Episode 6: The Party Girls

Original Air Date: March 9th, 1990

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4jx9x2

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we review the final episode of The Bradys.  It was the first plot that heavily involved Greg’s and Bobby’s wives.  Leah Ayres was also given a lot of screen time in this episode.  She was featured prominently in the previous episode as well.  While she was a fine actress, I can sense some disappointment on the part of fans in that they weren’t seeing the original Bradys.  However, I am sure by episode six, a great number of fans of the original series had checked out anyway.  I know if I had my choice back then, even as a huge Brady Bunch fan, I’d have been watching Full House and Perfect Strangers on a Friday night.  I really wish our beloved characters had a better send off than the hi-jinks of a catering startup.  However, that is what we got and that is what we will be reviewing.  We do have a subplot of a brotherly conflict between Peter and Greg that was well done.  Let us do it one last time with a review featuring (most of) the original cast and start our review of “The Party Girls”!

lickingenvelopes

The episode begins with Alice paying a visit to Carol.  Sam is on the verge of retiring and will be putting his old butcher shop up for lease.  Alice would like Carol’s help putting it on the market.  Carol seeks Alice’s help licking envelopes.  Both ladies complain of tongue strain as the envelope glue is hard on their palates.  Through this entire scene I kept thinking “Get a damn sponge or a wet paper towel!  You don’t have to lick the envelopes!”  Surely between the smarts of these two ladies, one of them would have thought of this.

Wally decides to apply for a job he can’t be fired from; he wants to run his own company.  He so enjoyed working for Councilman Brady that he now wants to start his own public relations firm.  Mike makes the ever wise suggestion that maybe Wally should work for a PR firm before trying to start his own.  Wally will hear none of that and wants a loan to start his business.  The fact that Wally had no interest in being employed by a PR firm before starting his own would have nixed any willingness to give a loan from me.  Mike says he will give it some thought.  Maybe guilt motivated Mike to do this, as I can see no good reason to loan somebody money for an endeavor they have so little experience with.  Wally proved himself apt at handling PR, but that doesn’t make him fit to run a business doing it.  The finest mechanic could fail miserably at running his own auto repair shop.

Marcia, Nora and Tracy (Bobby’s wife) have business aspirations of their own.  They want to open a catering business.  They too seek a loan from the Bank of Brady as they hit up Mike and Carol for $30,000 that can be repaid in a year.  Good grief,  a $30K loan is still nothing to take lightly in 2020!  The ladies’ is akin to asking for $60,000 in today’s dollars.  It is not made clear as to whether or not Mike and Carol had this much moula on hand or if they would be taking a loan of their own.  In a resolution similar to what we’d have seen on The Brady Bunch, the girls are granted their loan with the condition that Wally work PR for the catering service.    This is the last episode, so we never know how this worked out in the long run.  But man, can you imagine if Wally wound up getting fired by Marcia?

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The episode’s other story involves Greg and Peter.  The pair had planned to attend a basketball game together.  However, the night of, Greg must bail on his younger brother and attend a parents event at his son’s school.  Peter is none too happy about this.  Peter claims Greg’s family responsibilities have made his brother less available to pal around.    Peter says Greg being a family man makes him a boring stiff.  Man, Peter gets more unlikable with each episode.  Yes, Greg should have at least given Pete a heads up about not being able to make it to the game, but Peter should not shame his brother for being a responsible dad.

With the wives’ new catering enterprise, we get to see Sam’s butcher shop one last time.  Sam was still using the same style of signage since we last saw it.  Things don’t begin well for the catering business.  Day one ends without the ladies being booked up for catering jobs.  Carol suggests the catering business have a motif for each party to get things rolling.  It does!

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Flashback to a better show.

Later in the episode, Greg and Peter’s dilemma is revisited as Greg and Nora discuss the brotherly bond that is crumbling.  We are treated to a flashback from Cyrano De Brady as Greg remembers better times among him and Peter.   This was a nice opportunity to give Greg’s wife a little more screen time and see a husband and wife exchange between them.

Mrs. Greg Brady was played by Caryn Richman.    Notable acting credits include the soap opera Texas and the starring role on The New Gidget.  Readers, if any of you watched either show and can share some more about her roles, please do!  She has several other TV credits on her resume and a few films.  The internet offers little information about her outside of acting and endorsing products.

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Carol attempts to intervene in the brotherly feud.  She encourages Peter to give Greg a call and mend fences.  Peter does, but Greg is a total ass on the phone, refreezing potentially thawing relations between the pair.  The coldness between them befits the next encounter they have.  They enter Sam’s meat locker to try and hash out differences.  As they do, Peter closes the shop door and traps them both in there!  This time there is no window to break out and they risk freezing to death.  No friends, my mind is going back to the more entertaining show of old again.  Inside the freezer, Greg attempts to make things right with Celtics/Lakers tickets.  Peter declines as he has plans to attend party that same night where twin sisters he has his eye(s) on will be.  Greg is none to happy to be declined. Things almost come to blows inside the freezer.  This encounter ends with Greg saying Peter no longer exists to him!   While this seems extreme, it was nice to have some conflict and interaction among siblings.  A reader made the observation not too long ago how this show was sorely missing that.

Marcia and the wives conspire to heal the familial rift by having Greg and Peter at the same place at the same time.  The girls are hosting an Austrian themed party to accommodate Mike’s hosting an international dignitary.   The party is going well until Peter starts choking!  Fortunately, Greg is there to administer the Heimlich Maneuver and save his brother’s life.  I wonder if Nora secretly added a choking agent in the delicacies, knowing Peter would nearly die and his brother would be there to save him.  After all, she probably had heard about how Peter indentured himself to Bobby when the younger brother saved his life.  Now Peter can claim both brothers helped him skirt death. Some reference to being a slave for life would have been funny here.  Mike enters with an Australian dignitary, not an Austrian one!  In some writing akin to the show of old, the Australian man is happy to take a break from references to “shrimp on the barbie” and hearing “G’Day Mate”.

Well friends, with this meh episode, the Bradys left our screens for good.  Yes, there have been parodies and cast reunions, but Florence Henderson, Robert Reed and Ann B. Davis would never again play Carol, Mike and Alice alongside each other.  The actors playing the Brady siblings have also never resurrected their roles of old.  There is still some glimmer of hope that at least one more story awaits us.  As each attempt to bring the family back to the small screen withered and died, I kept thinking the same thing.  The original series was very entertaining and brought smiles and joy to so many.  We all enjoyed seeing the cast back together again in their TV movies.  However, that momentum and fun could not be carried over to a successful series.  It’s nice to go back and visit, but you can’t go home again.

Please share your own thoughts!  While this is the final blog post regarding an episode, there will be a few more posted on some other corners of the Brady universe we’ve yet to explore.  Dear readers, thank you so much for revisiting these shows with me.  I have loved every minute watching them, writing these blogs and reading your comments!

house1b

 

 

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Book Review: Life Is Not a Stage by Florence Henderson

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we take a break from reviewing an episode of The Bradys so that we may have a look at “Life Is Not a Stage” by the late Florence Henderson.  As I have stated in the past, I am not a literary critic, so this blog is really just sharing my own thoughts on the book and sharing some of the information shared.  The book was published in 2011 and ends with the author sharing her experience on Dancing With The Stars.  She would be with us only five more years after the book came out, but if she spent those remaining years living her life as she did in her autobiography, I would surmise they were lived to the fullest.

The book numbers 264 pages and recollections of The Brady Bunch do not begin until page 167.  Pages 1 through 166 focus on Henderson’s childhood in Kentucky and her rise as a star of the stage.  She was the last of nine children and most were grown and no longer part of the household for the duration of her childhood.  Her father was an alcoholic with intervals of sobriety through the years.  She wrote, “When he wasn’t drunk, he could be the sweetest, kindest man.”   She describes her mother as a strict but fair woman who showed little love and adoration for her children.  She would leave Florence and her sister to move to Cleveland while they were still young.  Fortunately, she remained a presence in Florence’s life in later years.  There are pictures of them enjoying time together in Florence’s adult years.   An interesting factoid shared was that Florence Henderson modeled the Great Grandma Hutchins character in “You’re Never Too Old” after her own mother.

