On this episode of Return to the ’80s, Robert and Paul welcome Ty Ray, from the Beats and Eats podcast, to the show. The guys Return to 1981, and count down the year’s top songs, movies, and television shows. Also, find out what the biggest selling toys were in 1981, and reminisce on the big news stories of the year.
As this current decade comes to a close, come join us to Return to the greatest decade ever, and check out the awesome year of 1981!
Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 – January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome
Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 4-2
New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-1
LA Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-1
January 20 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed
March 6 Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS Evening News
March 30 Reagan Assassination attempt
April 18 The Longest Game – Pawtucket Red Sox tie Rochester Red Wings 2-2 in 32 innings (game resumed 23rd June)
May 11 Cats premieres in London
May 13 Assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Jun 2 Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
Jun 5 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
Jun 12 Baseball players begin a 50 day strike, their 3rd strike
July 29 Royal Wedding
Aug 1 MTV premieres at 12:01 AM
Aug 3 13,000 Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) begin their strike; US President Ronald Reagan offers an ultimatum to workers: ‘if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated’
Sep 12 “The Smurfs” animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America
Sep 25 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice
Dec 11 Muhammad Ali’s 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
Each of the spinoffs did not last long at all. The Ropers ran from March 13, 1979 to May 22, 1980. And Three’s a Crowd ran from September 25, 1984 to April 9, 1985.
Three’s Company was based off of the British sitcom Man About the House, which aired in the United Kingdom from 1973 to 1976. When that series ended, the producers decided to produce two spinoffs. The first was George and Mildred (as in George and Mildred Roper), which ran from 1977 to 1980. The second spinoff was written for Richard O’Sullivan who played Robin Tripp (Jack Tripper on Three’s Company) and was named Robin’s Nest, also the name of his restaurant on the series, which ran from 1977 to 1981.
Since Three’s Company was so popular, the producers wanted to strike while the iron was hot, and do a spinoff. Audra Lindley, who played Helen Roper, was interested. However Norman Fell, who played Stanley Roper, was hesitant. He was already part of a successful show, so he didn’t want to take a chance on going on another show that could possibly flop. So, the 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.
The Ropers first aired in the timeslot following Three’s Company, and was successful. Three’s Company would then go on hiatus, but The Ropers kept it’s numbers up, and finished at #8 for the 1978-79 season. This was the second-highest series premiere rating at the time. But, as far as the networks go, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just as they do today, they see a successful show, and say, “Hey, let’s move this to a different time slot!” At the beginning of the 1979-1980 season, The Ropers got moved to Saturday nights at 8pm, resulting in an audience drop which put it near the bottom of the ratings. I know that I didn’t watch The Ropers at that time. This is because it was up against CHiPs. In May 1980, it was announced that The Ropers would be cancelled. Then the show was moved to Thursdays at 9:30pm after Barney Miller in May 1980 for the last three episodes. The numbers jumped back up, but the show stayed cancelled. And Norman Fell and Audra Lindley got screwed.
The Ropers had been replaced on Three’s Company by Ralph Furley (Don Knotts). The show was very successful with Mr. Furley. The producers weren’t interested in pay 2 people to play the landlords when they could just pay 1 person and be just as successful. This was also the time where Suzanne Somers had her infamous contract dispute with the show. And since The Ropers technically lasted more than a year, the show was not contractually obligated to bring Fell and Lindley back. Fell would later state that he always believed the decision to pull the plug on the show had been made much earlier, 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.
Despite the hard feelings, in March 1981 both Fell and Lindley made one final guest appearance on Three’s Company (in season 5, episode # 96) nearly a year after the end of their own series before the characters were retired for good. For audiences, it was a chance to see all of the three landlord characters — played by Fell, Lindley, and Knotts — on the same stage.
Three’s a Crowd
As Three’s Company entered its eighth season in 1983, it was still successful. However, it had new competition, with a little show called The A-Team. Naturally, Three’s Company‘s ratings took a dive. Knowing that the show was in trouble, the producers decided to end Three’s Company’s run, and create a new spinoff, called Three’s a Crowd.
