Being a kid is hard, and being a very successful rock group would be even harder, but the Partridge Family continued to pull an amazing balancing act throughout 24 episodes of the 1971-1972. By now the David Cassidy bubble-gum machine was in full force, but the Partridge Family remained a family show which treated all ensemble characters.
First up, Keith has to confront the truth about a girl's singing in "Dora, Dora, Dora", smitten with a guests beauty he does not want to admit that she cannot sing until ultimately hearing a tape for himself. He has another humbling experience during "In 25 words or less" because the winner of a teen magazine contest ultimately turns out to be 60-year old Gloria Neugast, (Kay Medford) not exactly the woman of his dreams. Gloria is initially nice, but she ends up driving the family nuts with her habits---and briefly continues this in a letter from her new home
And that's the other part of this sitcom's charm. These international rock stars are a suburban family also prone to many of the other emotional experiences their audiences (in `concert' and home viewing) are most likely to have. For all of the success this family still enjoys, they play intimate venues and continue living in their home.
During "Anatomy of a tonsil" Danny has to get his tonsils taken out and is scared. Because he was so convinced that he would die from the procedure, he is genuinely shocked when he wakes up. However he is convinced that he cannot sing with his family anymore because his throat is sore immediately post-op. Danny continues believing this until his family uses a little reverse psychology upon him to encourage him rejoining the group; best friend Punky Lazar himself is recruited as Danny's `replacement'.
Keith tries to replace the `father figure' after receiving Coach Dawson's advice about being the eldest male in "Dr Jekyll and Mr. Partridge". He has good intentions, but Keith does not realize that if he was not interested in attending `cultural events' at Chris, Tracy, and Danny's age (let alone now) they were not that keen either. Keith finally realizes that all of this parenting does not leave him with the time needed to complete his homework. The other Partridge kids also apologize for having gotten back at Keith.
Another mishap occurs with "A tale of two hamsters". Danny, Chris, and Tracy's hamster-raising business collides with the reality of touring. The Partridges cannot find a hotel which will accommodate lots of hamsters. Danny thinks giving a hamster away with the newest Partridge Family album will help alleviate things, but does not forecast how much work it is going to be in order to meet consumer demand.
Like many other families, the Partridge kids squabble, but they ultimately attempt to care about each other. During "Days of acne and roses", Danny realizes the grocery store delivery boy Wendell has a large crush on Laurie. Rather than discouraging the `nerd' from dating his sister, Danny and Keith help him with dating tips and gaining confidence. Their lessons work great because he ends up going on a dream date, also getting attention from other young women. Laurie then becomes concerned that Wendell will ask her to go steady, but he confides that he would like to play the field instead.
Rob Reiner guest star in "A man called Snake". Because a young biker man camps out after Keith blabs incorrect information about his sister's love life to a teen magazine, this is one of the creepier shows. Laurie ultimately goes to the dance with him after initially being weirded out by the attention. This is one of the episodes which (despite the famous guest star) does not hold up well. The family seems unaware that the `sensitive poet' could actually harm Laurie.
The family has better luck when they pick up a hitchhiker named Jenny (Merideth Baxter Birney) during "Where do mermaids go". She seems nice enough, but when she leaves a bank book containing one million after a few days at their house, Shirley becomes suspicious. She thinks that the money could have been stolen. As it turns out, the money really was Jenny's to give, but the Partridge family was ultimately happiest being a suburban family who happened to travel with a psychedelic bus.
Finally, Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz) guest stars as Grandpa Fred Renfrew in "The fourty-year itch". Wanting to live a more youthful life, Grandpa shows up at his daughter's house just as the Partridges are about to begin yet another tour. Things heat up when Grandma arrives, but everything is nicely resolved at the end of the story.
This series is a must for anybody wanting to take a super groovy return trip down memory lane.