Greetings fans, readers and friends. Today we review “Call Me Irresponsible”. Per IMDB, the title is derived from a Frank Sinatra tune. The episode first aired October 30th, 1970. It is a solid episode that is just fun. The moral/lesson of the story is a very subtle one. We also have a number of guest stars in this story. Let us begin our review of “Call Me Irresponsible”.
The story opens with Greg coming downstairs with something very important on his mind. The matter at hand is heavy enough that he can interrupt Mike’s work and it is imperative that Carol be present too. He states that what he has to share may be the most important thing he has ever had to say. Once his parents are sitting down, he reveals what is troubling him so. He is ready to start considering the purchase of his first car. Mike and Carol are relieved that this is the matter that is so important. Greg is still just 14 years old and won’t be 16 for another 13 months. Greg says 16 years old and a driver’s license is just around the corner. In one of my favorite Carol Brady lines, she states “Thirteen months isn’t just around the corner.” Greg wants to get a jump start on car purchasing funds and wants a part time job after school. Mike says he will see what he can do to get Greg part time employment at his architecture firm. Greg is quite excited to tell Randy; she is his latest love interest, but he refers to her as just a girl from school here.
Before we move further, I must point something out. I could not help but notice what a mess Greg’s hair is! How on earth did Barry Williams make it out of the makeup chair with a hairdo like that? I know it was the 70s and long hair on men was becoming vogue, but didn’t they at least comb and brush it? It looks as though Barry rode to work in a convertible and went straight in front of the camera. In one of the Brady Bunch books, Barry Williams shared how his hair was naturally curly and not permed as so many people think. He stated that there was a short time when he was fighting the curl and it was a fight he was losing. I seem to recall he wrote this was much later in the series; the Hawaii episodes maybe.
In the next scene, we meet Randy. She is a very pretty blond headed girl. She and Greg are looking at a car magazine and Greg is talking about the car he plans to buy. The newsstand vendor asks Greg if he’d buy the magazine first. Greg all ready has the magazine, he is just taking up space at the man’s place of business. After the man re-hangs the magazine, Greg takes it down again to look it over once more. He tells Randy that if his job at Mike’s firm works out, he might someday design something as grand as the pyramids! He then sets the magazine down again and leaves with her. The newsstand man must rehang the magazine again. I sure wish newsstands like this were still around today. Running one of them would be like a dream come true for me. Spending the day in the fresh air surrounded by the most current reading material, be it newspapers, magazines, comic books or novels would not even seem like work! An added benefit would be that 90% of the clients I dealt with daily would share at least some love of the written word. I guess my love of classic TV and the excitement at the idea of working at a place like this shows I was born 30 years too late.
The curmudgeonly news vendor was played by William Benedict. He had a long career in Hollywood that began in 1935 and ended in 1988. His career was made up of several one off roles on TV shows, but he did have recurring roles on “Petticoat Junction” and “Hondo”. His final TV role came in 1988 in “Bonanza: The New Generation”. He died the following year.
The scene that follows takes place in the living room. Greg learns he now has part time employment at Mike’s firm. He is disappointed to learn he will not be Mike’s assistant in designing buildings, but instead will be serving in a janitorial capacity. Carol reminds him he can’t start at the top, but in a slap to the face of cleaning personnel everywhere, Greg states that he’s really starting at the bottom. Mike adds he will have the great responsibility of making deliveries on his bicycle. This leads me to question how far Mike’s daily commute was, if Greg can ride his bicycle there and back daily.
That evening Greg talks with Randy on the phone and tells of his bright future. At the end of the conversation, he approaches Peter, Jan and Bobby with an offer to help him purchase his car. With their financial contributions, they will become partners in his future automobile which includes the privilege of riding in it! They decline as they’d rather just pay for the gas and by the ride. I like this scene because as a 14-15 year who frothed at the mouth at the idea of car ownership, I could see myself concocting a scheme like Greg’s. However, as a 10-13 year old with little money to spend, I could see myself being leery of the idea as Peter, Jan and Bobby were.
