Here Come the Brides
|Here Come the Brides|
Joan Blondell as Lottie.
|Theme music composer||Hugo Montenegro
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Running time||48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Screen Gems|
|Original run||September 25, 1968– April 3, 1970|
Here Come the Brides is an American comedy Western series from Screen Gems that aired on the ABC television network from September 25, 1968 to April 3, 1970. The series was loosely based upon the Mercer Girls, Asa Mercer's efforts to bring civilization to old Seattle by importing marriageable women from the east coast of the United States in the 1860s, where the ravages of the American Civil War left towns short of men.
The producers said the show was inspired by the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in an interview with LA Times TV critic Cecil Smith.
As a television western, the series rarely featured any form of gunplay, and violence was generally limited to comical fistfights. This was in keeping with the restrictions on television violence at the time. Stories highlighted the importance of cooperation, racial harmony, and peaceful resolution of conflict. Plots were usually a mix of drama and humor. Being one of the first shows targeted at young women, most of the humor was at the expense of the men, but not particularly bitingly so.
In the pilot episode, fast-talking logging company boss Jason Bolt (Robert Brown) is faced with a shutdown of his operation as lonely lumberjacks are ready to leave Seattle due to the lack of female companionship. He promises to find 100 marriageable ladies willing to come to the frontier town (population 152) and stay for a full year. Sawmill owner Aaron Stempel (Mark Lenard) puts up much of the expense money as a wager that Bolt won't succeed, with the three Bolt brothers betting their mountain (home to their logging company).
The Bolts travel to New Bedford, Massachusetts, recruit the women, then charter a mule-ship to take them to Seattle. The local saloon owner, Lottie (Joan Blondell) takes the women under her wing and becomes a mother figure to them, while Bolt desperately works to keep the women from leaving at the next high tide. Eventually, the women decide to give Seattle and the loggers a chance. The ship's captain, Clancy (Henry Beckman), develops a relationship with Lottie and becomes a regular character in the series.
Much of the dramatic and comic tension in the first season revolved around Stempel's efforts to sabotage the deal and take over the Bolts' holdings. Stempel became more friendly in the second and final season, which focused more on the development of individual characters and the conflicts associated with newcomers and with people just passing through.
Bobby Sherman and David Soul were propelled to pop stardom as Jason's brothers, Jeremy and Joshua. Jeremy took a prominent role, not only as the boyfriend of Candy Pruitt (Bridget Hanley), the beautiful leader of the brides, but also as a young man struggling with a conversation-stopping stammer. In one episode, he is temporarily cured of his impediment, following coaching by a traveler who has come to Seattle. Upon discovering that his benefactor is actually a con artist, his faith is shaken so deeply that the stammer returns.
Opening Credits sequence:
- Jason Bolt (Robert Brown)
- Jeremy Bolt (Bobby Sherman)
- Joshua Bolt (David Soul)
- Aaron Stempel (Mark Lenard)
- Candace "Candy" Pruitt (Bridget Hanley)
- Lottie Hatfield (Joan Blondell)
- Captain Clancey (Henry Beckman)
- Biddie Cloom" (Susan Tolsky)
- Ben Jenkins (Hokie Howell)
- Corky (Robert Biheller)
- Olaf "Big Swede" Gustavsen (Bo Svenson)
- Essie Halliday (Mitzi Hoag), the school teacher and eventually Big Swede's wife
- Franny (Carole Shelyne)
- Ann (Cynthia Hull)
Those listed for the first season plus:
- Captain Clancey" (Henry Beckman)
- Biddie Cloom" (Susan Tolsky)
- Ben Jenkins" (Hoke Howell)
- Corky (Robert Biheller)
- Christopher Pruitt (Eric Chase, 1969–1970), Candy Pruitt's younger brother
- Molly Pruitt (Patti Cohoon, 1969–1970), Candy's younger sister
Notable guest stars
A young Bruce Lee appeared as a Chinese immigrant named Lin in a 1969 episode titled "Marriage Chinese Style." This character was the only dramatic English language non-martial arts role whom Lee acted out in his acting career.
