The New Blog

Hello readers, family and friends!  Reviewing The Brady Bunch was a blast. The fun continues at http://litbreviewed.wordpress.com!  Here we are reviewing each episode of Leave It To Beaver!  Your thoughts and observations are most welcome!

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Epilogue Part 2: The Top Five

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we share the times The Brady Bunch gave us positive and groovy vibes.  Last week’s blog gave us an opportunity to name the episodes that we liked the least.  Thanks to all those who shared their own bottom five list!  If you have not all ready done so, please consider sharing your own least favorites.  In this blog, I will share two top five lists.  The first is a listing of the five most memorable

times the show made me laugh out loud and still brings a chuckle when recalling it.  The second list includes the five episodes I found myself enjoying the most.  Neither is any particular order, just the five that number among my favorites.  Once again I hope you will share your own thoughts on the moments and episodes you thought the show was at its best.

Top Five Laughs

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – Season 1, Episode 4.  Alice has decided to leave the Bradys as she feels her role in the family has diminished since Mike remarried.   The aliceroomboys and Cindy are watching her pack and Cindy states that she and her sisters were just starting to love Alice. In the typical cuteness of Season 1 Cindy, she asks if Alice likes “Addle” better than them. After a brief bit of confusion, Cindy shares her understanding that Alice is going to see somebody named Addle, since she is going to Seattle.

Big Little Man – Season 3, Episode 15.  Mike, Carol and Jan have returned from a shopping trip.  Cindy rushes down to share the news of the day. First she asks if it would be tattling to share something somebody else doesn’t want you to know.  She is advised that would be tattling. It’s a nice reference to Cindy’s earlier tattling issues.  Jan is pining for this news and even telling2licks her lips in anticipation.  Cindy tries to do the right thing and walk away, letting the three of them know they’ll just have to find out for themselves.  Jan, being sufficiently baited, immediately queries Cindy for the news.  Cindy shares with glee that “Bobby nearly fell off the house.”  The reaction on Mike, Carol and Jan’s faces only adds more humor to this entire scene.  Susan Olsen owned this scene and performed masterfully in it.  The entire scene made me laugh out loud more than once.

Fender Benders – Season 3, Episode 23. After a meeting of the fenders in the supermarket parking lot between Carol and Mr. Duggan, he arrives at the Brady home unannounced and soon presents a list of car repairs he expects Carol to pay.   He shares refurnishhis car wound up having to be towed from the scene to a body shop and he has come bearing an itemized bill.  Among the repairs he expects Carol to pay for are a smashed tail light, crushed fender, muffler replacement, repainting the left side of the car and realignment of the frame.  This totals $295.11.  In today’s dollars that would be $1758.32.  Mr. Duggan said there were some other things he doesn’t mind paying for himself.  In one of the funniest lines of the series, Carol asks if that might be refurnishing his house.

Mail Order Hero – Season 5, Episode 2.  Joe Namath has just visited with Bobby, who is faking being very sick.  This was a ploy devised by Cindy that would con the football star into visiting her brother.  As Joe and his PR man leave, the episode’s b-plot of Jan learning first aid meets the stretchera-plot. What follows is one of the funniest scenes of the entire series. Jan’s studies have her bringing home a stretcher. Upon seeing it, Joe says they got there just in time. When the visiting pair meet Carol, she joyfully says that Bobby was just about at the end of his rope. Herb says the whole situation with Bobby must be pretty upsetting. Mike jovially replies, “Well, when you have six kids, something like this is bound to happen to one of them.”

The Treasure of Sierra Avenue – Season 2, Episode 7. After greed abounds following meetingthe boys finding $1100 in a vacant lot, a family meeting is called.  Mike makes it known to the children that he and Carol share their own good fortune with each of them every day.  He orders a truce among the feuding siblings.  Upon this being ordered, Greg confers with his brothers and says the money will be shared.  The exchange that follows was a laugh out loud moment for me.

Greg: Ok, we’ll share.
Marcia: You really mean it?
Greg: Yeah.
Peter: Me too.
Bobby: Not me.

Top Five Episodes


Cyrano de Brady Season 4, Episode 5.  Peter’s clumsy efforts at romancing Kerry bring laughs to the episode early on.   However, it is Greg and Marcia’s assistance at the conclusion of the episode that place it among my favorites.  Greg pretends to be a womanizing player so that Kerry will lose interest in him.  He calls his swanky ensemble his “working threads”.  When Marcia, acting as the dejected Debbie, arrives she is upset that she has found another woman there.  The hilarity continues as Greg says, “You caught me at a bad time, I usually have three or four.”  The episode is a lot of fun and one of my favorites .

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Call Me Irresponsible Season 2, Episode 6. Greg’s aspirations for car ownership are much like those of any kid his age.  Greg’s scheming to have his siblings invest in the car was a clever ploy to get some extra money to fund a set of wheels.  He looks through a car magazine under the impression a boy his age might actually be able to afford a brand new ride.  He takes on employment at Mike’s firm and nearly loses an important set of plans for a second time.  His efforts to retrieve them in time send him bouncing all over town.  The story was well done and made for an entertaining episode.

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Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up? Season 2, Episode 15.  Of all the “woe is me” plots this one was my favorite.  Tired of being an invisible blonde among her sisters, she sets out to make a huge change.  The hilarity starts when Jan visits a wig store.  While there, she suggests a wild and crazy wig like the sales clerk is wearing. The lady informs Jan that she is not wearing a wig.  Jan plans to make her brunette debut at Lucy Winters’ birthday party.  Peter’s preparation for the party makes a fun b-plot.  The stunned look on Lucy Winters’ and Margie Ripple’s faces when Jan debuts her new look are the comedic peak of the story.  In the end, Jan learns a lesson about loving herself in a non-sappy or non-overly dramatic way.

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How To Succeed In Business? Season 4, Episode 19. This episode was great for laughs.  When his boss expresses disapproval of how Peter is working, Peter is totally oblivious.  Peter thinks he is on the fast track to success when he is really on his way to a pink slip.  This one is unique in that Peter’s bike career does not have cliche happy ending courtesy of buckling down on his skills and a forgiving boss.  Peter remains fired, but learns he may have a future in sales.

