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I absolutely love old British TV series, and especially in the sit-com department they beat all other countries. I remember this particular series quite well even though I haven't seen it in a long time, luckily it's now available on VHS/DVD so I'll be buying it soon. Nothing beats that atmospheric shot-on-videotape look most British TV shows had in the '70s, when filmed indoors. Richard Sullivan is great as the guy the two girls find in their bathroom, and the two actresses are also both excellent. Terrific stuff. The series had two spin-offs; "George & Mildred" (about the landlord and his wife) and "Robin's Nest" (Sullivan's character minus the girls). Those who think the American version "Three's Company" is better only need to look at the amount of episodes it had, and suddenly it's not so funny anymore. I think the fact that "Three's Company" was filled with more characters and ran for a whopping 172 episodes compared to the original's small cast and 39 episodes says it all. Overdoing it kills any show, and the Brits always knew quantity is not the same as quality.
I found the first four episodes of MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, and I'm scouring
eBay and Amazon for more! This show is pretty damn funny. I never liked
American version, and now I know why. The acting in this is far superior!
Richard O'Sullivan is funny without resorting to inane slapstick -- ok,
there's a bit of it, but the British do it so much better (as evidenced by
Benny Hill). Sally Thomsett is cute without being dumb, and shows her wit
time and time again. And Paula Wilcox combines sexy, smart, and sassy like
no one I've ever seen. You won't find a more talented trio.
Yootha Joyce and Brian Murphy are the -- dare I say -- threesome's perfect foils. Not the lecherous landlords of the American version, but naughty and enjoyable.
Would love to see this on TV on this side of the pond. As it is, I'll have to buy PAL and have it converted to NTSC. A small price to pay for superior, saucy, sexy fun!
I absolutely LOVED this show when it aired here, even though I was a little
kid by then. It had the kind of charm and mood that keeps you laughing until
it hurts, the cast was excellent and so was the timing. If compared to what
the sitcom genre has degenerated to (And I don't think it's necessary to
name any specific title, most of the sitcoms are awful except Seinfeld) it's
a crying shame that shows like Mad About The House are no longer made.
Whatever happened to witty writing and great cast?
What you've got now in any sitcom is a cast full of supposedly cute girls who look like they just got out of a concentration camp, plus they can't act. And male cast is not much better, either. It seems any sitcom actor/actress must come out of a models' agency, as if the 'beauty' actually mattered more than the acting skills.
Somebody may accuse me of nostalgia, and I'm willing to be called that if it means yearning for good and funny shows like Mad About The House. The current sitcoms really stink. And I am looking forward to be able to get this fantastic show on DVD someday. By the way, The Roper was awesome as well.
This programme started to be hard to see in this particular TV market once
the American imitation "Three's Company" (1977) started up. "Three's
Company" was everything "Man About the House" was not. The British original
was funny, sexy, maybe a bit salacious. And it had two cute girls, nice
English ones. The grossly inferior "Three's Company" was unfunny, prurient
rather than sexy, and basically brain-dead. And no cute English birds,
"Man About the House" had a proper star, Richard O'Sullivan, who'd just finished his stint as Bingham in "Doctor in the House", a *completely* different role, mind you. Rather than someone like O'Sullivan, "Three's Company" had John Ritter. Years later, it turned out that Ritter could act but that wasn't really apparent in the '70's when he gave the leading one-note performance.
Hack US magazine writers still trot out that tired old cliché about the British being prudish about sex when compared to sophisticated Americans. I've seen a couple of references of that kind in the past month. Well, that might very well have been true in the 1940's, but that was certainly not the case by the '60's, and it's not true today either. If one compares these two series from the 1970's, it's the British one that's mature, while the American copycat seems childish and leering.
I suspect anyone who had ever seen "Man About the House" was left grinding his teeth by "Three's Company" and its long and entirely undeserved run. Surely there's an all-Britcom channel somewhere where this coy ménage à trois can find a happy home again.
The one thing the Brits know about television is knowing when to stop.
This show did more with 39 episodes (& one movie) than Three's Company
did with 172 episodes. While it does leave you wanting for more, I'd
rather have a few excellent shows than dozens of mediocre or downright
horrible ones. Hollywood should take a lesson here.
Richard was a likable bloke and the girls were cute and charming. The Ropers were much funnier than their American counterparts. I liked the fact that they dismissed the whole "Robin is gay" thing almost immediately.
If you've never seen this show, you owe to yourself to check it out.
Having lived in both the UK and the US, and watched both the ORIGINAL,
"Man About The House", and the US COPY, "Three's Company", I've enjoyed
both of them, even now, in 2006.
I've just been watching M.A.T.H. on Paramount Comedy, and much as I liked Three's Company, I'm finding I laugh out loud more often, at the UK show. I loved the American re-make too, but I guess my British upbringing means I identify with the British humour more.
It's just one of many UK sitcoms from the 1970's, that US television bought the rights and scripts of, and remade with an American flavour. Most of them became very popular in the US, with few people realising they were copies of original British ideas/scripts. Others I can think of:
"The Ropers" = "George & Mildred" "Sandford & Son" = "Steptoe & Son" "All In The Family" = "Till Death Do Us Part" "Reggie" = "The Rise & Fall Of Reginal Perrin"
All were good re-makes.
Conversely, on the few occasions the British have re-made American comedies, it hasn't worked as well. I'm thinking of UK remakes of "Golden Girls" and "Married With Children" - both British re-makes sucked, big time. In the case of the Married With Children re-make, I think it failed because the whole premise of the show was that it mocked clichéd "US cute family" comedies (it was known as the Anti-Cosby Show by the writers), and such humour didn't translate to a British show about a British family.
