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DOUGHERTY: 'Family Band' strange, uncomfortable trip

April 12, 2013

It starts out as an apparent wistful, nostalgic story of a musician who once was a star performer and still slogs through the one-night bookings in small clubs. Sad enough, but not that uncommon.

But the deeper one gets into the Showtime Network’s “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” narrated by the second-oldest member of the title group, it becomes clearer that the 1960s family pop act that was the original basis for “The Partridge Family” TV series was of darker stock.

A dominant, iron-fisted, former Marine started the Cowsills with four of his sons, managed every aspect of the group and eventually added his wife and young daughter to the group.

How he forces his will on each as a family relation and as a band member becomes increasingly difficult to watch. And what it does to the relationships each of the children have with each other as they grow into adults is, yes, interesting but at times uncomfortable.

The documentary is depressing, despite what we already may have heard about the backgrounds of many bands from the ’60s. Do I recommend it? Probably, if you're a student of that era.

But even though Shirley Jones is interviewed in the film, don’t expect that “Come On, Get Happy” Partridge Family feeling when you’re done.

— Mike Dougherty, Editor

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