August 27, 2016


(CBS, September 7- December 21, 1974)

Hanna-Barbera Productions, Columbia Pictures Television

Susan Dey – Laurie Partridge (2 episodes)
Sherry Alberoni – Laurie Partridge, various
Danny Bonaduce – Danny Partridge
Suzanne Crough – Tracy Partridge
Brian Foster – Chris Partridge
Joan Gerber – Connie Partridge, various
Chuck McClendon – Keith Partridge
John Stephenson – Reuben Kincaid, various
Julie McWhirter – Marion, various
Frank Welker – Veenie, Orbit, various

            The family that plays together stays together—especially if that play involves a recording contract.

            Created by Bernard Slade, The Partridge Family followed the adventures of a talented family that formed a band and embarked on a performing career. It was loosely based on the real-life band family The Cowsills, who were popular in the late 60s and early 70s. Initially, The Cowsills were considered to play themselves, but as they were not trained actors and older than what the producers wanted that idea was abandoned.

The Partridges and their funky bus.

            In the pilot episode, widowed mother Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) was convinced by her children Keith (David Cassidy, Jones’ real-life step-son), Laurie (Susan Dey), Danny (Danny Bonaduce), Chris (Jeremy Gelbwaks for season 1, Brian Foster for the remainder) and Tracy (Suzanne Crough) to sing on a recording they were making in their garage. Danny went out and secured the family’s agent, Reuben Kincaid (Dave Madden), and soon they were off and touring in their multicolored school bus. Wes Farrell served as the show’s music producer and studio musicians, referred to as The Wrecking Crew, provided the sound of the family. Cassidy and Jones were the only members of the cast who actually sang on the recordings.

In concert.

            The Partridge Family debuted on ABC on September 25, 1970. Screen Gems, who produced the show, heavily promoted it through a wide array of merchandising including posters, comic books, board games and, naturally, albums of the songs that appeared in the episodes. Cassidy quickly became a teen idol and incorporated Partridge songs along with his original works when he toured. Bonaduce also scored his own record deal, although Bruce Roberts provided most of the vocals. The show performed well, earning first place in its timeslot until ABC moved it to air opposite CBSAll in the Family. The ratings plummeted and ABC cancelled the show after its fourth season. 

Judy Jetson, ace reporter.

            Meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera was looking to revive The Jetsons with an updated version similar to what they did for The Flintstones with The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show. Elroy would have been going off to high school while Judy was an ace reporter, and they would have been surrounded by a new assortment of Space Age friends. They proposed the show to CBS’ Fred Silverman, but Silverman wanted to acquire The Partridge Family instead in the hopes of bringing their audience over to CBS. Since the network would see just as much of a return from a new Jetsons as they already did from airing reruns, Silverman had Hanna-Barbera retool their proposal to incorporate the characters. The Partridges had previously appeared on Hanna-Barbera’s Goober and the Ghost Chasers in several episodes in 1973.

Promo art.

            The resulting series was essentially The Partridge Family set in The Jetsons world. The family remained virtually unchanged from their live counterparts in personality and appearance (with the exception of Reuben, who ended up resembling an aged George Jetson), but were given Space Age fashions, instruments and their school bus became a domed spaceship with the same color scheme. Dey, Bonaduce, Crough and Foster were all retained to voice their respective characters. However, Dey only recorded two episodes before she left the production to film a movie and was replaced by Sherry Alberoni. Jones would claim in a 2008 radio interview that she never knew an animated series existed. Joan Gerber instead played her character. 

Futuristic stage.

Cassidy and Madden were also absent; their characters played by Chuck McClendon and John Stephenson, respectively. However, Madden did record dialogue for the cartoon and was set to star in it, but the producers decided to replace him. New characters included Laurie’s half-green, half-blue Martian friend, Marion (Julie McWhirter), Keith’s Venusian blue friend, Veenie, and the family’s pet robot dog, Orbit (both Frank Welker). The characters were designed by Dick Bickenbach.

Ad for the series.

            Partridge Family 2200 A.D. debuted on CBS on September 7, 1974. It was written by Buddy Atkinson, Jim Begg, Barry E. Blitzer, Larz Bourne, Dick Conway, Rance Howard, Jack Mendelsohn, John Fenton Murray, Ray Parker and William Raynor. Like the live series, plots tended to revolve around Danny with the rest of his family being sucked in like a vortex when one of his schemes or inventions backfired. Hoyt Curtin handled all the incidental music while a band of studio performers supplied the weekly song cues. Although some of the same talent that brought life to Josie and the Pussycats were retained for the show, no consideration was given for any kind of album release due to the fact that the live Partridge albums had already declined in popularity and there would be no Cassidy on vocals to help sell it. 