Through the charitable act of a friend’s parents, Florence Henderson got her big break.  Through the family’s connections, Florence landed a spot at a prestigious acting school in New York City.  From here she rose quickly appearing in hit plays.  Her adventures as a stage actress are peppered with stories of meeting famous players, troubled celebrities and other interesting tales.  Unfortunately, many of the big names she mentioned were unfamiliar to me.  I am sure one more knowledgeable of Broadway and musicals in general might enjoy this portion of the book more.

Other than her time on The Today Show, her experience in front of the camera was limited prior to playing Carol Brady.  As she wrote about The Brady Bunch, I was a bit disappointed that most of the information shared has been shared before.  She wrote of how she helped ease Robert Reed’s anxiety in the romantic scenes for the show.  It is well known now that Robert Reed was gay.  Florence Henderson describes his anxiety over performing as her husband was challenging at first.  She of course mentions how he wanted The Brady Bunch to be as realistic as possible and would bump heads with Sherwood and Lloyd Schwartz over scripts.

Florence describes how filming a weekly sitcom required long and grueling hours.  She arrived at the set before the sun was up and left after it went down.  She wrote of what a great friend she had in Ann B. Davis who told her she must conserve her energy and encouraged her to take up needlepoint.  She also maintained a family like relationship with the child actors on the series.  She made a great point that she was spending more time with her cast mates than her own family, thereby making them like family.

The one story shared by Florence Henderson about the show, that I never recall hearing before, occurred in Hawaii.  There is a scene where the Bradys are in an outrigger canoe.  The watercraft capsized and none of the cast were wearing life jackets.  Florence knew Susan Olsen was not a good swimmer, nor was she herself, so she held on to her TV daughter for dear life.  The event shook everybody up, but the show must go on and they continued filming.  Florence stated, “It could have been a major disaster”.  Indeed it could have.

Henderson is grateful for the persona the character Carol Brady gave her in her post Brady years.  She never lacked for work in the years following the show.  She mentions briefly The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.  She remembers fondly the beautiful gowns she got to wear and the great talent that made guest appearances on the program.  I was disappointed that not even a passing mention was made regarding The Brady Brides, A Very Brady Christmas or The Bradys.  She also did not mention her cameo in The Brady Bunch Movie.  Instead, the rest of the book shares with readers the bittersweet divorce from her first husband.  She and him remained friendly in the years that followed their divorce.  She found that ending a marriage she had entered into in another phase of life to be a liberating experience.  She also speaks only fondly of her second husband to whom she was married for 20 years until he passed away.

Dear readers, if any of you have had the pleasure of reading “Life Is Not a Stage”, I would love to hear your own thoughts and opinions.  If you have not, I would encourage any fan of The Brady Bunch to learn more about the woman who gave us Carol Brady.   She ends the book encouraging readers to find their own positive energy and follow their dreams.  I like to think she was doing just that until November 24, 2016 when she left this world.  Rest in peace Florence Henderson.  Thank you for sharing your story with us.

 

Episode 5: Bottoms Up

Original Air Date: March 2nd, 1990

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4jx9x1

Greetings once again readers, family and friends.  Thank you for joining me today to review “Bottoms Up”.  This was the fifth episode of the short lived The Bradys series.  This time the story focuses on Marcia.  I found this interesting.  As we all know, the role of Marcia had been assumed by a new actress, Leah Ayres.  Seeing how the show was still in its infancy, I would have thought that the writers would still be trying to have the actors viewers felt more connected to in front of the camera as much as possible.  On that same note, based on the mediocre quality of the previous episodes, maybe this was a gamble that Leah Ayres might add some spark to the program.  I will say that I found this episode a notch better than the previous ones.  It is being reviewed out of sequence, so please don’t get confused and think  I watched some mystery print.  This was reviewed via Daily Motion.  Let us begin our review of “Bottoms Up”!

The episode kicks off with a busy morning a the Brady house.  Carol has fixed Mickey’s and Jessica’s lunches and will get them off to school.  Wally is busting his hump working for Mike.  Mike has a city district to run.  I wonder if Mike was also continuing work as an architect.  I live in a city with a population of approximately 180,000.  Those on the city council earn a salary  that would be considered full time.  With all other members of the household gainfully employed, Marcia feels lacking in the contributory role she plays.  She does try to horn in on Jan’s new family, offering to help Philip out with a cold stricken daughter, but her help is declined.

Marcia tries to be proactive and go out in search of a job.  Why she didn’t do this on one of the many occasions Wally lost a job is not known.  The interview does not go well at all.  The man speaking with her is quite condescending while looking over her portfolio.  He says her designs are “pre-nostalgia”. Marcia tries to pitch she is a hard worker and a fast learner, but the man says he needs a designer in touch with today’s styles.   He was also an ass about it.  Ouch. It was a sign of another era that Marcia saw the ad for a fashion designer in the newspaper classified section.  I remember a time when the employment classified section spanned several pages of the newspaper. Today it is but a small snippet tucked between the yard sale section and legal notices.   A closer look at the above screenshot shows another place was seeking a dentist via the newspaper.  Maybe Marcia should have applied for that Office Manager job.

mrstjames
William Cort

The fashion company owner was played by William Cort.  His IMDB resume lists a busy career, but with no really notable roles.  He had a single appearance on several series through the 1970s and 1980s with a few recurring ones tossed in.  His swan song would be playing the role of Headmaster Wallace Thorvald a few times on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  He left at us the relatively young age of 57 in 1993.

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Things seem to be going so well for those around Marcia.  Wally beams about all the success he is having working with Mike while ignoring Marcia’s sharing of her own lousy day.  Cindy pays her a visit seeking advice on a new job offer.  Marcia has little counsel to offer and is extra harsh with the kids.  Cindy questions this but gets more ire from Marcia.  Marcia then gets extra bitchy when she chides her younger sister stating Cindy’s problems aren’t problems at all.

backdoordeal

The other plot line in “Bottoms Up” involves Mike’s role on the City Council.  A big money developer, Jordan Armstrong, is seeking variances that will allow him to build condos.   Mike is above any kind of backdoor dealings and makes this known.  Mike should have shared how the town’s existing building codes are so lousy that he was inside a building, that was built to code, when it collapsed on Christmas Eve.   Wally, who seems to have a grasp for the darker side of politics, continues to court the developer and thinks he can get Mike to budge on the variances.

jk

For reasons unknown, IMDB does not credit the actor playing Jordan Armstrong among the episode’s or series’ credits.  The closing credits for the episode list him as John Terrence.  An IMDB search of the name gives two listings with very short resumes of each.  Say, this guy looks a lot like John Kerry.  Maybe the former presidential candidate gave acting a go in the early 90s and it didn’t work out and his credits were expunged.

The subplot with Jordan Armstrong continues as Wally seeks a private donation from him to fund a trauma center.  Earlier in the episode, Peter had discouraged private money for government causes as it can create conflicts.  Wally ignores the sage advice and has Jordan pony up the funds to get things moving.  Upon the big announcement being made, he hints to Mike and Peter that he expects something in return.  He adds the two way street he expects to travel was paved by Wally.   This is followed by a comical “whop waah” type sound effect and a laugh track that just seemed out of place.  It was more fitting of a vase being broken or a frog landing in a pizza.

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You’re fired.

Wally’s below the board dealings see that he loses yet another job.  Man, I really feel for Wally.  His self esteem must be in tatters with the revolving door of jobs we have seen him go through.  Since a Very Brady Christmas, he has lost four jobs.   In an attempt at humor, he thinks it is Peter who is about to be canned, only to learn he has been given his walking papers.  I half way expected to learn that Wally would find a new job working for Jordan Armstrong, but that doesn’t happen, at least not in this episode.  This episode might give us a good lesson in the risk of hiring family members.

The episode’s main plot is fueled by the motherly role Carol assumes with Mickey and Jessica.  She is taking the pair to an art store and Marcia attempts to intervene and do the task herself and even prevent the kids from going due to chores undone.  Carol shuts this down and has a semi-showdown with Marcia when she raises her voice at her mom.  In a “Are you talking to me type moment”, Marcia backs down.  After being stared down by her mom, Marcia opens the china cabinet where the liquor is stored.

