Saturday, July 27, 2013

Classic TV: The Partridge Family (1970)

The Partridge Family was inspired by the real-life Cowsills, who had a few hits in the 60's, but had all but faded from the scene by the time this series launched in 1970. ABC smartly packaged it as part of a sitcom block that included The Brady Bunch, which was entering its 2nd season, on Fridays.

The mother-son combination of Shirley Jones & David Cassidy headlined, but only Cassidy did his own singing, despite Shirley having some experience in musicals. Studio musicians were used for the rest of the family band. Dave Madden (ex-Camp Runamuck) was cast as the band's manager, Reuben Kincaid, referenced in the show's original theme song, "When We're Singing", which was replaced by "Come On, Get Happy" after the first season.

Also after the first year, there was one minor cast change. Jeremy Gelbwaks was let go, and Brian Forster cast as Chris Partridge. Viewers didn't seem to notice much difference, and Forster reaped the benefits, including landing a side gig, along with TV sibs Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, & Suzanne Crough, on Goober & the Ghost Chasers, which also aired on ABC during the Partridges' final season (1973-4). Of course, there's also that misguided offshoot that sent the family into the future, which CBS picked up in 1974, but the less said about that, the better.

Shirley Jones narrated some of the early episodes, like this one:

Too bad the Cowsills and the Partridges never got together. It would've been something to see, even on, ah, Family Feud.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember watching this when it was in syndication on WWOR. I still love several of their tunes like, "I Think I Love You", "I Woke Up In Love This Morning", "I'll Meet You Halfway" and "Albuquerque".

One thing I've noticed is that the series doesn't seem to do well in reruns as say, "The Brady Bunch" or other sitcoms of the period. It's not as if they didn't have a decent cast who did their best.

I had heard that the Cowsills had been offered the TV series but the studio wanted to replace their mom with Shirley, and they refused. Prior to this, they had been in a TV special in which they laid the groundwork for the series The Partridge Family was based on. There's also a documentary that's been airing on Showtime recently about the Cowsills, their rise and fall and how they've bounced back as a family band.

Shirley Jones recently released an autobiography - she was touting it on Fox & Friends earlier this week. It sounds interesting.

hobbyfan said...

I think that because the series was built around music, and some of that bubblegum pop doesn't hold up well over 40 years later, there isn't as much interest in the Partridges nowadays......