Hello again readers, friends and fans. Thank you for joining me this week to review “Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?”. The viewing public first saw this episode on January 15th, 1971. The story of Jan wanting to reinvent herself is a fun episode with little to critique or question. It still makes for a fun review though. Let us begin reviewing “Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?”!
The story begins with Jan arriving home from school and joining Marcia in the kitchen for some milk and cookies. Marcia hands over a piece of mail and Jan is delighted to learn it is an invitation to Lucy Winters’ birthday party. However, Jan is a tad miffed to
see that her invite was all ready opened. When questioned, Marcia explains Lucy addressed Jan’s invite to her by mistake. It is just “one of those things” according to Marcia. Well, Jan is not taking it as lightly. She once again finds herself in the shadow of a sister and overlooked. Jan has been labeled Marcia’s younger sister or Cindy’s younger sister one too many times!
She expresses her ire to Carol who reminds Jan that even though the envelope was misaddressed, it was still an invite for Jan to come to the birthday party.
Here we have an opportunity to confirm the Brady address. However, Lucy Winters’ handwriting is not entirely legible. I can make out Clinton Way, but can’t be 100% of the street number. We also get to see “City” as the designation for the City and State; this was mentioned also in “Lost Locket, Found Locket”.
As Jan laments being the overlooked Brady sister, she begins thumbing through a copy of “Now” magazine. There she sees an advertisement for something called Glitter. The ad seems to be offering a solution to the dilemma Jan is experiencing at that very moment! It is a tad convenient, but it moves the story along a bit more quickly. From here the episode could have went the way of “The Hair Brained Scheme” and been about Jan giving herself a bad dye job on her hair. Instead, Jan’s response to the ad will be the tale of Jan wearing a wig.
A Google search produced neither a hair dye or shampoo by the name of Glitter. Perhaps at one time such a product did exist. Readers, feel free to share any recollections of such a product or even if this was a genuine ad. Those blonde ladies sure do look depressed in the presence of the lone brunette. A Google search for Now magazine produced no results for a publication that was in print in 1971. It could have been a short lived magazine with no “internet trail” or just one the set dresser had made up for the scene. Again, readers, please fill us in if such a magazine once existed.
The episode’s subplot begins in the next scene. Peter interrupts his father’s work in search of an advance on his allowance. This is another funny scene that is just fun and leaves little to analyze. Mike asks Peter to wait and he does so in a most distracting fashion. Initially he whistles as he watches Mike work and then begins pacing back and forth observing the plans he is working on. With this, Mike stops his work to address Peter’s concern. Peter does continue pacing until Mike puts a stop to it. Peter is in need of .49 cents as he loaned all of his funds, $4.49, to Jan. He needs only .49 cents for Lucy Winters’ gift as he figures that is the amount she spent on him, and he doesn’t want to embarrass her by getting her something too good. For some reason, I recall from childhood Peter saying he’d purchased her a jump rope, but I did not hear him say that when watching this episode on DVD.
Based on inflation, in today’s dollars Peter would be spending approximately $3.00 on Lucy Winters’ gift. $3.00 on a gift today sounds chintzy. I wonder if .49 cents in 1971 was just as cheap sounding for a gift. The $4.49 Peter loaned Jan inflates to about $27.50 in today’s dollars. While that is no princely sum in 2017, it still seems like a lot for 12 year olds to be loaning other 12 year olds. Peter did charge Jan 25% interest, so he will be coming out ahead in the deal. Maybe that was his motivator. I guess that extra .49 cents incurring interest was too tempting for Peter to pass up. He could have just loaned Jan an even $4.00 and had .49 cents left for the gift purchase.
