his restaurant on the series).

Running from 1977 to 1981, the series followed Robin moving with his girlfriend into an apartment above the restaurant he ran, a situation which was frowned upon by her father.

The producers of "Three's Company" were anxious to capitalize on these spin-offs.

In 1979, they had spun off Norman Fell and Audra Lindley into their own series, "The Ropers" based on the British series, "George and Mildred" but it lasted only until 1980 after one and a half seasons.

The ratings for "Three's Company" remained high though. Executive producers Ted Bergmann and Don Taffner attempted to adapt the "Robin's Nest" series without John Ritter.

A pilot for a series called "Byrd's Nest" was written, involving a young man living with his older girlfriend much to the chagrin of her father, who owned the building they lived in. It was planned to be a spin-off from "Three's Company" and possibly a vehicle for Richard Kline (who played Larry Dallas on the show), but ABC passed on the idea.

As "Three's Company" entered its eighth season in 1983, however, ratings took a dive due to stiff competition from the new NBC series, "The A-Team." After realizing they had an aging show, ABC okayed the development of a new series which was to be called "Three's a Crowd."

The development and casting of the new series occurred in secret as the eighth season of "Three's Company's" progressed. Fellow cast members Richard Kline, Joyce DeWitt, Priscilla Barnes and Don Knotts were kept out of the loop.

During a Christmas hiatus in late 1983, producers auditioned several female leads to play the role of Jack's new love interest Vicky Bradford, and eventually decided upon Broadway actress Mary Cadorette.

An embarrassing situation arose when Joyce DeWitt accidentally walked in on the auditions after coming to the studio to set up her dressing room as the holiday hiatus was coming to an end. DeWitt was then informed by the producers that "Three's Company" would end at the close of the season and would spin-off into "Three's a Crowd" with Ritter as star.

DeWitt (who had been with the show from the beginning and weathered the highly publicized contractual dispute between Suzanne Somers, ABC and series producers) was hurt by the secrecy involved with the series ending and the spin-off.

DeWitt and Barnes found it difficult to tape the rest of the season, as both actresses learned that their characters would conclude with the series finale.

However, Kline and Knotts were offered an opportunity to have recurring roles on the spin-off, but both actors declined the offer. (Kline would make a guest appearance on the show in early 1985). Somers even reportedly unsuccessfully lobbied to reprise her "Three's Company" character Chrissy Snow as Jack's love interest in the spin-off.

The sense of betrayal that DeWitt felt towards Ritter was short-lived and they reconciled by the end of "Three's Company's."

Ratings & Cancellation

Three's a Crowd garnered only modest ratings, still competing with "The A-Team." When the 1984–1985 television season finished, the show placed 38th in the Nielsen ratings which put the show on the fence with ABC since the show had enough of an audience to warrant renewal.

However, when the show was compared to "Three's Company's" ratings and "The A-Team", which finished sixth for the season, ABC was tepid in committing to another season of "Three's a Crowd".

John Ritter was told that ABC would commit to a half-season of thirteen episodes to see how the series would place, although Ritter was reported as saying that he wouldn't return to the show unless a full season was ordered.

In the end, ABC decided to pick up "Diff'rent Strokes" (which had been cancelled by NBC) instead.

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