"The Partridge Family" has found a new network home at NBC.The Partridge Family was originally part of a must-see Friday-night line-up that included The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple, and Love, American Style. There was also a half-hour comedy in the mix that never had much of a life -- whether the Bobby Sherman vehicle, Getting Together, or Nanny and the Professor (with Juliet Mills), or the ill-conceived Anna and the King, starring Samantha Eggar and Yul Brynner. (Really, who thought American audiences wanted to watch a stylish period comedy about a Southeast Asian autocrat in the middle of the Vietnam War?) Despite the success of the shows surrounding them, all these series fizzled rather than sizzled.
The Peacock has picked up a contemporary single-camera take on the classic ABC sitcom to be written by Jeff Rake.
It is one of two projects Rake has sold in the past week, along with untitled dramedy at Fox, a collaboration with Mitch Hurwitz to which Anthony and Joe Russo are attached to direct. Both projects have landed script commitments with penalty.
"Partridge" hails from Reveille, Geffen Records and Sony TV.
A fan of the 1970s series, Rake plans to "turn the premise on its head."
"In the original, the kids actually recruited their mom to front the band, which I can't see happening in any family on this planet," he said. "The new version will reflect what seems to me to be the more realistic family band scenario these days: a struggling, sort of well-meaning mom pimping her kids in order to create a wholesome-slash-sexy cash cow."
People might be surprised to learn that The Partridge Family actually had higher ratings than The Brady Bunch, which only achieved its status as a cultural icon later, through years of syndicated reruns in the afterschool hours.
In fact, The Partridge Family's audience grew from its Brady Bunch lead-in. I have a theory to explain this. Who would a teenage boy (or girl) in the early 1970s choose as a fantasy date -- Keith Partridge or Greg Brady? 'Nuff said. (My own preference was always for Danny Partridge, but then he was my age, not older, and I always go for the brainy type. Chacun à son goût.)
I am of that age for which The Partridge Family was an integral part of growing up. I won't embarrass myself by describing the posters on my bedroom wall or my habit of reading Tiger Beat and 16 magazines. But even the most cynical music critics would have to admit that the pop sound of the Partridge Family -- fronted by teen idol David Cassidy with Oscar-winner Shirley Jones singing back-up and driving a psychedelic bus -- had a certain pleasant quality to it. It had a nice beat, and you could dance to it.
Funny thing is, VH1 attempted to bring back The Partridge Family about five years ago, a project that seems to have sunk into the memory hole. Here's The Hollywood Reporter again, via CNN, on November 10, 2003:
An updated version of the 1970s sitcom favorite "The Partridge Family" is being hatched at VH1.I remember the reality-show auditions for that new Partridge Family; but what happened to the series itself?
Sony Pictures Television, which holds rights to the popular show about a musical family, will produce a reality series for the cable channel chronicling the casting of the new Partridges as well as a scripted half-hour pilot featuring the winners.
"'The Partridge Family' is a part of pop culture that everyone remembers with tremendous fondness," said Zack Van Amburg, senior vp development and cable programming at SPT. "VH1 is just the right network for this."
Let's get the detectives from Without a Trace to investigate.