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Series / The Partridge Family

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Six Partridges; no pear tree, just a manager.
"Hello world, here's a song that we're singin'
C'mon, get happy!
A whole lot of lovin' is what we'll be bringin'
We'll make you happy!
- "C'mon Get Happy", written and recorded by Wes Farrell and Danny Janssen

This 1970-74 half-hour Sitcom was part of ABC's Friday night lineup and is inextricably bound to The Brady Bunch, its companion in the previous time slot, in the minds of those old enough to have seen it during its original run. It depicted the life and adventures of a family Garage Band that suddenly got their big break and shot to top 40 success after adding their thirty-something mother to the lineup. The cast featured Hollywood favorite Shirley Jones (best known up to this point for her roles in a number of classic movie musicals) and Dave Madden, a veteran of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. The series also featured Jones' stepson David Cassidy, whom it subsequently launched into brief but intense teen idol superstardom. Also included in the young cast were future star Susan Dey (later of L.A. Law) and future scandal-wracked DJ Danny Bonaduce.

Like The Monkees before it, The Partridge Family was predicated on its music, and like The Monkees early days the music was created almost entirely independently of the cast. Unlike the work of Messrs. Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith and Tork, this never changed through the life of the show/group. The majority of the songs were performed by studio musicians and vocalists, with Cassidy and Jones adding lead and background vocals respectively. Producer/songwriter Wes Farrell led the studio artists and essentially created the sound of the Partridge Family. The actual songs were written by a collective of successful pop song writers, including Tony Romeo, Terry Cashman, Tommy West, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil.

The Partridge Family was originally proposed as a vehicle for the real-world family rock group The Cowsills (famous for their hits "Indian Lake," "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," and "Hair"). However, the erstwhile producers determined that the Cowsills, while musically talented, were not charismatic enough to carry a television series except for the youngest girl; furthermore, they felt the children were all already too grown up for their plans. The Cowsills' involvement was quickly abandoned and the concept retooled to focus on a fictional family band. Alternately, some accounts claim that the Cowsills walked out on the project on their own accord when the producers refused to use their mother, Barbara, and cast Shirley Jones instead, or that the producers got fed up with the Cowsills' Jerkass Stage Dad Bud and dropped the band.

This show provides examples of:

  • '70s Hair: Keith's feathered shag haircut.
  • Acting Unnatural: In "Old Scrapmouth," Laurie's boyfriend lurks around her home in the hopes of "accidentally" running into her so he can ask her to go steady. He walks past the house thirty-five times, attracting the attention of Laurie's siblings, and at one point runs into a kid because he isn't watching where he's going.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Laurie tries to crawl through one in "The Partridge Papers" to get into the room where her Secret Diary is being held. She ends up kicking out the wrong grate and climbing down into the same room she started from.
  • The Alleged Car: Keith's car is completely covered in rust and breaks down constantly, and he ends up in debt to all his family members trying to keep it running. He eventually sells it so he can take his girlfriend to the prom, only to buy an equally crappy motorcycle afterwards.
  • Alliterative Name: "Danny and the Mob" features a mob boss's girlfriend named La Von Levine Laverne.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: "Fellini, Bergman, and Partridge," in which Keith makes a movie called "16 1/2" starring himself and his family. Keith manages to get it shown at a local theater, but the others make him edit out all the embarrassing footage first, and there's almost nothing left. Keith edits the remaining footage to last as long as possible, and the family gives a live performance while it plays.
  • Amusement Park: "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati" has the family going to King's Island amusement park, where Keith and Danny both develop crushes on the same 30-year-old PR agent. Keith is scared of heights and prone to motion sickness, so Danny drags him onto all the rides to make him vomit in front of the agent.
  • And Starring: Starring Shirley Jones, co-starring David Cassidy, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Brian Forster, note  Suzanne Crough, and Dave Madden as Reuben Kincaid.
  • Animated Adaptation: Several were made, most notably the Jetsons Expy Partridge Family: 2200 AD, for which Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough and Brian Forster reprised their roles from the original show.