And now it's the 21st Century, and what do we see on NBC? An American re-make of the Golden Globe-winning British comedy, The Office.
I have such fond memories of watching this show. I would love to see it again. Yes, it was copied by Three's Company but the two shows diverged quite a bit after awhile. What I liked best about it was the sexual chemistry between Robin Tripp and Chrissy (the smart one). They were always bantering and teasing and arguing but you knew underneath there was something there. I was always waiting for the dumb blonde (Jo) to get out of the way so they could get more romantic. I wish I could remember how the series ended. I think they got together but maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. I do remember the series Robin's Nest and it was kinda cute but there was no chemistry without Chrissy. In the American series, Chrissy was the dumb blonde, Janet the smart one but neither one had any real romantic relationship with John Ritter's character. I think people here have been too harsh about Ritter. He was all slapstick its true, but that was an art in itself! Different kind of humour. I prefer the British series as it was more subtle and clever, but I also enjoyed the American version. Although it really lasted at least two years too long!!
Now the series is 30 years old but it is still funny. I saw it when I was
child and I can still recall the laughters at home. It was the first
tv series thet topped the tv rankings in Spain. And even now, people
Two different situations: upstairs the 3 flat mates, and downstairs the
landlord and his wife. The scripts were terrific: both situations fixed
perfectly. And what about the actors? all of them were absolutely
specially my dear Mrs Roper.
Oh, yes. Americans made a "remake" that was OK when they copied word by
the original episodes. When they had to create new scripts it became awful
By the way, I always recommend to see any show in its original version,
I must confess that Spanish dubbed version is as good as the original one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some years ago, satellite channel U.K. Gold promoted repeats of 'Men
Behaving Badly' with the hype: "Here it is, the original flat-sharing
sitcom!". This was in fact untrue. 'Man About The House' was also a
flat-sharing sitcom and ran from 1973-76.
It was the brainchild of Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke, creators of the popular sitcom 'Father Dear Father'. When it ended, they decided they wanted to do something more in harmony with the times.
In the first episode, Chrissy ( Paula Wilcox ) and Jo ( Sally Thomsett ) are tidying their Myddleton Terrace flat following a wild party when they find a man in their bath. He is Robin Tripp ( Richard O'Sullivan ), a Southampton cookery student of no fixed abode. While his clothes dry out, he puts on a ladies' dressing gown and prepares them a meal. They are so impressed by his culinary skills that they invite him to stay. But there must be no naughty business. So Robin has to pretend to be gay...
On B.B.C.-2's 'I Love 1973', shown in 2000, Julie Burchill claimed that 'House' showed her a way of life she envied. She was not alone. One of the most iconic ( for me, anyway ) images of '70's British television was Sally Thomsett coming out of the London Underground carrying a parasol, and a 'blind' man doing a double take as her pert bottom swings past.
A man living with two girls was a risqué subject for the time, but Mrs.Mary Whitehouse had no need to get hot under the collar, it was innocent, good-natured fun. Mortimer and Cooke's scripts went as close as they could to the edge without crossing it.
Richard O'Sullivan was still playing 'Bingham' in I.T.V.'s 'Doctor In Charge' when this got started. In fact the second run of 'In Charge' overlapped with the first of 'House'. He was born to play the sex-mad Robin. Paula Wilcox's 'Chrissy' was more streetwise than 'Beryl', her character she played in 'The Lovers', while Sally Thomsett's 'Jo' was a lovable dizzy blonde. As time wore on, he became almost like an older brother to them.
For many viewers, Brian Murphy and Yootha Joyce stole the show as the warring Ropers. George had lost interest in sex, but Mildred had not. They went on to their own show - the aptly titled 'George & Mildred'. The late Doug Fisher was good value as as Robin's wideboy friend Larry. He worked so well he was made into a regular.
Within a year of its debut, there was the inevitable movie spin-off. I am not a big fan of the 'Man About The House' movie because I think it was stretched to fit the big screen. Most of its characters had never appeared in the series.
The format was sold to America, where it became the long-running 'Three's Company' starring the late John Ritter and Suzanne Somers. It was far more suggestive than the British original, with Somers often seen in sexy clothing.
After six seasons, 'House' ended with Chrissy marrying Robin's older brother Norman ( Norman Eshley ). Fans were devastated to see Robin failing to get the girl he loved, but there was some consolation in the fact that he too landed his own show - 'Robin's Nest'.
While the British produced some hilarious and slick sitcoms in the
1990s - Ab Fab, Men Behaving Badly, One Foot in the Grave, etc. - the
70s were the real golden age.
In the 1970s there were whole new territories to explore, including the sexual revolution, feminism, and the slowly evolving awareness of a need for "sensitivity" that would, twenty years later, become Political Correctness. Attempts to grapple with the confusion of this thoroughly modern world were the subtle and not-so-subtle themes in everything from the skits of Monty Python's Flying Circus to sitcoms like Man About the House. (By the late 70s this "grappling" resulted in more meditative and bitter-sweet sitcoms such as the masterpiece Butterflies.)
Man About the House is a perfect example of the good Britcoms of the time - slightly genteel, cheeky, fresh, ingenuous, sometimes outrageous, with some well made observations on contemporary life. Compare it to a cynical 90s show such as Ab Fab, and it is hard to believe the two were created in the same country.
Man About the House is one of the great Britcoms of the 70s, right up there with Good Neighbors (The Good Life), and About the House's spin off George and Mildred. Its quality is attested to by the fact that - as with Good Neighbors - its creators, writers, and many of its cast have had continued success in British television.
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