Jun 1, 2015

Bobby Sherman Gets With Wes Stern

In the spring of 1971, Bobby Sherman was probably the #1 teen idol in the country,or maybe #2 to David Cassidy of The Partridge Family.  He had a dozen hit singles, including "Easy Come Easy Go" and "Julie Do Ya Love Me."  His shirtless photos were plastered all over the teen magazines, actually more often than David Cassidy's.  And he had displayed acting talent as the "allergic to girls" beach movie star Frankie Catalina on an episode of The Monkees, plus two seasons as Troy Bolt on Here Come the Brides (1968-70).

The minds of ABC executives started churning.  Why not give him his own tv series?  He could play "himself," and sing a different number every week.  Surefire hit, right?

They based the premise on the singer/songwriter team Boyce and Hart.  Bobby would play Bobby Conway, a struggling singer, and Wes Stern would provide the comic relief and tight jeans as his lyricist/best friend Lionel Poindexter.

23-year old Wes Stern was a cute, likeable guy, a veteran of the Groundlings comedy troupe, who specialized in self-effacing heterosexual roles.  He passed on the role of Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate to star in The First Time (1969), about three guys trying to lose their virginity.

 In Up in the Cellar (1970), he played a college student who gets even with the president by seducing his wife (Joan Collins), daughter, and mistress.

He tried to seduce Mary Richards on an episode of Mary Tyler Moore, and kissed any number of women on episodes of Love, American Style.

But Getting Together would minimize heterosexual hijinks to concentrate on the deep friendship (read: romance) between Bobby and Lionel.  They would become an alternative family, charged with raising Bobby's preteen sister Jenny.  And they would work in an antique shop while waiting for their big break.

They couldn't be more gay-coded if they plastered their bedroom with pictures of Steve Reeves.  Hey, Wes, don't be bashful, just kiss him.

Tie-in novels and comic books were ordered, gushing teen magazine articles were written, and after a trial run on an episode of The Partridge Family, Getting Together premiered. But not on ABC's Friday night block of kid-friendly programs -- on September 18, 1971, a Saturday.  Opposite the second season premiere of the blockbuster All in the Family.

I watched -- my parents didn't allow me to see All in the Family -- but no one else did, and Getting Together failed to make a dent in the juggernaut of Archie, Edith, and the Meathead.  14 episodes aired through January 1972, and then the duo disbanded.

Giving teen idols their own tv series, even when they have acting talent, is risky business, as David Cassidy discovered a few years later.

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