Danny with Orbit at snack time.

            2200 A.D. ended up becoming a disappointing failure, both in the ratings and from a creative standpoint. With the live show being cancelled months earlier with poor ratings, and most of its audience now too old for cartoons even if they were still watching the original at the end, CBS’ gambit on a built-in fanbase didn’t pay off. 2200 A.D. was cancelled mid-season, and it was replaced in March of 1975 by reruns of Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm. Hanna-Barbera would finally get their Jetsons revival in syndication in 1985.

Collecting souvenirs.

Like Jeannie, this show was owned by Screen Gems, now part of Sony Pictures Television, due to their owning the rights to The Partridge Family. In 1977, the series was retitled The Partridge Family in Outer Space and was included in the serialized Fred Flintstone and Friends series, which was co-produced by Screen Gems’ successor Columbia Pictures Television. In 2005, the episodes “My Son, the Spaceball Star” and “Car Trouble” became the only two episodes released to home media after they were included as bonus features in The Partridge Family: The Complete First Season DVD set.

EPISODE GUIDE (“*” denotes repeated song):
“My Son, the Spaceball Star” (11/30/74) – Danny pretends to be on the spaceball team in order to keep his mother from being disappointed.
Song: Gypsy Girl

“Danny, the Invisible Man” (9/7/74) – Danny uses a Plutonian invisibility gadget to impress a girl, but begins to experience side effects back on Earth as he keeps randomly disappearing.
Song: “Keep Rockin On”

“The Incredible Shrinking Keith” (9/21/74) – Danny’s invention accidentally causes Keith to shrink.
Song: “You Make It So Easy”

“If This is Texas—It Must be Doomsday” (9/14/74) – The family’s gig in Texxas ends up being a lifetime one.
Song: “Love My Life Away With You”

“Cousin Sunspot” (9/28/74) – Cousin Sunspot uses a voice changer in order to join the band, but it begins to transform him into a giant chicken.
Song: “Later On”

“The Dog Catcher” (10/12/74) – Orbit attempts to avoid the dog catcher in order to avoid paying for a new license.
Song: “One More Chance”

“The Wax Museum” (10/5/74) – Thieves steal wax figures of the family in order to create duplicates and make a fortune with their own family.
Song: “Take Good Care of Her”

“Laurie’s Computer Date” (10/26/74) – Laurie forces Keith and Danny to take her to the ball after scaring off her date, and they find her a computer date instead—with a clunky robot.
Song: “Suzy, Don’t Give Me Your Number”

“Movie Madness” (11/2/74) – When the family’s rocket crashes in Hollywood, Keith is drafted to star in a movie and success begins to go to his head.
Song: “Keep Rockin’ On”

“The Pink Letter” (11/9/74) – Danny mails Laurie’s angry letter to her boyfriend, not knowing he later called with a good excuse.
Song: “Gypsy Girl”*

“Cupcake Caper” (10/19/74) – Connie has to find the ring she lost while baking before her mother comes to visit.
Song: “You Make It So Easy”*

“Orbit the Genius” (11/16/74) – Orbit’s quiz show career is cut short when he’s stolen by a two-headed foreign agent.
Song: “Love My Life Away With You”*

“The Switch” (11/23/74) – Danny accidentally causes Keith to exchange bodies with a gorilla.
Song: “Late At Night”

“Car Trouble” (12/7/74) – Danny’s poor flying record lands him in debt for 20 years.
Song: “One More Chance”*

“The Roobits” (12/14/74) – Danny’s scheme of raising cute alien pets backfires when they start reproducing at a high rate.
Song: “Suzy, Don’t Give Me Your Number”*

“Let’s All Stick Together” (12/21/74) – Danny accidentally throws out of a priceless antique entrusted to Connie, and repairing it causes the family to become stuck together with super glue.
Song: “Take Good Care of Her”*

Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2020.


Unknown said...

The mother's name was Shirley in the cartoon too! I am certain and so many sources claim it was Connie,however I remember distinctly it being Shirley. There is proof in The Partridge Family Season 1 dvd which contains two episodes of the animated series. She is definitely refereed to as "Shirley". I always enjoyed this show.

Chris Buchner said...

I'll double check on that. Thanks.