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Appeal to Obscurity: In "Mom Drops Out," a promoter tells Keith and Laurie what will happen if they break their contract.
    Logan: You break this one, and you'll find that the Partridge Family's gonna end up like Sky and the Four Clouds.
    Laurie: Who're they?
    Logan: Right on.
  • As Himself: ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell
  • As You Know: When the kids complain about the crappy bed and breakfast where they spent the night, Shirley says, "I tried to make it home last night, but we were all too tired. This was the only place around."
  • Baseball Episode: "The Strike-Out King," in which Shirley has Danny sign up for baseball so he can make some friends his own age.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: In "Road Song," a teenage runaway who hitchhiked with the family pretends to take a shower, then escapes through the bathroom window so she won't be returned to her grandparents. Later, Danny uses the same trick when Shirley makes him stay behind in the hotel room during the search for the girl. He manages to climb back in just in as Shirley gets home.
  • Because I Said So: Shirley occasionally ends arguments with Danny by saying "Because I'm bigger."
  • Bedtime Brainwashing: Done accidentally in one episode. Keith stayed up all night writing a song. In the morning, Danny announced that a song "came to him in a dream" and got credit for writing it. (Keith gets revenge by writing a deliberately bad song on a subsequent night, after which Danny laments that his muse has flown.)
  • "Begone" Bribe: Danny holds out his hand hopefully when Shirley tells him to leave the room for a private conversation. When she refuses to pay him, Danny mutters, "So much for free enterprise."
  • Birthday Episode: Shirley celebrates her birthday in "I Can Get It For You Retail." Danny wants to buy Shirley a mink coat, so he starts stealing Keith's possessions and selling them to his Groupie Brigade, including his toothbrush, his bedboard, and even some of his hair.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the end of "Don't Bring Your Guns To Town, Santa," the characters all form a huddle, then turn to the camera and sing "Merry Christmas!"
  • Broken Aesop: In the episode titled "Old Scrapmouth," Laurie is mortified that she has to get braces (something that a lot of teenagers get at some point or another), and everyone acts like getting braces is " bad news!" While having braces doesn't change how her boyfriend thinks of her, in the end she still has her braces made only so that she can wear them like a retainer at night- then she wouldn't have to be seen with them during the day.
  • Broken Pedestal: Played for laughs in "Me And My Shadow." When Danny finds out a wealthy author willingly donated $25,000 to charity, he says, "Another idol bites the dust."
  • Busman's Holiday: In "Not with My Sister, You Don't!" Reuben decides to go on vacation to get away from "the phony glamour and tinsel, the wheeler dealers, the promoters who are only interested in money." He picks Las Vegas as his destination.
  • Camping Episode: "Helllllp" combines this with Macho Disaster Expedition.
  • The Caper: In "Forgive Us Our Debits," Keith, Laurie, and Danny get "revenge" on a computer that almost cheated them out of thousands of dollars by breaking into the computer room and sending Shirley a check for $50,000.
  • Car Ride Games: To keep the kids entertained in the tour bus, Shirley comes up with a game called Highway Bingo. She gives them bingo cards with the names of car manufacturers on them, then calls out the name of every car she sees.
    Keith: Oh, I can't win.
    Laurie: Well, why not? You only have one more space to fill.
    Keith: Yeah, but when was the last time you saw a Hudson?
  • Character Celebrity Endorsement: Two Rice Krispies ads, one in which Reuben serves the family Rice Krispies in the garage and they sing a song about it, and one in which Shirley wakes Keith up by pouring cereal:
  • Character Narrator: Shirley, only in season one.
  • Child Hater: Reuben pretends to be one, but it's clear he cares for the Partridge kids.
  • Childish Pillow Fight: Danny and Chris get in one in "This Is My Song." Shirley goes into their room to tell them to quit fighting and go to sleep, but they start hitting each other again as soon as she's gone.
  • Child Prodigy: Ten-year-old Danny already owns stocks.
  • Children in Tow: In the Animated Credits Opening, the family is represented as a mother partridge and her five children following behind.