Marcia’s newfound love of the bottle causes her to miss an important tennis date with her mom.  She is too tipsy to play tennis or answer the phone when Carol calls.  Wally arrives home and is about to take the kids out to buy some new shoes when Marcia finds herself doing it instead.  She staggers to the car with the kids in tow.  As she drunkenly fumbles with the keys, she bursts into tears prompting the kids to summon Wally.  Wally and Marcia have a good cry about the peril she almost put the kids in.  I will admit to viewing this scene with some anticipation as to whether or not Marcia was going to drive the kids around while drunk.

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Marcia’s booze problem is made known to her family and the world at the groundbreaking ceremony for the medical center.  Marcia shows up plastered and causes a scene as she drunkenly cheers for her family.  Did Marcia get behind the wheel minus the kids and drive there?  I certainly hope not.    Back at the Brady house, an intervention of sorts takes place.  Wally and Carol speak to Marcia about her problem and encourage to seek help on her own volition.  Hugs and kisses are shared and we know Marcia will be okay.

The episode ends at the radio station.  Instead of taking a new job on a talk show, Cindy At Sunrise will now be a mix of hit tunes and a talk show.  Can’t you just see the masses of listeners changing the station in droves?  The morning commute that listeners tune in for involved Cindy’s banter and a certain style of music.  I doubt the random insertion of talk show topics would be readily accepted.  Cindy’s first topic?  Her sister’s drinking problem!  I’d be scanning the dial in search of John Boy and Billy at this point.  Marcia explains her drinking problem and how it is important to seek help.  A true and powerful message for sure, but it doesn’t seem fitting for the morning drive to work.

Thank you for reviewing “Bottoms Up” with me.  I recall reading that one of the complaints Robert Reed had with this show was the speedy resolution.  In the course of one episode, Marcia has a drinking problem and is seeking help by the end.  As stated in the opening, I found this episode a bit more enjoyable than those before it.  However, I viewed this episode in a slightly altered light.  The pacing and story seems more fitting of a show of the era that aired on Sunday nights between the 6 o’clock news and prime time.  I could see this show airing against 60 Minutes or against Our House and performing decently.  Friday nights at 9pm was not the place for The Bradys.    Please share your own thoughts!  We have only one more episode of The Bradys to review and the journey of our beloved Brady family ends.  Before we wrap it up, we will be reviewing Florence Henderson’s autobiography, “Life Is Not a Stage” on Sunday.  Please join us then!

 

 

 

Episode 4: A Hat In The Ring

Original Air Date: February 23rd, 1990

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4jxaaw

Hello again friends and readers.  Thank you for joining me today to review “A Hat In The Ring”.  This fourth installment of The Bradys saw Mike Brady running for a seat on the city council.  He recruits his son and son-in-law to assist with the campaign.  It was another less than interesting story starring our beloved Brady family.  This episode did introduce the laugh track to try to suggest the story and jokes were entertaining.  It was just odd for me. By the fourth episode, I was hoping the show might have hit some kind of groove that made it flow better and more entertaining.  It hadn’t.  Please share your own thoughts and opinions on all things The Bradys.  Let us begin reviewing “A Hat In The Ring”!

The establishing shot of the house is not the house at all.  A model has been constructed as a stand-in to the Brady home of old.  While it is a nicely done model, it is obviously just that.  The model omitted the entire right wing that was part of the original.  Did whoever built it go from memory alone?  The Bradys also have some fast growing shrubs and trees around their house! While I will share again, this is a fine model, it looks like it belongs in an old Godzilla movie, not on The Bradys.

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The episode kicks off with Mike entering the council political race and Wally losing his latest job.  He walloped his boss on the links and then mishandled the golf cart sending his employer into a pond.  When Wally shares his boss fired him, Carol jokes that he is lucky that is all his boss did.  I know there are some souls out there who can make such light of losing a job, but should I ever suffer such a misfortune, I hope no family member is cracking jokes.  I might be a touch more lighthearted knowing that my in-laws were footing all the bills and providing housing as Mike and Carol are here.   Fortunately, Mike soon employs Wally to work on his campaign and “sell Mike Brady” to the voters.

Mike also employs Peter to work on his campaign. He asks him to do this while having lunch at a restaurant.  Peter has brought along his new girlfriend Teri.  It turns out the girlfriend is the daughter of the incumbent candidate in the upcoming election!  Man, can plot devices get any more lame than this?  How many people live in the greater Los Angeles area?  Peter just happens to be starting a new romance with the daughter of his father’s political opponent?  Teri ends the romance upon learning of the political contest and will even accuse Peter of dating her just to gain intel from her father’s camp.  Teri was played by a very attractive actress named Charlie Spradling.  Her IMDB resume lists nothing notable.  Her last acting credit was in 2002.  The biography on the site says she went into publishing after leaving acting.

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Mike gives a very snooze worthy election speech.  No effort is made to to jazz it up via a rubber chicken dangling on a string or water and feathers falling from above.  It’s just boring and has to stay that way.  A bank of phones is installed in the Brady house so calls can be made to pitch Mike to area residents.  In a slightly humorous bit, all the calls end with the person on the other end of the line hanging up.

Peter visits Bobby and is served an exotic dish called jambalaya.  I will confess that I had never eaten nor heard of this delicacy prior to 1996.  The Air Force chow hall served it in Biloxi, MS and I had it there for the first time.  I have loved it ever since.   Bobby is unhappy that he was not asked to help with the campaign.  He even compares himself to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was also wheelchair bound.

Again Cindy’s story is the most uninteresting.  The studio at the radio station she is employed as it is used to record a jingle for Mike’s campaign.  Jan’s voice is found to be cracking under the stress of being a new parent.  This is just worked into the jingle to give it a new and unique sound!  No friends, this does not happen.  My imagination is simply trying to make this show more interesting.

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We see the children of the Bradys out on a recycling drive that also distributes flyers for their grandfather’s campaign.  One of the homes visited is that of Mrs. Hunsaker.  The episode never calls her by this name, but viewers of the original series will remember the actress as the one who played the prospective buyer of the home in “To Move Or Not To Move”.    The IMDB page for her and for this episode do not credit her appearance on The Bradys.

Some semi-cartoonish antics are attempted in the episode.  Some staffers of Mike’s political opponent attempt to bribe Mike Brady.  Mike will have none of this.  He rises to his feet and shakes the wad of bills at the briber and tells him what a scallywag he is.  Mike’s handling of the bills plays well into the no-gooders scheme as they photograph it from outside.  Mike receives a phony newspaper with a headline about him taking a bribe along with the accompanying photo of him holding the bills.  The correspondence accompanying the phony paper says if Mike doesn’t drop out of the race, that will be a genuine headline!  Any reasonable aspiring politician would probably just phone the newspaper himself/herself and make this silly extortion attempt a headline to his/her own benefit.  Instead, Mike calls his opponent, Gene Dickinson, seeking answers.  Gene is none too happy of the actions of his rogue staffers and offers a debate with Mike as consolation.  Had this trickery plot not been resolved with just a phone call it might have made for a tad more interesting episode.  Yes, the story is on the silly side, but it allows for some potentially interesting creative writing.

opponent
Herb Edelman

 

Gene Dickinson was played by Herb Edelman.  While he enjoyed a career in Hollywood that spanned three decades, he is most recognized as Dorothy’s ex-husband, Stan Zbornak, on The Golden Girls.  However, he also had lead roles on Big John, Little John and The Good Guys.  His final acting credit was in 1995.  Herb Edelman died in 1996.

Cindy’s morning radio show hosts the political debate between Mike and Gene.  It is one of the friendliest political debates one could ever expect to experience.  It took me back to a Vice Presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman that ended with Cheney calling it a “love fest”.  Speaking of love, Cindy’s boss lets Carol know he likes her daughter in many ways.

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The episode continues to plod through the election with Mike Brady the victor.  Or is he?  Just as he is delivering his victory speech, there are whispers among the crowd and bad news is soon shared.  Mike no longer lives in the district he was just elected to! Apparently, when the Brady house was moved 11 blocks due to a freeway expansion it was moved out of the district.  So, Mike is not the new councilman, or is he?  Gene takes the stage and announces a measure he pushed that allowed for some residency leniency went into effect that very day.  Mike IS the new councilman.  Did the writers of the show realize after the fact that they needed some extra dialogue to meet the time requirement?

