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Here Come the Brides

Here Come the Brides is a television series that aired on the ABC television network from September 25 1968 to April 3 1970. It 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 there short of men.

As a television western, it was a bit of an oddity in that it rarely featured any form of gunplay, and violence was generally limited to comical fistfights. This was in keeping with the progressive attitudes that were starting to prevail in popular culture in the late 1960s. 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.

The show was extremely popular when it first aired. However, for its second season, the family-geared series was moved from the 7:30 Wednesday night "Family Hour" to the tougher, more adult-oriented time slot of 9:00 Friday night in September 1969. The ratings quickly slid out of the top 40 and production ceased in the spring of 1970.

The first season was released on DVD by Sony Pictures on May 16, 2006. Fans were enthusiastic, but sales did not meet expectations.

Plot summary

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 one hundred 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, 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 respectively. 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.

Cast

Main characters

Recurring characters

  • Ben (Hoke Howell)
  • Corky (Robert Biheller)
  • Big Swede (Bo Svenson)
  • Franny (Carole Shelyne)
  • Ann (Cynthia Hull)
  • 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 was the only dramatic non-martial arts role that Lee played in his acting career. Edward Asner, Vic Tayback (of Alice fame), and James Sikking (better known for Hill Street Blues) also made guest appearances.

Music

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 theme. Como scored a minor hit, with his version reaching No. 38 in the U.S. on the Billboard Top 40. 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, ie; "...look out everyone! Here Come the Brides!" At some point during the second half of the show's first season, the TV theme was changed from a rousing instrumental score to a version with lyrics sung by The New Establishment and backing conducted by Montenegro. However, the vocal track was eventually removed, and when the series went into syndication, the episodes with the vocal theme were replaced with the instrumental version for uniformity.

French version

The French 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).

Production

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.

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, Spock discovers that Stempel is one of his mother's ancestors, which ties in nicely, since 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 movies.

External links

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