March 14, 2014 by T. Gregory Argall
Years ago I made a plea to Hollywood, back in the Golden Age of mining old television shows for movie ideas. I proposed a film adaptation of “The Partridge Family.” Hollywood, of course, ignored me and made “Starsky and Hutch” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” instead. Think of the pain and suffering that could have been avoided if they had only listened to me.
(I also had an idea for a remake of “Gilligan’s Island” but sadly that dream died with James Avery. He would have been a wonderful Skipper, opposite Bronson Pinchot’s Gilligan.)
Never one to give up on an idea simply because it doesn’t work, I am here once again to pitch a re-imagining of “The Partridge Family,” this time back where it belongs… On television. Television has become the new home of remaking television shows, with such memorable failures as the new “Melrose Place,” that ridiculous “Night Stalker” reboot that lasted three episodes, and the weak softcore porn relaunch of “Dallas.”
(Yes, I know there was the VH1 made-for-tv “New Partridge Family” movie about ten years ago but I’m discounting it for two reasons. 1/ It sucked. 2/ It was on VH1 so nobody noticed.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, “The Partridge Family” was the story of a single mother of five who decided to load the family into the bus that eventually inspired the Rubik’s Cube and tour around the country playing bubblegum pop songs, mainly on weekends and during summer vacation. (Stay in school, kids.) Their agent, Reuben Kincaid, didn’t like children so booking a family act was a questionable choice for him. (But, hey, who didn’t make questionable choices in the seventies?)
To me, it always seemed odd that there was very little mention of the father. In the first episode it was indicated that he had passed away, but after that I don’t remember any talk of him at all. Never a brief moment of “Gee, I miss Dad,” or “You know what Dad would have said,” or even, “I can’t even look at a gopher in a hat since Dad died.”
Part of my idea for the reboot is to add a little bit of back story to provide a more understandable logic to the idea of touring the country with musical children, and why the children are musical in the first place.
Here’s the pitch…
Shirley and Barry Partridge were the Sonny & Cher of their day, or they would have been but Shirley quit performing when her first child was born. Barry kept performing, mostly playing guitar with touring bands but occasionally he got a studio gig. Sadly, he died on tour. He was doing a sound check before a show in Jackson Hole, Wyoming when he suffered a bizarre and tragic product placement accident involving Diet Dr Pepper and the power supply to his amp.
In tribute to her late husband, Shirley, Partridge re-embraced her love of music and performing, sharing it with her children. Being raised in a home where singing and playing music comes naturally, the kids are all adept at various musical instruments. Shirley enlists the aid of Barry’s former manager to manage the new family band.
(There’s one more part to the pitch, but I’m saving it for a few paragraphs. Building suspense and all that stuff.)
I have some ideas for casting as well.
Cyndi Lauper as Shirley Partridge. She certainly has the musical background for the job and she’s got notable acting chops as well. And she’d be a cool mom.
Seth Green as Reuben Kincaid. Seth Green has often been described as a young Dave Madden. It’s time for him to live up to the hype. Okay, he’s never actually been described as a young Dave Madden, but if the comparison had ever been made, it would have been accurate, and in a good way, too.
The roles of Keith and Laurie Partridge might initially seem a bit challenging to fill since all of the thirty year-old singer/actors who can play teenagers are already under contract to “Glee.” So, might I suggest the radical idea of using actual teenagers for the teenage roles. Scoop up a couple of brokenhearted quarter-finalists from “American Idol” or “The Voice.” By that point, they’ve already shown the can perform, and they’ll be happy for the work. As a bonus, they’ve also tasted failure so they won’t get all full of themselves and think the show is all about them, David Cassidy.
Rico Rodriguez as Danny Partridge. Yeah, the kid from “Modern Family” and that add for California tourism. He’s got the right edge to play Danny while also being level-headed enough to not grow up to be a radio shock jock who beats up transvestites. Probably.
For Chris and Tracy Partridge just get a couple of the kids washing dishes at Craft Services. It won’t matter. They’ll only have about three lines a season anyway and you can replace them if they get uppity, just like the first Chris.
Now here’s the rest of the pitch…
Occasionally, the ghost of Barry “Party” Partridge will show up with words of encouragement and bad jokes about musicians.
Well, that’s new. Yep. And here’s the best part…
Joe Walsh as “Party” Partridge. His time on the “The Drew Carey Show” proved that he had comedic timing. And his delivery would be perfect for the endless slew of musician jokes.
- “How many guitarists does it take to change a lightbulb? None. he just steals somebody else’s light.”
- “How can you tell if there’s a harmonica player at the door? He doesn’t have the key but just comes in whenever the hell he wants.”
- “What’s the last thing a drummer says as a member of the band? ‘Hey, guys, I wrote a song!'”
- “What’s the difference between a bass player and an extra large pizza? An extra large pizza can feed a family of four. But, wait… there’s six of you, Shirley. You’d need the pizza and the bass player. But you know, you really shouldn’t eat the bass player. They’ve got these weird spices in them, it’ll mess you up and then you’re burping on stage in the middle of your solo. It’s a bad scene, man… Uh… What was I talking about?”
So somebody please get a Kickstarter campaign going to crowdfund this thing. I’m a little busy, but together we can make this happen.
As the song goes, come on, get happy.
And try to be nice to each other.