Edward Asner, Davy Jones, Marge Redmond and Madeline Sherwood (both known as regulars in The Flying Nun), Vic Tayback, Daniel J. Travanti and James B. Sikking (both later known for Hill Street Blues) also made guest appearances. Character actress Nora Marlowe played Mrs. Bronson in the 1969 episode "Marriage, Chinese Style."
Also Mitzi Hoag, who played Miss Essie during the 1st season had a guest role on the 2nd season as a completely different character of Greek descent.
First season ratings were impressive enough to ensure its renewal for a second season, though only 152 ABC affiliates agreed to broadcast the series (compared to another Screen Gems' series, Bewitched, which was broadcast on 217 ABC affiliates in the same 1968/69 season). However, for that second season, the family-geared series was moved from the 7:30 Wednesday night "Family Hour" to the more adult-oriented time slot of 9:00 Friday night in September 1969. This move to the Friday night death slot combined with the low ABC affiliate support caused the ratings to quickly slide out of the top 40, and production ceased in the spring of 1970, although most of those ABC affiliates repeated episodes throughout the summer months, as was then a standard procedure with most series. The final primetime episode in the USA was broadcast on Friday September 18, 1970.
The theme song "Seattle" was written by Hugo Montenegro, Jack Keller and Ernie Sheldon. Both Perry Como and Bobby Sherman recorded slightly different variations of the song. Como scored a minor hit, with his version reaching No. 38 in the U.S. Sherman's version, although receiving some airplay, was never released as a single. There is no reference in either version regarding the TV series title, i.e.; "...look out everyone! Here Come the Brides!" Starting with the series debut in September 1968 the series opened with a rousing instrumental score featuring screen stills of "Jason", "Jeremy & Joshua", "Candy & Aaron" and "Lottie". At some point during the first season (and to coincide with the spring 1969 release of the Perry Como 'pop' recording) the TV theme was reworked by overlaying lyrics to the same theme music already recorded (as used previously) along with updating all the opening character stills, including the addition of a "Clancy & Biddie" screen. The added lyrics performed by "The New Establishment" and updated screen stills were featured for the remainder of the first season and remained unchanged for the entire second season.
DVD releases and book
On October 14, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired the rights to the series and plan to release the final season on DVD. It was subsequently released on February 28, 2012. However, only the season 1 credits sequence were used for the 2nd season DVD release using the vocals but ignoring Henry Beckman and Susan Tolsky's credit.
In December 2009, BearManor Media released a nostalgic look into the series history in Gangway, Lord, (The) Here Come The Brides Book by Jonathan Etter, featuring a forward by Robert Brown. Bobby Sherman was the only (then) surviving cast member who did not participate with the publication.
Early in January 2011, digital sub-network Antenna TV began airing the series.
Star Trek crossover
Barbara Hambly's Star Trek novel Ishmael has Spock travelling back to the time and place of Here Come the Brides after discovering a Klingon plot to destroy the Federation by killing Aaron Stempel (spelled "Stemple" in the book) before he could thwart an attempted 19th-century alien invasion of Earth. During most of the story, Spock has lost his memory and is cared for by Stempel, who passes him off as his nephew "Ishmael" and helps him hide his alien origins.
At the end of the story, Captain Kirk discovers that Stempel was one of Spock's mother's ancestors, a reference to the fact that Mark Lenard also played Spock's father Sarek in episodes of the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as several of the Star Trek motion pictures. So in a sense, Lenard played both Spock's father and his maternal ancestor.
Aside from Lenard, other Star Trek guest cast members were series regulars Robert Brown (both of the Lazaruses in "The Alternative Factor") and David Soul (Makora in "The Apple") and semi-regular Carole Shelyne (the visible representation of a Metron in "Arena," whose voice Vic Perrin provided in that installment).
- "Television Obscurities - The Ugliest Girl in Town".
- Here Come the Brides - Official Press Release, Plus Rear Box Art & Revised Front Art TVShowsonDVD.com 2006-03-07
- Here Come the Brides - 'The Complete 2nd Season': Shout!'s Street Date, Cost, Packaging TVShowsonDVD.com 2001-11-07
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