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My Sister, Benedict Arnold Season 3, Episode 5.  This episode shows the two oldest Brady kids at their worst.  It makes for one of the best episodes!  Marcia uses the attention of an older boy to prove to Greg she won’t be pushed around.  Greg’s pettiness in his dislike of the boy shows some shallowness on his part that is only amplified when he strikes back at Marcia by using false romantic overtures to a nemesis of her’s.  As brother and sister duke it out verbally, the younger Bradys look on in glee.  The episode is a lot of fun from start to finish.

I look forward to reading your own top five lists!  There are so many episodes that just missed the list.  “Goodbye Alice, Hello” is my favorite episode for drama.  Alice reuniting with the kids at the diner was a favorite scene of mine.  “Greg’s Triangle” was another fun story that just missed the top five.  “The Personality Kid” also holds a special place in my viewing heart.

Thank you so much dear readers for reviewing The Brady Bunch with me.  I have enjoyed immensely writing this blog and receiving your feedback.

For those who will be reviewing Leave It To Beaver with me, that blog will begin in early 2019.  Look for it under the moniker “Mayfield Memories: Leave It To Beaver Reviewed”.

Epilogue Part 1: The Bottom Five

Hello again readers, family and friends.  I hope those of you in the USA had a great Thanksgiving.  It seems fitting that we would review the five episodes we are most thankful for today, those that are our favorites, but we are not.  Today we pay heed to our five least favorite episodes.  I look forward to everyone’s feedback!  Let us begin.

From bad to worst, here are my bottom five (well bottom six as number five was a tie).

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5.5) Career Fever – Season Four, Episode 9: This episode was a real snoozer.  When I tune into the Brady Bunch, my primary reason is to laugh.  Yes, there are some dramatic scenes that offer up some great episode points and move the story along.  Career Fever offers 90% drama and 10% comedy.  The comedy is not very good either.  Peter thinking he is about to die could have been a funny episode in itself.  In Career Fever it is a minor part of the b-plot and is executed poorly.  The story itself is annoying as Mike expects architect quality work out of a novice like Greg.

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5.5) Love and The Older Man – Season Four, Episode 14: This episode duked it out with Career Fever for the bottom five list.  I found it to be nearly as boring as Career Fever, but the silly imagined scene with Marcia’s dentist husband coming home to a dental chair in the Brady living room saw it share fifth place with “Career Fever”.

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4.) The Winner – Season Two, Episode 21: This was an annoying “woe is me” episode.  Bobby is so dejected that he has no trophy of his own to display.  It all starts when Cindy arrives home and has won a jack playing contest at school.  The rest of the episode is Bobby feeling sorry for himself while he futilely attempts to win a trophy.  He tries to sell magazines, but quits the contest in disgust when he finds out Mike and Carol asked their friends to buy magazines from the boy.  Then he loses and ice cream eating contest that is broadcast on TV.  The “happy ending” comes when he arrives home from the TV studio feeling more looserly than ever.  Inside his family greets him with a party and a trophy.  It is just a trophy one of the other kids earned with a piece of paper taped over the name with a commendation for trying hard written on it.  Bobby hands it back to Greg and says, “Wow.  A phony trophy for not being successful, but for trying to be, from my brothers and sisters.  Big deal.”  No, Bobby doesn’t say this, but for a kid so down on himself for having accomplished nothing, I don’t see how that trophy would mean much.  Yes, the efforts of the other Brady kids here are a nice thought, but Bobby’s reaction doesn’t seem realistic.  Yes, watching TV is in part a means of escaping reality, but this effort did not work for me.

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3.) Dough Re Mi– Season Three, Episode 16:  Season three introduced us to the singing Brady kids.  Fortunately, the show did not morph into a Partridge Family clone that saw the kids become singers by profession.  Many fans like this episode and I would too if it weren’t for the absurd conclusion.  When faced with a member whose voice is in no condition for singing, the Brady kids don’t know what to do.  Well, one of them did.  Jan says Peter should still get his share of the profits from the album, even though he is not singing on it. Peter’s legwork in getting the other kids to invest in the album saw he should have been entitled to some of the money the kids earn from the album anyway.  Instead of this ideal resolution, the episode just goes off the rails.  Greg pens another song, in just a short time, that will accommodate a singing voice that would hurt the ears of a deaf man.  The poor Brady kids invested all their money in this groovy tune that is totally marred by Peter’s “SHA-na-NA-na”.  I am willing to forgo the questions of the background music used in the studio and who would promote, distribute and market the Brady kids’ single for the rationalization of “It’s just a TV show”.  But the idea that Peter’s unpredictably changing voice would be on a professionally recorded song is just too much of a stretch for me.

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2.) Every Boy Does It Once – Season One, Episode 10:  This was the most annoying of the “Woe is me” stories.  Like “The Winner” it features Bobby.  This episode was just Bobby moping around the house feeling unloved.  At one point, he has reason to feel such as his sisters are incredibly rude to him when they leave for the movies.  Mike and Carol sit by and do absolutely nothing to chide the rude girls.  So, this and Bobby’s whiny and mopey ways make this episode my second least favorite of the series.  Carol’s waiting with her own suitcase to accompany a runaway Bobby was a very powerful scene.  She says the only steps are the ones they are sitting on.  This nice scene doesn’t salvage what is otherwise an episode long pity party.

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1.) You’re Never Too Old – Season Four, Episode 21: It should come as no surprise that this stinker of an episode found its way to the bottom of the pile.  Florence Henderson and Robert Reed playing elderly grandparents, and not very charming ones, just did not make for a good episode.  Had Great Grandma Hutchins not had that screechy voice and acted more high strung than a power line, it might have been okay.  Great Grandpa Brady was as much fun to be around as a pile of discarded milk jugs.  The episode focused on Marcia and Jan’s efforts at matchmaking this most incompatible pair.  Just to make sure the episode’s resolution sucked as well, they are successful.  The curmudgeonly old man and the spry old woman set off to “get hitched” at the episode’s end.  As I think about this episode, the common expression of angst expressed by another classic TV character comes to mind.

