Episode 21: The Winner

Hello once again friends, family and readers.  I am glad you are here to review “The Winner” with me!  It originally aired on February 26th, 1971.   It is one of the “woe is me” plotlines and is played for drama.  This episode ranks among my least favorites for the entire series.  There was hardly even a semi-chuckle enjoyed while watching it.  As stated in previous reviews, the episodes where one of the kids feels sorry for himself/herself throughout the entire show was always irritating to me.  A kid feeling down on himself/herself was often the motivation for some humorous plotlines, as evidenced in “Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” and “Our Son, The Man”.  In these episodes, the child’s attempts to remedy his/her woes were fun and still taught the lesson of believing in one’s true self.  Episodes like “The Winner” were borderline depressing as the poor child just couldn’t believe in their own self and moped around for the episode’s duration.  With that, let us begin our review of “The Winner”.

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The story kicks off with Cindy dashing about the Brady home showing off a giant jack.  She has won the giant jack trophy for being the best jacks player on the playground.  The trophy looks very much like a toy/decoration that I recall being fairly common in the 70s and 80s.  The prop master could have at least put some gold spray paint on Cindy’s mopeyaward.  What probably happened was that whoever oversees the playground was cleaning out a child’s room and wanted to get rid of some things.  Hence, the giant jack toy was made a trophy!  The whole family gathers around admires her trophy; the whole family except for Bobby that is.   Cindy’s bringing home this token of accomplishment means that he is the only Brady kid without a trophy.  He mopes upstairs while the rest of the family oohs and aahs over Cindy’s new toy, er trophy.

Upstairs, Bobby places a donkey mask atop his head for unknown reasons.  He languishes in the presence of some nice continuity references in the form of Greg’s plaque noting his presidency of the student body in “Vote For Brady” and Peter’s citizenship award given by the Daily Chronicle in “The Hero”.  He then looks longingly at some sports trophies won by Greg and Peter and finally one large silver award given for reasons unknown.   He then finds his way over to the girls’ room and laments over Jan and Marcia’s trophies.  One appears to be for cheerleading and the other for volleyball.  In the presence of these monuments of achievement Bobby pulls the donkey mask over his face.

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Bobby moves the pity party to his bedroom closet.  It must have been a long one since everybody has changed clothes since the last scene.  After finally having Bobby confess the origin of his miseries, Mike and Carol encourage him to pick something and work to be the best at it.  This will see that he someday has his own trophy to polish.

The scenes that follow reveal that not only is Bobby not good at anything, he is also a very sore loser.  Peter (in his canary shirt) wallops Bobby at checkers.  Bobby flips the board and angrily storms away.  Marcia and Jan are REALLY enjoying a ring toss game that looks to be made for preschoolers.  Bobby interrupts their fun to demonstrate his mad ring tossing skills, only to fall short.  Upon this failure, he violently slings the other rings across the yard.  After losing to Greg in free throws, there’ll be no more basketball at the Brady home as Bobby is owner of the basketball and has restricted further use of it.  These reactions warranted a strong talking to by Mike and Carol, but that isn’t what happens.

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Bobby is a stinker!

 

Greg and Marcia go to talk with their parents about Bobby’s explosive behavior and use the worst of G-rated expletives and call him a “stinker”.  Carol chides both children as they know she doesn’t like use of such a harsh adjective.  They explain Bobby’s plight and Mike’s only action is to hope he wins at something soon, since it weighs on Bobby’s mind so much as of late. By the end of the conversation, Mike and Carol have also called Bobby a you-know-what.

The next scene gives us another Brady dream sequence.  I had completely forgotten about this one.  Bobby scores the winning run as a Dodger, wins a speedboat race piloting a crippled craft and makes a fantastic leap as a skier.  After each amazing feat, he is awarded the same trophy over and over.  The dream ends with Bobby falling out of the bed and shedding a tear at his lack of a trophy.

salesman

It is a new day and Bobby is in the family room watching Kartoon King.  This program seems almost as annoying as this episode!  The Kartoon King makes the stupidest jokes and then laughs at his lame comedic self.  He tells the kids to tune in the next day for a big announcement!  After hearing this, Alice asks Bobby to answer the doorbell because she is busy.  The person at the door is a kid selling magazine subscriptions.  Take a look at the magazine he is holding!  It is an issue of Car Sport; the same magazine we saw in “Call Me Irresponsible”.  Upon learning that Bobby doesn’t want to buy a subscription, the kid starts to walk away.  Bobby chides him for his lack of salesmanship.  Here Bobby learns that the boy is in a contest and third prize is a trophy!  The kid has Bobby buy a magazine so he can get the details for the contest.  Maybe the kid has some salesman mojo after all!

