VIDEO: Vintage TV commercial – Friday night is family night!
Friday family TV nights in 1970: Lots of children in TV’s comedy land
By Norman Mark, Chicago Daily News Service – Hollywood
Television is once again adding to the population explosion.
ABC’s fall comedy series, the Partridge Family, to be seen Friday evenings, will be about a widowed mother and her five children who want to become rock ‘n’ roll stars.
If the show wanted to endorse zero population growth, it would be about a widow and two children. Instead, Shirley Jones, who will play Mom Partridge (not to be confused with Mini-Mom Cowsill, the leader of a real-life family singing group), will be the pert, perfect, pleasant momma of five.
TV seems to thrive on fertile characters, such as beautiful mothers of 17 children who are confused with their 15-year-old daughters because both eat the right breakfast cereal.
John Forsythe in CBS’s To Rome With Love has three girls, the Nanny controls three children, the Brady Bunch is three boys and three girls.
Couldn’t all TV mommas with mere than four children be frazzled creatures battling for their sanity and screaming for a nice nervous breakdown so they can rest? Can’t TV combat the population explosion?
I asked Miss Jones if she would be just a little miserable during episodes of the Partridge Family in order to save the world. No, she thought she would be quite happy.
Then we must make her character miserable.
Now, early in the new series, Mrs. Partridge of ABC could have an inter-network marriage (something even more taboo than an interracial or inter-religious match) with John Forsythe on CBS.
It is possible that Mrs. Partridge’s five children and Forsythe’s three would still leave Miss Jones in a happy mood.
But later in the season, Mrs. Partridge should divorce Forsythe (he’s a bit sappy anyhow) and marry the professor of ABC’s the Nanny and the Professor. Then she would be the mother of 11 children.
In subsequent years, since divorce and remarriage are no longer frowned upon, Miss Jones would marry into My Three Sons, Eddie’s Father, and finally, after the unfortunate demise of Florence Henderson’s character, the Brady Bunch, giving Mrs. Partridge 22 children, plus five ex-husbands.
Then, each week, Shirley Jones could be miserable and could yearn for a one- or two-child family.
No, said Miss Jones, it would never happen that way.
“You see,” she explained, “each child means one script can be built around the boy or girl. Five children, five scripts.” Twenty-two children, 22 scripts.
So 22 children would make the writers ecstatic, which would make them write better and create happier shows. They might even let her stay, married and get pregnant in the second season, creating a 23rd child, turning the population explosion into a supernova.
All right, stop the marriages, divorces and child custody cases. Let Mrs. Partridge just be a widow with five children.
But every once in awhile, let her look as though she’d love to have only two children. Okay?