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In Search of The Partridge Family, Episode 3: Battle of the Lauriesby Donna Reynolds -- 09/27/2004
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With three "Keiths" selected, this week's episode turns the spotlight to the character of Laurie, the Partridge's singing sister, originally played by Susan Dey. Unlike some of her castmates, however, Ms. Dey has had a fairly substantial career post-Partridge. Her character, Grace Van Owen, was a focal point on the mega-hit L.A. Law, and, most recently, she has appeared in a recurring role on NBC's Third Watch. Apparently, Susan does not need to rest on her Partridge laurels, and is conspicuously missing from this rather forced attempt at a joyous reunion. After having seen the first two episodes, I am certain that Susan made the correct decision!
That being said, ever-effusive host, Todd Newton, dramatically introduces the "Laurie" wannabes, telling us that, in a few moments, three of them will be eliminated and only five will go on to the singing competition. From the five, only three will have a chance to participate in the acting competition. Let's meet the "Lauries" - Alexis Mero (Ann Arbor, MI), Essie Shure (Chicago, IL), Rachel Kimsey (Sandy UT), Emily Stone (Phoenix, AZ), Allison Considine (Dallas, PA), Alana Allen (New York, NY), Allison Miller (Tallahassee, FL), and Christina Grace (McLean, VA). They are all so sickeningly sweet, I am nearly comatose.
The three remaining "Keiths" are in the front row, but, sadly, one of them will be eliminated at the end of the show. The "Lauries" go to boot camp and are excited to meet the aging David Cassidy. He's going to give them the inside scoop on Laurie, since she can't be there herself. They sing, they dance, and they learn to fake playing the piano "Laurie Partridge style." Dress-up is a blast, and they even get to play in the kitchen with Shirley Jones. A spirited food fight erupts. Oh this is just so much fun.
Now for the moment all three of us who are watching the show have been waiting for - the first cut! We say 'buh 'bye to Allison Considine, Essie Shure, and Allison Miller. Emily Stone has the highest score and everyone is thrilled. Shirley Jones joins Todd on the stage and seems totally overjoyed to be onstage anywhere. She describes Laurie as the "first teenage feminist" on TV, and then kicks off the singing round of the competition.
First up is Alexis Mero. She has chosen the song "Skater Boy," and warbles her way through the song displaying some serious pitch problems. She has a nice stage presence, however, and a great smile. The judges seem to like her a lot, though, and I wonder if I am hearing the same thing that they are hearing.
David Cassidy introduces the "Keith" finalists, and tells them that he is nervous for them. Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast, and, sadly, one of them is going home at the end of this episode. But first, we must continue on with the "Lauries."
Rachel Kimsey has her turn, and tells us that she is just like Laurie in soooo many ways. She sings "Daydream." She tries to mask her total lack of singing ability by slithering around on the stage like an exotic dancer, and the judges reward her accordingly. Doesn't look good for Rachel.
Two down, three to go. Emily Stone is next, and, with her newly dyed hair, she "totally feels" Laurie. But can she sing? She's chosen the song "Bitch," and hearing Shirley Jones introduce that title sends me into gales of hysterical laughter! Talk about incongruous! Emily's performance can be summed up in one word - karaoke. Her mother is happy, and the judges love her. Did I miss something? Am I losing my ability to judge singing performances here? Good grief, I hope not.
Shirley and Todd introduce Alana Allen, who tells us that she and her mother moved to New York so that Alana could attend the Performing Arts School. Was the sacrifice worth it? Alana sings "Nothing Compares 2U," and does a lot of kicking and flipping of the hair. "It only reminds me of you-oooo-oooo." Flip hair, kick leg, yowl… ouch, ugh, groan. That was horrendous. Maybe this is better live because the judges give her decent scores. I may have to go back to "music critic" school.
Our final "Laurie" is Christina Grace. She has written up a "Life Time-Line" and thinks Laurie is funny, innocent and sweet. Christina sings "California Dreaming" and sounds like a Miss America contestant! She is so bad that I mute the sound until she is finished. Seriously. American Idol would have her as part of their "bad audition" clips. At least the judges agree with me this time, and it looks like we'll be bidding Christina adieu.
Todd introduces Danny Bonaduce and his "impish" grin. Danny makes another idiotic joke about his life of crime and introduces the judges - Tim Palmer, Mary Jo Slater, Bill Oakley, and Nancy Matalon. Before we find out which three girls will advance, Danny urges us to watch some of bad "Laurie" clips. The first one to appear looks exactly like Jamie Foss, winner of Superstar USA. There can't be two pretty caterwauling blondes who think they can sing, can there?
It's time to eliminate two of the five girls, and the lowest scores go to Rachel Kimsey and Christina Grace. Alexis scores the highest. The three will now move on to the acting round. Before we get to this, there's a quick tribute to Laurie in film. They don't even try to explain why she isn't taking part in this show… as if the viewers haven't noticed.
The scene the girls will be performing is the one where Shirley and Laurie talk about Laurie's diary. Alexis is first, and proves that she is a better actor than singer. Her mom and dad think she did great. Now for Emily, who totally misses the essence of Laurie, behaving instead like a spoiled brat. Naturally, her mother and "adopted cousin" are thrilled to pieces by her performance. Alana Allen has her shot, and, in my humble opinion, she does the best job of the three. Danny talks to two "random young men" in the audience who agree that Alana is hot.
At long, long last, it is time to learn which of the "Keiths" has been eliminated. America voted - or at least hundreds of thousands did. Leland (the adopted boy) stays and it's down to Lucais and David. Lucais is eliminated (thank God) and David moves on to the finals. Go Leland. May the best "Keith" win. With a parting shot of the three "Lauries," Todd implores us to vote. Although the phone lines were only open for two hours after the show aired, if you are so inclined, you can still vote online at www.vh1.com. So what are you waiting for?
In the next episode, we will be selecting the new "Danny." The eight boys join the "Keiths" and "Lauries" onstage, and the entire ensemble sing us out with David Cassidy taking the lead on "I Think I Love You." I think I am glad this episode is over.
Donna Reynolds is a self-proclaimed entertainment junkie and writes That's Entertainment, a daily column for syracuse.com highlighting events of local interest as well as her take on all things reality! She is also doing a weekly spot on a Syracuse radio station, commenting on the latest entertainment buzz. In addition, Donna does technical writing for a medical equipment company and is a part-time aquatic dance instructor. Whether you agree or disagree, Donna welcomes your comments and you can email her at email@example.com.
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