The next scene was the funniest of the entire episode and one of the funniest of all of season two. Jan is visiting the wig store in search of her new look. Has anybody else ever noticed how easy it was for the Brady kids to get around? This is not the first time we have seen one of them making a solo trip to a store in a city setting. The saleslady is very understanding of Jan’s dilemma and very helpful, even after Jan’s unintentional insult. Jan states she’d love a wild and crazy wig like the saleslady has on, only to find out it is the poor woman’s natural hairdo and not a wig. Among the colors of faux hair
observed were early rust, pompei pumice and lunar dust. A Google search found no wigs of this color being offered today. A fourth curly and reddish-brown wig is immediately dismissed by Jan and the sales lady. The first wig Jan tries on is called midnight temptress. While it is a nice looking head of hair, the saleslady declares it a bit too mature for Jan. Jan does say she is all of twelve years old. The saleslady assures her, “You carry it very well.” Jan passes on midnight temptress as she doesn’t think she will be up that late. As Jan continues shopping, there is cutaway back to the saleslady that does not flow with the scene at all. The saleslady then informs Jan that each wig purchase comes with a free Styrofoam head. Jan then believes she may have found just the look she is going for and adorns another “wig”. The saleslady stops her and informs her that it is not a wig she is putting on her head, but a handbag. The saleslady chides Her coworker Helen for mixing up the merchandise. Helen does not appear in the closing credits, so her identity is a mystery for now.
The more I think about it, in my opinion this scene ranks among the funniest we were ever treated to on The Brady Bunch. Jan acting so grown up while shopping, paired with the accommodating saleslady is a dose of that innocent humor that contributed to the endearing nature of classic sitcoms. Such entertaining, yet innocent humor is what has created the lasting and ageless fan base for classic television.
The aforementioned scene owes much of it’s magic to the amazing talent of Marcia Wallace. This was one of two appearances she would have on “The Brady Bunch”. Her lasting legacy in the television world would come a few years later when she portrayed “Carol Kester” on “The Bob Newhart Show”. Her role as the ultra efficient and man hungry office receptionist played a huge part in what made that show as great as it was. Later recurring television roles would follow, including a role on “Full House” and “The Young and The Restless.” Her other iconic role was voicing the character “Edna Krabapple” on “The Simpsons”. Sadly, Marcia Wallace left us in 2013.
Jan brings her new hairdo home and tries it on in the bathroom. As would happen in any home with so many people, others need entry to the bathroom shortly thereafter. Cindy, with Marcia’s assistance, is seeking hair ribbons left in the privy. Jan refuses entry to Marcia and Cindy, who are immediately suspicious. When Jan attempts to hand the ribbons out the door, Marcia grabs her arm and pulls her out and her new look is revealed.
Neither Marcia or Cindy find Jan’s new look appealing. Readers, what are your thoughts on Jan’s selection of hair? Jan reveals her plans to debut her new look at Lucy Winters’ birthday party. Marcia says the wig looks awful and warns all the partygoers will think Jan looks like a kook. Jan assures her everybody there will be talking about the new Jan Brady. Marcia counters with they will be saying a lot of things. It was another fun and funny scene. The scene is well done in that Marcia’s comments do not come across as insulting or mean, but those of genuine concern.
We return to the subplot and find Bobby and Greg outside playing basketball. Bobby shares that one of the partygoers will be Margie Ripple. She is a girl from school that has a major crush on Peter and he does not return any of her affections. Greg and Bobby decide this bit of information will be kept from their brother.
Back inside, Jan has been called downstairs to try on her party dress. Not wanting to remove her wig or reveal it to the her mom, she hides it under a towel and feigns a hair washing as the reason for the towel on her head. Greg and Bobby come in from outside and are amused at Jan’s towel/turban. Greg suggests she is a swami and asks her to look into the basketball and tell the future. Bobby suggests her powers are under her hat and pulls the towel from her head, revealing her wig. Everybody is taken aback. Bobby and Greg begin hurling insults with Greg suggesting Jan looks like Davy Crockett and Bobby saying it looks as though a skunk is sleeping on her head. While it is a tad mean, it is also a very realistic reaction for kids their age. During all the commotion, Mike enters from his den and Alice ushers the boys outside for some 2 on 1 basketball.
The moral lesson for the episode is played out here. Even Mike is fighting a smirk as he asks Jan where she got the wig. Jan assures him she purchased it with her own money and it will be worn all the time. It is part of her new identity and being noticed as Jan Brady going forward. Mike tells Jan “a person doesn’t make himself different just by different putting on a wig.” Carol adds it’s not the color of a person’s hair that is important, it’s what is inside. Jan throws this back by asking if what Carol shared is true, why would wearing the wig be a problem. Checkmate! Jan has proved a valid point and will be allowed to continue wearing the wig.
