Man About the House, prototype of Three's Company, is in every way British. The characters are less archetypical; the sex jokes, considerably more lascivious; the pacing slower, the dialogue more wordy; the chemistry among the actors less obvious though in some ways more intense. What to make of all that is up to viewer.
Diehards fans of Three's Company will recognize almost every script, line for line, though in a longer version considerably obscured by British slang. They will see a more thoughtful Robin (Jack) Tripp(er), two female rommates not yet separated fully into their American blonde and brunette epitomes, a less boorish George (Stanley) Roper, and a less ebullient wife Mildred (Helen). But they will miss the physical comedy and the incredible energy of the American performances, and, of course, all those elements of Three's Company introduced after the Ropers spun off.
Three's Company came very, very close to the original in the second (though not in the first) unaired pilot. It then diverged. And, in diverging, became far more nearly universal. For all its prima facie simplicity, the American show is on balance considerably deeper and more subtle than this British prototype. The outright slapstick and whizzing pace of Three's Company leaves the profound human characterization to be gradually, almost subliminally, inferred, in between the laughing fits. It is impossible, I think, to watch Man About The House and to fall down in laughter. One faces a choice between snickering at the prurience and feeling charmed by the characters whose human foibles are always at the forefront. But the charm and the depth in the British foreground, though considerable, are not as great as the depth and the charm in the American background.
Indeed. Shakespeare too recycled his plots.moreless