KerryMacLane
Kerry MacLane

 

The credits list the magazine peddling youngster simply as “The Boy”.  He was played by Kerry MacLane.  He had previously appeared on “The Monkees”, “Gunsmoke” and this was one of two “Brady Bunch” appearances.  He would also appear in the feature film “Johnny Got His Gun” and enjoy recurring roles on “The Cowboys” and “Shazam!”   IMDB lists no acting credits for him beyond 1976.

Bobby gets details for the magazine contest in very short order.  That company must really want kids out there selling magazines!  The entire family is on board to help Bobby feel like a winner as they are all buying subscriptions.  It has been a while since we’ve had a “dumb Cindy” line, but we get one here.  She is so motivated to help Bobby that she buys two subscriptions to the same magazine.  Mike and Carol get on board and recruit all their friends to buy subscriptions from Bobby.  Things are going well until Cindy spills the beans that Mike and Carol asked their friends to buy magazines from Bobby.  Bobby storms downstairs and throws his orders slips and book on the floor and lets Mike and Carol know that the victory is theirs’!  Okay, how did Bobby get all the numbers or contacts for Mike and Carol’s friends?  Did he happen to swipe their address books and make the calls/visits?  Any good salesman needs leads and his parents should have told him that is what they were giving him and state they knew he would be calling their friends.   Instead they acknowledge the errors of their ways and take some solace in that “parents can be human too.”

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The next scene has Bobby watching the Kartoon King again.  He is just as annoying as before.  However, he shares his big announcement!  Wait, earlier he said it would be shared the next day, but surely not only a single day has passed since Bobby entered the magazine contest and found himself to be a fraud at peddling them.  We can surmise that maybe the Kartoon King had been sharing this exciting news over the past few broadcasts and just now gave the number out for the kids to call.  The Kartoon King is announcing an ice-cream eating contest!  The prize is a golden scoop trophy and all the ice cream the winner can eat for a whole year.  However, this huge announcement for all the viewers really only benefits 6 children; the first 6 to call the station.  Bobby can take heart that he was a winner of sorts as he was one of the six to get through to the station and get to be in the contest.

cartoonking
Hal Smith as the Kartoon King

 

The Kartoon King was played by the late great Hal Smith.  He previously played the role of the department store Santa Claus in “The Voice of Christmas”.  As an actor he will always hold a place in my TV viewing heart as he portrayed the lovable town drunk Otis Campbell on “The Andy Griffith Show”.  However, this time around, I found his character to be quite annoying!

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Bobby sets out for the TV studio amidst much bravado.   He is confident he will return home holding the golden scoop!  Oh friends, I dislike this episode more by the minute.   Should Bobby be victorious, then alongside awards that honor Greg’s being the student body president, Peter’s lifesaving heroics would sit an ice cream scoop signifying Bobby’s ability to consume dairy.  I am all ready no fan of eating contests.  One day the local newspaper ran a story on hunger in the USA on one page and the next page had a story about a Krystal eating contest.  I can be a tad more forgiving for the eating contest in this episode as it involves children limited to a single serving of ice cream and not adults guzzling as much meat and bread as their gullets can hold.

At the studio, the contest is about to commence when the Kartoon King realizes the kids should not have spoons.  He cracks another joke he finds hilarious by answering Bobby that the kids will eat the ice cream with their mouths since they have no spoons.  Some whipped cream is also added for the kids to consume.  The contest commences and all six kids are scarfing down the chocolate ice cream.  I kept imagining each of the kids getting a brain freeze in sequence as they consumed the ice cream too quickly with the Kartoon King finding this very funny.  “Oooh-hoo-hoo-hooo, looks like we have some cold brains! here”  Instead, we get to see Bobby lose yet again.  There will be no golden scoop adorning the bedroom wall at the Brady house.

swanky

Before we get to the lame conclusion of this episode, I wanted to point out this one extra’s swanky duds.  I kept wondering if he was some sort of station crew member and if that vest was part of the work attire.  I do believe that was just a style for the day though.  A felt vest with its own belt.  Readers, do you recall people wearing this?

blooper

When Bobby, Mike and Carol arrive home from the station, we see one of the best known Brady bloopers.  Bobby left home that day triumphantly sitting in the open air convertible.  They all come back home in the station wagon.   They notice how dark and empty the house looks.  Bobby comments on how they didn’t want to see a loser.  Mike finally tells Bobby the pity party is over with “That’ll do”.

