'The Partridge Family': THR's 1970 Review

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On September. 25, 1970, at 8:30 p.m., The Partridge Family premiered on ABC. Inspired by the real-life Cowsill family, The Partridge Family and its music became a hit both on TV and on the pop charts. Read THR’s original review below:

The pilot was planned for and filmed twice by the top-selling Cowsill family but didn’t click til parts were filled by others, featuring Shirley Jones in the lead as (in this version) a widowed mother who finds fame and fortune with her pop singer children, joining them onstage herself.

The opening show pushes the Partridges from the quiet past through a hit record and into a gig at Caesar’s Palace, where all but nervous Mom freeze up as the curtain rises.

Already solid fare in any teen fan mag, kids in the Partridge family are appealing and sometimes amusing. David Cassidy as Keith Partridge fills the teenybopper void left by “Here Come The Bridges” star Bobby Sherman, while Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge will pick up all honors on female popularity polls.

Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge has perhaps the most straight-forward acting talent of any of the child stars, but Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge could stare down the world with eyes the size of tennis balls. Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge is adequate as fudge-faced window dressing.

Shirley Jones and David Madden (record exec Reuben Kincaid) fill their roles neatly but the premiere script by Bernard Slade (also show’s creator) was weak, puffed with dabs of worn-out dialogue such as “This bill for peanut butter looks like the national debt.” Direction by Paul Junger Witt was fragmented and jumpy in spots, particularly in concluding Caesar’s Palace scene.

One truly funny seg in the show was an unexpected restroom scene where Danny Partridge follows Madden into the men's john with a tape recording of the Partridges. Madden inks the disk, of course.

The series has everything for family appeal: five kids, a dog, freckles, hair, big eyes and pimples. Friday night babysitters will love it. — Rochelle Reed, first published on Sept. 28, 1970.

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