SUPPORTING GREAT TELEVISION

The Partridge Family, Singing the Black and White Blues

In Flashbacks on January 29, 2011 at 12:00 am

Richard Pryor and Lou Gossett Jr. in “The Partridge Family” episode “Soul Club.” (Screen cap)

On January 29, 1971, ABC aired Soul Club, a Partridge Family episode that finds the lily-white clan organizing a fundraiser to save a struggling black nightclub in Detroit.

Lou Gossett Jr. and Richard Pryor guest star as the club’s owners, who are skeptical of the Partridges’ plan but are happily proven wrong when the fundraiser is a smash and the club is saved.

Soul Club, which aired 17 days after All in the Family’s debut, is an early example of television’s awakening in the 1970s, when the medium began exploring racial relations and other once-taboo topics.

In 1997, TV Guide ranked Soul Club the 78th greatest television episode of all time, declaring it “one of the best-intentioned” entries on its list.

See for yourself: A three-minute Soul Club “minisode” can be streamed at Crackle; the full episode is available on DVD and through iTunes and Amazon.com video on demand.

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