Review: Getting Together

Bookshelf is a monthly column examining printed matter relating to television. While I love watching TV, I also love reading about it, from tie-in novels to TV Guides, from vintage television magazines to old newspaper articles. Bookshelf is published on the second Thursday of each month.

Getting Together
By Judson McCall
First Published 1971
Published by Curtis Books
158 Pages

A spin-off of The Partridge Family, Getting Together starred teen idol Bobby Sherman as Bobby Conway, an aspiring songwriter who couldn’t write a lyric to save his life. His best friend and partner, Lionel Poindexter (played by Wes Stern) was tone deaf but a wonderful lyricist. The characters were introduced in the first season finale of The Partridge Family (originally broadcast on March 19th, 1971). The two lived in an furniture store with Bobby’s younger sister Jenny (played by Susan Neher). The store was owned by Rita (played by Pat Carroll) who also owned the beauty parlor across the street, which is where she worked. Rounding out the cast was Jack Burns as Rudy, a police officer friendly with Bobby and Lionel who also happened to be dating Rita.

The musical sitcom was scheduled opposite All in the Family on CBS and was crushed in the ratings. It premiered in September 1971 and was off the air in January 1972 after just 14 episodes but not before two original tie-in novels and one comic book were published. Although I haven’t seen a single episode of Getting Together — which didn’t stop me from writing a spotlight about it back in August 2010 — I enjoyed reading this novel. That said, I’m not sure the novel is an accurate representation of the show, involving as it does a touch of the supernatural. I have a copy of the second tie-in novel as well and will probably read and review it at some point in the future.

Front cover to Getting Together
Front cover to Getting Together – Copyright 1971 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

The plot of Getting Together concerns Bobby’s frustration with songwriting. He hasn’t been able to get anyone at a record label interested in the songs he’s written with Lionel and is about ready to give up. While on his way to another appointment with a record label, Bobby runs into Roma Firedrake, whose father owns Firedrake Records. Roma is a beautiful young woman with red hair and small, pointy teeth. He leaves a tape with her and then proceeds to his appointment, which ends in disappointment. Bobby returns home and announces he’s done with songwriting.

Roma shows up and announces that her father loves Bobby’s songs and wants to sign him to Firedrake Records and make him famous. But she doesn’t want anything to do with Lionel and almost immediately starts trying to convince Bobby to dump him. For his part, Lionel doesn’t trust Roma and thinks there’s something odd about her. The rest of the novel involves Bobby spending more and more time with Roma while Lionel, Jenny and the others worry about him. Bobby starts having weird dreams about the recording studio in the basement of Roma’s father’s house. He mysteriously writes a wonderful set of lyrics, which Roma insists means he really doesn’t need Lionel. There’s hypnotism, a wild costume party, and a desperate plot to save Bobby.

Back cover to Getting Together
Back cover to Getting Together – Copyright 1971 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

At times, Bobby comes across as incredibly naive, his desire to succeed as a songwriter clouding his judgement and allowing Roma to explain away all sorts of bizarre behavior. The other characters aren’t given much to do. Roma isn’t developed much and the eventual explanation for her and her father’s interest in Bobby is underwhelming. That’s okay, though, because the novel is more about Bobby and his friends than Roma.

My only real criticism is the author’s repeated use of obvious and unnecessary foreshadowing at the end of chapters. Here’s an example from the end of Chapter 4:

If Bobby had known what lay beyond those bushes, in that house, maybe he wouldn’t have begun to sing “Jennifer” again with such a carefree lilt in his voice. Maybe if he’d known, he would have been more worried. Maybe he wouldn’t have gone in at all.

These paragraphs feel forced, intended to convince readers that there is a hint of danger around every corner. The story unfolds perfectly fine on its own without this less-than-subtle foreshadowing.

9 Comments

  • rick johnson says:

    I have a question. When is a spinoff really a spinoff? I think of a spinoff as a case where a regular character in a series gets his (or her) own show. Like Gomer Pyle from Andy Griffith, Pete & Gladys from December Bride, or Frasier Crane from Cheers. I saw the Partridge Family episode that introduce Sherman & Stern. They were not regulars on the series they were brought int to launch the new show. I’ve seen examples of this where the show didn’t pan out, like an Adam-12 episode in which Frank Sinatra Jr. was running a bunko operation. You only saw Reed & Molloy briefly. Does anybody care to clarify or weigh in on this?

    • greg6363 says:

      I don’t believe there is any distinction whether the character(s) are recurring or as a single one-off appearance. S.W.A.T. was a spin-off of The Rookies, Sarge and Amy Prentiss were spin-offs of Ironside and there are countless others.

    • Robert says:

      I’m with greg6363. There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to spin-offs. Some do indeed give an established character his or her own show, like those you mentioned.

      Others, like Getting Together, introduce new characters in an episode of an established show in an attempt to gauge viewer and critical reaction before launching a new show.

  • Bob says:

    Getting Together is nothing but a backdoor pilot.

    IMO the characters should be featured more than once on the parent show to be considered a “spin-off””

  • Eric Pleasant says:

    Some of the TV tie-in books from the past are quite astounding in that it allows the original series to have a lot more going on with the characters than the orginal series. i have to admit that I bought many of them in my youth in the 1970s.

  • Getting Together was carried in Canada on CBC. I don’t remember much about the show other than the stars, but I do remember watching it. CBC also carried The Jimmy Stewart Show that year.

  • Bob says:

    @Garrison
    Joanie and Chachi were the only established characters from “Happy Days” to receive an official spin-off.

    Maude appeared twice on “All in the Family’. Her second appearance was also the pilot for Maude thus making her an established character.

    • DuMont says:

      By your logic @Bob, ‘Blansky’s Beauties’ should also be considered an official spin-off as Pinky Tuscadero appeared on three consecutive episodes of ‘Happy Days’ before getting spun off into her own show.

      As I have remarked elsewhere on another posting string at TVobscurities.com, ‘Blansky’s Beauties’ was a re-work of the original ‘Pinky’ spinoff that Mr. Fred Silverman championed as early as the fall of 1976 after her highly rated appearances on ‘Happy Days’. A spinoff pilot concept was developed with Miss Roz Kelly reprising her Pinky Tuscadero role in a Las Vegas showgirl setting, but it was not picked up. Then, Miss Nancy Walker, who starred in the cancelled ‘The Nancy Walker Show’ from the fall of 1976, was free and available, and the idea was floated to cast her as a den mother to the showgirls in ‘Pinky’. A re-tooled spinoff pilot was hastily re-formulated and shot with Miss Walker starring and ‘Pinky’ was leveraged into a new “Blanksy’s Biking Beauty” pilot. This pilot received a mid-season pick-up, and the series quickly went into production. However, the series was so hastily assembled it was never really well thought out…it borrowed numerous actors from ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley’, but didn’t align to their storyline, inexplicably pushing the series forward into the ’70s, probably in an effort to make it more “relevant” to the times. Some actors played their characters from ‘Happy Days’ / ‘Laverne & Shirley’ (Pinky, Arnold, Laverne DeFazio, Frank DeFazio, Nancy Blansky) while others were cast in new roles (Mr. Scott Baio, Chachi and Miss Lynda Goodfriend, Lori-Beth, both played “new” characters).

      For whatever reasons, Miss Kelly chose not to participate in the series beyond the pilot, and she never appeared again in ‘Happy Days’. I always thought her series showed great potential (she generated huge chatter and buzz in the seventies), and might have even eclipsed ‘Mork & Mindy’ which did hit the air until the fall of 1978.

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