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 release||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 project, Asa Mercer's efforts to bring civilization to old Seattle in the 1860s by importing marriageable women from the east coast cities of the United States, where the ravages of the American Civil War left those towns short of men.
As a television western, set shortly after the end of the Civil War, 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, smooth-talking, charismatic 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 back 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 comedic 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. One running theme is the importance of family, as the Bolt brothers show through the closeness of their relationships, that by sticking together, democratically taking family votes, they can overcome the surprising obstacles life presents.
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, unofficial 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.
The show addressed many social issues — racism, ethnic discrimination, treatment of the handicapped and mentally impaired, business ethics, ecology. The Bolt brothers replanted the trees they cut down.
- First season
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)
- Ben Perkins (Hoke Howell)
- Corky (Robert Biheller)
- Olaf "Big Swede" Gustavsen (Bo Svenson)
- Essie Halliday (Mitzi Hoag), school teacher and eventually Big Swede's wife
- Franny (Carole Shelyne)
- Ann (Cynthia Hull)
- Second season
Those listed for the first season, plus
- Captain Clancey (Henry Beckman)
- Biddie Cloom (Susan Tolsky)
- Ben Perkins (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
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A young Bruce Lee appeared as a Chinese immigrant named Lin in the episode "Marriage Chinese Style" (1969). This character was the only dramatic English language non-martial arts role in Lee's acting career. Character actress Nora Marlowe played Mrs. Bronson in the same episode.
Cicely Tyson, Jane Wyatt, Edward Asner, Majel Barrett (Star Trek), Barry Williams (pre-Brady Bunch), Marge Redmond and Madeline Sherwood (both known as regulars in The Flying Nun), Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay of Bewitched), Vic Tayback (an extra as one of 'Jason's men' in the premiere episode, later a guest star), Lynda Day George, Bob Cummings (star of The Bob Cummings Show 1955-1959 on NBC and The New Bob Cummings Show 1961-1962 on CBS), Daniel J. Travanti and James B. Sikking (both later known for Hill Street Blues), Larry Linville (M*A*S*H) and Billy Mumy (Lost in Space) all made guest appearances.
Mitzi Hoag, who played Miss Essie during the season 1, had two guest roles in season 2 as completely different characters, one as a Greek immigrant in the episode "Land Grant" and another as a nun in the episode "Absalom".
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 United States was broadcast on Friday September 18, 1970.
The theme song "Seattle" was written by 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 overdubbing vocals/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.
A French-language version of the show and theme song (performed by a chorus of male singers) was a smash hit in French Canada, under the title Cent filles à marier (A Hundred Girls to Marry Off). The show capitalized on the popularlity of the American version and the fact that a similar "bride drive" (see Filles du roi) is also part of Québec's cultural mythos.
DVD releases and books
On October 14, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that it had acquired the home-video rights to the series, and it later released the final season on DVD. It was subsequently released on February 28, 2012. However, the season 1 opening cast-and-credit sequence was used for this release, using the New Establishment's vocals, but ignoring Henry Beckman's and Susan Tolsky's respective credits.
In December 2009, BearManor Media released a nostalgic look into the program's history, Gangway, Lord: (The) Here Come The Brides Book by Jonathan Etter, which featured a foreword by Robert Brown. Bobby Sherman was the only (then) surviving cast member who did not participate with the publication. However, Sherman did discuss the series in his autobiography, Bobby Sherman: Still Remembering You, whose contents he dictated to Dena Hill, and which was published Contemporary Books in 1996.
Reruns were aired on CBN Cable during the mid-1980s.
Early in January 2011, digital sub-network Antenna TV began airing the series.
- "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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