Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Dance Party: Here Come the Boys

Here is yet another Dance Party with absolutely no dance, but it's the hols, so I'm giving myself even more leeway.

This week's delight comes from the late 60s, with a TV series which lasted only two seasons but which launched a couple of its players into the world of Teen Idol-dom.

Here Come the Brides had one of the most interesting premises of any series I can remember. Taking place in post-Civil War Seattle (when the Upper Northwest was just territorial U.S.), it concerned a family of three brothers who imported 100 New England ladies to serve as brides for their horny lumberjacks. The show was classified as a western, but it lacked the violence of other shows of the genre, and included much humor as well as a healthy dose of melodrama. The mix attracted female audiences in a time when networks were hot to tap that market, and the show wasn't hurt a bit by the presence in the cast of three hunks playing the Bolt Brothers: Robert Brown, David Soul, and Bobby Sherman. More on them in a mo'.

The ensemble was a pretty strong one, and included aging film star Joan Blondell, who actually received two Emmy nominations for her work in the show, and Mark Lenard, who is most famous for playing Spock's father in various arms of the Star Trek franchise. Henry Beckman as Clancy, the sea captain with a snootful, and Susan Tolsky as busybody best friend Biddy, provided lots of over-the-top humor, and were elevated from recurring to co-starring status in the show's second season.

As for those Bolts, Robert Brown as elder brother Jason was a terrific leading man and fit the period well; after the show folded, he was rarely heard from again. The men playing his younger brothers, however, went on to more substantial careers. Bobby Sherman became one of the biggest teen idols of the early 1970s, offering a string of bubble gum hits and causing quite a few adolescent girls (and a few boys) to swoon. He had been knocking around the industry a bit before hitting the big time, first as a house singer on ABC's dance show Shindig, and later as a guest on The Monkees and Honey West. It was his role as younger brother Jeremy Bolt which ignited his career; the character was originally played with a debilitating stammer which was endearing but held up the rhythm of the show, and it mysteriously disappeared about mid-way through the first season, just as Sherman's popularity began to rise. After Here Come the Brides, he landed his own series, a spin-off from The Partridge Family, which had the misfortune to be scheduled opposite the explosion known as All in the Family, so Getting Together lasted only 13 episodes. During a guest-starring gig on Emergency!, Sherman became attracted to emergency medicine as a profession, and switched his focus. Occasional guest roles have popped up throughout the 80s, but Sherman essentially turned in his long locks and unbuttoned shirt for the uniform of the EMT.

David Soul, as middle brother Joshua, did not receive the huge adulation his co-star did, but has maintained a lengthier career. He became a star in his own right during his tenure in Starsky and Hutch, one of those buddy / cop / bro-mance shows which peppered the airwaves in the late 70s. He has appeared on countless television programs, several mini-series, and even stage shows, eventually moving to London and becoming a British citizen in 2004.

Here Come the Brides was a moderate hit in its first season, placed strategically at 7:30 PM, which in those days was classified "the family hour." The show, as I said, was particularly popular with women. ABC made a tactical error by moving the show in its second season, to the much tougher 9 PM timeslot, where the show failed to attract a larger, male audience, and was cancelled.

Both Bobby Sherman and David Soul were singers of a sort, with the smooth bari-tenor tones popular in the 1970s. Though Bobby was better known for his music, and produced much more of it, David was the one who actually landed a #1 tune, "Don't Give Up On Us" (none of Sherman's hits made it to #1 in the US). The following clip shows off the guys' dulcet tones, and comes from the Christmas episode of the first season of Here Come the Brides. This sweet moment was the first time either actor sang on the show, and gave them both entry into the pop music world. Merry Christmas!