Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Three's Company Pilot

Three's Company had 3 pilots. Not airline pilots, but TV PILOTS.

However, maybe a show called Three's Company about three airline pilots living in an apartment in Santa Monica California would have been funny.

Three's Company (the airline pilot show)

Jack walks into the apartment. Janet and Chrissy are sitting on the couch.

Hi Jack! How was your flight?

Horrible. I had trouble with the vertical stabilizers and I needed to land with pilotage.

Jeez. That's too bad. I flew a sailplane last week and the yaw was so out of line I felt like I was on a tailwheel.

MR. ROPER enters.

Well, if anyone knows about tailwheel, it's Jack!

Roper mugs for the camera. Jack falls over the couch and Chrissy and Janet laugh.

Oh, what could have been!

Anyway, the REAL Three's Company had three pilots. In case you don't know what pilots are, they are first episodes that are shot with the intention of selling the show to a network.

Many pilots don't make it to TV. Others, like Three's Company, are shot and then changed substantially before they make it to television.

For example, The Gilligan's Island pilot featured Gilligan, The Skipper, The Howells AND A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER AND TWO SECRETARIES.

The pilot for the A-Team featured a different actor as Templeton Peck.

Finally, in the pilot for ALF, ALF was the Tanner's elderly Chinese Grandfather who liked classical music.

OK, I made that up.

Anyway, the DVD set of Three's Company season two features the first of two failed pilots for Three's Company. The third pilot was picked up by the network and aired as the first episode.

You may remember it. In that pilot Janet and Chrissy find Jack asleep in their bathtub and are so thrilled with his cooking that they decide to ask him to be their roommate. To get Mr. Roper to go along with the arrangement, they tell him Jack is gay.

The first pilot follows almost the same plot with some changes. Let's take a look:

The show starts off with a different opening credit sequence. They show the front of the "Hacienda Palms" apartment building in North Hollywood (I am not sure if such a building ever existed, I can't find it in today's apartment guide.)
This simple shot of the building was much different than the
funny montages later credit sequences included.

I suppose the lyrics to the theme song had not yet been written, so instead people just babble "doo dee doo" back and forth like a couple of toddler's in a shouting match.

Oddly enough, this version of the song sounded very similar to the finished version of the We Got It Made theme.

Then we see the Three's Company apartment. It was pretty neat to see, because it was basically the exact same set, with the same furniture and wall hangings, but everything was in a different place.

One wall of the apartment was covered in HIDEOUS pink flowery wallpaper.

Valerie Curtin played Jenny in the pilot, and Suzanne Zenor played Samantha. Jenny was the brunette and Samantha was the blonde, but both were very different than Janet and Chrissy. In the first scene Jenny talks about how they had a wild party the night before. Samantha says that she almost performed a striptease at the party (dialogue that Janet had in the final pilot.)

Then they find David Bell sleeping in their bathtub. No, not the Phillies' third baseman, this was Jack Tripper's NAME in the pilot. David was played by John Ritter who sports a much shorter haircut in the pilot than he did in the series.

For some reason, while watching the pilot I was struck by how much John Ritter looked like Rowdy Roddy Piper.

The Hollywood locale, rather than Santa Monica (which is 20 minutes west of Hollywood) is mentioned a lot, and both David and Samantha are trying to break into the film business.

Samantha's best part was in a religious commercial, David once played Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland.

The Ropers are played by the same actors as they were in the series, but they have different FIRST names. Rather than being Helen and Stanley they were George and Mildred.

The plot of the pilot ends up the same way, with Roper convinced that David is gay and David moving in as a roommate.

Overall, it was interesting to see. Perhaps the show would have been JUST as popular with these two cast mates and maybe it would be Suzanne Zenor that tried to sell you a Tummy-Sizer in the 1990s. Maybe it would have been a forgotten show that lasted just a few episodes.

Either way, it was a really cool DVD feature. If only it had starred Rowdy Roddy Piper.


  1. I can't imagine Three's Company without Mr. Roper. Oh wait...

  2. "Well, if anyone knows about tailwheel, it's Jack!"


  3. Anonymous11/16/2004

    I have to go buy this just to see the wallpaper!

  4. Anonymous11/16/2004

    This was my favorite show when I was a kid!

  5. That was my favorite article yet!

  6. Dude, you gotta do one on that Gilligan's Island pilot. That sounds funny!

    Plus, what do you think of that new Gilligan show?

  7. Yeah, the Gilligan one was funny. As for the 'Real Gilligan's Island' it looks pretty stupid, but I will have to check it out. It may be a great chance to see some good overacting!

  8. Anonymous11/16/2004

    I was struck by the Rowdy Piper/John Ritter similarties. I also thought John Ritter looks like former VP candidate John Edwards.


  9. Gene Hackman is so cool that TV pilots often pick up him!!

  10. You know what would have been an AWESOME pilot? If in the original episode, the three girls find Evel Knievel passed out in their bathroom and realize that he's Evel Knievel. Mr. Roper is hesitant to let Knievel live with two girls, but then he jumps over the apartment complex. Mr. Roper thinks that's totally cool and let's him live with the girls under the condition that he jump over things periodically to cover rent. Oh man that would be SSSSSSSWWWWWEEEEEETTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!

  11. Robble Robble I was once on TV. In 1992 Cops was filming in McDonaldland, taking a ride with Big Mac and other police in McDonaldland.

    I was sneaking out of McDonalds with a stack of frozen patties, when Big Mac spotted me. I started running and he chased after me. For a guy who's head is larger than his body he can really fly. He found me hiding in a dog house eating burgers. Here is a transcript I found on the Cops web page

    Big Mac: Sir, what are you doing in the dog house?

    Hamburglar: Robble Robble

    Big Mac: You are fixing it? At 2 AM?

    Hamburglar: Robble Robble Robble

    Big Mac: And those frozen patties? Hungry? But how are you going to heat those patties up? Sir, please step out of the dog house with your hands up.

    Hamburglar: Robble Robble

    Big Mac: If I hear one more Robble, I'm breaking out the nightstick.