Top 10 ‘Partridge Family’ Episodes
The early '70s were full of unique juxtapositions in pop culture. Turn on your radio in the fall of 1970 and you may have heard hits from Santana, Free, the Guess Who and James Brown. You may also have heard Bobby Sherman, the Archies and the Partridge Family. From hard rock to Latin to soul to pure bubblegum, it was a time of anything goes on AM radio. The same was true of television where The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family were sharing the airwaves with All in the Family and the Flip Wilson Show. From the lightest of fluff to social commentary the likes of which we had never seen on television before. In many ways, for those who grew up then, we needed both sides of that coin to truly make sense of the world around us.
The Partridge Family's music was never meant to be confused with Led Zeppelin or Yes and The Partridge Family television show was not about to be mistaken for Sanford and Son or M*A*S*H, and that's the way it was meant to be. The sitcom cliches of problem, hijinks, solution, more hijinks, resolution and redemption was stuck to with precision on the series. There was nary a problem to big to remain unsolved in a 30-minute episode, and there was always a song or two as the cherry on top. The series featured a long list of guests, some of whom were yet to be famous on their own. Here we give you 10 of the most memorable episodes of The Partridge Family, so c'mon, get happy and wander back to a simpler time.
"What? And Get Out of Show Business?"
Originally aired: Sept. 25, 1970
The debut episode of The Partridge Family more or less lays out the story as to who these people are and why these kids are in a band with their mom and as a bonus, includes a special guest shot from Johnny Cash. The songs in the episode did not feature the vocals of David Cassidy and Shirley Jones, as the pilot was filmed before producer Wes Farrell had auditioned Cassidy as a singer. The vocals on the songs "Let the Good Times In," and "Together (Havin' a Ball)" feature members of the group the Love Generation. Also of note, the early episodes featured a different lyrics in the opening. "When we're singing" was heard in place of "C'mon get happy."
Originally aired: Jan. 29, 1971
What happens when the very white and suburban Partridges arrive in Detroit to perform for a primarily black audience expecting to hear the Temptations? Thanks to a mix-up from their booking agent, the family has this issue to deal with. Thankfully, concert promoters Sam and A.E. Simon (played by Richard Pryor and Louis Gossett Jr.) knew just how to make it all groovy. Danny helps out, the family help raise some money for the struggling promoters, and there are smiles all around. Ahh, if only life were this simple.
"The Sound of Money"
Originally aired: Oct. 2, 1970
A post-Dragnet, pre-M*A*S*H Harry Morgan makes an appearance here as an old coot trying to scam insurance money from the Partridges following a minor fender-bender involving their famous psychedelic bus. "You crazy hippies! It's bad enough you don't trust anyone over 30, now you're trying to wipe us out!" exclaims the highly misinformed character played by Morgan. Once he learns they are in show-biz he sues them for half a million dollars. Also of note in this episode is the appearance of a very angelic-looking Farrah Fawcett.
"My Son, the Feminist"
Originally aired: Dec. 11, 1970
The topical side of The Partridge Family pops up now and again, as on this episode from the first season. Keith has a girlfriend who is involved in the women's rights movement and he promises her that the family will appear at a rally she is holding for the cause. But controversy is just around the corner as a member of a group opposing the rally asks, "Are you trying to turn our girls into boys?" Another states, "It's bad enough that our boys are turning into girls with all that long hair nonsense!"
"A Man Called Snake"
Originally aired: Oct. 1, 1971
Though they lived a quiet life in suburbia, sweet Laurie Partridge somehow managed to catch the eye of a rough-and-tumble member of a motorcycle gang, the Rogues. Laurie surprises her family when she agrees to a date with this guy named Snake. Keep in mind, Snake was played by a not-too-tough-looking Rob Reiner, on loan from All in the Family. Of course, he turns out to be a slightly misunderstood but very nice guy, though the logo of his gang features a prominent flipping of the bird on the back of his jacket.
"A Knight in Shining Armor"
Originally aired: March 19, 1971
A merging of teen sensations took place on the episode titled "A Kinght In Shining Armor," as fellow 16 magazine fave rave Bobby Sherman makes the scene. Sherman plays Bobby Conway, a struggling songwriter in search of a lyricist. The family hook him up with the slightly awkward Lionel Poindexter (played by Wes Stern) and, of course, the duo strike gold and write a hit. This episode led to a spinoff featuring Sherman and Stern called Getting Together that lasted all of one season.
"My Heart Belongs to a Two-Car Garage"
Originally aired: Feb. 4, 1972
Actor Arte Johnson, from the ground breaking Laugh-In, appears as an offbeat Russian handyman who decides to paint a mural on the family's garage door. The problem is, his mural is that of a nude woman. Mama Partridge proclaims, "The human body is beautiful, there's nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't belong on a garage." Nicholas Minsky Pushkin gets defensive about his art and refuses to paint over his work. The neighbors complain before anything can be done, claiming since he was a "Russkie," he was no doubt "after the minds of the children." As it turns out, he was a famous artist and the garage door ends up in a museum.
Originally aired: Jan. 15, 1971
The problems of adolescence have always been ripe for topic on any given sitcom, but when you had a busload of teens, tweens, and younger, it was every day, or every episode, in some form. Here, Laurie has to get braces but fears embarrassment. Adding to the drama, her braces somehow begins picking up radio signals when the group plug into play. Actor Mark Hamill didn't have the Force with him but did manage to get a smile or two from Laurie.
"To Play or Not to Play"
Originally aired: Feb. 5, 1971
The family arrive to play a gig (by the way, why did they always seem to play supper clubs?), only to find that workers at the venue involved in a dispute with management. After talking with her old friend Marc (played by Michael Lembeck), who calls the situation "a typical example of the establishment exploiting the working class," Laurie refuses to cross the picket line, thus preventing the group from playing. Lembeck's real-life dad, Harvey (of Stalag 17 and countless beach party films of the previous decade), plays the mean boss. Protesters take action but in the end, all issues are resolved to the sounds of "Umbrella Man."
"I Left My Heart in Cincinnati"
Originally aired: Jan. 26, 1973
Another staple of early-'70s sitcoms was the episodes filmed on location. In this case, at King's Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati where the Partridge Family were playing a gig. During the visit, Keith begins to fall in love with the publicity director, played by Mary Ann Mobley. Too add to the intrigue, Danny develops an interest in her as well. Amusement parks, love triangles, pop music ... it's all here on The Partridge Family, and a year before the Brady Bunch visited the same park for their own round of turmoil.