Forget The Omen and Rosemarys Baby, the real Son of Satan revealed himself to America in a family friendly sit-com. In the small town of San Pueblo, he claimed his first victims. They were an innocent family of pop stars until he ate their souls! Little Ricky Stevens swept into the Partridge Familys garage. The world had no idea that hed be the brat the needed to be beaten. He didnt merely act cute like a mini-Danny. Ricky had to sing with the family. This kids so annoying that he makes The Brady Bunchs Cousin Oliver look like a brilliant addition in TV on par with Heather Locklear joining Melrose Place. The Partridge Family: The Fourth and Final Season gives us proof that evil comes in small packages.
From all the Horrible Truth About the Partridge Family books and TV specials, David Cassidy was sick of playing Keith Partridge. He played stadiums filled with thousands of teen girls on the weekends. He was a rock star. However the rest of the week left him stuck in a squeaky clean sit-com world. He was not happy. Was Ricky Stevens (played by Ricky Seagall) the producers back up plan if Cassidy split the show? Were they going to feather Rickys hair, wrap his neck in pucca beads and put extra thick heels on his boots and pass him off as Keith? They already pulled a switcheroo with Chris Partridge.
“Hate Thy Neighbor” has Rickys family move next door to the Partridge Family. Even though the little moppet loves music, his mom hates showbiz people. She calls the cops to complain about the family rehearsing in the garage. Will Shirley be able to reason with Rickys mom? Will Keith be able to score with Rickys sister? Does the family know what theyre doing when they become this four year olds back up band? The ultimate disappointment is this is the only appearance of Rickys sister. Actress Ronne Troup is beloved as Danger Islands Leslie on The Banana Splits. Why couldnt she have stuck around instead of her stupid little brother?
“None But the Lonely” reminds us that Ricky has no plans of going away. Keith uses a fake identity to get Laurie (Susan Dey) to hook him up with her friend. In the midst of the sibling hijinks, Ricky forces the family to let him sing his new song. They willingly give into him. “Beethoven, Brahms, and Partridge” raises even more questions about the familys recording career. Keiths hooked up with a girl who only loves classical music. He plays “I Think I Love You” on a reel to reel tape deck. She doesnt like the pop. She believes in his talent and wants him to write a concerto. Can he become a classical star? The honorable Harold Gould arrives as a famous conductor who records for the Partridges label. For all the talk about the Partridges having a record label, why doesnt Keith play their hit off an album or 45? Why doesnt the family have a gold album hanging in the living room? Did you know they put out 8 Partridge Family albums while the show was on the air? But such a musical legacy didnt stop Ricky from showing up to sing about his bike.
“The Strike-Out King” is the must-watch episode of the season for its historic significance. Danny (Danny Bonaduce) joins a little league baseball team. While you think hed be a complete flop, turns out the red-headed has a flamethrower for an arm. Whats significant is his teammate is Jackie Earle Haley, the greatest troubled teen actor of all time. This was three years before hed shoot to stardom as Kelly Leak in the original Bad News Bears. Perhaps bad boy Bonaduce become the model for the Leak with his reported off-camera antics? The Oscar nominated Haley is currently in Watchmen. This episode would have been perfect if Ricky hadnt barged into the garage to sing about Willie Mays. At least it was a baseball song.
“Made in San Pueblo” finally has the family looking for domestic help. Unfortunately its Shirleys mom (Rosemary DeCamp) that answers the ad. Shes had a fight with her husband (Jackie Coogan) and needs a job. She drives the family crazy with her methods. Shirley decides to invite over a dinner guest to fix this problem. The writers try way too hard to force Ricky on us. Reuben Kinkaid (Dave Madden) drags the brat into the kitchen and insists the family hear his new song. Sam the Butcher never forced Cousin Oliver onto the Bradys. The end of the episode has Ricky singing to the grandpa and grandma. Coogan might have played Uncle Fester on Addams Family, but nothing was as grotesque in that kookie house. Rickys singing has a demonic charm. The Partridges smile wide and nod their heads. They have given into his dark arts. Hes like a cult leader in training.
Ricky is such a distraction that we cant fully enjoy Reubens new mustache and sideburns. They even gave their house a makeover, but we cant notice it for fear of Ricky pushing open the kitchen door. The good news is that 13 of these final 22 episodes are Ricky-free. But until the end of the episodes, theres a fear that Ricky will wander onto the set. Whats weird is that if the show wanted to play to a younger crowd, they could have increased the roles of Chris (Brian Forster) and Tracy (Suzanne Crough). These two kids rarely factor into the show. Tracys tambourine gets more close up action. How come they couldnt let Chris sing about Willie Mays? The Partridge Family: The Fourth and Final Season reminds us that adding an extra member to a band can lead to bad things. This is what happened when Randy Jackson joined Journey. The producers might have made deal with the devil, but Ricky didnt produce a fifth season.
“Hate Thy Neighbor,” “None But the Lonely,” “Beethoven, Brahms, and Partridge,” “The Strike-Out King,” “Reuben Kincaid Lives,” “Double Trouble,” “The Last Howard,” “The Diplomat,” “Heartbreak Keith,” “A Day of Honesty,” “Al in the Family,” “Made in San Pueblo,” “Art for Mom’s Sake,” “Two for the Show,” “Danny Drops Out,” “Queen for a Minute,” “Danny Converts,” “Miss Partridge, Teacher,” “Keith and Lauriebelle,” “Morning Becomes Electric,” “Pin it on Danny” and “. . . _ _ _ . . . (S.O.S).”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers are extra sharp. Youre going to be blown away by the details in David Cassidys hair. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You dont have to crank up the audio to take in their groovy sounds. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
The Partridge Family: The Fourth and Final Season wraps up one of the mostly delightful shows in TV history. This was pure power pop charm in 30 minute doses. Even with the curse of Ricky, the last outing is like a pitcher of sunshine served up by Shirley. How can anyone refuse it.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents The Partridge Family: The Fourth and Final Season. Starring David Cassidy, Shirley Jones, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce and Dave Madden. Box set Contents: 22 Episodes on 3 DVDs. Released on DVD: Feburary 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: Jackie Earle Haley