  • Christmas Episode: In "Don't Bring Your Guns To Town, Santa," the bus breaks down in a ghost town on Christmas Eve. While Keith and Reuben try to fix the bus, the others listen to the town's one inhabitant tell a story about the town's past, with all the main characters played by the show's cast.
  • Classical Music Is Boring: One episode had the clan at a classical performance. None of the kids were enjoying the experience.
  • Closet Shuffle: In "Waiting for Bolero," Shirley knocks on Keith's door in the middle of a date when he was supposed to be working on a song. Keith shoves the girl into a closet and hides as much evidence as he can before letting Shirley in. She still immediately realizes what's going on because of the smell of perfume in the air and the pom-pom he left on the sofa.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: In "Each Dawn I Diet," Reuben is trying to kick his cigarette addiction. He tells the family, "I was doing okay until I saw that movie on television last night. Then I just had to have a cigarette." Keith asks, "How could watching Heidi remind you of a cigarette?" Reuben replies, "Everything reminds me of a cigarette."
  • Competence Zone: Subverted; with the majority of the regulars being children and teens, incompetent adults would be expected, but this is far from the case; and in fact, success does not come to the band until their "too old" mother joins it.
  • Costumer: "Don't Bring Your Guns To Town, Santa," starring Shirley as the owner of a G-rated saloon, Keith as the ineffectual, guitar-strumming sheriff/historian, Laurie as a schoolmarm, Chris and Tracy as local children, Reuben as a balloon-popping outlaw who tries to steal the town bell, and Danny as the reformed gambler who wins the bell back.
  • Cousin Oliver: Ricky, the 4-year-old next door who was added as one of several ploys to handle David Cassidy's departure from the show. Coincidentally, Ricky was added the same year that the original Cousin Oliver joined The Brady Bunch.
  • Crush Filter: In "Dora, Dora, Dora," Keith watches a pretty but tone-deaf teenage girl mangle "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." He sees her as a Gaussian Girl with a beautiful voice, accompanied by violins and a choir instead of just Laurie's piano.
  • Dartboard of Hate: In "Promise Her Anything but Give Her a Punch," Danny throws darts at a publicity photo of David Cassidy because he's upset that his crush has a crush on Keith.
  • A Day in Her Apron: In "This Male Chauvinist Piggy Went to Market," the students at Keith and Laurie's high school are required to take the opposite gender's classes so they can learn how other people live. The two have a contest to see whether Keith can do better at cooking than Laurie can at car maintenance. Naturally, Laurie does everything perfectly, while Keith's spinach soufflé turns out so inedible, he uses it as a planter.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The family performs "When We're Singin'" while on tour in Paris during the first-season episode "Mom Drops Out."
  • Diet Episode: In one episode, Danny is teased for being fat, goes on a diet, and loses about 10 pounds, all without being noticeably slimmer. According to Danny Bonaduce's biography, this was not a pleasant episode to film.
  • Disappeared Dad: The Partridge kids' father died six months before the start of the series.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Danny hates hot boiled milk.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: David Cassidy sang both versions of the theme song.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: In "Al in the Family," Reuben's incompetent nephew temporarily takes over as the family's manager. During one show, he sees a large red button with a sign that says "DO NOT TOUCH." He immediately presses it, turning off all the stage lights.
  • The Door Slams You: At the beginning of "The Selling of the Partridges," Reuben is trying to repair the front doorknob. Shirley and Danny both walk into the house, hitting him with it. Then Laurie walks through the open door and pushes it shut, away from Reuben. Just as Reuben's starting to get back to work, Keith flings the door open, knocking him into the wall.
  • Drives Like Crazy: In "Guess Who's Coming to Drive," Shirley decides to hire another driver for the family bus. One of the applicants swerves all the way down the street, hops a curb, and pops one of the tires.
  • Driving Stick: In an online interview with The Television Academy Foundation, Shirley Jones admitted that she had to learn manual transmission in order to drive the bus.
  • Drunk with Power: In one episode, Laurie is appointed peer teacher and is assigned to Danny's seventh-grade English class. Poor, poor Danny.
