The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Suzanne Somers just won't go away, will she? But before the Buttmaster, before the Thighmaster, before the Suzanne Somers Show and She's the Sheriff there was Christmas "Chrissy" Snow, capturing the hearts and "minds" of the sort of people who found Marilyn Monroe movies too intellectual. Without her, the show would have been nothing more than a genteel sitting-room comedy of the type so loved by the Edwardian British, and indeed her departure signaled the beginning of the end for this lovable space that needs your face. And hey, how many women can claim to have single-handedly set the feminist movement back 20 years? D+

Where Chrissy taught us that you can be a bimbo and still rake in the bucks hawking dubious athletic equipment on infomercials, Janet provided the good news that just because you're dark-haired and assertive doesn't mean you can't be treated like bargain-counter meat as well. In fact, one of the central messages of Three's Company is that everyone can get leered at in public. Except, perhaps, for Mister Furley. But we'll get to him in a bit. C

Wisecracking Mercutio to Jack's Romeo, philosophical Horatio to Jack's madcap Hamlet, Larry was an every-jerk who served the incredibly important purpose of making all the other spongebrains on the roster look good by comparison. I mean, let's face it, nobody on "Three's Company" is exactly a supernova of taste and charisma. By and large they make the Sweathogs look like the cultural elite. Next to Larry, though, they blossom into borderline non-loserhood. C+

Am I the only one who noticed that "Jack Tripper" is a sort of anagrammy acrostic thingie for "Jack T[he] Ripper"? One more subliminal gambit in the International Sitcom Conspiracy, but it gave the whole show a disturbing air, as if the season finale might involve a crawlspace and the phrase "Hunter of the Lord." Anyhow. Jack, I think, provided the only legitimate cultural truth in the series. To wit: if you can cook really well, you can get away with anything. C+

Mr. Furley
This must have been quite a stretch for Don Knotts, having to break out of his usual role of lemur-eyed backwater twit on the edge on an aneurysm to play a suburban, bandana-wearing lemur-eyed twit on the edge of an aneurysm. I imagine there's probably a whole cohort of Roper partisans out there who see Furley as a landlord-come-lately, sort of a George Lazenby of bedroom farce, but Knotts is the one with the range. He's played a cartoon fish, for God's sake! A lemur-eyed cartoon fish on the edge of an aneurysm, to be fair, but still, I'd like to see Norman Fell try that one. B-

The Ropers
Who in the name of the Roman God of Spin-offs thought that anyone wanted to see a half-hour dedicated to these people? On the show they were passable second bananas, keeping comedic tensions high by threatening to toss Jack out on this corduroy-encased ass if he showed any signs of heterosexuality, but whatever meager laughs they contributed were due solely to their sheer awfulness. Take a completely repulsive couple, the male of which is constantly fending off sexual advances of the female, put them in their own show, and what do you get? Well, "Married With Children," actually. All the more reason to abhor them. D

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