A fun goof that has been noted before is that when announced the victor, Mike is announced as Michael Thomas Brady, when the original series gave the character’s full name as Michael Paul Brady.

Thanks again for reviewing another episode of The Bradys with me.  I thought reviewing The Brady Brides was rough, but The Bradys episodes have not been easy either.  The Bradys are longer in run time and just dull.  I tried think of similar shows from the past that were of the same ilk as the Bradys that I also enjoyed.  7th Heaven was an hour long drama with some laughs included here and there that I enjoyed.  Other hit shows employing the format included the likes of Eight Is Enough, Life Goes On and Thirtysomething.    So, if The Bradys had better scripts, the show may not have been the flop it was.  Please share your own thoughts!

ohno

 

OH NO!

 

Episode 3: A Moving Experience

Original Air Date: February 16th, 1990

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4jvubm

Hello again fellow fans, readers and friends.  Today we review the episode “A Moving Experience”.  Urban expansion and interstates see that the Bradys must find a new home.  Instead of that, they just decide they will relocate the home they have to a new lot!  It is another slow paced and less than interesting Brady adventure.  Please share your own thoughts!

The story begins with a documentary like clip about interstates and freeways.  In case Ken Burns is reading this, I think a documentary about the Eisenhower Interstate System would make for interesting TV.  Maybe this episode should have talked about freeways a bit longer as that might have been more engaging than the story we got.

morning

The story begins with Wally leaving for work and a brief reminder that he and Marcia are shacked up at Mike and Carol’s house.  However, bad news soon arrives via a certified letter.  A weak attempt at humor is attempted as Mickey calls it a fertilized letter.  The letter states the Bradys have 6 months to vacate their home as a freeway will soon be laid through it.  Mickey attempts a joke about looking both ways before crossing the kitchen.  Marcia admonishes him as the house being razed is a serious matter.

Mike pitches to the local councilman why the freeway plans are a bad idea.  His well researched pitch falls on the ears of an inactive politician.  He tells them he will voice their concerns, but their cause is hopeless.  He leaves with the the admonishment that he is just telling them like it is.  As the Bradys leave defeated and dejected, Mike is approached by a group that suggests he run for city council.  While he was talking to these concerned citizens, some kid off camera yells loud enough to drown out the conversation and distract this viewer.  Seriously, how did the sound man miss that?

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Mike and Carol stroll about the house and reflect on all the happy memories that were created in a more entertaining series years before.  We are treated to a run of clips from the old show that include Peter practicing magic, Carol’s favorite vase breaking, Bobby flooding the service porch, Mike cleaning up the kitchen, Bobby and Cindy’s teeter-totter record attempt and Greg’s desire for his own room.

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Out of the mouths of babes comes a solution to the Bradys’ dilemma.  Mickey and Jessica are playing with toys.  Mickey says Jessica needs to move her toy house so he can build a bowling alley.  This gives Mike and Carol the idea that they can just move their house to a new lot.  I don’t know a thing about moving houses, so whether or not this is feasible I have no idea.  Carol calls all the kids to let them know about the moving plans and we learn that Greg and Nora are moving back to “the city”.

The scenes that follow show more about Cindy’s romance with her boss, Mike being approached again about running for city council and the trauma center at Greg’s new employer being closed.   Cindy and her boss almost break up, but end up making out.  She will meet his kids later in the episode and it does not go well.

The house is moved with the family running alongside the truck watching.  I can’t see any house moving company allowing this!  I can’t see too many parents allowing this either!  Both Marcia’s and Greg’s sons run all around the moving truck as it hauls the massive house down the road.  I noticed Robert Reed is absent from this scene.  I can see Robert Reed crying foul many times over at the idea that the safety of so many would be disregarded.

 

With the Brady home’s new location still requiring some setup, Mike, Carol and the Logans must call a new house home for a month.  The place is small and under a direct flight path.  The sound of planes flying over are heard continually.  Whoever called this place home before must have been deaf with the amount of air traffic overhead.

The smaller place sees that the kids must sleep on the couch while Mike and Carol and Wally and Marcia sleep in the bedrooms.  The roaring planes overhead give the youngsters such a fright that they can’t sleep alone.  The solution is that the three fellows will share a bed as will the three ladies.  This leads to a chatty Jessica keeping Marcia and Carol up.  A jumping Mickey keeps the men awake.  Why didn’t Mike just go sleep on the couch?  Or maybe Wally and Mickey could have dozed on the couches while Mike and Carol took a bed and Marcia and Jessica did the same?

alicevisit

Alice tries to pay the Bradys a visit after an RV vacation and finds the Brady home no longer there.  This had the potential for humor, but again the writing is just so drab and dry that the story just plods along.

Such a pain in the rump is living in the tiny house that Mike is motivated to run for city council.  While they celebrate his birthday in the small abode, a lady shows up with a petition to lower the sounds allowed overhead.  With her complaint, the family all voices their own troubles and decide Mike Brady is the man to run for council.

Thanks again for reviewing another episode of The Bradys with me.  There’s not much for me to conclude with. This show offered beloved characters in a boring story. Please share your own thoughts!  See you next week.

Episode 2: The Brady 500 (Part 2)

Original Air Date: February 9th, 1990

Video Link: https://dai.ly/x4jvubl

Hello again readers and friends!  Thank you for joining me as we continue on this journey reviewing The Bradys.  Wikipedia gives the title of “Here We Grow Again” to this episode and “Start Your Engines” for the previous one reviewed.  It is my understanding this also aired as a TV movie titled  “The Brady 500”.  While I found the previous episode a little slow paced and lacking charm, I found this one to be just outright boring with a nice enough conclusion.  Let us begin our review!

help

The story picks right back up to the Bradys all in the living room eyeing a wheelchair bound Bobby.  Bobby encourages his family that it is not the end of the world.  The next scene has Bobby beginning therapy.  Wally is there to help out and tells Bobby the equipment is rented by the week so he best get to improving soon.  This was some lighthearted humor to accompany a grave situation and well written.  It was also nice seeing Wally help Bobby out.  As Bobby struggles to turn around at the end of the bars he tumbles.  His family takes a collective gasp, but he refuses any help getting back up.

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Paralysis is not the only crisis facing the grown Brady children.  Jan and Philip are having trouble conceiving a child.  A call from the fertility specialist lets them know the situation does not look favorable for a Covington offspring.  The couple’s first solution is another round in the sack, but Jan can’t hold back the tears.  She really wants a child.  This scene took me back to The Brady Brides where the newlywed couples always had lovemaking in mind.  It would now seem that Philip is the randier of the two husbands.  We have not seen Wally spontaneously make out with Marcia yet.

fun

Cindy’s story line in this episode is being asked out by her boss.  I am glad they got Susan Olsen to come back for the series, but I wish the writers would have given her something more interesting to do.  Back at the Brady house, Wally and Marcia’s son Mickey has taken to using Carol’s business cards as toys with little admonishment from his father.  Mickey put the business cards on the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair to give it that motorcycle like sound, without Bobby’s approval. Wally dismisses his son’s willful disregard of another’s property and livelihood as “Mickey just being Mickey.”  Upon realizing his son has made a paper hat of the sports page, he is none to happy.  Bobby in a karma like tone tells Wally that is “Mickey, just being Mickey”.  This exchange had the potential to be quite funny, but was filmed with pacing akin to written toast buttering  instructions.

