A superficial and at times damning portrait of David Cassidy’s rise and fall as a teen heartthrob, this “Story” lacks depth or even a reason to exist. One has to wonder what would compel NBC to order, from Cassidy(?!), this fact-and-fiction retelling of his 1970s heyday as Keith Partridge and his slump to near homelessness. Boy bands take heed.
The Partridge Family revival certainly owes some gratitude to E!’s “True Hollywood Story” and VH1’s “Behind the Music,” but that hardly explains why this sketchy script would get a greenlight. Perhaps Cassidy wanted to show how he had to suffer at the hands of his drunken wretch of an old man (Jack played as an egomaniacal womanizer by Malcolm MacDowell) or make it clear for the ages that he loved his mother, who was not Shirley Jones.
At virtually every step of the way, “The David Cassidy Story” avoids anything beyond sketchy details, beginning as a youngster at his father’s stage door. Show shoots quickly to 1968 and Cassidy ( Andrew Kavovit of “As the World Turns”) expressing an interest in becoming an actor. In no time, he’s auditioning for Keith Partridge and as coincidence would have it, stepmom Shirley Jones (Dey Young) is playing mother Partridge.
And — chop! chop! — the show’s a hit, Cassidy’s a superstar on tour, he wants to be more of rock star in the Bob Dylan vein, and, before you know it, he wants out. Along the way, he develops a close relationship with manager Ruth Aarons (Roma Maffia) and attempts to woo Sue Shifrin (Chandra West) to no avail.
Career plummet involves the usual mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol and eventually, Cassidy winds up with nothing and is sleeping on the couch of longtime friend Nick (Matthew John Armstrong). That revelation was probably the most oft-played portion of the “Behind the Music” seg. Show ends with the real Cassidy onstage with the faux fab one singing “I Woke up in Love This Morning.” It’s frightening.
At every step of the way, Duane Poole’s script avoids explaining situations, whether it be Cassidy’s return via the stage and “Blood Brothers,” his relationship with Susan Dey or wife Kay Lenz or even the true Keith Patridge fervor. Acting throughout is stiff and one-dimensional.
Closing credits indicate the “Story” is not necessarily all that true and that certain characters are composites. Does the truth hurt that much, even when you get a chance to spin your own story?