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Part 3 of 3: “The Ropers” the one that should be lost and forgotten.

Three’s Company was so popular that ABC tried to spin-off a show called The Ropers.  The Ropers were the original landlords in show Three’s is Company, Stanley (Norman Fell) and Helen (Audra Lindley).  In the spin off, the Ropers sold the building, bought a condo and a show if their own.  The “plot” of The Ropers, was that they now lived in a condo in an upscale area but looked down upon their new next door neighbor Jeffrey P. Brookes III, (Jeffrey Tambor).  His wife Anne, however, was actually good friends with Mrs. Roper.  The humor was theoretically to come out of the friction between Jeffrey not liking the Ropers, Jeffrey’s wife not liking that he didn’t like the Ropers and of course Mrs. Roper still not liking that Mr. Roper didn’t want to fool around.  Oh what a hoot that should have been.

Nevertheless, (thank god) the audience didn’t see the humor and the show quickly was cancelled.  The fact that the Ropers was canceled quickly did re-affirm my faith in humanity.  But the Ropers represents something that all those in TV can learn from, don’t take great supporting players and try to make them great central starring characters in another show it all too often fails miserably.  The real problem facing Norman Fell (who was a known star in his own right) was that the characters could not go back to Three’s Company since Don Knotts (the comedy legend) playing Mr. Furley had taken their place.

Just how did this joke of a show get made especially with someone as well-known as Norman Fell being involved?  With Three as Company continued success in its second season, the Three’s Company’s own producers pitched the spin off.  Fell, however, was extremely reluctant (and rightfully so) as he was satisfied with his role on a show that was already a proven hit.  Fell feared (correctly) that a spin-off would be unsuccessful and thus put him out of a good role and job.  To alleviate his fears, Three’s Company producers contractually promised Fell that they would give the new series a year to prove itself.  If unsuccessful, then he and Lindley would return to Three’s Company.  A reluctant Fell agreed to the new terms.

What Happened?  I’ll tell you, they went up against CHIPS—Now who could compete with that?  Eric Estrata, Larry Wilcox—not a chance and it showed in an audience drop that put it an immediate fall into the bottom ten.  The drop in ratings and the fact that the show wasn’t appealing to the young demographic audience to the show’s cancellation in May 1980.  After viewing several of the episodes, I don’t care where they placed it, it stunk on ice.

When the series was canceled, Fell approached Three’s Company producers about returning to the show.  The Ropers had been replaced on Three’s Company by legendary Don Knotts, playing the swinging Ralph Furley who had worked well with the theme of Three’s Company that had retained its popularity.  Apparently Fell would later state that he always believed the decision to pull the plug on the show had been made early on, but that the network deliberately postponed making the cancellation official until after the one-year mark specifically to be relieved of the obligation to allow Fell and Lindley to return to Three’s Company.

At least the networks might have learned something from this debacle.  Now when a show tries to spin-off a character, they set the stage to avoid just such a problem.  When The Jefferson’s spun off the character of Florence into her own show she was replaced not with a big name star but with a character who, should the spin-off fail (which it did), could quickly be dropped so that Florence could return to the original show.

To give you an idea of how bad it was, the show was ranked number two on Time magazine’s “Top 10 Worst TV Spin-Offs” and in the July 2002 TV Guide named The Ropers the 49th worst TV series of all time.

Ouch—but well deserved rankings.

This is the one show of the three we looked at that needs to be lost and forgotten.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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TV Shows that may be lost and forgotten–Part 1 of 3.

Let’s take a look at some TV shows that may be lost and forgotten. Obviously, these shows may not be lost and forgotten to all of our readers here at JPFmovies, but my guess is that at least two out of the three of the shows I’ve picked probably were lost, forgotten or maybe never heard of. The three lost and forgotten shows are: Love American Style, The John Laroquette Show and The Ropers. When I was thinking about the trio of TV for this post, I wanted some shows that had character but were not terribly popular and easily forgotten. I think each of these series fits the bill.

First Love American Style.

This gem aired from 1969 to 1974. Each show featured several vignettes each lasting about 10-15 minutes of unrelated stories of comedy & romance. The episodes featured different characters, stories, and locations and often featured the same actors playing different characters in several other episodes.

The show introduced the “mini comedic soap opera” form used later by Aaron Spelling for The Love Boat. In contrast to the The Love Boat, Love American Style’s episodes within the show had no connection to each other but told the same predictable light, emotional stories about love, romance, and relationships.

Garry Marshall (creator of Happy Days) said that Love, American Style was “where failed sitcom pilots went to die,” a theory that was true. If a TV producer could not sell a pilot, they would instead sell the script to Spelling, who took the best parts of the pilot and recast them as a segment on Love, American Style.

The series also used 10–20-second “joke clips” between the highlighted segments, which allowed the show to be padded to the required length without altering the main skits. These joke clips were considered then “risqué,” burlesque- comedy of visual jokes.

After the Show was canceled it became standard in syndication as the stations could edit the show to a half-hour by linking the clips with a main segment, successfully making ten seasons out of five.

They just don’t make them like Love American Style anymore. Some say that is good thing, but I disagree—the show is a fun look back into the campy humor of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. And of course there is the famous theme song that is tough to get out of your head once it is in there.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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