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Greg is preparing to deliver a baby and learns he has been accepted into an orthopedic residency.   His wife’s reaction is less than enthusiastic.  The father of the baby Greg is about to bring into the world doesn’t care for the idea either.  This random stranger encourages Greg to stick to obstetrics.  Again, there was potential for some good humor here, but instead it just plods along.  I realize the Bradys was an attempt to bring that fun family starring in a sitcom to a dramatic setting, but it seems there were these subtle attempts at comedy that just fall flat.

lougrant

While I found the end result of The Bradys series lacking, I will give credit to the producers of the series for trying something different.  I can only think of one other time a character successfully moved from a comedy setting to a dramatic one.  I never viewed The Mary Tyler Moore Show regularly and have never seen an episode of Lou Grant.  However, the title character of the latter went from a sitcom to a drama with success.  Readers, if you know of another character that made this transition, please let me know.  If we want to go way back, I’ve heard it argued that Tom Sawyer was a fun novel about a boy’s life and Huckleberry Finn was a deep dramatic novel telling the story of the United States.

petertheplayer

Peter’s character has morphed into a player’s player as he makes dates with two different co-workers.  I suppose his offer to defrost the one lady’s chicken cacciatore might have been some attempt at innuendo.  During his exchange with the ladies, the background music utilized is a saxophone track more fitting one of those RRR rated shorts that used to air on Showtime late at night.   I suppose Peter’s newfound single status allows such playing of the field, but to date among more than one co-worker is just reckless.  Peter was kind of an ass in the latter part of the original series, so it just seems to be carrying over.

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With his son newly disabled, Mike Brady is on a crusade to have facilities about town upgraded to accommodate handicapped people.   It’s a noble cause, but I kind of question his efforts at carrying it out.  After giving his upcoming speech, he plans to invite the commissioners to come use the wheelchair to experience how challenging it can be.  Were one of these elected officials going to deny the request and tell Mike then and there, “It’s not that hard to get up a staircase in a wheelchair.”  Mike would reply in that somber and serious tone, “I beg to differ counselor, care to demonstrate?”  “Why sure Mr. Brady!  Nothing to it.”  After finding himself exhausted when only halfway up the stairs, he would say, “Gee Mike, you are right.  Let’s vote those funds in.”  Some humor is attempted here as Alice gives the wheelchair a whirl and has some trouble getting to the top of the ramp, yet does, but barrels back down it to the family’s amusement.

The plots about Jan and Cindy continue with little excitement.  Cindy’s boss is a widower and Jan seeks Greg’s wife’s advice about conceiving, while unknown to her, Philip does the same with Greg.

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Bobby’s story continues with a visit from a girl, Tracy, who ended their relationship prior to Bobby being a stock car racer.  Bobby experiences a mix of emotions upon seeing Tracy.  At first he tries to tell her things are over and they won’t be getting back together, only for her to keep interrupting him with how much she cares about him.  After telling her things are kaput, Carol has a heart to heart talk with Bobby.  She makes him realize that Tracy is there because she loves Bobby, regardless if he is disabled or not.  The pair visit their favorite spot at a nearby lake where Bobby pops the question.  Tracy is so happy she jumps on Bobby causing him, her and the wheelchair to crash in the lake.  It seems like the writers were trying to get as many jokes out of the wheelchair prop as they could.

Another wedding will be held in the Brady living room.  I wonder if Greg got married in the living room between The Brady Brides and The Bradys?  Jan calls with great news that she and Philip are adopting a baby since one of their own is not in the cards.  They arrive not with a baby, but a girl who looks to be closer in age to six or seven.  I wonder if this was some kind of black market adoption as this child came into their home quite quickly.  From the time Bobby got engaged and then married, they are traveling with their newly adopted daughter.

The minister performing the wedding is the same one who married Mike and Carol in the original series pilot.  He even touches on this as he performs the ceremony and we are treated to a flashback.  As the wedding party proceeds to their places, Florence Henderson sings a song I am not familiar with.  She has a beautiful voice and I admire her talent, but man this song just seemed to go on and on.  Maybe if I knew the song being sung, I would have enjoyed it more.

Since the Bradys can’t seem to have a wedding without something crazy happening, the writers made sure to keep with traditions.  The matron of honor goes into labor during the ceremony.  Greg arrives a few minutes late and must rush upstairs to deliver the baby.  This gives him the realization he should not be an orthopedic doctor.   Bobby is able to rise to his feet for the final “I do’s” and the episode ends.

Thank you again for reviewing the episode with me.  Please share your own thoughts and observations. It looks there are four more of these to be reviewed.  At some point, we will review Florence Henderson’s book.  I checked it out from the library and I am reading it now.  So far, it is enjoyable and I look forward to sharing it with you.  See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1: The Brady 500

Original Air Date:  February 9th, 1990

Video Link: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4jvubk

Greetings once again readers, family and friends.  Today we begin our journey on the last adventure we have shared with the original Brady cast.  Who knows?  There could be another one someday.  Yes, there have been reunions and HGTV specials, but those were more about the actors who played the characters, not the characters themselves.  The Bradys was an attempt to bring the family back in a 1990s kind of world, sans the silly antics of the Brady kids, with a mostly dramatic flare.  Like The Brady Brides, I am viewing these episodes via the Daily Motion website, so please forgive the low quality screen grabs.

The story opens with all of the Bradys and their families watching Bobby drive in a stock car race.   Most of the family is delighted to see Bobby doing so well.  Carol is happy, but can’t bear to watch the race for fear of Bobby getting hurt.  I would say I would find it annoying if another person in the room kept disrupting my own viewing of a family member taking part in such a monumental event.  Sitting right beside him, Carol will ask Mike to tell her what happened instead of just looking at the TV herself.

cindy2
Susan Olsen

While Susan Olsen was absent for “A Very Brady Christmas” she returned for The Bradys.  It was great to see her again.  Cindy’s adult occupation is DJing a radio show called Cindy At Sunrise.  Bobby’s race has to be an early one on the east coast because Cindy announces he has won on Cindy At Sunrise.  I’ve never known a stock car race to begin early enough to be announced complete on a morning radio show.

notmaureen
Leah Ayres

While it was great to see Susan Olsen back, it was disappointing to find that Maureen McCormick had bowed out of The Bradys.  Her replacement was an actress named Leah Ayres.  A review of her IMDB credits revealed mostly guest spots on several well known TV shows.  She was in the feature films “Eddie Macon’s Run” and “Bloodsport”.   Per IMDB she retired from acting and now teaches and produces creativity and imagination building materials for children.

la

I found the above image while researching Leah Ayres.  Despite looking grubby, I thought she looked especially fine in this shot from “The Burning” in 1981.

trophy

Bobby’s family watches him fly past the checkered flag!  His next stop is the Indianapolis, er, Nashville 500!  Check out that trophy!  Seriously, it looks to be more appropriate for the winning team of a bowling league or best ride at the local car show; not a nationally televised stock car race.

With Bobby going to the Nashville 500, his family wants to be there to cheer him on.  However, only Mike, Carol and Cindy will be able to make it.  Cindy convinces her boss to let her do a live remote of her show from the race.  Greg has babies to deliver, Peter’s  fiance says their work lives don’t allow for traveling and Jan is going on a cruise with Philip.  Marcia and Wally have bigger concerns than Bobby’s race, they have to find a roof to put over their heads.  Wally’s job at the local toy company has ended.  They show up with with their children in tow seeking to lodge with Mike and Carol.

The day of the race arrives and like all radio remotes, Cindy does her along side all the fans in the audience.  Apparently the Nashville 500 doesn’t have a press box or some more reasonable place for Cindy to broadcast her show.  I googled Nashville 500 to see if it was an actual race in any stock car league.  I could only find reference to a Nashville 500 in relation to a NASCAR race in 1962.  As Bobby speeds along, he loses control of his car and comes to a stop.  Despite there being a disabled car on the track, no mention is made of a caution flag.  Friends, I know little about NASCAR/stock car racing, so if this situation does not warrant a flag, please let me know.  If it did, I would think the most annoying announcer in sports history would have shared that one was out.  The announcer at this race, and the other one in which we see Bobby compete, announces every action by the lead drivers.  I know TV and radio announcers give this level of play by play, but I have attended only one sporting event where an announcer did this.  A local high school football game announcer was doing this at the last game I attended years ago.  I found it annoying then and in “The Brady 500”.  When I attended games regularly as a student, this certainly wasn’t done.  The stands were a lot more crowded back then too.

hospital

Bobby’s disabled car is broadsided by another racer.  Tragedy has struck the family Brady.  Bobby has lost his ability to walk and it is not known if it will be permanent or not.  Bobby’s crew chief and the entire Brady family are by his side at the hospital.  There is a quick flashback to the episode “The Winner” when Bobby dreamed of someday racing speed boats.  I found this kind of an odd flashback.  However, I guess we can take some comfort that in that earlier in “The Brady 500”, Bobby finally has an actual trophy he earned.  The hospital scene gives Florence Henderson an opportunity to show her dramatic acting skills.  She does an amazing job here.  I was very impressed to see her take Carol Brady to a level this deep.