  • Embarrassing Animal Suit: In "Bedknobs and Drumsticks," the characters have to dress up in chicken costumes for a fast food ad, so they deliberately make the ad as terrible as possible so the company won't be able to use it. According to her personal website, this was Shirley Jones's least favorite episode.
  • Embarrassing Rescue: In "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati," Keith tries doing a one-and-a-half gainer with a twist off a diving board to impress a girl, but ends up bellyflopping, knocking himself unconscious, and needing to be pulled out of the water by Danny.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: This is one fangirl's reaction to Danny.
  • Expository Theme Tune: In the first season. "Five of us, and Mom working all day. We knew we could help her if our music would pay. Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it really came together when Mom sang along."
  • Expy: William Windom as Southern Fried Chicken tycoon Uncle Erwin, of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Reuben and his girlfriend Cathleen have one in "They Shoot Managers, Don't They?" set to "She'd Rather Have the Rain."
  • Fictional Counterpart: Several characters. Primary is the Partridge Family itself, which was loosely based on the Cowsills. Others, like a NOW clone called POW, made one-shot appearances in various episodes.
    • In fact, the series was originally pitched to the Cowsills.
  • Le Film Artistique: Reuben takes the kids to an experimental film in "Fellini, Bergman, and Partridge." All we learn about the plot is that it features exploding flowers and an asparagus patch covered in shaving cream. Laurie likes it, but the others all think it's nonsense, including Reuben.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: In "The Sound of Money," Shirley accidentally rear-ends a car with the tour bus. There's no damage, but once the driver realizes they're in show business, he pretends to have injured his back and sues the family for $500,000. Danny enlists Reuben's help in tricking the man into bending over so he can take a picture of it and prove he's lying.
  • Garage Band
  • Gaslighting: An unintentional example. When Danny starts stealing and auctioning off Keith's things in "I Can Get It For You Retail," the rest of the family thinks he's just being forgetful. When Danny tries to apologize, Keith says, "I felt like I was in the middle of Gaslight!"
  • Gene Hunting: In "A Partridge by Any Other Name," Danny becomes convinced he's adopted because he can't find his birth certificate or any childhood photos. He goes to the hospital, finds that a boy was born on his birthday to Mrs. M. Young, and proceeds to track down every M. Young in the phone book.
  • Ghost Town: The bus breaks down in one during the Christmas Episode.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "In 25 Words or Less," Keith's Abhorrent Admirer tells him, "Oh, don't be silly! I would never ask you to take me to Muldoon's Point!" The next shot is of the two of them in a car, with her saying, "So, this is Muldoon's Point!"
  • A Glass in the Hand: When Shirley withdraws a large sum of money from the bank, the president is so enraged that a pencil he's holding snaps in half.
  • Going in Circles: When the guys get lost during the Camping Episode, Danny starts hanging his socks and underwear on the branches to mark his path. Eventually Reuben finds some of his clothes and realizes they've been walking in a big circle. They start screaming for help and are rescued by Laurie and Shirley, followed by a troop of girl scouts, who inform them that they were only a few dozen yards away from their lodge.
  • Good Luck Charm: The youngest three kids each give Keith a charm the morning before he takes a test that will determine if he'll be allowed to graduate or not.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: During one of Danny's imagine spots in "See Here, Private Partridge," Reuben tells Danny, "Now go out and give 'em heck!"
  • Green Aesop: In "Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?" the band records a song with whale singing in the background, with lyrics like "If people don't listen, and people don't know, might the song of the man be the next song to go?" They donate all their profits to the New York Zoological Society.
  • Groupie Brigade: Keith acquires one in "Love at First Slight." They sign up for auto shop to be with him, stalk him home, and chase him down the street.
  • Hand Gagging: In "Old Scrapmouth," Danny tries to tell Laurie's boyfriend she has braces. Laurie wanted to tell him herself, so Keith claps his hand over Danny's mouth.
  • Heel Realization: In "Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?" the family encounters a money-grubbing Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit who tries to profit off a record the family made in order to raise awareness of the endangerment of the whales. Danny sees himself in the man, and doesn't like what he sees.
