Three’s Company – Reverend Takes a Bribe

The elderly church patron feeling welcomed at Jack's Bistro

If you start reading my articles regularly you will realize I have an eclectic combination of bad taste and highbrow sensibilities. In the same evening I might watch an absorbing PBS documentary on evolution and then settle down to relax with a collection of poorly scripted sitcom reruns.

Which is why I have Three’s Company in my DVD collection. Being a fan of old vaudeville routines and slapstick, I appreciate the nonsense of this series as lighthearted and without malice–even when it is offensive it still feels inoffensive. The sexual innuendo that some conservative viewers might have a problem with I view as really charming in contrast to the blunt fashion of sexual humor in many other movies and series in the recent past. I would say Three’s Company with all of its blunders is appropriate for kids in general and should be watched as a family so Mom and Dad can either explain the jokes or just laugh at them as the kids trying to figure out what is so funny. Lucille Ball, the queen of classic blunder comedy and wholesome entertainment loved the show so much she guest hosted a best-of special of all the classic moments.

The reason I bring up Three’s Companyon this site is that the show got away with satirizing the more prude elements of American Society without being meanspirited. To give due credit to the premise, the show was originally based on a British sitcom Man About the House and then turned into an American hit quite by accident (nobody thought the show would do as well as it did. Even if you haven’t watched the show, you are probably aware that it starred the late John Ritter as Jack, who lives with two other girls in the same apartment–and they never “get it on.” A very innocent, but naughty show that tweaked what was polite and then seemed to apologize for going too far with a sheepish smile, only to do it again and again on each episode.

One episode I’d like to draw your attention to is called “The Brunch,” collected on the DVD set  for Season 7 where Jack has started his own restaurant called “Jack’s Bistro.” He is about to lose his liquor license because a certain Reverend Gilmore shut down the previous restaurant in the same building. The offending establishment was a tavern of sorts that attracted hookers. Jack has to prove he runs a clean joint suitable for the church public (hookers are a big no-no with the church unless it is behind closed doors). In that manner he will be allowed to serve wine.

SIDENOTE: How ridiculous it is that we are still under religious constraints on alcohol. Moderation in all things, is definitely my motto, but why is Sunday off limits for selling liquor? Because of the Christian religion! Of course wine can still be bought at any grocery store because I guess it is acceptable due to Jesus turning water into wine?

To be sophisticated you have to wear glasses

In order to prove he is an upright restaurant owner, Jack rigs the place with Janet and Terri dressed in their Sunday best as well as Larry bringing a sophisticated date(which means a hot blonde wearing glasses, see the picture on the left). As usual the situation is controlled until an unforeseen element is introduced. In this case, newlyweds. The good Reverend is seated and served and eventually warms up to the bistro as being godly enough to “allow” it to do business. Off to the side, one of his church patrons, an elderly woman is seated with Janet and Terri who do their best to make her feel welcome–which as an apparent widow she appreciates.

But damn those newlyweds, they start going at it and Jack has his hands full trying to keep Reverend Gilmore’s judgmental eyes away from their passionate kissing (aw hell, they’re married anyways). Add to that Mr. Furley, played by the hilarious Don Knotts, who starts drinking the champagne he’s serving and Larry’s date who likes to seductively dance once she has a couple sips of champagne herself and Jack’s Bistro is a sexy, happening spot. The Reverend finally turns around to see all the inappropriate behavior, which is none of Jack’s fault, and his wrath is restored. Fortunately, the elderly church patron steps in and defends Jack because he made her feel welcome and accepted. The Reverend is not swayed until she reminds him of her upcoming contribution to the church and then he suddenly kowtows like all good politicians–because churches are more political than holy, aren’t they? They have to meet the demands of their “paying’ pew members and can’t stand on principal alone, which is one of the reasons I got fed up with the mainstream church.  Three’s Company gets away with exposing this hypocrisy using a neatly wrapped ending to a series of sight gags. This is one of the better episodes from Season 7, not to mention Terri appearing in a bikini (yowza).

The uptight Reverend Gilmore wants no nonsense from Jack

With Freethunk, I probably am reading too much into this episode, but again the idea is to find these tidbits and give them notice as a nice escape from religious sensitivities. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with friends like Jack, Janet and Terri and yet they certainly don’t seem to be church attending Christians–far from it. They’re just good people, much like many Americans who find it is better to sleep in on Sundays than to be stressed out by a guilt-filled sermon followed by a gluttonous afternoon potluck (bad for the heart).

With services like Netflix, you can use your que to build a playlist similar to your music, and therefore I’m hoping some of my recommendations will get into the mix. I don’t believe Netflix allows for user playlists yet because they are probably scared of categories like “Best Atheist Movies” or “Best Skeptical TV Episodes.” I think it may come about somehow though.

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