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.
By Judson McCall
First Published 1971
Published by Curtis Books
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 – 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 – 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.