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Ughhhhuhh.

Thank you friends for joining me in this blog today.  I am excited to learn what episodes made your bottom five and your own thoughts on my least favorites.  There are many that just barely missed making my list.  “Kelly’s Kids” would be a pick for many, but since I don’t really consider it a Brady Bunch episode, I gave it a pass.  “Dear Libby” and “The Show Must Go On??” fall somewhere in my bottom ten.  Please share your own thoughts!  Next week, we will review our five favorites and just for fun, the five funniest moments of the series.  See you then!

Episode 22: The Hair-Brained Scheme

Hello again friends.  Can you believe that today we review the final episode of the series ?  I am finding it hard to believe.  “The Hair-Brained Scheme” was the last episode of the original series to air.  It is disliked by many fans for many reasons.  Some hate that Robert Reed was not in it.  Some find the plot just ludicrous.  I myself have never hated it and found some parts really funny.  At this point in the series, an orange-haired Greg seemed like a plot believable enough for the show.  It could have been made a tad more realistic with a really bad haircut, outrageous perm or some other beauty mishap.  As always, your own thoughts are most welcome!  Let’s do it one last time as we review “The Hair-Brained Scheme”.

 

 

The episode begins with Greg arriving home with his cap and gown in tow.  He is just a few days away from being a high school graduate.  He brings in his graduation attire and models it for Carol and Alice.  As he ponders his future as a student outside of law mandated schooling, Bobby enters with plans for his own future.  He is seeking to be a millionaire by selling hair tonic.  Carol is none too supportive and Greg just outright laughs at his youngest brother.  Bobby found an ad in the magazine guaranteeing him a product that will double his investment.  The Neat and Natural Hair Tonic company sends out 12 bottles of their product at a cost of $12 to an aspiring dealer with the promise of the bottle selling for $2.  In today’s dollars, Bobby has invested right around $60 for a $120 return.

Check out the chalkboard in the kitchen.  It reads “Jan call Eve.”

Magazine ads offering money making opportunities were before my time.  My only recollection is the back pages of Boys Life magazine where Olympic Sales offered youngsters the chance to sell greeting cards in return for some fabulous prizes.  An entertaining blog about a young man who went as far as ordering the sales kit can be read here.  I myself looked to do so once, but my dad quickly shut it down saying the sales were not easily made.  I am glad I listened to him as he was right.  Another blog about a young man’s enterprising ways can be read here.

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Bobby’s hair tonic millions are a fun glimpse at scams and opportunities of the past.  However, Bobby knows that becoming a millionaire won’t come quickly.  In a funny line he states it could take weeks or maybe even months.  Cindy has business ideas of her own.  She brings home two rabbits for breeding.  Wow, two new living things in the house would certainly require parental approval.  Carol’s actions suggest she knows nothing about this.  Cindy’s original plan is to keep the rodents, Romeo and Juliet, in her room, but Carol nixes this and suggests the service porch.

cindybusiness2
Another nice shot of Maureen and Eve.

Upstairs, Cindy is adding up the money she will make as her rabbits multiply.  Marcia shares a funny line as she says the riches will add up until the health department condemns their house for having so many rabbits in it.

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Bobby recruits Oliver to be his sales assistant.  Oliver agrees to work for free as Bobby provides on the job training.  The pair’s first attempt at pitching the product fails miserably as Greg boots them from his room.  During this scene, I could not help but notice the contents of Greg’s desk.  Was he taking apart motors up there?

 

 

The sales efforts that follow are some Brady Bunch scenes I never recall seeing before.  Maybe it has just been too long since I watched this episode or maybe they fell victim to the “syndication knife” and were cut.  The sales efforts here suffer the same fate as they did with Greg.  To an angry looking woman, Bobby gives a pitch that suggests she has dry and brittle hair.  She suggests he buzz off by slamming the door.  The next stop initially appears to be Bobby and Oliver’s own home.  At first I thought they were arriving home from their sales trip.  However, the addition of a sign on the door that reads “No Peddlers or Agents” confirms for the viewer that this is not the same place.  When the man comes to the door, we see the set dressers also took the time to use a backdrop other than the Brady living room.  The exchange gave me a chuckle.  At first, Bobby says he is not a peddler or agent, he is a salesman.  After being told he is not welcome there, he suggests Oliver make the sale.  The man asks if Oliver is not a peddler or an agent and he replies he is just a little boy.  I found this really funny.  The third effort at selling hair tonic is made to a toupee wearing night watchman who is none too interested in buying Bobby’s product.

The first and third adults the kids try to sell to, played by Brandy Carson and John Wheeler, had appeared on previous episodes of The Brady Bunch.  The second man was played by Bern Hoffman.  He worked for many years in Hollywood and had a recurring role on Bonanza as bartender Sam.  He was also in the feature film “Li’l Abner”.   He passed away in 1979.

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Bobby comes home a broken and beaten boy.  He is ready to give up his enterprising ways.  As he goes upstairs, he and Carol sit down and have a talk.  Carol encourages Bobby not to quit, citing the old adage, “Quitters never win and winners never quit”.  She names off some successful people who never quit and then references Carl Mahakian.  When Bobby questions who that is, she says he is somebody who quit, that’s why Bobby never heard of him.  Feeling encouraged Bobby goes on his way.

 

 

Upstairs, Greg is giving Peter his old letterman’s sweater.  The sweater is Peter’s, but the letter comes off.  I could not help but imagine Peter strutting about campus with a well worn sweater with a bright yellow “W” shape where a letter should be.   Bobby enters and interrupts this brotherly exchange.  He is still down on himself at his lack of salesman skill.  Greg makes a pity purchase of hair tonic from Bobby.  Trying to state this is not so, he asks Bobby if he would be giving up his hard earned cash if he didn’t really want a bottle.  Bobby replies that Greg must be right as he is pretty cheap.  This was another laugh out loud line for me.

