I have fond memories of watching The Brady Bunch and Happy Days as a kid but The Partridge Family mustn’t have played in the late ’80s/early ’90s as I never saw it growing up. After watching the Boyd Rice (NON, Unpop Art) documentary Iconoclast, I’d been meaning to check out TPF. Rice and his cohorts are part of The Partridge Family Temple, a religious “cult”, yes they prefer the word “cult”, cos you know Manson and all.
For those of you who don’t know anything about the show here’s a quick analysis, if you’re a bona-duche-fide (couldn’t help it) fan then skip to the next paragraph. The Partridge family consists of five children and their widowed mother. They embark upon a musical career with the help of their manager Reuben Kincaid. In the pilot episode the siblings convince their mother to cut a record with them as their friend is sick and can not perform. The song hits the top 40 charts and the family deck out their bus and go touring around America. Episodes across both seasons usually involve them touring around and performing or performing in their garage in their fictional Northern Californian town of “San Pueblo”.
I was kind of prepared for the show to be incredibly corny and hard to appreciate as it wouldn’t hold any sentimental value to me. That wasn’t the case at all. I enjoyed it as much as my three year old dug the musical numbers. It’s a little more subversive, a little darker and a little bit racier than the silly Brady Bunch. I find the Partridge Family funnier, but the younger kids are not so central in the stories and lack a bit of character development whereas every character in the Brady Bunch was fully developed and given screen time. But for some people I imagine the musical numbers might negate any subversiveness.
Danny Partridge (Danny Bonaduce) has to be the best character and often the best episodes revolve around him. The Partridge Family Temple dubbed Danny the “Loki” (trickster) of the show. He gets drafted into the war at age 10, he tutors a mob member’s girlfriend, tries his hand at comedy, convinces himself he is adopted and after a review praises him he decides to go solo. Manager Kincaid (Dave Madden) is also a source of comedy as he is often aggravated by the children, particularly Danny who is often terrorizing him.
Yes the show is incredibly “wholesome” but there’s also a bit of nonconformism and anti-authoritarianism. There’s also a lot of arguments and prank playing on various members of the family, so it’s kinda mixed up a bit and not completely corny and as saccharine as The Brady Bunch. There’s some interesting topics explored in a few episodes particularly the episodes where Keith promises his girlfriend that the family will perform at a feminist rally much to the disdain of the local morality watchdog group; in another they end up trapped in jail after performing for inmates.
There’s some notable guests over these two series including Johnny Cash (first episode), Farrah Fawcett, Dick Clark, Richard Pryor, Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester), Jaclyn Smith (Charlie’s Angels), Mark Hamill and Michael Ontkean (Sheriff Harry Truman from Twin Peaks).
An absolute must own for fans of the show and well worth checking out if you’re into 70s nostalgia. Both Season One and Season Two are 3 disc sets and are three disc sets. Incredibly good value with long run times and enough extras to satisfy hardcore fans.
Complete Season One:
25 episodes on 3 discs with a running time of 655 minutes
- Jump to the Musical Performances
- Featurettes: Boarding the Bus and The Sound of Partridge
- Audio Commentaries with Shirley Jones and Danny Bonaduce
Complete Season Two:
24 episodes on 3 discs with a running time of 606 minutes
- Jump to the Musical Performances
Clearly season One is a bit better in the extras department with the two featurettes. “Boarding the Bus” runs for 20 minutes and “The Sound of the Partidge” is just shy of 10 minutes.