FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (21)
June 12, 2021
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite TV shows of the Sixties (in our periodization: 1964–1973).
THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY | 1970–1973 seasons
In 1972, when the Partridge Family landed in England, I was five — and tearing around the suburban school playground pretending to be the Tasmanian Devil. Although our Boomer elders encouraged children to express themselves, my devilishness had frightened some of the girls in my class. This mandate to empathize — worse even than the old lady teachers who slapped your leg. At least that was the end of it.
Into this melee came the Partridges — a family I immediately longed to join. The Mum had started a pop band, and they drove around in a cool Mondrian-esque painted bus. Although I’d grow up to do some touring with a band, and would realize — after spending a night in a tour bus encased in torn babble-wrap — that this fantasy life wasn’t as idyllic as I’d imagined, being in a band gave the Partridges a collective purpose — a call to order, distinct roles — within which they could express themselves freely. Very appealing. I also liked the clothes.
The Partridge Family convinced me, early on, that America was a land of colours and smiles and antics, where the war against Embarrassment — rather like the Vulcans’ war against Emotion — had long ago been won. This was a place, surely, that would welcome a Tasmanian Devil like myself.
At the same time, though, the Partridges were terrifying. The big boy looked like the sort who would be nice and tell jokes on the way home from school, but then might steal my sweets and call me ‘Bent Nose’. The middle boy, the adopted raspberry-throated red-head, would likely have just taken my sweets, a move that might have elicited a bemused sitcom shrug from a nipper such as I, straight to camera. The youngest children, who were just slightly older than me, should have been role models — but even then I knew that everyone can play the drums without having to learn anything, and playing the tambourine only requires you to have two hands and not be asleep or dead.
Only the doll-faced big girl offered recourse. A girl without blemish or callous, whose eyes were like the best marbles ever, always really shiny, who almost definitely didn’t smell of baked beans like so many others I had met. And the Mum was nice, though she needed a microphone — not like my opera-singer Mum who made the windows of my school hall rattle at every Christmas carol service.
But who wanted to sing ‘I think I love you’ with your Mum on stage? Or with your brothers and sisters? Still, I will always value the Partridges for at least prodding me towards a life that might not have been entirely weird.
FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Lynn Peril on DARK SHADOWS (1966–1971) | Mark Kingwell on THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (1964–1968) | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on I DREAM OF JEANNIE (1965–1970) | Luc Sante on SECRET AGENT/DANGER MAN (1964–1968 seasons) | Erin M. Routson on THE PATTY DUKE SHOW (1963–1966 run) | Gordon Dahlquist on HAWAII FIVE-O (1968–1973 seasons) | Annie Nocenti on GET SMART (1965–1970) | Sara Driver on THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1964–1966) | Carlo Rotella on MANNIX (1967–1973 seasons) | Adam McGovern on JULIA (1968–1971) | Mimi Lipson on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (1970–1973 seasons) | Josh Glenn on BATMAN (1966–1968) | Tom Nealon on HOGAN’S HEROES (1965–1971) | Miranda Mellis on THE ODD COUPLE (1970–1973 seasons) | Peggy Nelson on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND (1964–1967) | Susan Roe on THE BRADY BUNCH (1969–1973 seasons) | Michael Grasso on UFO (1970–1973) | Richard McKenna on DOOMWATCH (1970–1972) | Adrienne Crew on BEWITCHED (1964–1972) | Michael Lewy on STAR TREK (1966–1969) | Greg Rowland on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY (1970–1973 seasons) | David Smay on THE MONKEES (1966–1968) | Vijay Parthasarathy on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (1964–1966 seasons) | Carl Wilson on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (1967–1973 seasons) | Jessamyn West on EMERGENCY! (1972–1973 seasons).
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