 

 

Bobby applies the hair tonic with disastrous results.  He insists that he himself apply it to Greg’s hair.  Still feeling sorry for the boy, Greg agrees to this.  Bobby wants to use a lot of the stuff and does.  He soon finds an orange headed Greg sitting in front of him.  He puts a towel over his oldest brother’s head and vacates the room.  Greg is understandably furious at his hair’s color. The next day is the biggest day of his academic career and his locks are orange.  His younger brother and two older sisters are not sympathetic at all.  They just laugh at his misery.  Marcia even suggests the dress she is holding be worn by Greg to graduation since it matches his hair.

This episode got me curious about hair tonic.  I’ve seen it referenced on old shows, but have never used it or knew anyone who has.  I remember an episode of Dennis The Menace where the second Mr. Wilson was allergic to Dennis’s hair tonic.  A google search stated hair tonic has fallen out of use for the most part today.  Before mousse and hairspray, it was what people used to style and shape their hair.  If one seeks a bottle today, a barber shop or beauty parlor would be the ideal place to find it.

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Down on the service porch, Oliver is recruited to be Cindy’s assistant as Bobby’s business is not going anywhere.  Oliver suggests to Carol that maybe both rabbits will have babies and they will make even more money.  Carol tries to explain how this won’t work and says she and Oliver will have a talk after dinner.  Oliver tells Cindy that her mom has trouble discussing sex.  Some will say this was an iconic first for The Brady Bunch, but the word sex had been muttered in earlier seasons. Greg enters the room searching for Bobby.  Cindy’s reaction to Greg’s orange hairdo was well acted and seems genuine.  At least she did not laugh at him!

 

 

Greg finds Bobby hiding in Mike’s den.  Fortunately, Carol is there to prevent the oldest brother from pouncing on the youngest.  Carol tries to intervene and even calls the Neat and Natural Hair Tonic company; their line has been disconnected.   Bobby tries to lessen Greg’s anger by suggesting things could be worse.  His hair could have turned green.  Carol suggests that maybe the tonic can be washed out and Greg’s hair turned brown again.  This does not work and she has another idea.

 

 

The stock shot of the shopping center that follows included a wig shop.  Carol and Greg going there might have been fun!  Instead they visit a beauty parlor.  1974 was still a time when a man at a beauty parlor was not socially acceptable.  Carol even says Greg won’t like the idea of going there.  Greg asks if they might just get a dye kit and go home and do it, but Carol wisely suggests that this is a job for a pro.  Greg is wearing a ski cap to hide his clownish colored hair.  Carol inquires on having the dye job done privately.  As she does, Greg encounters two classmates, Suzy and Gretchen.  As another testament to the times, they are surprised to see Greg at a beauty parlor.  Greg “explains” to them why he is there and this surprises Carol.  He assures Carol that his two classmates can keep a secret.  With Greg and Carol gone, the two girls lament Carol’s being completely bald.  As a kid, I found Greg telling them this hilarious.  As an adult it is still funny, but has been etched in my memory so long the laughs are not what they once were.

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Suzy and Gretchen were played by two returning actresses.  Barbara Bernstein and Hope Sherwood had appeared multiple times before.

 

 

Back at home, good fortunes abound for all.  Well, initially not for Cindy.  She found out that both her rabbits are males and won’t be having any babies.  Mr. Kirby at the pet shop refuses to allow Cindy to return them as he has too many rabbits.  I have to wonder if Mr. Kirby is a real jerk selling Cindy two male rabbits for breeding or if Cindy was just too shortsighted to question the rabbits’ gender when making the purchase.  If nothing else, Mr. Kirby could have exchanged one of the boy rabbits for a girl one.  Upon learning that Greg’s hair is back to a natural color, Bobby accidentally pours his hair tonic on Cindy’s rabbits.  This produces orange rabbits that Mr. Kirby buys back along with Bobby’s hair tonic so he can produce more orange rodents.  With the check from Mr. Kirby, the three youngest kids aspire to raise worms.

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Also during the previous scene, it would appear the huge cache of Safe Laundry Soap was used up or discarded as the Bradys are back to using Best.

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The epilogue has the family arriving home from Greg’s graduation.  Carol laments that Mike was unable to attend as he was out of town.  This point has irked fans many times over.  Mike Brady would never miss his son’s graduation.   Some well known trivia is that Robert Reed refused to take part in this crazy episode and left the set during filming.  Maybe Carol’s line was just a dig at Robert Reed for skipping out on the episode.  It was suggested in a forum that a line such as “Mike had to stop at the store to get the cake” or something like that would have allowed the character to save face.  Another line would have been, “It was so nice of your father to fly home and surprise us” and Greg replying, “I just hate that he had to get right back on a plane and leave again”.  Anyway, the epilogue ends with Oliver suggesting he get Greg’s attic room instead of Marcia or Peter.  Why Peter feels entitled is not clear as an earlier episode made clear that Marcia was next.

Thank you friends for reviewing “The Hair Brained Scheme” with me.  Thank you also for your loyal readership these past few years.  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing each blog and reading your own thoughts and comments. Writing this blog and revisiting The Brady Bunch has been a real joy. Next week, we will revisit our five least favorite episodes and the week after our five favorite.  Please share your thoughts on “The Hair Brained Scheme”!

 

 

 

Episode 21: The Hustler

Greetings again!  Thank you for joining me today to review “The Hustler”.  The episode first aired on March 1st, 1974.  The title of this episode is peculiar as it does not seem anybody gets hustled.  It is just discovered that Bobby has a knack for shooting pool.  The b-plot brings back reminders of “Miss Popularity” as Mike and Carol find they have an ever growing guest list for a dinner party.  Both plots get the job done as far as the episode goes, but the only really memorable thing about this story is the second appearance of Jim Backus in a guest spot.  Let us begin reviewing “The Hustler”!