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Inside Bobby is greeted with a surprise party and an altered trophy.  A piece of paper has been wrapped around the base of Greg’s trophy with a commendation for trying hard written on it.  Also prepared for this on-the-fly shindig is a huge container of chocolate ice cream.  Bobby groans at the thought of eating more of it!  I am sure there are many viewers who found this ending heartwarming and sweet.  I am not among those.  I just can’t see how Bobby would be happy to get this.  After feeling as sorry for himself the entire episode, a phony trophy for effort, awarded by his brother’s and sister’s, should have only disheartened him more.  It’s the end we got though.  I have similar feelings about the end of the “The Hero”, but via the comments section found many viewers found the conclusion a very good one.   So readers, your thoughts on this ending are most welcome!

epilogue

The epilogue has Alice adding her own trophy to the Brady mantel.  I thought it was interesting that she went to Westdale High.  This is the same school Greg and Marcia attend in the series.  Alice won this cup for a dance contest that she won accidentally when her gym bloomers’ elastic broke.  She’s also scratched off the year so her age won’t be revealed.

Thank you readers for reviewing “The Winner” with me.  While I don’t care for it, it is a solid episode.  It should be noted this was Robert Reed’s directorial debut for the show.  Perhaps that contributed to its lack of laughs.  With all the on-set tension we’ve heard about over the years, I am surprised the Schwartz family allowed him to direct an episode.  Next week we will review “Double Parked”.  See you then!

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Author: bradybunchreviewed

I am a lifelong fan of the Brady Bunch. I love it for it's wholesomeness, it's absurdity and how it serves as a time capsule for a time that really never existed, but so many of us wish it did. The show was off the air by the time I was born, but I enjoyed it daily at 4:35 PM for years on Atlanta's Superstation 17, TBS. Through the years I've enjoyed the Brady Bunch spinoffs (however short lived), revivals in pop culture, books, reunions, movies and spoofs. Now, I am excited to be revisiting the show after nearly a decade's hiatus from viewing. I am a parent now, so there may be some new perspectives never before experienced. I hope my fellow fans, lovers and haters alike of the Brady Bunch will join me on this blogging adventure and share your own thoughts and observations.

24 thoughts on “Episode 21: The Winner”

  1. I don’t recall ever seeing Bobby’s dream sequence for this episode before. It’s probably been cut out of most syndicated reruns. I’ll have to watch this one on DVD or Me-TV soon, if I can stand it. (It isn’t a favorite of mine either.)
    If Jan had this trophy for cheerleading, where was it 9 months later when Jan was complaining about all of Marcia’s recognition at school? It also followed later that Marcia couldn’t make it as a cheerleader herself, so this is another area where Jan excelled more than Marcia, in addition to working at ice cream parlors. 🙂 (I know I’m going ahead here, but I couldn’t resist!)
    Bobby’s acceptance of the trophy at the end is out of line with the rest of his behavior here, so I imagine his attitude changed in a hurry just to bring this show to a close.
    BTW, none other than LIFE WITH LUCY (Lucille Ball’s last sitcom) ripped off this plot for an episode, and I don’t think it did any better with the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If the dream sequence was ever cut, it may have been an attempt to improve the episode. But I’ve never seen this episode without it. My problem is with being able to see Bobby in his own dream. It would have been better to see people reacting to Bobby receiving his hard-won award(s) from his perspective, even more to see the trophy girls apply lipstick to his face after he won the speedboat race!

    The dream must have been informed by Bobby’s limited knowledge. I don’t recall the Dodgers’ home uniforms ever looking like that; maybe when they were still in Brooklyn. Or restricted by the available sports footage. That baseball clip was pretty subdued for a series-ending walk-off. It was actually a clip of Jim Lefebvre hitting a home run off Dave McNally in the second inning of Game 1 of the 1966 World Series. The Dodgers scored only one more run in the next inning, and no more after that, as the Baltimore Orioles swept the series over the defending champions.

    Compare it to this clip of how the World Series ended six years earlier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65Og0gUKfvc

    The preceding was brought to you by Anthrocon, now through Sunday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh. Anthrocon.org

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that bit of sports trivia! Did you notice the helmet Bobby has on with the uniform appears to be the plastic souvenir kind? Thanks for the YouTube clip! On the rare occasion I get to watch baseball, I root for the Pirates.