    Danny: He made me see what I was really like: rotten.
  • Heist Episode: In "The Partridge Papers," Laurie's Secret Diary falls into the hands of a boy at school, who threatens to publish it in the school newspaper. She, Danny, and Keith hatch a Mission: Impossible style plan to break into the school and steal it back.
  • Here We Go Again!: In "My Son, the Feminist," Keith accidentally signs the family up to perform at a feminist rally. At the end of the episode, it turns out Danny accidentally signed the family up to perform for a group of Moral Guardians. The ensuing argument is almost identical to the one at the beginning of the episode.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: Reuben hops on one foot after stumbling over a coffee table in "A Knight in Shining Armor."
  • I Have This Friend: In "Where Do Mermaids Go?" a cop asks Shirley for an autograph for his son, who he says listens to the Partridge Family all the time. When Shirley asks what the son's name is, the cop says, "Officer Bodie."
  • Imagine Spot:
    • When Danny's drafted into the army thanks to a computer glitch, he fantasizes about being a soldier, with his family as other soldiers and Reuben giving orders.
    • He has another one in "Star Quality" when a newspaper article calls him the most charismatic member of the group. He fantasizes about going solo and making enough money to buy Chris a baseball team.
  • Insistent Terminology: Danny prefers to call the bulletin board in the kitchen the "communications center."
  • Insult Backfire: In "Mom Drops Out," a Totally Radical concert promoter tries to fire Shirley for being too old and uncool. When Laurie calls him a homewrecker, he says, "Homewrecker! Hey, I like the ring of that! Home-wrec-ker!"
  • Interrupted Bath: In one episode, Danny calls Reuben while he's in the shower.
  • I Read It for the Articles:
    • When Keith is caught reading Playpen Magazine, he says, "These magazines have some great short stories!"
    • When Reuben catches Danny looking at one of his Playpens, Danny tells Reuben, "I was in the middle of an article about oil wells in Northern Peru." Reuben says, "Look, kid, if you're old enough to look at an oil well, you're old enough to put it back the way you found it."
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In "Helllllp," Shirley hears a funny sound and says, "I haven't heard a noise like that since Tracy bit Reuben on the toe!" Cut to Reuben doing a Hurt Foot Hop, saying, "I haven't felt pain like this since Tracy bit me on the toe!"
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: In "My Heart Belongs to a Two-Car Garage," a traveling Russian handyman who claims to be a celebrated artist paints a huge, mostly-naked woman on family's garage, causing an uproar in the neighborhood. In the end a man from the local art museum sees the painting, declares it a masterpiece, and has the front of the garage transported to the museum.
    Chris: Mom, how come I can look at the garage here and I couldn't at home?
    Shirley: Well, because now it's a work of art.
    Tracy: Why wasn't it a work of art at home?
    Shirley: Well, then we didn't know it was a work of art.
    Laurie: And sometimes we don't know if something's good until someone tells us.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: When Reuben sits down on a cot in "Go Directly to Jail," it folds shut on him. Reuben grumbles, "This cot belongs in jail. It can't go straight." He laughs to himself and repeats, "It can't go straight!"
  • Laugh Track
  • Loan Shark: In "Soul Club," the owners of a club borrowed money from the appropriately-named Heavy and fail to pay him back on time, almost losing the club.
  • Locked in a Room: In "To Play or Not to Play," the band is scheduled to play at an establishment whose employees are on strike. Laurie refuses to play because she doesn't want to be a strikebreaker. To end the strike, Danny locks himself, the manager, and one of the employees in an office and refuses to open the door until they come to an agreement. Within two hours, the manager has agreed to almost all of the employee's demands.
  • Love Nostalgia Song: "Summer Days"
  • MacGyvering: When the bus's engine blows a gasket, Keith creates a new one out of an old inner tube.
  • Macho Disaster Expedition: The girls go out camping and the guys follow them. The girls handle themselves pretty well, but the guys end up starving.
  • Make-Out Point: Muldoon's Point, featured in several episodes.
    Danny: Where are you going?
    Keith: If I'm unlucky, the pizza place. If I'm lucky... Muldoon's Point.
