Here’s a few fun facts about Three’s Company, one of the most dominant sitcoms of its time, before Cheers came along and changed the sitcom television landscape: It was based on a UK series, Man About the House. Billy Crystal auditioned for the role of Jack Tripper. The series was probably the first time many of us (if you’re old enough) were introduced to Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor, who played a four characters in Three’s Company and a much larger role in the spin-off, The Ropers. In the sixth season intro of Three’s Company, that adorable toddler playing with the goat (at :18) is Jason Ritter, the son of John Ritter and recurring star on NBC’s Parenthood.
But more interestingly, there were two pilots filmed for Three’s Company. The first one never aired, but it’s available on YouTube (via Bill Simmons) and while John Ritter was in the pilot, his name was David, a Hollywood filmmaker (instead of a former member of the Navy). His roommates were not Janet and Chrissy; they were two completely different actresses playing two different characters, Jenny and Samantha.
The unaired pilot also offers a pretty fun contrast between the one we actually saw — the episode that would launch a series that would last for eight seasons and make the career of John Ritter. The script follows the same general outline, but the jokes are different, and the unaired pilot was even a bit more racy. Check it out, and stick around until around the three minute mark, for the original version of one of the most iconic sitcom moments in history: The introduction of Jack Tripper (or David Bell in the unaired pilot) in a bathtub the morning after a party. Believe it or not, it’s longer and funnier in the original unaired pilot.
And here’s part II of the pilot.
If you want to see the contrast, here’s the aired pilot, which was actually the second aired pilot (the original aired pilot featured Suze Lanier-Bramlett in the Chrissy role that Suzanne Somers would eventually land).