JTT

Greg entertains the idea of becoming an orthopedic doctor in place of being an obstetrician.  He knows it will be a sacrifice and burden, but Bobby’s injury has him thinking about it.  While he considers it, his son pokes his head in the bedroom.  The kid is Jonathan Taylor Thomas.  He would later become famous on Home Improvement and enjoy a few years of being a teen heartthrob.

After a few weeks of hospitalization in Nashville, Bobby is on his way home to the Brady house.  Marcia and Wally lie about finding a new house to live in.  They are planning to obtain a home by borrowing against Wally’s life insurance.  They must be in search of a shack or some lean to as I can’t imagine borrowing against life insurance would garner enough to buy a home and no mortgage company would give a loan to a man with no job. Of course, Wally might have some mega policy that has Marcia’s children’s children set for life should he die.  They could also be renting a place and an insurance loan might cover the first month or two.   Mike and Carol see through this and won’t have Marcia and Wally leave their home.   Marcia and Wally’s son enjoys watching Bobby’s crash over and over and reenacting it with his toy cars.  I hope when Wally gets back to work, he gets an insurance plan that will cover visits to a child psychologist.  This kid is old enough to know that is not something you play.  He’s not reenacting an outlaw who lived almost 100 years prior, he’s reenacting an event that still has members of his household grieving!

 

A surprise party is planned for Bobby’s arrival home, but a series of unexpected arrivals complicates matters as each arrival is mistook for Bobby and Mike.  Peter and Alice come in and we learn that Valerie and Peter are no more.  She could not be bothered to go visit Bobby in Nashville.  Carol and Peter have a heart to heart about a man Carol parted ways with before meeting Mike.  The next non-Bobby arrival is Joe Fletcher.  He has dropped by to offer Wally a job selling life insurance.  The people at his company were so impressed with Wally’s pitch to take a loan on his policy that they want to hire him.  While it is nice that a job came and found Wally, it just seemed like a rushed way to get Wally working again.  I hope he didn’t show up on his first day and learn that he needs only to pay $1500 for his licensing, training and certification courses.  I once had somebody tell me that his company was looking for people like me and was invited to the next business meeting.  When I went to the “business meeting” it was a circus of high-fives, questions about how rich I wanted to be and a request to invest $150 in myself.  It was fun and gave me something to do while unemployed, but I did not sign on.

end

The episode ends on another well done dramatic note.  When Bobby does arrive home, Carol cannot contain her sadness at seeing him in a wheelchair.

Thank you for reviewing “The Brady 500” with me. I’ve heard a laugh track was eventually added to episodes of The Bradys.  I don’t know if this one excluded it altogether or I just happened to view a copy of the episode without it.  A laugh track would have been as inappropriate as Wally and Marcia’s son’s actions.  Please share with me your own thoughts!  My goal is to review another episode each Friday.  However, episodes of The Bradys are a bit longer and require a little more time to take in.  This may see some Fridays pass without a review.  See you again soon!

 

 

 

A Very Brady Sequel

Hello again!  Thank you for joining me today to review “A Very Brady Sequel”!  The film came out the year following its predecessor.  The entire cast, except David Graf playing Sam, returned for the sequel.  The film took a fun poke at one of the most pondered questions from the original series.  What happened to Carol’s first husband?  I had always assumed the biological father to Marcia, Jan and Cindy had passed away.  Some surmised he and Carol divorced.  Well, “A Very Brady Sequel” has fun with the question and has hubby number one dawning the Brady doorstep.  Let’s begin reviewing “A Very Brady Sequel”!

open1

The story opens with an Indiana Jones-like adventure.  Two adventurers find themselves in Thailand unearthing a horse statue.  As they seek to leave with their prize, it is stated that the artifact recovered was mailed to the wife of one of the men.  Then we see one of the men cut the fuel line on the boat once it is out to sea.  This harrowing scene is then followed with a scene from an auction.  A horse like the one dug up in Thailand is on the auction block for a whopping $20 million dollars.  An auction attendee questions where the other might be as it is shown sitting in the Brady living room.    The opening  credits soon roll and “A Very Brady Sequel” is underway.

horse

The scenes at the Brady home begin like an episode of the series.  Jan and Marcia arrive home from the last day of school before summer break.  Jan is still a loser and Marcia still a pompous beauty.  Mike Brady scoffs at the idea of cable TV even being possible as he ends a phone call.  Upstairs, Peter shares with Carol he is not excited at the prospect of working alongside Mike at the architecture firm that summer or in even being an architect.  Regular viewers will recall this was a dilemma Greg faced in the original series.  It was interesting how it was changed up for the movie.

food

We see Alice in the kitchen mixing up a batch of pink muck that will eventually be a meatloaf.  Alongside it is a huge tub of lard.  This gave me a chuckle as even the unhealthy ways of the 1970s are part of the Brady’s own little sphere.  Although, I have heard that lard does add a very scrumptious flavor to some foods.  I don’t remember my mom ever using it in the 1980s and I have never even noticed it for sale in a store.  Readers, if any of you can attest to what lard adds to a dish (aside from very unhealthy calories and fats), please share.  One will also notice a large quantity of salt in use in the scene.

Some plot points of old are inserted into the opening of the film.  Greg seeks to be a man and wears clothes almost identical (if not so) to those worn in the original episode.  The attic room is a bone of contention between Greg and Marcia.  The pair seek to settle occupancy via building a house of cards.  As they partake of the card building contest, a basketball comes sailing down from upstairs and misses Carol’s favorite vase.  It does result in grape juice being spilled on the valuable horse, making it necessary to be sent out for repairs.

arrival

Soon, the fun new element (that in my opinion made this film better than the first) is introduced.  Carol’s first husband graces the Brady doorstep!  He explains away his change in appearance by regaling the kids with tales of adventure.  An elephant stepped on his head, making reconstructive surgery necessary.  Being tortured on a rack increased his height. Peter is especially enamored with Carol’s ex-husband.

roymartin
Tim Matheson

The assumed Roy Martin was played by Tim Matheson. While he has a very familiar face, I could not name another movie or show I’ve seen him in. A check of his acting resume shows he was in the film “Yours, Mine and Ours” which some attribute to being the inspiration of the original Brady Bunch series. Some also dispute this. Other acting credits include “Magnum Force”, “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”.

bathroom

Jan’s woes continue as we see her preparing for bed.  Savvy viewers will notice the bowl of lemons on the bathroom counter among her other beauty treatments.   The next day, just before she seeks fatherly counsel from her assumed biological dad, Roy Martin is revealed to be a fraud.  Whoever this guy is, he is there to steal the valuable artifact horse.   He suggests Jan solve her love-life issues via a faux boyfriend.  This launches a humorous George Glass subplot.

sharedroom

The attic subplot continues as Greg and Marcia are sharing the space.  This was the solution Mike came up with when the siblings were feuding over the space.  In the nonsensical and aloof version of the Bradys this movie gives us, this is funny writing.  Mike and Carol always did encourage their children to share and share alike.  However, suggesting two teenagers of the opposite sex share a space like this is just silly.  With the newfound knowledge that Greg and Marcia may no longer be stepbrother and stepsister, the pair look at one another in a new light and hormones rage.  This is one of those risque elements introduced into the wholesome show of old that I did not care for in either movie.

