Hello again readers and friends! First off, thank you all who have joined the Facebook group “Here’s the Story: Every Episode of the Brady Bunch Reviewed”! Your readership is most appreciated. This week we review “Every Boy Does It Once”. It originally aired on December 5th, 1969. After the craziness that we enjoyed last week in “Sorry, Right Number”, we must endure a mostly dramatic episode this week. I have no doubt Robert Reed and Sherwood Schwartz got along well during this episode’s filming; I am sure Robert Reed was pleased with the script and story. So, let us begin the review of “Every Boy Does It Once”.
The episode opens in the family room with Bobby, Cindy and Tiger watching “Cinderella” on television. Upon the conclusion of the Cinderella program, the subject of stepmothers is discussed between Bobby and Cindy. Cindy says that Carol is not a mean stepmother to Bobby to which Bobby counters, “Not yet.” Bobby says it is always the stepmothers who are mean as he has never heard of a mean stepfather. Oh, what innocent times that were in 1969. Cindy finally convinces Bobby that Carol is not a wicked stepmother. All that convincing is undone when Carol enters with a fireplace broom and very politely asks Bobby to help Alice out by sweeping the fireplace. She was not demanding or harsh, yet Bobby interprets the request as evidence of her being a wicked stepmother.
When I first started this blog, I mentioned how I recalled the Brady Bunch being full of “woe is me” moments. It was not until this episode that I realized how the past nine we’ve reviewed were largely devoid of the self-pity. Well friends, this episode makes up for it! It seems it is mostly dedicated to Bobby moping around feeling sorry for himself. This is quite evident as he complains about Greg and Peter leaving without saying goodbye. They were only leaving to go to a friend’s house, not for summer camp or even an overnight visit someplace. What does Bobby care if they said goodbye or not? He also doesn’t like getting hand-me-downs from his brothers. However, look at his pants! If anybody needs better fitting clothes it is Bobby, unless he is expecting a flood! He leaves to try on the altered clothes, when Jan and Marcia make their only appearance in the episode. Hand me downs are discussed again, this time for Jan. Carol mentions Marcia “filling out” in front of Mike and Marcia chides her for being so thoughtless. Mike tries to assure her he wasn’t listening, but she quickly calls him out on that since he knew to say he wasn’t listening. Jan and Marcia ask to join a friend at the movies and assures Mike and Carol it is rated acceptable for children. Mike states it must have been made before 1950. Bobby returns to the living room as they are leaving for the movies and both girls are excessively and needlessly rude to him. Marcia says, “Hi and bye, small fry” and Jan gives a very snarky “See you later”. They then ridicule him for wearing the hand-me-downs saying they could not leave the house with him looking like that. The girls are then allowed to leave for the movies without the slightest rebuke from Mike or Carol. I think they earned themselves a good talking to, if not a revocation of permission to go to the movies. There was no need for them to be such jerks to Bobby.
Bobby then mopes into the kitchen and discusses with Alice how stepchildren are not as loved as biological children. Alice assures him this is nonsense as Carol loves he and his brothers very much. She compares it to how she, the stephousekeeper, loves Marcia, Jan and Cindy as much as she does the boys. Although, if she’d seen that exchange that just took place in the living room, she might be rethinking things. After her assurances, Bobby tells him he knows he’s not loved because he saw Cinderella on television and it evidenced how stepmothers don’t love stepchildren. Alice could have explained how television doesn’t always equate to reality, but instead allows Bobby to saunter away, still feeling sorry for himself.
The self pity continues as Bobby enters Mike’s den. Mike is fixing Cindy’s doll cradle. Bobby takes this action as another means to assure himself he’s unloved as his bicycle needs fixing too, but that hasn’t been handled. Mike assures him that is a bigger job that will have to wait until Saturday. Mike pries a bit into Bobby’s listless ways, but doesn’t get far. Bobby inquires about fairy tales being real. Mike says Cinderella has given stepmothers a bad name and this leads to another talk about how much his stepmother loves him and his brothers and how much Mike loves the girls.
In the kitchen, Alice and Carol discuss Bobby’s moping around and how Cinderella shook him up. Carol then asks Mike to delay a business meeting so he can go to the bicycle shop with her and they can buy Bobby a new bicycle to cheer him up. Mike says cheering up Bobby trumps the importance of his business meeting and he will just skip it. During this conversation, it is mentioned for the second time this episode that it is Friday night. Could the bicycle shop trip not be put off until Saturday morning so Mike could maintain his livelihood?
Bobby is in the kitchen again and sad that Mike and Carol left without saying goodbye. Alice again tries to assure Bobby he is loved. Bobby says that everybody leaving without saying goodbye “ain’t love”. He and Tiger go outside where Bobby shares with the dog that he is going to run away from home. Upstairs, Peter finds Bobby packing his suitcase. Bobby won’t share why he is doing that, but Peter assures him he can keep his mouth shut and not share why. He even gives a demonstration. This was one of the semi-funny moments of this episode. Bobby shares with Peter he is running away from home.