The episode begins with the Brady boys playing basketball while Oliver holds up the privacy fence.  1974 must not have had the requirement that large trucks have a beeping noise when in reverse.  Somehow none of the four boys notice a large delivery truck backing down the driveway until it is just a few feet away.  The item being delivered is addressed to Mike and a mystery to the family.  Alice says the crate is large enough to hold a dinosaur.  Oliver says this is not true as most species of dinosaur were thirty feet long.  I found this funny as this is something a kid would respond with.  Since Mike isn’t home yet, they must all wait in suspense to find out what was delivered.

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The next scene begins with Mike and the boys opening the crate.  In the past few years, I have taken up woodworking as a hobby.  As the crate was opened, I could not help but think of all the things I could do with that wood.  Upon the crate falling open, it is discovered the contents are a pool table.  Mike has no idea who would send the him such.  Alice utters a painful “joke” as she says she will be behind the eight ball if she does not get dinner racked up.  Man, with a line like that, it really seemed like the writers were just phoning it in at this point.

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“Yes, it was me that sent you that big cumbersome gift without even knowing if you like to play the game.”

The origin of the pool table is made known in the next scene.  The president of Mike’s firm, Mr. Matthews, pays Mike a visit and is confirmed as the sender of the table.  The pool table was sent as a reward for Mike landing a big contract for the firm.  Maybe it was the Penelope Fletcher contract from the last episode?   Mr. Matthews suggests Mike set up the pool table in the living room of the Brady home.  Mr. Matthews must really have some sway with Mike as the living room is suggested to Carol as a place for the table.  Carol shoots this down right away and suggests the garage.  This must have just been added as filler as it is hard to imagine Mike even thinking such placement would actually be agreed upon by Carol.

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Bobby’s pool shooting prowess is made known as he makes a challenging shot in front of Peter and Greg.  It is briefly mentioned that Bobby often shoots pool at the home of a friend.  For me this one line really helped the episode’s credibility.  Bobby is not some billiards savant; he has actually practiced the game.

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As Mike and Carol sit in the family room, a funny exchange occurs.  Carol states if the pool table doesn’t stay in the garage, she will go stay with her mother.  Mike says this is “tempting”.  After five years of marriage, this may be the first unromantic line uttered among Mike and Carol.  The scene continues with plans to have Mr. Matthews over for dinner as a way of showing gratitude for the pool table.

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The dinner guest list grows in the next scene.  Mr. Matthews shares with Mike he must decline the dinner/pool invitation as he all ready had committed to dinner with another firm employee.  Mike suggests that guy and his wife accompany Mr. Matthews and his spouse.  Back at the Brady house, Carol is sending Marcia and Jan to the store for the makings of the dinner.  They comment on the money being spent for such an important dinner guest.  A few seconds later, Mike calls and confirms with Carol they are having soup for dinner and she will need to add some water because the guest list just grew.  One can’t help but wonder what fancy makings are going into this soup as Jan and Marcia just commented on the cost.  Also, if it is such an important guest, a main course of soup seems unusual.

Anything remotely resembling a hustle occurs in the next scene.  Bobby is bragging about how easy it would be to beat Greg and Peter in a game of pool.  They overhear this and challenge their youngest brother to a game.  A bet is made that the loser must shine the other’s shoes for a month.  Bobby runs the table and demands some well maintained shoes by day’s end.  If Bobby had walked up and pretended not to know what a pool cue was or thought that sinking the cue ball was a good thing, this would have been a fine hustle.  However, Bobby earlier proclaimed and displayed his fine skills.  He also bragged he could easily beat Greg and Peter, so no hustle occurs here.

The final Bobby Brady dream sequence of the series follows.  All through the series, it has been Bobby’s sleeping psyche that was shared with viewers.  This time around, Bobby is onstage before a royal looking audience displaying his expert pool shooting ability.  It was an interesting piece of stock footage showing such a regal crowd.  Cindy and Oliver, dressed in royal attire, bring Bobby his cue and chalk.  Some really impressive billiard shots are seen from above.  I was hoping IMDB trivia might share who was the master of the pool cue for this episode, but it remains a mystery for now.  If some other fan has been made aware, please share with us who was making the shots.

Bobby’s dream inspired in him some late night practice.  Greg arrives home at a late hour and shares with Mike and Carol that Bobby is out in the garage shooting pool.  Mike goes outside and has Bobby come in.  Mike suggests a spanking is in order as he says he will be showing Bobby what he can do with the other end of a pool stick.  Physical discipline is not on the agenda by the time he reaches the garage.  He tells Bobby he is proud of his dedication to practicing the game, but he has his entire life ahead of him to do that and doesn’t need to be up in the middle of the night doing it.

Marcia and Jan arrive home with additional groceries for the upcoming dinner party.  They comment on how “Old Mr. Schultz” is enjoying the extra business Carol is sending his way.  I always associated this exchange with “Miss Popularity” as the Brady guest list grew, but I was wrong.  The guest list grows yet again.  Back at Mike’s office, Mr. Matthews laments he must decline the evening of dinner and billiards as two more people had been invited to the engagement he was to attend.  Without Mike even suggesting they too be invited, Mr. Matthews says he won’t hear of it, despite wanting exactly that.  Mike says the other couple is welcome to attend.  The suggesting while not hearing of it bit is used on sitcoms of old pretty frequently.  However, seeing a talent like Jim Backus perform it was fun.

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Speaking of Jim Backus, he really needs no sideline to explain what a talent he was or what a great career he had.  We previously saw him on The Brady Bunch in “Ghost Town, U.S.A”.  It is fun to think that maybe the old prospector’s gold claim saw him find riches enough to purchase the firm Mike works for.  Perhaps when he took over, he and Mike thought they’d met before but just could not place from where.

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Before the dinner guests arrive, all the other kids except Bobby (and Greg) leave for the evening.  We can assume Greg was chilling in his attic abode or had left all ready.  Bobby must stay home because he has accumulated a homework backlog as his studies have suffered at his billiards ambitions.  The dinner guests all arrive at the same time.  Either they shared one vehicle, caravanned together or just happen to all arrive at the exact same time.