At the local pool, Jan tries to fuel the George Glass ruse.  In a husky voice, she makes a call to have herself paged by George.  The plot fails when Marcia fails to hear the page because of another pool goer’s loud music.    Jan soon encounters her guidance counselor, Ms. Cummings, from the first movie.  RuPaul reprises the role for this film.

moesha

While Jan chats with Ms. Cummings, a funny scene plays out.  Ms. Cummings’ own three daughters walk up and appear to be trio quite similar to the Brady girls.  The oldest sister is a babe who enjoys combing her flowing locks.  The middle child suffers angst in the shadow of her sister and laments how it is always, “Moesha, Moesha, Moesha!”

mrphillips

“Roy Martin” gives Peter a set of nunchaku (aka nunchuks).  Upon bringing them to Mike’s office, Peter conks Mr. Phillips in the head with them.  Mike chides Peter that drumsticks are not toys.  Peter corrects him that they are weapons.  Mike replies that weapons are not toys either.  For some reason this got a good laugh out of me.  Mr. Phillips was played by Steven Gilborn in both films.  If I had not checked, I would have sworn he played a role at some point on the original series.  He just has that look about him.  That was not the case though as IMDB lists his first acting role in 1983.  I will always remember him as Mr. Collins from The Wonder Years.  Steven Gilborn died in 2009.

mall

“Roy Martin” suffers a visit to an outdoor mall with the Brady kids.  It was chance to show the culture clash between the lives of the Bradys and an outsider and for them to perform song and dance.  It was a fun scene that ends with him wearing some very Brady like attire.

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An unexpected homage to another corner of the Brady universe is worked into “A Very Brady Sequel”.  Alice finds some mushrooms among “Roy Martin’s” things and surmises he would like them as part of his meal.  She includes them with some spaghetti, sending Roy on an drug fueled hallucination full of images of The Brady Kids cartoon.  Along with the cartoon versions of the kids, we see Ping and Pong the pandas and Marlon the magic bird.  When I first saw this in 1996, I was not familiar with the cartoon at all, so this bit completely escaped my memory.  Seeing the cartoon worked into this plot was a fun surprise.

In an added bit of humor, Alice also partook of the spaghetti and is seen exiting the scene via the Brady’s refrigerator.

petertough

Peter, following Mr. Martin’s advice, tries to be tough on the job with Mike.  He chides some burly construction workers for loafing on the job.  They laugh at Peter’s failed attempt at taking charge and suggest he should become part of the cement being mixed that day.  This scene is a fine example of why I enjoyed the sequel more than the original.  This was just a funny bit with one of the Bradys that wasn’t trying to mimic some scene or plot from the original series.

Another touch of the old series comes about as Greg and Marcia attempt a date rivalry with Kathy Lawrence and Warren Mulaney.  This worked into romantic subplot involving Greg and Marcia.  The courting couples visit a coffee shop.  The only eye rolling moment for the film came when Jan enters the same establishment with a mannequin/doll that is supposed to be George Glass.  I realize this is a satire/comedy, but this was just dumb and unfunny for me.  The earlier scene where Jan tried to call 555-HUNK to create the ruse that she was speaking to George on the phone was quite funny.  Marcia snatches the phone and invites George to Mike and Carol’s anniversary party. Upon learning it will “cost extra”, Jan’s ruse is busted.  The George Glass subplot should have ended there, but continued onto this nonsense at the coffee shop.

Roy Martin fails to obtain the prized horse at a charity auction as he is outbid by Zsa Zsa Gabor. This was her final film role. He steals the horse for himself and goes on the run.  kidnappedAs part of his villainous ways, he kidnaps Carol and ties up all the Brady kids and Alice.  The camera pans along each character’s mug as they all think to themselves how the predicament is his or her own fault.  All of them except Marcia, who blames Jan.  An added touch of humor is played out as even Cindy’s doll is tied up.  Mike arrives home to find his family tied up and Roy Martin exposed as a con-man.  He lets the family know they are pursuing Roy and Carol to Hawaii.

copcameo

Mike learns of Roy Martin’s not being Roy Martin by paying a visit to the LAPD.  There we get a fun cameo by Richard Belzer.  He was recognizable to me via his role on Law and Order: SVU, but at the time would have been recognized as John Munch from Homicide: Life On The Street.  The precinct is abuzz with activity dealing with grisly murders and street crime.  Mike Brady enters demanding an instant background check on a no-gooder at his home.

En route to Hawaii, the Brady kids attempt a song and dance number, much to the chagrin of the other passengers.  A stewardess soon shuts this down via an announcement on the plane’s public address system.  The kids silently dance back to badlucktheir seats.  In Hawaii, Roy rents a jeep to travel about the island in.  Savvy viewers will notice the car rental agent’s name tag reads Mr. Hanalei.  With Carol in tow, Mr. Martin races to meet his buyer of the horse artifact.  He soon finds his jeep disabled as the taboo idol punctures a tire.  The pair proceed on foot to meet the buyer as the Bradys and Alice give chase.

Things come to a head at the home of Dr. Whitehead.  The character’s name is a fun nod to the professor who the boys encountered in Hawaii in the original series. For the film, Dr. Whitehead was played by John Hillerman.  This was a nice attribute to the series Magnum P.I. that was set in Hawaii where Hillerman played Jonathan Quayle Higgins.  My favorite line of the movie is delivered as we learn that Dr. Whitehead’s own son, Gilligan, was aboard the same boat that the real Roy Martin was lost at sea on.  What a fantastic tie-in to Sherwood Schwartz other infamous sitcom.  Mike saves the day as he knocks Carol’s captor into a fountain.

Back at the Brady home, the still married couple celebrate their anniversary with a second wedding.  Carol is wearing a dress very similar to the one seen in the pilot cameo2episode.  Mike has on a tuxedo more fitting a bad nightclub performer.  While in Hawaii, Jan met a genuine George Glass and he is at the anniversary celebration.  A surprising reference to the Bradys of old is seen as there is a quick shot of Cousin Oliver.  He is seen chasing Tiger after he runs across the table.  The film ends on a strange note as Jeannie, from I Dream of Jeannie appears in the Brady driveway claiming to be Mike’s wife.  This was a bit of a headscratcher for me.  I Dream of Jeannie and The Brady Bunch have nothing in common aside from being classic sitcoms.  I adore Barbara Eden, but she just seems out of place here.

As stated before, I enjoyed “A Very Brady Sequel” much more than “The Brady Bunch Movie”. Unlike the original, the second installment did not feel like the writers were trying to cram as many original episode plots and jokes into a single film.  While some of that continued, it was a bit more subtle than in the original film.  At least one critic agreed with me as Gene Siskel stated this movie was “A genuine movie rarity – a sequel better than the original.”  Please share with us your own thoughts and opinions of “A Very Brady Sequel”!

In a few weeks we will be reviewing “The Bradys”.  I’ve never watched a single episode of the series, but from what has been shared online and by others, the show was a total miss.  Maybe that won’t be the case!  See you soon.

 

 

The Brady Bunch Movie

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we review the feature film that parodied our beloved Bradys; it was aptly titled “The Brady Bunch Movie”.  The film was was first in theaters in February of 1995.  Per Wikipedia, the film opened at #1 at the box office with $14.8 million and grossed $46.6 million in the U.S. and Canada.  It would also spawn two sequels.  One of them was another theatrical release and the other a made for TV movie.  It also launched a slew of similar films based on old TV shows.  There was a Beverly Hillbillies movie that was kind of “eh”, A Leave It To Beaver Movie and even Car 54 Where Are You? film.  There were others of varying quality.  Late Edit:  I was wrong on the point that “The Brady Bunch Movie” launched the trend that movies were made based on TV Shows.  The movie was actually late to the party as the two of the aforementioned films came before “The Brady Bunch Movie”.

I remember going to see the film on opening weekend.  Myself and a family friend had been lovers of the original series for years and were excited to go see it.  While we enjoyed it enough, I think both of us were disappointed in the film’s content.  We didn’t quite know what to expect other than the few laughs shown in the film’s trailer.  I can honestly say I’ve never sat down to watch the film again since that day in the theater.  I don’t have any ill will towards it or even necessarily dislike it.  It just doesn’t embody or represent the show I had enjoyed for so many years.

I was hoping that viewing the movie some 25 years later, I might have a new appreciation for it.  Being an older and wiser viewer,  I was hoping to find some appreciation in the art of parody and campiness that can make life more light-hearted and fun.  After all, I spent years disparaging the likes of Gilligan’s Island and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C only to find a new found fondness and appreciation in recent years.  Well, I am afraid my most recent viewing of “The Brady Bunch Movie” left me feeling the same as I did a quarter of a decade ago.  It’s okay, but nothing I care to watch more than once.   Love it, hate it or feel indifferent like me, I welcome your own thoughts!  Let’s begin reviewing “The Brady Bunch Movie”.