Upstairs, Bobby is tickled into revealing that Margie Ripple will be at Lucy Winters’ party. With this news, Peter decides he will fake an illness to get out of attending. He must really loathe Margie Ripple! Mike and Carol are immediately wise to Peter’s scheme and say if he is too sick to party, he’s too sick to play ball the next day. Peter finds himself miraculously cured and must remain so for the duration of the party if he wants to play ball the next day.
In the next scene, Peter and Jan arrive at Lucy Winters’ door where Jan wants to make a big entrance. She hides around the corner and has Peter knock on the door and announce her as the new Jan Brady. For whatever reason, it appears Peter has not tried to discourage Jan’s new look and he is even willing to introduce her. When Lucy answers the door, she immediately summons Margie to the door. Margie throws herself at Peter in a way that would make most any 12-13 year old boy uneasy. After Peter announces Jan and she makes her reveal, things do not go well.
The puzzled and shocked look on each girl’s face was quite funny. Neither find Jan’s new look impressive. Lucy declares, in her great white north accent, the wig to be the best joke Jan’s ever played and it would be great “fer Halloween”. Margie adds that Jan looks funny. Lucy is joined in laughing at Jan by all the other partygoers. Jan is not laughing though and leaves the social event heartbroken.
As we look back on the episode thus far, I could not help but wonder if Jan had chosen another wig, would all this flack have been given. Had she rounded the corner as the midnight temptress instead of a black haired Annie, would all of those kids have made a laughing stock of her?
Lucy Winters was played by Pamelyn Ferdin. She had played the recurring role of “Cookie” on the short lived “Blondie” sitcom prior to this episode of the Brady Bunch. She would later enjoy recurring roles on “The Paul Lynde Show”, “Lassie” and “Space Academy”. I wonder if that northern brogue we heard on this episode continued with her other acting gigs? Pamelyn would leave acting in the 1980s to pursue a nursing career, before returning for voice work in 1999. Today she is a very outspoken animal rights activist who has even been jailed for beliefs.
Back at the Brady House, a television show that is ending has really touched Carol emotionally. She tearfully turns off the TV and asks Mike his thoughts on it. He was unaware the program had ended and was reading a book. Carol playfully chides him as it was him who wanted to watch the program in the first place. I enjoyed this scene as something similar has happened with my wife and I on more than one occasion. Jan enters wigless and hates that she wasted her money on it. She now thinks it made her look like a freak. Mike says the money might not have been wasted as she appears to have learned a valuable lesson. He even states the wig didn’t make her look like a freak, it just made her no longer look like herself. As far as lessons learned on the Brady Bunch, this may be the quickest talking to given by Mike and Carol to any of the kids. Soon, Peter enters with Lucy and Margie who apologize for hurting Jan’s feelings. They tell her how pretty her hair is and ask her to return to the party. Peter tries to stay home at this point and refuses Margie’s invite, but Mike and Carol remind him of the conversation earlier in the episode and he leaves with her.
This would be one of two Brady Bunch appearances for Karen Foulkes who portrayed Margie Ripple. These would be her only two on camera acting roles. A Google search yielded no other information for her other than a Myspace page that may or may not belong to her.
The epilogue has Alice wearing Jan’s wig. While it does look better on her, it is still crazy looking. With some negative feedback from Mike and Carol, Alice determines the wig to be a bad fit and considers shaving it and making it a shower cap. It’s a silly conclusion to a fun episode, so it fits. The scene does end with a freeze frame. While this was common on sitcoms, it was the first time I noticed it on “The Brady Bunch”.
As stated before, “Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” is simply a fun episode with a very light lesson. Nothing in it is really questionable or subject to deeper analysis. I will use this conclusion to share an unanticipated benefit of writing this blog. Oftentimes, certain elements of an episode that warrant further research will take me down internet rabbit holes that find me reading up on people, places or things I’d have never discovered if I had not been doing research for this blog. This week’s search of “lunar dust” as a wig led to the interesting article in the below link.
This was not the first time such a find occurred. I just thought I’d share that. Please join me next week to review “The Drummer Boy”!