  • Malt Shop: At one point Shirley, who wants the kids to have a "normal" life, orders Danny and Chris outside to shoot baskets, and tells Keith to "go down to the malt shop, or wherever young people hang out." Keith quips that he should meet Betty Sue there before the sock hop at the gym.
  • The Matchmaker: In "They Shoot Managers, Don't They?" Shirley tries to set Reuben up with her former coworker, Cathleen Darcy, by inviting them both to a barbecue. They hit it off and almost get married before they realize that Reuben wants kids and Cathleen doesn't.
  • Maternity Crisis: Shirley went into labor with Danny two weeks early in the middle of a picnic.
  • Meadow Run: Reuben and Cathleen try this three times during their Falling-in-Love Montage. The first time Reuben trips and falls, the second time the two run past each other, and the third time they finally run into each other's arms.
  • Men Can't Keep House: When Keith briefly moves out in "Waiting for Bolero," he can't iron his shirts without burning them and needs to pay Danny to bring him food.
  • Mirror Monologue: The Christmas Episode has the lone inhabitant of a Ghost Town wishing his reflection Merry Christmas.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: Shirley buys a $29 cuckoo clock in "Forgive Us Our Debits" and receives a bill for $290 thanks to a computer glitch. When she goes back to the store to try to get it fixed, repo men show up at the house saying she owes them $2900.
  • Moral Guardians: A group of these shows up at the family's house in "My Son the Feminist" to try to pressure them out of performing at a feminist rally. Shirley was previously on the fence, but she finds their narrow-minded, meddling behavior so infuriating that she decides to perform.
  • Mrs. Robinson: In "The Undergraduate," Shirley befriends a nineteen-year-old college student named Paul Bruner, leading most of the other characters, including Paul himself, to think they're in a romantic relationship. A few characters even reference The Graduate, including Paul's disapproving parents, who have seen it twice.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In "And the Memory Lingers On..." Danny goes around borrowing outfits for the family to wear because a Smelly Skunk got to their usual costumes. Shirley ends up in a hooker's outfit.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Keith and Laurie see Shirley's new boyfriend walking into a jewelry store with an attractive, much younger woman and buying a ring. But when they confront him about it, they find that the girl was actually his niece, and he was buying her a graduation ring.
  • One Phone Call: When Reuben is locked up as a suspected bank robber, he uses his one phone call to call the family's hotel room. Unfortunately, the only person there is Tracy, who's too busy watching Sesame Street to relay his message to the rest of the family.
  • Out Sick: The titular band was going to have a friend named Gloria as part of it but she got sick on the last day they could borrow instruments, so their mother became part of the band instead.
  • Own Goal: In "Days of Acne and Roses," it's mentioned that an awkward boy with a crush on Laurie lost a game this way, causing the opposing team to carry him out on their shoulders.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Guess Who's Coming to Drive," Danny suspects that the family's new driver is a criminal. He follows the man wearing a plastic nose and glasses, holding a newspaper over his face. He later manages to convince Reuben to wear the same disguise.
  • Parental Substitute: Reuben is one to the Partridge kids, especially Danny.
  • Performance Anxiety:
    • Before the band's first public performance, Shirley is so anxious she has trouble moving her mouth and is afraid she'll faint on stage. She does fine; it's the kids who end up freezing up, and she has to tell them to close their eyes and pretend they're still in their garage.
    • In "The Red Woodloe Story," the titular folk singer agrees to perform with them, but on the first night he gets scared and leaves before he's supposed to appear. The next night he tries to do the same thing, but Tracy stops him and helps him overcome his stage fright.
  • Phony Psychic: In "Who Is Max Ledbetter, And Why Is He Saying All Those Horrible Things?" a retired psychic who needs $156 to keep his bakery open predicts disaster during the family's next concert and tells Danny and Keith that he needs that amount of money to help them avoid tragedy.
  • Playboy Parody: Occasionally there'd be an issue of "Playpen" magazine. Danny would try to sneak a peek, and the younger kids accidentally looked at it at least once.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot:
    • "Soul Club" was intended as a pilot for a show starring Richard Pryor and Louis Gossett Jr. as brothers who run a nightclub in Detroit.
