Question: Occasionally I catch reruns of The Partridge Family. I was always under the impression that they only had one theme song, but the other day I heard a different one. Is it true that the show had more than one theme song? Also, I know that the youngest boy was changed sometime during the show's history. Did they ever change Keith or was it always David Cassidy? Thanks! Lindsey
Televisionary: Televisionary: Ah, the hard questions that dog us, eh, Lindsey? (Not that I'm mocking you hey, this is how I put TV dinners and canned soup on the Televisionary table.)
Yes, there were two Partridge Family theme songs, though really it was just a different set of lyrics set to the same tune. "When We're Singin,' " with music by Wes Farrell and lyrics by Diane Hilderbrand, graced the show when it debuted in the fall of 1970. From the first line "Come on now and meet everybody, and hear us singin' " it adopted the true old-fashioned theme song manner, introducing the musical brood and laying out what comic fans refer to as the all-important origin so that those who missed the pilot wouldn't be lost. The kids wanted to pitch in financially so they started a band. Danny got Reuben to manage them and then everything fell together when mom jumped in.
The later version, "Come On, Get Happy," with lyrics by Danny Janssen, came along in 1972 when the producers evidently felt that the audience knew how the band formed and now needed to be reminded of their general philosophy. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe it was to make everyone happy. (It worked for me, I'll admit as a wee lad I adored that show throughout its 1970-74 run on ABC. Well, until that irritating, bowl-headed Ricky came along, anyway.)
The morphing theme song tradition continues with today's shows. At last count, I believe Drew Carey is up to 87 different versions, while Friends has done at least 60 of the exact same song. Even That '70s Show updated their intro, losing the awfully cute moment where Mila Kunis nervously grabs her hair.
Whether newer is better is a matter of opinion, of course. I always liked the "Moon Over Parma" version of the Carey theme, but am equally fond of the one using Ian Hunter's classic "Cleveland Rocks." I'm torn between the competing themes for Lost in Space, but thought they spoiled the one for Kolchak: The Night Stalker by making it longer. For that matter, I think they only added to the length of the Oz theme to squeeze in more homoerotic imagery and blood. And the themes for King of the Hill and Malcolm in the Middle should never, ever be messed with.
But I digress (a rare occurrence, I know).
To answer the second part of your question, Jeremy Gelbwaks, who played Chris, was indeed replaced by Brian Forster in 1971. However, Cassidy, stepson to series mom Shirley Jones, played Keith throughout the run of the show.