The next scene shows Greg’s first day on the job. He has taken to it with such gusto that Mike chides him (calling him Gregory) for polishing the trash can. Greg exits the office and crosses path with Mr. Phillips. This is the first time we have seen Mike’s boss. Surprisingly, he appeared only three times on the Brady Bunch. I would have thought he made many more appearances. Mike is commended on a job well done for the recent project and the copying of the plans is given the utmost importance. Greg is summoned back to Mike’s office and instructed to make the important delivery to the print shop.
Mr. Phillips was played by Jack Collins. His Hollywood career began in 1956. Two years later, he would find his first recurring role on “The Phil Silvers Show”. It would be almost 10 years before he would find recurring work again on “The Occasional Wife”. After playing Mr. Phillips on “The Brady Bunch”, recurring work would not come again until 1982 when he was on “Dallas”. Per his IMDB resume, he never lacked work. He also appeared in the feature films “The Sting”, “The Towering Inferno” and the 1977 version of “Pete’s Dragon”. His on camera acting career concluded in 1988 with “The Nest”. This was a horror movie about meat-eating mutant roaches’ invasion of a New England island community. Based on the plot of this movie, he might have been too embarrassed to work again. Per IMDB, he is still with us. I wish he had a better role to wrap his career with.
While making his important delivery, Greg makes a stop at that glorious newsstand. In a chuckle worthy line, the news vendor says it now costs the same to look at the magazine as it does to buy it. Greg purchases the latest issue of Car Sport for 50 cents. That’d be around $3.15 in today’s dollars. Today magazines like this one cost around $5. A quick Google search found Car Sport to be a current publication, but not in the United States. It’s base of operation is in Ireland. While Greg admires the latest and greatest news of the car world, its distraction proves very costly. Whether the poor construction of the cardboard tube or Greg is to blame is open for debate. As Greg holds the container topside down, the weight of the plans to be copied is sufficient to push the top off the tube and send the plans falling to the ground. (To the tune of On Top of Spaghetti) They roll onto the sidewalk and into the street, and then they get stepped on, by so many feet.
The next scene has Mike arriving home dismayed to learn Greg is not yet home. The mystery of Greg’s whereabouts is revealed as he comes home empty tubed. He explains what happened. Mike chides him for losing the plans, but not the car magazine. Mike goes to call Mr. Phillips and Greg asks Carol if she thinks he will lose his job. At Greg’s age, if I’d made such a costly blunder, I’d have all ready considered myself fired. Greg attempts to rationalize by saying a man isn’t kicked off the baseball team for making one error. Carol says they can only hope for the best. In Mike’s office, he has shared the bad news with Mr. Phillips but also the good news that he can produce another set of plans if he works all night. He also shares the bad news that Greg is fired. Carol tries to go to bat for Greg by reminding Mike a man isn’t kicked off a baseball team for making one fumble.
The next scenes are the only ones that will include Marcia and Alice for this episode. I did not notice until after the initial viewing was complete that Cindy is never seen in the entire episode. Why she couldn’t be part of the foursome buying gas for Greg’s car is unknown. Perhaps Susan Olsen just had the week off. Marcia shares her sympathy regarding Greg’s newfound unemployment and he is really rude to her when he accuses her of telling Randy what a goof he is. Alice brings Mr. Brady a snack and Greg’s trashed issue of Car Sport. The magazine is a metaphor for Greg’s future at this point. She reminds Mike of when she first started working for him and confused soap powder with starch, rendering his shirts solid as cardboard.
The next day, Peter, Jan and Bobby bring Greg their initial gasoline investment in his car. He has to share the bad news that he was fired from his employment. News must travel really slow in the Brady house seeing how Marcia knew Greg lost his job, but the other kids did not. Maybe this can be attributed to Cindy not being around. In this scene one will notice that Bobby’s hair looks a mess just like Greg’s. Seriously, did both Susan Olsen and the makeup person have this week off from the show? Meanwhile, in Mike’s office, Mr. Phillips commends Mike on a job even better done as these plans surpass those Greg lost. Mike asks for a second chance for his son, citing the lost plans could have been the fault of the cardboard tube. Mr. Phillips says ok. During this scene, a diploma from Norton College can be seen on Mike’s office wall. A Google search found this to be a college in England. Between Car Sport and Norton College, one must conclude the prop-master to be a fan of the United Kingdom!
