Entertainment Weekly has a glowing eulogy to John Ritter, noting that his talents were often underappreciated. They also remind us how culturally ground-breaking, for good or ill, “Three’s Company” was:

”Three’s Company”’s winking innuendo seems tame in the age of ”Sex and the City,” but in 1977, the show was considered scandalous. Now, it looks pioneering in ways its makers probably didn’t intend. Well before Jerry and Elaine, or Harry and Sally, Ritter proved that men and women could be platonic friends. Note also that Jack’s landlords objected more to the idea of a man living with two women than having a gay tenant. To his credit, Ritter would play the ”gay” Jack without camping or mincing — unless he wanted to have some fun at Mr. Furley’s expense. Later, in the spinoff ”Three’s a Crowd,” Jack and his live-in girlfriend became the first primetime unmarried couple living in sin. In 1984, this was still too radical for a lot of viewers, and the show lasted only a year.

The piece also mentioned Ritter’s short-lived 1987 dramedy “Hooperman,” which I had forgotten about but liked quite a bit. I was apparently in a distinct minority, as the show lasted but two seasons.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture
James Joyner
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  1. Jay Solo says:

    I liked Hooperman a lot when it was on, though I didn’t get to watch it much. I only watched 8 Simple Rules once in a while, usually a few minutes at a time while channel surfing. I seem to recall it being on opposite one of my primary shows. I liked what I saw of it.

    He was also quite good in Slingblade, Dreamer of Oz, and Noises Off. I haven’t see, or don’t remember, any other movies he was in. I also don’t remember him in The Waltons.

    He could convey so much with facial expressions and tones of voice.

  2. Timmer says:

    I didn’t much like Three’s Company myself, thought it was sort of silly but then again, that was the point wasn’t it? What I remember John Ritter the most for was a Blake Edwards movie called “Skin Deep.” For those of you who don’t remember, Edwards also directed “Days of Wine and Roses,” “10,” and the “Arthur” movies. Anyways, there’s a great scene where Ritter is having a spiritual awakening. He’s meditating on the beach, trying to get in touch with God, asks God for a some sort of sign about whether or not he should quit drinking. A small tsunami rolls in and knocks him all the way back into the door of a condo where he’s staying. He sits there soaking wet, covered with sand and foam and looks up at the lady who owns the condo and exclaims, “There IS a God, and He’s a gag writer!!!”

    There are LOTS of great bits in this movie. Between that, his enduring electro stimulus therapy at the hands of an angry ex-girlfriend and his twitching through the aftermath, the dog crazy-glued to the ceiling and the dueling, glow in the dark, ummmm prophylactics, I think it might be the funniest of all the Edwards’ drunk movies. I’m thinking, “There IS a God and He needed a gag writer.”