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Dorothy Shay as Frances Matthews

The additional guests were played by Dorothy Shay, Charles Stewart, Jason Dunn, Susan Quick and Grayce Spence.  Of all the guests, only Dorothy Shay had a notable career in Hollywood.  She played Mr. Matthews’ wife Frances.  IMDB shares that after she had worked to lose her southern accent as it seemed detrimental to her career ambitions, she later became famous singing hillbilly songs.  She would appear on eight episodes of The Waltons.  She died in 1978.

Speaking of acting credits, Robbie Rist got no mention in the closing credits of this episode.

Before having dinner, Mr. Matthews and the other men go out to the garage for a game of pool.  He takes each one of them on in a game with a dime going to the victor.  Mr. Matthews defeats all three.  Bobby comes outside with his homework complete and asks if he may watch.  Soon, he is playing against Mr. Matthews.  Instead of the hefty sum of ten cents, Mr. Matthews will play Bobby for a pack of chewing gum.  As a kid I wondered why this was the wager as Bobby has braces and kids with orthodontia should not be chewing gum.  As expected, Bobby runs the table and defeats Mike’s boss many times over.  By the time play is complete, Mr. Matthews owes Bobby 256 packs of chewing gum.

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In a funny conclusion, Mr. Matthews blames the chirping crickets for breaking his concentration and contributing to his losing the game.   Carol suggests they give up their pool table as they really don’t have room for it.  Mr. Matthews was about ready to give up the game all together, but then thinks with a bit more practice he can become even better.   We don’t see it onscreen, but this must have been quite a blow for Bobby who aspired to be a pool champ.  Had the series made it to a sixth season, there might have been episode about the youngest brother hanging out in dive bars after school so he might get the practice he so desperately needs to someday play before a royal audience.

The epilogue has the same truck and delivery man returning to the Brady home.  The delivery guy was played by Lenny Bremen.  We previously saw him as the exterminator in “The Impractical Joker”.  For some reason, the truck backed all the way down the driveway to hand over a small package.  It is the 256 packs of chewing gum owed to Bobby.  The old prospector must like to flaunt his riches as it would have been cheaper and easier to just give it to Mike to take home to Bobby.

Thank you for reviewing “The Hustler” with me.  Like the previous episode, there isn’t too much to pick apart and critique.  I’ve noticed that reviewing these later episodes, the same energy and feel that came with viewing the earlier seasons is now missing and it also seems to be missing in the review process.  Earlier scripts seemed a bit deeper and more developed and offered themselves up to better reviews than these final few Brady Bunch episodes.  Next week, we conclude the series with “The Hair Brained Scheme”.  In the weeks that follow, we will all share our thoughts on “The Top Five” categories for the show.

 

 

Episode 20: The Snooperstar

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we review “The Snooperstar”.  It ranks among the least favorite of many fans.  I myself could take it or leave it.  As many have stated before, Cindy’s character was beyond the age that most young ladies would aspire to be the new Shirley Temple.  It was also stated that this script was one written for an earlier season, but discarded, only to be dusted off and produced in season five.  The episode definitely has some earlier season elements surrounding invasion of privacy and dreams of stardom.  Let us start our review of “The Snooperstar”.

The story begins with Bobby and Peter in the backyard.  Peter has attained some bike maintenance skill as we see him lubing up his ten speed bike.  Maybe his brief stint as a bicycle repair boy taught him this.  He and Bobby discuss repayment of a $2.00 loan as Cindy approaches.  She asks if the boys were talking about her.  She is rather brusquely informed they are not.  She goes inside where Greg is talking on the phone.  Cindy begins to peruse a magazine and Greg asks her to leave as he is having a private conversation.  Cindy replies the family room is no place to seek privacy.  Actually, she does not say this, but the thought crossed my mind and I could have seen my younger self saying this should I be asked to leave the most public room of the house.  Upstairs, she encounters Marcia writing in her diary.  She asks if Marcia is writing about her.  Cindy is really clamoring for some attention.  Perhaps Oliver’s arrival has seen that she is no longer the youngest and therefore being overlooked.

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The b-plot commences in Mike’s and Carol’s bedroom.  Mike comments he is meeting a new female client and has some fun with Carol by stating she is a gorgeous and rich woman.  Carol jokes that she was planning to spend the day with Mike at the office.  He soon confesses that she has the aforementioned riches, but not the looks.  Cindy and Oliver enter the room briefly and are urged to leave for school.

Before heading out for the day, Cindy decides to peak at Marcia’s diary and recruits Oliver’s assistance.  She tells him to whistle should somebody come along.  It is a fairly humorous scene as Oliver encounters Alice coming down the hall and tries to whistle, but only blows air.  Alice obliges the young lad and shows him how it is done.  This tips Cindy off and she is not caught.  She found only that Marcia had written a poem in her diary.

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The b-plot continues at Mike’s firm.  Here we seem him interacting with Penelope Fletcher.  Another funny line is uttered here.  She says she would typically only deal with Mr. Matthews, the firm’s president, but he highly recommended Mike for her project.  However, it was only because Mr. Matthews was also out of town, that she has agreed to work with Mike.   Despite his drawing up the plans to her specifications, they will not do.  He has only until Thursday to create an acceptable design for the cultural center that will bear her name.

Back at the Brady house, Cindy’s snooping ways are discovered by Marcia as her things have been rearranged.  She shares with Jan that Cindy is the number one suspect for such doings.  Marcia intends to teach her youngest sister a lesson by planting some juicy stuff in her diary for her to read.  To make certain Cindy is the guilty party, the pair pretend to be reading from Marcia’s diary as Cindy enters.  They put the diary away and “leave” to go someplace.  To spy on Cindy they pass through the boys’ room.  Why this was necessary is not made clear as they could have just as easily entered the bathroom observation post from the hallway.  Their coming and going aggravates their brothers to the point that Peter secures the door closed with a chair.

Cindy’s next snooping adventure finds the information Marcia planted in the diary.  It states something fantastic is going to happen for Cindy.  Upon reading of the exciting news, Cindy encounters Alice in the hallway.  Alice knows nothing fantastic other than she has a pregnant goldfish she thought was a male.  Her work takes her up to Greg’s room where they discuss Greg having two dates.  Cindy and Oliver listen at the attic air vent and find the conversation has nothing to do with Cindy.  This was a nice continuity reference to when Greg had a goat stashed up in his room.

