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1970s / The Ropers - Disastrous Spinoff
Three's Company was a big it for ABC when it debuted in March 1977. Risque for its time due to its frequent sexual innuendos, the show was about a single male who was permitted to share an apartment with two single females as long as he pretended to be gay to placate the landlords. By the 1977-78 season, it was the #3 show on American TV. Accordingly, someone at ABC thought a sitcom centered on the show's landlords--the Ropers--was bound to be a hit. Audra Lindley, who played Helen Roper, liked the idea. Norman Fell, who played uptight Stanley Roper, wasn't so sure. He was quite content being a secondary character on a hit show and thought a spinoff was a big career risk. Nevertheless The Ropers premiered on Tuesday, March 13, 1979 to a very high initial rating, and it did moderately well in the ratings for the rest of the TV season. Then, in the fall of 1979, The Ropers was moved from its Tuesday time slot to Saturday where it competed head-to-head against NBC's popular CHIPS. The show's viewers failed to make the transition. Moreover, the Ropers never attracted the targetted young demographic. After 28 episodes The Ropers was yanked. By that time, Lindley and Fell had their roles as landlords on Three's Company decisively replaced by the popular Don Knotts. They made one cameo appearance and vanished from the show. Norman Fell's fears had come true. The Ropers regularly appears on TV fans' and critics' lists of the worst spinoffs ever.