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Michael McKean as Mr. Dittmeyer

The films opens with shots of 1990s era Los Angeles.  The city is buzzing with people living their busy and technology driven lives.  I laughed at the large clunky cell phones everybody was carrying that at the time was cutting edge technology.  Among these bustling city-goers is Mr. Dittmeyer.  For a character who was only occasionally referenced and seen only once, sans any lines, on the original show he sure plays a big role in this movie.  Mr. Dittmeyer was played by Michael McKean.  McKean’s best known role was that of Lenny on Lavern and Shirley.  Although, in recent years he has starred in another notable role as Chuck on the series Better Call Saul.  There is a well done transition during Mr. Dittmeyer’s scene.  He is working out a deal for which he is purchasing all the homes in his neighborhood, with only one family holding out.  He says the lone family that refuses to sell is just different.

The scene then transitions to an opening mirroring that of the original series.  It was fun getting a look at all the 1990s Brady counterparts right away. The producers hit one out of the park in casting Christine Taylor as Marcia Brady.  At one point, I thought Maureen McCormick’s old image was being used for this opening.  The similarities between the two actresses is striking.  The remainder of the cast looks close enough to the original characters.

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As for the portrayal of some characters, some things were just too similar and taken to extremes.   Marcia is so preoccupied with her looks you wonder if she is ever more than a foot away from a mirror.  Jan is neurotic to the extremes that her inner voice is constantly tormenting her mercilessly.  We are only 5 minutes and 40 seconds into the movie when the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” line is uttered for the first time.  Cindy lisps every other word to the point that other characters can not understand what she is saying.

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My least favorite parody of a character was that of Mike Brady.  This film has him as an aloof nincompoop who is clueless about his profession and utters nonsensical platitudes to those around him.  I realize some aspects of the original character had to be adjusted to make the film the silly comedy it is, but I wish they’d have gone another direction with Mike Brady.  Maybe make him annoyingly wise so that everything he says, while sage and true, still muffs things up.  He could be a superb architect whose designs are the talk of the town, but he is just too humble to accept the recognition he deserves.

Shelley Long does a fantastic job playing Carol Brady.  While I have never really cared for other roles she has portrayed, I did enjoy her as Carol Brady.  To be fair, Dianne on Cheers and DeDe on Modern Family were not necessarily written to be well liked characters.

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The Brady house for the movie looks to be a cheap and hastily created mock up of the original one.  Per IMDB, the owners of the original Brady house refused to allow their home to be used for the film.  I don’t know if the fence that once surrounded the house was erected in 1995.  If it was, I can see the owners not wishing it razed just for the film.

The film attempts to cram several episodes’ plots into the story.  Bobby is a safety monitor, Jan doesn’t like wearing her glasses, Peter’s voice is changing, Greg wants to be a musician, Alice pines for a marriage proposal from Sam and Marcia’s nose is pelted with a football along with her seeking Davy Jones to sing at her school dance.  Cindy is just annoying.  At least she didn’t have a chance to be the next Shirley Temple in the film!

One regular player missing from the film is Tiger, the Brady’s dog.  A funny line is uttered as Carol tells Mike, “Go get’em Tiger” and follows with “Tiger?  Whatever happened to that dog?”  If I were writing the film, the Bradys’ cat Fluffy would have then meandered past Carol into the house with her saying something like, “Fluffy!  You’re back.”   However, only us well versed fans would have gotten the gag.

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The film portrays the Bradys as an aloof clan still living in the 1970s, unaware that two decades have passed.  Even the cars driven by the family are pristine models from the 1970s.  As Greg and Marcia cruise to school in the station wagon, one of the funnier scenes from the film plays out.  A car thief attempts to boost the wagon and announces “This is a car jack!”  Greg replies, “Well, of course this a car, but my name’s not Jack….”  This scene was part of the film’s trailer and one of those laughs that got people talking about the film.

Speaking of trailers, one trailer has Peter telling a girl in the cafeteria he is having “Pork chops and apple sauce” a la Humphrey Bogart.   However, this did not make the theatrical release nor the DVD I watched.  Speaking of cut scenes, apparently Susan Olsen, Maureen McCormick and Mike Lookinland all filmed cameo scenes for the movie that were cut.  I can’t fathom why the producers did this.  Could they not have had just one line in the film made possible by the original show they starred in?  I understand that some DVD prints include the cuts scenes.  I tried to look them up on Youtube, but to no avail.  The DVD I purchased from Amazon did not include any extras.

The cameos that did make the final cut were well done.  Ann B. Davis appears as a truck driver who picks up a runaway Jan.  In a tribute to an earlier role in life, her character is named Schultzy.  Christopher Knight appears as a faculty member at Peter’s school who saves him from a beat down in the cafeteria.  Barry Williams appears as a record producer who tells Greg his music is out of touch.

A fun crossover of the music of old and the modern music of the era comes about with an appearance by Davy Jones.  Even in 1995, Marcia is president of the former Monkee’s fan club.  He comes to perform at the high school dance and attempts to sing “Girl”.  The band playing at the gig accompanies his tune with a grunge/1990s rock sound that actually works out well.  It was a well done bit.  The dance also sees Jan debuting herself as the new Jan Brady.  She is wearing a wig just a tad worse than the one used in the original series episode.

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Amidst all the old episode plots crammed into the film, there is one fresh one.  The Bradys are at risk to lose their home due to back taxes.  How a man like Mike Brady failed to notice taxes were due on his house is not really explained.  I mean, property taxes were even around the in 1970s.  There is some hint that maybe the notices were misdelivered to the Dittmeyer’s.

This conflict does give rise to some funny lines.  At the thought of Alice no longer living with the Bradys, Carol asks “Who will pack the lunches I hand out?”  As the kids ponder their situation, Jan laments having to relocate away from all of her friends.  In all seriousness, Marcia states, “But Jan, you don’t have any friends.”  The conflict resolution again treats viewers to the plots of the show of old.  The kids try to raise the money on their own, but to no avail.  At one point, Mike has found a way to attain the funds to pay the back taxes, only for Mr. Dittmeyer to sabotage it.

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The tax dilemma is resolved when the Bradys perform at a talent contest offering up a $20,000 prize.  Adorning duds very similar, if not the same as, to those from the original show, they sing “Keep On Movin” to a less than enthusiastic audience.  Peter is smooched by a girl just before the show and now sings in a deep Elvis inspired tone of voice.  I found this funny.  Much to the shock of everyone present, the Brady kids win the top prize.  The reason is soon revealed in another fun cameo as we see three of the four original Monkees were the judges.

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Stop the auction.

With $20,000 in hand, the Bradys rush back to their home to save it from being auctioned off.  In a very Brady like scene, Mike yells through a bull horn “Stop the auction” as they arrive on the scene.  With Mr. Dittmeyer’s real estate project in ruins, he incurs the wrath of angry neighbors.  Angry neighbors who are soon soothed by Mike Brady’s sharing of how wonderful the neighborhood is.  One of the policeman present states how he wishes he lived on their street. In a funny follow up, the neighbors also take solace in the money they will get from suing Mr. Dittmeyer.

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The film wraps up with one final cameo.  The Bradys go to visit Grandma who is played by Florence Henderson.  With a few words she cures Jan’s neurosis.  Per IMDB, Florence Henderson originally refused the cameo as she did not like the role she was offered.  I would be curious to know what that was.  This film was chock full of sexual innuendo that was by no means in tune with the original series.  That may be another reason I am not a huge fan of “The Brady Bunch Movie”.  I am no prude, but one of the reasons I enjoy classic TV so much is that it was entertaining without resorting crude jokes, innuendo and insults.  I wonder if Florence’s original scripted cameo contained material she found objectionable.

Thank you friends for reviewing the film with me.  As always, I look forward to you sharing your own thoughts and observations with us.  Expect “A Very Brady Sequel” to be reviewed soon.  I remember enjoying the sequel more than I did “The Brady Bunch Movie” when I originally saw it.  Hopefully, that will still hold true!  See you soon.