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The next phase of Marcia’s plan has her writing that Cindy could possibly find stardom as the new Shirley Temple.  She states that an anonymous talent scout will be visiting the house for a secret audition.  Check out Jan’s pants in this scene.  I don’t recall pants up to the belly button being a 70s style, but they must have been.

The b-plot continues as we learn Mike’s Thursday deadline has been moved up and Penelope Fletcher will be coming by the house to pick up the designs.  Penelope Fletcher was played by Natalie Schafer.  Fans of Classic TV really need no background for the actress.  She will forever be remembers as Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.  A fun bit of trivia is that she took the role in the pilot episode for a free trip to Hawaii.  She enjoyed a long career in Hollywood in both film and television.  Her final role was in a 1990 TV movie.  She died in 1991.

Wanting to make a big splash for her anonymous audition, Cindy seeks to purchase a Shirley Temple album.  She asks Alice for the money so she can buy an album by “you know who”.  In a funny line, Alice asks if that is the name of a new group.  Upon returning home with the album, Bobby and Peter take an interest in it.  For them to be so rude about Cindy’s inquiry at the start of the episode, they have no problem taking similar actions here.

Cindy finds out her time to listen to the album and learn the ways of of Curly Top are eyesvery limited.  Alice shares with Cindy and Oliver that a client of Mike’s is stopping by later.  Cindy assumes this is the anonymous talent scout.  Upon Cindy sharing this with Marcia and Jan, they confess to their trickery, but Cindy does not believe them. She sets about curling her hair so she will look the part for her audition.  During this scene I noticed what pretty eyes Susan Olsen has.

Penelope Fletcher arrives and is haughty as ever.  After answering the door, Alice asks if she might get something for Ms. Fletcher and she replies, “Yes, Mr. Brady.  I’m in a hurry”.  Mike sure takes his sweet time going downstairs to see his important client.  In the time it takes for Alice to summon Mike and him to come down, Cindy begins her audition.  She comes downstairs with her hair curled up and wearing some kind of German looking dress. She breaks out in song, much to the confusion of Penelope Fletcher.  If it weren’t so strange that Cindy were doing this at her age, this could have been one of the Brady Bunch’s funniest moments.

When Mike finally comes downstairs, Penelope Fletcher and Cindy are doing a singing and dancing duet to “On The Good Ship Lollipop”.  Ms. Fletcher explains Cindy’s confusing her with a talent scout.  She is so taken with memories of Shirley Temple and her own youth that she is no longer the demanding socialite she was just a few minutes before.   A few minutes of song and dance with Cindy have taken her back to the magic of her youth.  Mike tells her he feels the plans are what she seeks and she replies that it doesn’t matter now.  Penelope Fletcher’s sudden indifference to the plans gives me a chuckle every time I see it.

The episode’s talking to follows.  Mike tells Cindy just because her actions brought for a happy ending and happy client, snooping is not okay.  It begs the question of why this was not stated when Peter deceived Pamela and Michelle with his clone in “Two Petes In A Pod”.    This scene painfully ends with Mike and Carol singing “On The Good Ship Lollipop”.

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The epilogue has Cindy gifting Marcia a new diary.  The new keepsake of her thoughts comes with a lock.  Cindy says this diary can be secured shut should she relapse or change her mind and decide to start snooping again.

Thank you for reviewing “The Snooperstar” with me.  The episode does not give too much to question or critique other than Cindy’s age.  Shirley Temple was just a wee sprout when she sang her famous song; Cindy was well beyond the age any producer would seek for a child destined to be the new Shirley Temple.  Please share your own thoughts!  Next week, we review “The Hustler”.  Have a great weekend!

 

 

Episode 19: Top Secret

Hello again readers, family and friends!  Thank you for joining me today as we review “Top Secret”.  Bobby and Oliver’s imaginations first ran wild on February 15th, 1974.  This one falls into the Brady Stock category for me as it was aptly written and acted, but not very memorable.  The misconceptions conjured by Bobby and Oliver are believable for kids their age (although just barely for Bobby).  Previous episodes have shown us just how much Sam loves his trade, but the secrecy involving the b-plot was a bit of a stretch.  Let us begin reviewing “Top Secret”!

 

The episode opens with Bobby constructing a card house while Oliver observes.  As Bobby adds the last card and relishes his fine work, the house tumbles into a mess of cards.  Oliver’s branding as a jinx must be a thing of the past as he receives no blame for the house’s collapse.  As Bobby looks upon the ruins of his efforts, a visitor arrives at the Brady home.  It is an FBI agent named Fred Sanders.  As many boys would be, Bobby and Oliver are awestruck at the presence of an FBI agent in their home.

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Don Fenwick

FBI agent Fred Sanders was played by Don Fenwick.  His acting career never provided him a recurring/regular role on a TV series, although he appeared on several different ones. After 1963, all of his work was on television with his final role being an episode of Hart to Hart in 1982.  IMDB shares some interesting trivia in that he has been married to the same lady, actress Marki Bey, since 1974.  The pair operated a murder/mystery cruise business after their acting careers were over.

 

The reason for the FBI agents visit to the home is made known quickly.  Mike had to pass a security clearance for some work he is doing for the government. He explains to Bobby and Oliver it was a routine check for a routine matter.  Finally, he tells them it was for a security clearance.  Why he had to be so cagey and overuse “routine” prior to telling them this is not made clear.

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Despite Mike’s downplaying of the matter and telling the boys to just forget it, their imaginations kick into hyper drive as they think Mike is secretly working for the government.  Bobby tells Oliver not to divulge this to Greg and Peter as they encounter them on the stairs, but only seconds pass before Oliver spills the beans.  Greg and Peter laugh it off and Greg tells them “You’re nuts!”