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      1. No kidding! I remember having that kind of helmet as a kid (I was a big Mets fan at the time) and not knowing that actual game-worn helmets were made of much stronger material. Bobby’s helmet pairs well with the cheap uniform, but it wouldn’t be an issue if just saw him looking at all the cameras and microphones trained on him, not to mention his teammates drenching him in Champagne and whatnot.

        I couldn’t mention Bill Mazeroski without also mentioning Anthrocon. The theme for this year’s edition is “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Re: Sports uniforms… I think the BB always used cheap knock offs instead of actual models of professional teams’ uniforms. Could have been a licensing issue, or could have been a budget issue as even back then, actual major league style jerseys and uniforms would have been expensive for the time, and probably looked at as being not worth the cost.

    Re: Greg’s sports trophies… Greg actually didn’t have much luck in sports… he got his butt kicked as a pitcher (Don Drysdale episode), Warren Mulaney (sp?) beat him out for first string on the basketball team, and he got hurt playing in a football scrimmage and was relegated to being the team’s official photographer. Maybe he got a participation trophy!

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  4. The ice cream eating contest has to be one of the most cringeworthy moments of the series for me. Little thing about it got on my nerves, such as Carol avoiding being caught on camera. Kartoon King lost the chance to make a bad joke at the expense of the girl who forgot to take off her glasses; another contestant left something on the table before the start. The boy who won the contest was the worst; raising his hand made him look like a gymnast completing a routine. I would have appreciated a few words from the winner; notice that Bobby was the only contestant to say something on air.

    The man in the vest looks too formal to be a station stagehand. I’ve always believed this was actually Greg Morris from “Mission: Impossible” in an uncredited cameo, taking a break from his own show to watch these fools.

    As I said in “The Hero”, the Bradys can party at the drop of a hat. It looks like they picked those hats up off the floor. This must be the first participation trophy to come with so much hoopla. It would be embarrassing to be honored in this manner for falling short, but Bobby must have been so broken at this point, he’d settle for anything. Recall that Peter said the “s-word” after his party, but suffered no repercussions, perhaps because he turned the comment on himself.

    Alice also gave the steel wool treatment to her yearbook, but I think this was on the variety show. Why in the world would you do something like that?!

    Happy 4th of July to you and your readers who are celebrating today. Take it easy with the drinking and driving, and the hot dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m with you 100% on the contest observations! I never watched Mission Impossible. It would be neat to find out that was the same actor.

      The Bradys must’ve kept a party go-bag just so they could have a pop up celebration when needed!

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    2. I don’t know that the ice cream-eating contest was necessarily a bad thing.

      Remember, this episode was produced in the winter of 1971, when many local stations still had afternoon kids’ programs, such as the fictional “Kartoon King” show seen here. For those who don’t know, think Howdy Doody, Bozo the Clown or the fictional Krusty the Klown (from “The Simpsons”) and were similar in many respects:

      * These shows aired usually on weekday afternoons (after school).

      * The host — often named in the show’s title — assumed a given persona. Here, Kartoon King was the “nobility” type, but we also got clowns (Bozo and Krusty), cowboys/cowgirls, a beloved family member (grandpa, uncle, etc.), etc.

      * There was a studio audience, typically of children. Boy and Girl Scout troops and other local youth/school organizations were very common.

      * The host showed syndicated material, including cartoons (often older, pre-1960 shorts from a wide variety of studios, including Warner Bros. (yep, Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes), Paramount, TerryToons and — if they went newer — Yogi Bear-era Hanna-Barbera shorts) and old westerns.

      * As applies to this episode, there were often goofy, silly contests where children were invited to register and participate for a prize.

      So goofy as this ice cream-eating contest was, it was typical of what many local shows did. The idea was for the kids to have fun, and if they win, great. If not — well, nothing lost (except for a nominal prize, such as the “golden scoop” that probably wasn’t worth more than $10 and made at the local trophy shop).

      Remember, this episode aired in 1971, not 2019, so we have to think back to when this episode was contemporary and believable, and audiences of that time could identify with kids entering a silly contest such as this … to have fun.

      (Of course, to that point, we’d have the issue of Bobby entering the contest just to win something … rather than having fun, and the point where trying to win when you hit a long losing streak no longer becomes fun but an obsession … but that’s another topic.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That guy off state definitely looked like Greg Morris. (btw, I believe Greg is the father of actor Robert Morris, who played Attorney Jackie Chiles on “Seinfeld”)

    One thing i forgot to mention about this episode is that it contains a recurring plot device that I’ve always thought was a little bit annoying…that is, that Greg and Marcia always go to Mike and Carol “representing” all of the kids… it’s like Mike and Carol are a King and Queen and will only speak to a two person delegation representing the peasants.