    • "A Knight in Shining Armor" was one for Bobby Sherman's series Getting Together, which lasted fourteen episodes.
  • Prison Episode: In "Go Directly to Jail," the family performs at a prison, where one of the inmates tricks them into spending the night so he can sell them some songs he wrote. Turns out he plagiarized them from another prisoner. The real writer is willing to let them use his songs as long as he's credited under a fake name.
  • Recycled In Space: Partridge Family 2200 A.D.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: They went from "When We're Singing" in season 1 to a similar-sounding but different song, "C'mon, Get Happy."
    • Additionally, the ending theme was also changed after season one — from a brassy, jazzy tune, to a softer, slower instrumental version of "C'mon, Get Happy."
  • Revival: MTV's aborted The New Partridge Family project.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Partridge," the other kids play a series of tricks on Keith. They congratulate each other on their success and make fun of Keith's gullibility just as he gets home from buying groceries. He's so upset that he spends the next hour in the garage until the others go in to apologize.
  • The Runaway: Chris and Tracy both run away to Reuben's apartment in "Home Is Where the Heart Was" because they're angry about being sent to bed early.
  • Saving the Orphanage: In "Soul Club," the family arranges a block party with a donation bucket to save a club that's about to be taken over by a Loan Shark.
  • Schemer: Danny. Shirley notes that he makes at least three get-rich-quick schemes every week.
    "With the right promotion, this record could make a million!"
  • Scrabble Babble: While playing Scrabble with Laurie, Danny tries to play "Brogak," which he says is an elf-like creature found in Thailand, frequently stuffed and made into lamps.
  • Secret Diary: In one episode, Keith finds Laurie's diary. Embarrassing for her, since she tended to embellish the truth... quite a bit. She ends up finding a love letter from his girlfriend, and they arrange a swap.
  • Sexy Stewardess: Reuben's girlfriend Bonnie Kleinschmidt, who wears her short-skirted uniform even when off duty.
  • Shaped Like Itself: While awkwardly trying to avoid hurting a fan's feelings, Keith says, "I liked your salad! It was worth its weight in... salad."
  • Signature Team Transport: The family's Mondrian-inspired tour bus.
  • Sleep Mask: Reuben is always wearing one whenever Danny wakes him up to help him with one of his schemes. In one episode he forgets he's wearing one and trips over the furniture three times before he realizes the lights are already on.
  • Smelly Skunk: In the episode "And the Memory Lingers On..." a skunk hitches a ride on the Partridge Family bus and sprays the family just before they are to play a big gig.
  • Special Guest: Bobby Sherman guest stars in "A Knight in Shining Armor" as aspiring songwriter Bobby Conway.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted" contains a spoken word section. David Cassidy found the passage so embarrassing, he refused to do it at first, and shooting of the show stopped so his handlers could put pressure on him. When he finally caved and recorded the song, he begged the label not to release it.
    You know, I'm no different from anybody else. I start each day, and I end each night. But it gets really lonely when you're by yourself. Now where is love? And who is love? I gotta know.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Shirley sings lead on "Whale Song."
  • Straw Feminist: The centerpiece of the episode "My Son, the Feminist," where Keith's latest girlfriend dragoons the band into playing a women's lib event, but then insists they play her set list instead of their own recent hit. Despite being accused of being an overbearing male, Keith still brings the band on in the end to sing "I Think I Love You."
    Keith: "Nobody — *nobody* — censors our material."
  • Sudden Name Change: Shirley's father is named Fred Renfrew in the first two seasons and Walter Renfrew in the last two.
  • Surprise Party: The family throws one in "A Partridge by Any Other Name" in an unsuccessful attempt to convince Danny he's not adopted.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: In "I Am Curious... Partridge," Danny publishes a two-part article full of made-up lurid details about Keith and Shirley's sex lives, causing both of them to be incessantly harassed by people taking advice from the article. Keith gets revenge by publishing an article that claims the miserly Danny loves giving away money, causing him to be harassed by charitable organizations.
