As of July 12, cable’s Nick at Nite is adding The Partridge Family (ABC, 1970-74) to its nighttime lineup of retro telecasting. As ’70s family sitcoms go, this was one of the better, warmer shows, even though its plot—a widowed mom and five kids form a pop band—was on the dumb side. But sweet-natured Shirley Jones, who played Ma Partridge as a sort of flipper version of Mrs. Cleaver, helped keep the show grounded in something resembling suburban reality.
The Partridges’ nightmarish inverse, of course, is The Brady Bunch (ABC, 1969-74). It had a believable enough premise (six stepkids who must somehow form a family), but the result is creepily unreal. The philosophical difference between the Partridges and the Bradys can be summed up by their pop singles: Partridge David Cassidy’s “I Think I Love You” is a genuine bubble-gum classic. The Brady Kids’ “It’s a Sunshine Day” sounds like the greet-the-dawn anthem of a communist youth camp.