    I guess it makes a scene easier to write while still getting the point across, but Greg and Marcia being the “spokespersons” for all the kids was a tad annoying to me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Even in my relatively small family, my older brother had increased responsibility and authority. However, he is five years older than me. With Greg, he was practically the same age as Marcia and didn’t have many years on Jan and Peter, yet acted like another adult in the house.

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    1. Phil Morris is the son of Greg who played Jackie Chiles on SEINFELD. He also took over his dad’s part, more or less, on the 1988-89 version of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If Bobby tried to pass of Greg’s old trophy as his to his friends, if they saw the handwritten message, surely they would be quick to say that it was given to him out of somebody feeling sorry for him, that he did not really win it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I happened to notice that when Catol Mike, and Bobby got home from the contest, and three different people turned on three different light at different times, the room was totally dark each time a light came on, like there were no lights on at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Agree fully with your assessments here. Just watched this episode again and .. wow. They took the trophy that Bobby stares at every night with Greg’s name on it and wrap some construction paper around it and sign all of the names and say. .here you go.. a trophy.. yay.. and stuff? Of course I would appreciate the attempt to make me feel better and all but that’s not exactly ‘winning’ a trophy. I would be like “Thanks but I still want to win a trophy on my own. But I do appreciate it guys.” And as an even worse insult they have chocolate ice cream for the party even though they knew he just had to eat it, lost while eating it and he doesn’t even like chocolate ice cream that much (as he made very clear with his “Yeck” comment). Gee thanks guys. Anything else you want to do to try to make me feel better?

    I think the resolution to the episode is the weak part here. Everything else was fun. The magazine contest (surprised Robert Reed let him get away with opening the door without asking who is it after he taught him that in the Babysitter episode), his trying to win at every game against his siblings, the really corny and overly silly Kartoon King that we had to keep dealing with.. it was a fun episode for what it was. Even their leaving in their convertible and coming back in the Station Wagon was just a “What the…?” type of moment.

    And I’m sorry I couldn’t stop laughing when Carol said “I don’t like you using THAT word!” when they said “Stinker!” LOL Stinker? Wow this is considered a bad word to the Brady’s? I wonder if that was Robert Reed’s idea or he had to go with it. But it was so cringy when she said that with such a straight face. They were in trouble for calling Bobby a stinker. Wow. That’s one of those classic Brady moments I guess.

    Fun episode but bad resolution to the problem would be my real complaint here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bobby’s “foul” language reminds me of a Dick Van Dyke Show episode from a decade before in which Rob and Laura are concerned about the words Ritchie has been using. When we finally get to hear one, it is “jerky!” Oh, how scandalous!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is an episode of The Donna Reed Show where Jeff referred to a classmate by his nickname “Killer” and was chided for it. An episode of Dennis The Menace saw Margaret telling on Dennis for saying devil. Crazy to think about how times have changed.

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  9. Perhaps, in this age of “participation trophies” and so forth for youngsters who can’t accept the concept of not winning — not necessarily “losing,” but not winning — this would be a good counter argument. Here, Bobby is determined to win at something at all costs, and wants to do it with his own sweat, blood and tears rather than being helped in some way. That’s what we see with the magazine subscription part of the plot … Bobby wanted to win it on his own, without help (which is fine, but … ). Yet, we do see the good in participation ribbons and so forth … that it can serve as an encouragement to “keep trying” and good things will happen. (Although it was perhaps to also say, “You don’t have to be a winner for us to accept you. You’re just as special as you are.”)

    Remember, by the time “The Bradys” rolled around, Bobby had plenty of successes and first-place trophies in his cache. It can be presumed that, given his background in business administration (what he went to college for, before he temporarily quit to go into auto racing, where — it can be presumed — he had won several races) he won many awards and honors. He also was apparently a good baseball player, as in “The Brady Girls Get Married,” he was playing on a college team that had advanced in a post-season tournament.

    So at some point, the pity party did stop, Bobby’s self-conscious attitude cooled and — once he focused and learned how to win — he started to become a success.

    Perhaps that’s what this episode is about, too: Learning how to win … and that might mean accepting many setbacks and, when things go wrong bing-bang-boom (the checkers, ring toss and basketball scenes in the first act) all you need to do is take a deep breath, maybe take a day or two off to relax and then try again.

    Liked by 1 person

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