The Partridge Family: The Complete First Season (review)

Come on, get happy! Oh, the power to bewitch that is incarnate in that horribly catchy theme song is but part of the paranormal cunning of this singing family in flare pants. Watching these 25 episodes from the show’s debut season, which kicked off in September 1970, one becomes aware that The Partridge Family actually predicted much of the quarter century of pop culture to follow. Sure, the wacky but wholesome antics of this musical mom-and-kids gang were just trying to catch a ride on the Brady Bunch gravy train, which had launched its popular intergenerational and intergender domestic warfare the year before, but what else besides black magic can explain such things as: The episode in which the Patridges move with Harry “M.A.S.H.” Morgan and just start playing songs in his living room is exactly like that TV commercial with the guy controlling the Black-Eyed Peas. Another episode accurately divines the rise of Mark Hamill in the role of an annoying teenager. Not one but two future Charlie’s Angels appear in different episodes in bit parts that correctly anticipate their positions in the world of crime fighters: Farrah Fawcett is “the dumb blonde,” while Jaclyn Smith is “the smart brunette.” The business-minded 10-year-old Danny (Danny Bonaduce) eerily foresees the rise of Alex P. Keaton a decade hence. All the velvet suits and ruffled lace collars prophesied the coming of Prince. And, perhaps creepiest of all, the sign painted on the back of the Patridges’ Mondrian-esque tour bus — “CAREFUL NERVOUS MOTHER DRIVING” — augurs the coming of the insidious “Baby On Board” window signs. It all seemed so innocent at the time, as we laughed and cried along with the family when Jan got braces– I mean Laurie, when Laurie (Susan Dey) got braces — but if we’d been paying attention, we might have prevented tragedies like Lollapalooza. Oh, the humanity. The discs include a unique “jump to the musical performances” option, allowing you to bypass all the corny unfunny “humor” and accompanying forced laugh track and get right to David Cassidy-style overproduced pop. Just how do they fade out of live performances, anyway?

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