Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The most fascinating extra on Three's Company's season two DVD is the series' original pilot episode, taped in late 1975 -- a full year before the series debuted on ABC. The pilot was a rewrite of the corresponding debut episode of Three's Company's British sitcom prototype Man About the House. Two girls in desperate need of a third roommate agree to let a personable young man move in with them. In order to convince their landlord that their living arrangements are strictly honorable, the girls pass off their new male roomie as a homosexual -- something he most definitely is not. Cosmetically, this "test" episode closely resembles the actual Three's Company opener "Man About the House" -- but with several major differences. For one, the action takes place not in Santa Monica, but in North Hollywood. The character played by John Ritter is not Jack Tripper, but instead "David Bell" -- and he is an aspiring filmmaker rather than an aspiring chef. Though Norman Fell and Audra Lindley are in attendance as the Ropers, who own in apartment in which the three roommates reside, the characters' first names are "George" and "Mildred" rather than Stanley and Helen. Most significantly, the two female roommates are not Janet and Chrissy, but instead "Jenny" and "Samantha" -- and they aren't played by Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers, but instead by Valerie Curtin and Suzanne Zenor (similarly, the girlfriend of John Ritter's character, known as Patricia Crawford and played by Kit McDonough in the series proper, is herein called "Zoey" and portrayed by Bobbie Mitchell). One of the few elements of the pilot to be carried over into the "real" Three's Company is its theme music -- albeit minus the familiar lyrics. All in all, the original pilot episode is a tantalizing glimpse into the Three's Company that might have been.