The Partridge Family: Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa (1971)

Oh man, The Partridge Family. I’ve had sort of a lingering urge to see The Partridge Family again since Shirley Jones appeared in style on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me last year.

I hope you enjoyed that, because this episode was not what I would call a winner. If you’re blissfully unaware, The Partridge Family was a sitcom about a single mother with five kids who become a traveling musical act to support their family. So the episode opens with, what else, a song. And it’s not bad. I mean, none of the people on film are singing, but the song is just a corny 70’s pop version of a holiday tune.

The family packs up after this gig and is headed home for Christmas. In an unlikely turn of events, their bus breaks down in a Hollywood backlot. Sorry, I meant a ghost town, complete with one picturesque local living alone with a donkey.

The donkey’s only in one scene. Maybe his agent was a good negotiator.

So they can’t get help, and the old guy invites the mom and young kids inside while the oldest son and the band manager look at the engine. And for two whole minutes I thought maybe this would be a quiet little vignette about making the best of the holidays, just being with family even when you can’t have what you want.

Nope. Oh no. The old guy starts to tell a story about the Old West town they’re in, and the episode flips into a fantasy sequence starring all the main characters as the most unlikely ‘historic’ characters since Nathan Detroit put on a fluorescent-pin-striped suit.

The story is about a ‘mean’ man who steals the town’s silver Christmas bell that the townsfolk ring to help Santa find their town. The oldest son plays the bumbling sheriff, another is the reformed gangster who tries to win the bell back in a card game. There are a lot of tedious running gags.

Of course, Christmas comes all the same, and the ‘mean’ man decides to be less mean after the townspeople are kind to him, and the bus is fixed, lets get the heck out of this one-donkey town!

Of course, part two, the family comes back to sing carols to their new friend so he won’t be alone at Christmas.

For a show about music, there wasn’t much in this particular episode, and according to everything I’ve read, this is the only Christmas episode the show had. They did, however, put out a best-selling Christmas album.