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In the kitchen, Alice is explaining to Carol and Marcia how a week’s worth of leftovers will comprise the evening’s meal.  My own leftover food rule is three days maximum.  The cost of meat was bemoaned on a previous episode, so maybe desperate times called for more extreme measures.  Perhaps Alice froze Monday and Tuesday’s leftover food.

 

As Alice explains her leftover delicacy, Sam arrives needing to see Mike.  His reason for needing such is kept a secret, but he assures Alice she will be the first to know should it work out.  Just as Bobby and Oliver did, the three ladies begin speculating about what secret Sam has in store for Alice and how it could involve a marriage proposal.  At first Alice will not allow her hopes to be raised, but soon falls victim to the pangs of her lonely heart.

 

On his way to Mike’s den, Sam briefly encounters Bobby and Oliver who further speculate Sam’s being there has something to do with Mike’s FBI work.  The butcher’s secret intentions are made known and have nothing to do with taking a wife or the FBI.  He is looking to possibly expand his butcher shop into a vacant store next to his.  He has asked Mike to draw up some plans to get an estimate on the cost.  Time is of the essence as he needs said plans by Friday.  We all know Sam loves being a butcher.  He has made that clear many times.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that.  However, he may just think a bit too much of his craft if he thinks the possibility of expanding the size of his store warrants this level of secrecy from his long time girlfriend.  Readers, maybe you can share some sound reasoning as to why Sam would not want to share this news with Alice.

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Up in the girls’ room, Marcia shares the exciting news of Alice’s possible nuptials with Jan and Cindy.  Either a day has passed before Marcia did this or she changed her shirt between the kitchen and the bedroom.  At first Marcia is hesitant to share the secret in Cindy’s presence, but Cindy reasons she is older now and it can be shared.  This was a nice continuity reference to Cindy’s snitching ways in earlier seasons.  Marcia shares the exciting yet unconfirmed secret news with her sisters.  Poor Cindy, she finally built up some trust among her sisters and will throw it all way in our next episode.

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Bobby and Oliver commence to investigating matters on their own.  They question how

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When Sam met Alice?

Alice came to know Sam.  She shares she met him at a dance when he was in the army.  When they question what Sam did in the military, Alice doesn’t know.  Perhaps this encounter was years before and they met again later in life.  It is hard to imagine that Alice has known Sam since he was of age to be a soldier and never knew what the man’s specialty was.

The boys continue their investigation by paying Sam a visit at his butcher shop.  Not only has he rearranged since we last saw his place of cockandbullbusiness, it looks like he changed the name to Sam’s Fine Meats.  He also took to decorating the place with some faux meat.  There is no way that plastic pork adorning the walls of Sam’s shop could be real, not even by TV standards.  Sam regales the boys with a tale of how he single handedly stole the enemy code book when he was a soldier.  The boys’ belief of Sam’s story only fuels their imagination.

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Sam’s puffery is interrupted with the arrival of his landlord, Mr. Gronsky.  The boys listen in as the two men discuss the plans from Mr. Brady.  Since Sam is going to hand over the plans Mike is working with, they surmise Sam is a double agent, talking openly of betraying their father/uncle.  Here it seems Bobby might surmise that such a non-clandestine discussion means nothing is amiss.  He doesn’t.

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Back at the Brady house, Bobby and Oliver try to share the news of Sam’s treachery and their father’s peril with Greg and Peter.  The older pair once again laugh off the boys’ concern.  Just to show his complete lack of respect for the younger two, he suggests they use the talcum powder routine to gather evidence.  When they ask him to explain what that is, he dumps talcum powder on their heads.  I would have really enjoyed seeing the younger pair get some level of payback on Greg later in the episode, but no such luck.  I suppose Bobby selling Greg some Neat and Natural Hair Tonic a few episodes from now could be considered karma.

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Mike leaves the information Sam requested in his den for him to pick up later.  Both Alice and Carol try to “accidentally” open the envelope to see what secret Sam is hiding.  Tattling and snooping were both condemned by Carol in the past, but here she does not practice what she preaches.

 

Sam arrives to pick up the plans from Mike’s den and is observed by Bobby and Oliver.  Sam is in a hurry and can’t visit with the pair and rushes out.  Thinking Sam has stolen Mike’s FBI related plans, they attempt to call Mike.  As Bobby rotary dials the number, Oliver states he wishes they had a push button phone so Bobby could dial more quickly.  For some reason, this one line has always remained wedged in my memory.

 

On their second attempt to reach Mike, the boys learn he is going to Sam’s butcher shop.  The pair race over there to prevent Mike from meeting any peril.  Upon arrival, they find Mike has not arrived and Sam is willing to share more about his army days.  While doing this, Mr. Gronsky arrives.  He and Sam go in the meat locker to check out some faulty workings.   The boys see this as their chance to rescue Mike and capture the bad buys.  They slam the locker closed with Sam and Mr. Gronsky inside.  Fortunately, Mike arrives seconds later and sets things straight.

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The next scene begins with Sam and Mr. Gronsky laughing off the misunderstanding and all is forgiven.  Mike does lecture Bobby and Oliver on jumping to conclusions.  A really bad joke about coming in from the cold is made and the scene ends.

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Lew Palter

Mr. Gronsky was played by Lew Palter.  Most of his work was done on TV to include recurring roles on Delvecchio and L.A. Law.  He did appear in the feature film “Titanic”.  IMDB lists no work between 2001 and 2018.  The 2018 credit is for a short film.  IMDB lists he is also an acting instructor.

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The epilogue has Sam finally sharing with Alice the reason for his secrecy.  She is none too happy to learn his actions were business related and not romance fueled.  Poor Alice, we are once again reminded of her old maid status.

Thank you for reviewing “Top Secret” with me.  There really was not too much to pick apart and critique.  The story is solid, if not silly, and what one would expect for a juvenile audience.  At this point, The Brady Bunch had changed from a family sitcom to a kids’ show.  However, I could have easily seen this episode airing in an earlier season with Peter and Bobby conjuring up a tale of Mike’s FBI mission coupled with Sam’s treachery.  Please share your own thoughts on this episode!  Next week, we review “The Snooperstar”.  See you then!