Development and casting of the new series occurred in secret as Three’s Company‘s eighth season progressed. Fellow cast members Joyce DeWitt, Priscilla Barnes, Don Knotts, and Richard Kline were kept out of the loop. During a Christmas hiatus in late 1983 producers auditioned several female leads to play Jack’s new love interest Vicky Bradford, and eventually decided upon Broadway actress Mary Cadorette. An embarrassing situation arose when Joyce DeWitt accidentally walked in on the auditions after coming to the studio to set up her dressing room as the holiday hiatus was coming to a close. DeWitt was then informed by the producers that the series, ending at the close of the season with Ritter, would spin off to Threes a Crowd without her. Awkward!
Both Dewitt and Barnes learned that their characters would conclude with the series finale, however, both Richard Kline and Don Knotts were offered an opportunity to have recurring roles on the spin-off. Both actors declined the offer (Kline would make a guest appearance on the show in early 1985).
In transitioning from Three’s Company to Three’s a Crowd, series producers decided to follow the plotline of the British series. Season eight of Three’s Company drew to a close in a three episode story arc. In the first of these episodes, Janet meets wealthy art collector Phillip Dawson. In the second episode she falls in love with him, while Jack meets and falls in love with stewardess Vicky Bradford. Her wealthy father, played by Robert Mandan, does not approve of the relationship. When first aired, this episode ended with the words “To be continued… next fall,” and when rerun late in the summer, this was changed to “To be continued… next week.”
The last episode of Three’s Company aired as an hour long special that kicked off the 1984-85 fall television season and set up the premise for Three’s a Crowd. In the episode, Janet married Phillip, and Terri relocated to Hawaii. Jack and Vicky profess their love for one another, but Vicky turns down Jack’s proposal of marriage, citing her fear of the institution after seeing her parents feud her whole life. They instead move in together, in an apartment above Jack’s Bistro. In the last scene, Jack and Vicky are spending their first romantic evening together in the new apartment, only to have Mr. Bradford accidentally barge in on them, explaining that he received the key from Jack’s old boss Mr. Angelino, having just bought the building from him, becoming the couple’s new landlord. The title card for Three’s Company then appears over the screen with the word “Company” zooming out, being replaced with “a Crowd”.
Like its predecessor, Three’s a Crowd remained against The A-Team, with the same results. The show was not getting great viewership. John Ritter was told that ABC would commit to a half-season of thirteen episodes to see how the series would place, although Ritter was reported as saying that he would not return to the show unless a full season was ordered. It did not matter, as Diff’rent Strokes was dropped by NBC. ABC decided to pick up that series, and drop Three’s a Crowd.
Question: Can you name the two Three’s Company spinoff shows?
Last Question: What live-action movie character reappeared in a cartoon series battling General Warhawk’s evil organization S.A.V.A.G.E.?
Rambo: The Force of Freedom debuted on April 14, 1986 as a five-part miniseries, and was renewed in September as a daily cartoon. Rambo was cancelled in December of the same year. Rambo was called in by General Trautman to lead the Force of Freedom in fighting Cobra S.A.V.A.G.E. – Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion. There’s no truth to the rumor that instead of yelling “Yo Joe!” when attacking the enemy, they yelled “Yo Adrian!” (Oops! Wrong Sylvester Stallone franchise).
Here is the show opening:
Rambo: The Force of Freedom also spawned a toy line that outlasted the show itself.
The episode Jack Bares All aired in 1981, and featured the introduction of new roommate Terri. In the first of this 2-part episode, Jack was given a second chance at being a chef at Mr. Angelino’s restaurant. Jack cut his finger, much to the delight of the disgruntled Felipe. Jack went to the Emergency Room, and had a bad experience with a nurse named Terri, which resulted in her tricking Jack in order to stick him with a tetanus shot.
In the meantime, Jack and Janet’s roommate Cindy announced that she was moving out in order to go to veterinary school at UCLA. Janet went out and found a new roommate. Much to Jack’s chagrin, it was that nurse Terri. Jack wanted Terri out of the apartment, and Terri was trying to win him over.
In part 2, the gang was throwing a going away party for Cindy. Jack and his friend Larry came up with a plan to get Terri to move elsewhere. They terrorized Terri, and then crossed the line when Jack ruined her dress. He was going to pretend to take a picture of her by using a trick camera, which he thought would spray water on her. Unknown to Jack, Larry put ink in the camera, and ruined Terri’s dress, and made himself look like an ass in the process. He felt really bad, and they made up and became friends and roommates. Terri would stay on the series until the show ended in 1984.