13 May 2018 | franzooey
Not as Bad as History Believes
Just finished a month-long nostalgia kick: all eight seasons of Three's Company, two seasons of The Ropers, and the sole season of Three's a Crowd.
The Ropers is too often maligned, often making Internet lists for "Worst Spin-Off" or "Top Ten Terrible Spin-Offs." Make no mistake. The Ropers is no disaster like Joanie Loves Chachi or AfterMASH. In fact, The Ropers is quite palatable; often, it is hilarious. Norman Fell and Audra Lindley are terrific as always, and Jeffrey Tambor shines (thanks to his bald crown, of course) as the Ropers' uptight, upward-obsessed neighbor.
As others have stated, The Ropers may not be great. The couple are stronger in small doses. Still, the fact that this show lasted only a season plus six (season one is only six episodes) is a shame. The Ropers was a ratings smash for that first mini-season but tanked once it was switched to Saturday nights opposite CHiPS (why do television programmers do this?). It's a shame.
Concerns? As stated, Stanley/Fell and Helen/Lindley struggle to carry the weight of entire show, but what's really missing is a stronger supporting cast. Tambor is fantastic--don't get me wrong--but there's little else. Patricia McCormack is perfectly acceptable as Tambor's wife, and Evan Cohen is likable as the little boy, but Three's Company always boasted at least five strong characters, while The Ropers at times can feel claustrophobic: the two neighboring couples and not much else.
I don't know much about the history of The Ropers' ratings, but my guess is the addition of Stephanie Vallance as Jenny in the last ten episodes or so was a desperate attempt to inject a new storyline. This gambit is understandable, but Jenny, a young adult runaway with a heart of gold who moves in with the Ropers as their surrogate child of sorts, makes for an odd addition. Jenny is perfectly anodyne, and that's the problem. The show desperately needs another character or three, but only if that character is A) interesting and B) funny.
The Ropers deserved a better fate. It's certainly a good enough show to last four or five seasons. It's equally as good as, and often better than, other sitcoms that enjoyed healthy runs. And who knows? Given a chance to grow, The Ropers might have blossomed into something beyond its surface pleasures. Oh well.