Janet, Jack, and Some of That Jazz

In the season six episode of Three’s Company—hilariously titled “Some of That Jazz”—Janet (my birthday buddy, the lovely and talented Joyce Dewitt) thinks her dance instructor’s interest in her is strictly for her dancing skills. Jack (one of the best comedic actors of all time, the late John Ritter) knows the teacher (Michael Bell in a delightfully obnoxious performance) is a sleazeball with only one thing on his mind though, and that’s doing the horizontal mambo with Janet, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Janet thinks Jack is way off base about the unctuous instructor, establishing the episode’s central conflict between these two best friends.

Like many Gen Xers raised on the boob tube, I watched every single episode of Three’s Company multiple times. It was my favorite sitcom for a stretch. I watched it daily in reruns throughout the early and mid ‘80s while laying on my stomach on the fluffy, ‘70s carpet in the den. “Some of That Jazz” was always a favorite, and whenever I see it these days I have to stop and watch—although that’s true of almost any episode of this fantastic show for me. But I love episodes like this one because of their focus on the Janet and Jack relationship. They truly loved each other—platonically, it seemed, but a lot of us fans really wanted to see them get together and shag like minx. They were perfect for each other and had some sizzling kisses over the years. Still, they were also perfect as best friends, and their relationship is a wonderful example of truly selfless friendship at its best.

“Some of That Jazz” operates as a nice snapshot of how Jack was always looking out for Janet (and all of his friends and roommates, actually). It also has plenty of great physical comedy, especially from the truly gifted physical comedian Ritter, as Jack realizes how difficult dancing is when you have no talent for it. Most memorably, the end of the episode serves as an empowering moment for Janet. When she finally gets hip to her instructor’s lascivious intent, she stands up for herself and tells him off, while Jack stands by for support. The episode ends sweetly with Jack asking Janet to dance, and my old softie heart eats it right up every time.

I haven’t written enough at the Starfire Lounge about my favorite shows of the 1970s through the early 1990s, but that needs to change. Those shows were highly influential on me, more than movies were at first because I could access television so much easier and more frequently (like, every single day, for hours on end). I’m hoping to at least occasionally write about Three’s Company and other nostalgic classics I adore like Charlie’s Angels, Taxi, WKRP in Cincinnati, Bosom Buddies, The Love Boat, Night Court, The Nanny and more. So many, so little time, but just like Janet on the dance floor I’ll give it the old college try!

5 thoughts on “Janet, Jack, and Some of That Jazz

  1. Great post. In the early aughts I read a review of “Three’s Company” that said something like “John Ritter was the all-time mack daddy that kept it real.” It was such a delightful (and accurate) description of him that I quoted it in my AOL profile.

    One day I went online and kept receiving IMs from strangers who wanted to talk about Ritter. That was how I learned of his death. He meant so much to so many people that, pre-Twitter and Facebook, they were willing to directly contact a stranger to reminisce about Jack Tripper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That story is amazing. Ritter really was a special kind star. For me growing up, his Jack Tripper and everything Michael Keaton was doing at the time, along with Tom Hanks as Kip Wilson on Bosom Buddies, were basically the holy trinity of comedy gods. Looking back now, I love seeing that all three shared so much in common onscreen, especially that they were almost always playing more beta than alpha males—sure, Jack played at being a ladies man, but the writers and Ritter undercut that at every turn to show us just how goofy and sweet Jack was, and how so much of his act was a harmless put-on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We need to reclaim the meaning of boob tube…because boobs are amazing!! We have been the lucky recipients of such talented writers and actors , in TV and in movies, and you should definitely keep writing about them!! I don’t see it ever returning, but nothing beats having experienced it… and we have you to help remind us!!

    Liked by 1 person

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