  • Taking the Heat: In "Trial of the Partridge One," Laurie is caught with a copy of a test that her friend Cindy Brown stole. She maintains her innocence, but won't tell who actually did it because Cindy's dad is the principal and the consequences of failure will be much worse for her than they will for Laurie.
  • The Talk:
    • It's mentioned that when Shirley tried to explain the facts of life to Keith, he ended up correcting her.
    • Danny asks Keith to give him one in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Partridge."
    Danny: Why do people go through all that trouble when they don't even wanna have babies?
  • The Teaser: Every episode has a scene between the Title Sequence and the creator, writer, and directors' credits.
  • Time Capsule: Danny creates one in "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex... but Couldn't Pronounce." He fills it with publicity photos, autographs, and clippings from fanzine articles about himself.
    Danny: I figure future historians are gonna want to know what Danny Partridge was really like.
  • Time to Move: "For Sale by Owner" starts out as an inversion - the kids want to move, while Shirley wants to stay. Eventually the kids come around to Shirley's point of view, but by that point Reuben has already made a deal to sell the house. The kids spend the rest of the episode trying to get out of the contract.
  • Title Drop: In "Waiting for Bolero," Danny uses binoculars to spy on Keith and his girlfriend, whom he plans on wooing with the song "Bolero." When Laurie asks Danny what he's doing, Danny says, "Waiting for Bolero."
  • The Tonsillitis Episode: Danny comes down with tonsillitis in "Anatomy of a Tonsil." At first he's almost excited, but when his best friend Punky Lazaar tells him how horrible it was, he worries he won't survive the operation. Afterwards, he finds that his voice is raspy, and he becomes so convinced that he's lost his singing voice that he can't sing even days later when he's fully recovered.
  • Trick Dialogue: "Waiting for Bolero" opens with Keith giving a speech to Shirley, trying to explain why he should move out. The camera then pans over to Laurie, who's helping him rehearse his arguments.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Partridge," Keith drags the younger kids to a modern art exhibit that features a collection of flashing neon shapes, a statue of a man's torso with a hand coming out of his neck and a head and a foot where his arms should be, and what looks like a trash bag with a man trapped inside.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: In "The Eleven-Year Itch," Danny meets a girl with a crush on him. After he spends a while trying to avoid her, she gets over her crush, and they agree to be friends. Afterwards, Danny almost immediately develops a crush on her.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In "Go Directly to Jail," the prison warden is setting up the band's equipment. Reuben tries to be helpful, but everything he says is something the warden already knows, and he only succeeds in slowing him down.
  • Vacation Episode: "Swiss Family Partridge," in which the family arranges to spend a weekend in a mountain cabin; unfortunately for them, it rains for days on end, sinking the bus into the mud and causing some of them to worry that they'll starve to death.
  • Waving Signs Around: Laurie hires a group of people to march and wave signs in front of a department store that mistakenly billed Shirley for thousands of dollars.
  • Wedding Episode: "A Penny for His Thoughts" has the Partridges' biker friend Snake getting married in the family's backyard.
  • Writer's Block: At the beginning of "This Is My Song," Keith has had a two-month creative drought, leading Danny to try his hand at songwriting.
  • Young Entrepreneur: Danny. He's the one who got them an agent (among other things).
  • Your Television Hates You: Danny watches TV to take his mind off his upcoming tonsillectomy, which Shirley assures him will be a simple operation. The first show he sees features a man saying into a telephone, "Have you told your son the truth yet, Mrs. Carstairs? I know it's difficult, he's so young. Well, maybe it is better if he does think it's only a simple operation. The truth won't make the end any easier."
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: In "Tale of Two Hamsters," Danny buys one hamster of each sex in the hopes that he can make money breeding them. He names them Dean Martin and Sonia. Naturally, Dean Martin ends up giving birth.


Video Example(s):


"I Think I Love You"

For The Croods: A New Age, Tenacious D do a cover version of "I Think I Love you" by The Partridge Family.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoverVersion

Media sources: