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Monday, December 21, 2015

'Man About the House' DVD: 'Three's Company' as Film Version of Britcom

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Australian DVD release will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player. Watching it requires an international player, which typically costs roughly $65.]

The 1974 feature-film comedy "Man About the House," which is a follow-up to the classic Britcom of the same name, is a recent addition to this genre that Australia-based DVD producer/distributor Madman Entertainment releases under its Britannia Film Collection division. American sofa spuds know "Man" as the basis for the U.S. sitcom "Three's Company" about a 20-something man having a platonic living arrangement with two 20-something women.

"Company" holds much truer to "Man" than many other U.S. sitcoms do regarding their British parents. A striking difference is that Chrissy is the quieter and more cerebral brunette, rather than the blonde air-head, in the British version, Another difference is that the second woman is named Jo, rather than Janet, in "Man." Additionally, "Man" lacks any ego issues that result in replacing one of the stars halfway through the run of the show.

A further similarity has "Man" leading to the spin-off "Robin's Nest," which is very similar to the "Company" spin-off "Three's A Crowd."

Early "Company"esque scenes in "Man" include the roommates simultaneously conducting their morning grooming routines in their bathroom and their landlords, who share the surname of Roper with their "Company" counterparts, engaged in the typical "Company" banter related to Mrs. Roper having a libido and her husband lacking one. Mr. Roper referring to doing his "duty" on his wedding night provides a sense of that less-than-special relationship.

Other antics include a plan by male roommate Robin to get Jo and Chrissy naked going comically awry and a sultry Lanaesque cougar getting Robin in her lair. Other hilarity provides some insight regarding the extent to which Volkswagen beetles actually float.

True to the concept of films based on television series, the "sit" this time is larger than is typical in an episode. A developer purchasing property in the area as an initial stage of building office towers prompts the roommates to band with their neighbors to thwart this plan. Predictably, Mr. Roper being tempted to sell his building is one obstacle to preventing the demolition of the homes.

This issues-oriented offering, complete with a less-than-honorable local politician, is an interesting departure from every episode of "Company" and the similar personally watched few episodes of "Man." The manner in which this occurs adds a nice touch of traditional British political satire.

More highlights included a wonderful pop song ala Lulu that serves as an apt theme for the film and a wonderfully complex and evolving relationship between Robin and Chrissy.

The following YouTube clip of the opening title sequence for "Man" features the aforementioned tune.

The expected overall effect of "Man" the film on American fans of "Company" is that the roommates of that universe are living in a parallel existence. They are very recognizable to the extent that Jack/Robin is in cooking school and is a charming scoundrel living with a sweet dopey blonde and more level-headed brunette. This group also still lives above building owners the Ropers and hang out in the local pub-style bar. Things simply look and sound radically different.

The DVD extras include the theatrical trailer and a .pdf version of the script of the film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Man" is encouraged to email me, connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy, or come and knock on my door.

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