Greg has been given a second chance to deliver the plans. Mike tells him to go straight to the printers. I would have included a shot of either Mike or Greg affixing a piece of scotch tape to secure the top of the tube. If that had been done the day before, then all this heartache would have been avoided. Greg is on his merry way when bad luck strikes again. The chain on his bicycle breaks! In a convenient turn of events, Randy and her father are just a few feet away. Mr. Peterson offers Greg a lift to the printers and to haul his broken down bicycle back to his house.
Before we move further, let’s have a look at these two guest stars. Randy was played by Annette Ferra (aka Chris Gilmore). After this appearance, she would make a few more TV appearances, a feature film appearance in “The Wild Party” and resurface again in 2014’s TV movie “$chmooze or Lo$e”. She has an extensive resume behind the camera working as a writer, producer and casting director many times over. Mr. Peterson was portrayed by Bob Peoples. His acting resume lists many uncredited roles. His last appearance per IMDB was the 1972 feature film “Get To Know Your Rabbit”. The reviews for this film are mostly unkind. No date of death is listed for him.
The next scene makes little sense. Greg is dropped off at the printing office and goes to retrieve the plans which were haphazardly rested against the rear door of the station wagon. After putting Greg’s bike in the back, did Mr. Peterson say, “Just set those here, against this door Greg. I can’t have them taking up room in the front seat.”? Why would Greg allow these documents of the utmost importance to just hang out the rear window of the car? One good pothole could see them again laying in the street! Before he can walk to the rear of the car and retrieve them, Mr. Peterson drives away. Greg yells for him to stop, but an impatient passenger in another car nearby is honking the car horn, drowning out Greg’s pleas for Mr. Peterson to stop.
Greg phones Randy’s mom from a phone booth and learns the location for Mr. Peterson’s next stop. Fortunately, Greg is within walking distance of the Campus Drama School where Randy is having her drama lesson. He interrupts her studies and is hit in the face with a bouquet of flowers that are part of the lesson. The drama coach is aghast at the interruption. Greg learns from Randy that her father was taking his car to “the garage” to be worked on after he dropped her off. There must be only one place in town where people get their vehicles repaired because Randy fails to give the name or location of “the garage” her father took the car to. A funny scene would have been Greg visiting five different garages and returning to the drama school, getting hit with the flowers again, and learning it was the garage next door to the print shop. Greg finds the car at “the garage” and delivers the plans.
The drama coach was played by Barbara Morrison. Her on camera career began in 1946 and she had steady work until her final appearance in an episode of “Little House On The Prairie” in 1977. Notable roles include parts in 1953’s “From Here to Eternity”, 1973’s “Papillon” and that of a regular player on “The Red Skelton Hour”. The actor playing the mechanic, Gordon Jump, is one whose resume we have visited before. He played the warehouse supervisor in “The Possible Dream” who thought Mike had lost a diary with extramarital documentations.
Back at the Brady house, Mike frets over Greg not arriving home yet. He refuses to exhibit he has lost faith in the boy by calling the print shop to see if the plans were delivered. Greg comes home to report all is well. He does not divulge the go-getter attitude and actions that saw him retrieve and deliver the plans in the face of great adversity. Mike and Carol delight in how mature Greg is.
The epilogue has Greg gussied up and bound for Randy’s house. They have a date planned that will include an evening of watching TV. Carol says that doesn’t sound like much of a date for Randy, and that Greg really should brush his hair before going on a date. Okay, the second part she didn’t say. Greg assures her Randy is an understanding girl who knows he is saving for a car. Mike tries to play the understanding card and get Carol to agree to stay home and watch TV, but she isn’t having it.
“Call Me Irresponsible” is one of the most fun Brady Bunch episodes that were ever made. It retains a reasonable plot without anything too crazy. The placement of the plans the second time around is the only real issue I had with the entire episode. If I were in the writer’s chair, I would have made the episode more about Greg’s attempting to retrieve the plans and added some more hurdles and hijinks. If I’d been in the director’s chair, Greg and Bobby would have been sent back to their dressing rooms for a shower and hairstyling. Next week we review what I recall being among my least favorite episodes, “The Treasure of Sierra Avenue”. The Brady kids strike it rich and greed abounds! See you next week!