November 14, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

The man who would become one of the most gifted physical comedians on TV had a particularly auspicious entrance: When roomies Chrissy Snow (Somers) and Janet Wood (DeWitt) find Jack Tripper (Ritter) sleeping in their bathtub the morning after a party for their departing housemate, he introduces himself and promptly stumbles out of the bathtub — a pratfall on his very first line! The sitcom’s DVD, being released two months after Ritter’s death, features the instantly successful first six episodes (originally run as a limited series) in the lives of the sexually charged yet ”strictly platonic” twentysomething trio, with Somers at her ditziest, DeWitt at her shrewdest, and Ritter at his klutziest. The landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Roper (Norman Fell and Audra Lindley) — whom Jack must convince that he’s gay in order to live with the girls — deliver the sharpest one-liners: When the perpetually frustrated Mrs. Roper quips, ”I know a man when I see one — mainly from memory, of course,” her husband zings back, ”You’ve got enough mouth for three lips.” Along with the ceaseless innuendo (Jack: ”I’m so down this morning, I couldn’t even raise a smile”), there’s an abundance of ’70s pre-PC prattle, like Mr. Roper continually referring to Jack as Tinker Bell. Ultimately, Ritter’s expertly inept antics got the loudest laughs — and caused the show to stay on air for eight seasons. Even though there are no extras, this is still the Company to keep. A-

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