Down in the family room, Bobby’s secret is quickly shared. Peter reasons that Bobby shared it with one brother, so it might as well be shared with another. Greg says Bobby’s running away plans must be thwarted and goes into action. He enters the kitchen where Alice is making a shopping list. Instead of just telling her outright, he beats around the bush in the most roundabout fashion. He lets Alice know that milk purchases will soon decline in the Brady home. Then he shares with her that every kid in the house, except Bobby, is not planning to run away from home. Alice immediately goes into action to notify Mike and Carol. Greg reminds her Bobby’s running away was to be a secret and Alice states everybody knows she can’t keep a secret. Greg confirms he was counting on that. That was another semi-funny moment for this episode.
The next scene is at the bicycle shop, Oscar’s Cyclery. Mike and Carol marvel at the new bicycle they will be getting Bobby. The salesman talks them into spending $1 more for a license plate with Bobby’s name on it. The scene changes over to Alice calling around looking for Mike and Carol. They had not shared their destination with her before leaving.
Back at the bicycle shop, the license plate has been installed. Even as a kid, I thought this addition made the bicycle look strange. I didn’t see how adding that piping on the back with a nameplate made the bicycle any cooler, it only made it ugly in my opinion. Maybe this was one of those fads like bell bottoms, zoot suits or jelly-roll hairdos that looked cool at the time, but silly in retrospect. Well, the salesman keeps pushing to increase his commission and loses the sale. After suggesting side mirrors for the bicycle, he tells Mike and Carol that any boy they give this to, will be won over for life. This gives Mike and Carol the self-realization that they are trying to bribe Bobby and win his love. Well, they are not having that and decide he won’t be getting a new bicycle. Mike tells the salesman to just hang on to it for a month or so and they will come back for it. I guess Mike spends a lot of money at this place, because that seems like an awfully entitled request to be made of a business.
Before we move forward, let’s discuss the bike salesman. He seems like one creepy dude. There was something about the way he delivered his lines that just seemed strange to me. I can’t see him being all that effective of a salesman. Maybe that is why he is selling bicycles instead of cars or real-estate. The credits list the character as Johnny. Maybe he is related to Oscar, of Oscar’s Cyclery, and that is how he got the job as a salesman, or maybe Oscar was desperate for help willing to work on a Friday night. The actor playing Johnny is Michael Lerner. This creepy salesman performance did not end his acting career as he has stayed very busy through the years. He was a regular on “Glee” and appeared as Senator Brickman in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. He was also the owner of the publishing company in the Christmas classic “Elf”.
Mike and Carol come home and Alice just can’t come right out and say, “Bobby is going to run away from home.” Instead she has to tell them one of the chickadees is going to fly the coop. Upstairs, Bobby is packing a larger suitcase and telling Tiger he will send for him when gets settled. Mike then enters and Bobby confirms his plans to run away. Mike says that will be fine as a person who isn’t happy where they are is free to look elsewhere. He assures Bobby everybody at the Brady home loves him and he thought Bobby loved them too. He asks Bobby to write and keep in touch and asks him how he is set up for funds. Bobby is pretty sure his $9.86 will get him started. Mike says a lot of famous men started with less. He also lets Bobby know he will have to find a job once he is on his own. He concludes the talk by stating he doesn’t want his son staying where he doesn’t want to and decides to walk him out.
As Bobby starts down the stairs, Carol is seen at the bottom waiting with her own suitcase. Carol says she is leaving with Bobby, since she loves him so much and wants to make sure he is okay and that she cares the most about him. Bobby claims he is but a stepchild to her and in a touching moment, she tells him the stairs he just came down are the only steps in the house. I could see this scene in a later season that had Carol waiting by the back door only to have Bobby leave out the front and create some Brady zaniness. However, this is season one and things are still much more realistic for the most part. This is the last time I ever recall either the children or the parents being referred to a as stepparents or stepchildren. I wonder how the term “step” came to be aligned with children brought into a marriage?
The epilogue has Mike and Carol retiring for the night, only to have Cindy rush in very upset. Like Bobby, she has taken fairytales as reality, but instead of fearing a stepmom, has been kissing frogs in hopes of them turning into a prince. Hoy, is Cindy really that dim? I know she is playing the part of a small child, but that is a bit much. I guess Sherwood had to get in one good jab at Robert Reed and did so in the epilogue!
Thank you readers for suffering through this episode with me. Bobby’s excessive self-pity was quite grating and the entire episode short on laughs. We hardly see the other kids during this one. It’s definitely among my least favorites, if not topping the list. Next week we review “Vote For Brady”. It’s one I recall seeing many times and has some great blogging fodder! As always your comments and thoughts are most welcome!