Episode 24: Tell It Like It Is

Greetings once again.  Today we conclude Season 2 with our review of “Tell It Like It Is”.  This episode was one I remember considering dull as a kid, but I was pleasantly surprised upon viewing it again to find it humorous and overall a decent story.  It seemed that by the end of season 2, “The Brady Brunch” was trending to be more of a dramedy than a sitcom.  The latter stories had gone more in the direction of activism, angst and personal conflict without zany resolutions.  As we all know, the silliness and absurdity would soon return and the reputation for the show we know and love would remain intact.  With “Tell It Like It Is”, we enjoy another dose of a more serious episode.  Let us begin our review!

open

The story opens with Mike sleeping alone.  He tosses and turns a bit and reaches over to embrace his wife, only to find her not there.   With the effort extolled to reach for Carol, writingthat poor woman must not get many good nights’ sleep.  Had she been laying there, Mike would have pushed her out of bed with that level of cuddling.  Upon finding Carol missing, he rises to search for her.  After checking the children’s bedrooms, he moves the search downstairs.  He finds Carol in his den, curled up in a chair writing on a notepad.  He tells her he has searched every part of the house except the doghouse looking for her.  One must wonder why Robert Reed allowed this line to fly, because Mike had only checked two rooms before finding Carol in his den.  The time is established as 1:45 am.  Carol is surprisingly secretive about what she is writing about at this hour.  Even after deciding to come to bed, she tells Mike, “Even in my sleep, I won’t talk.”

kitchen

The next morning, Mike visits with Alice who is surprised to see him up “so early”.  He says he never really got back to sleep after finding Carol up at such an odd hour.  Alice girlsshares she had a similar experience finding Carol awake and writing the night before.   The idea that Carol is keeping a diary is dismissed by Mike and the mystery deepens.  The girls then enter the kitchen and add yet another element to Carol’s mysterious behavior.   She is up all ready as well and preparing for an early lunch appointment.  The girls entering the scene dressed and ready for school makes Alice’s comment about Mike being up “so early” strange.  Do Mike and Carol typically stay in bed until after the kids are off to school?

dryer

Upstairs, Mike finds Carol under a beauty shop style hair dryer.  Do ladies still use these in their homes?  A classic sitcom gag follows where one person is speaking to the other, who cannot clearly hear what is being said, but responds to what he/she thinks the other said.   In a continuity nod, Mike asks if Carol will be lunching with Ellie.  Carol declares her lunch date for the day as part of her ongoing secret.    She also states she is in an awful hurry and can’t chat with Mike.  This being stated as she sits idly under a hair dryer filing her nails only arouses Mike’s suspicion even more.   She either mishears or ignores his complaint about being eaten up with curiosity and bids him goodbye.

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The establishing shot that follows presents some unnamed restaurant, unless the restaurant’s name is Patio Dining.

busted

Inside Patio Dining, Carol is lunching with Mr. Delafield.  He orders eggs benedict and iced tea for them both.  He tells her that one’s writing talent can’t be known until it is put down on paper.  In a very convenient turn of events, Mike is at the same restaurant having lunch with a client.  He joins Carol and Mr. Delafield.  Mr. Delafield introduces himself as the editor of Tomorrow’s Woman magazine.  The editor commends Carol for deciding to write an article about her family for the magazine.  He speaks as though Mike all ready knows all about Carol’s writing ambitions.  In retrospect, one must wonder why Mike would not know.  Why would Carol be so adamant that writing such a piece be kept from her family?  Readers, can any of you see why Mike would object to Carol doing such?

simmons
Richard Simmons as Mr. Delafield

 

Mr. Delafield was played by Richard Simmons.  No, not THAT Richard Simmons!  This actor, who was sometimes credited as Dick Simmons, had a long career in Hollywood.  He was the star of a show titled “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” from 1955 to 1958.  His final acting role per IMDB was in the 1977 TV movie “Don’t Push, I’ll Charge When I’m Ready”.   However, the IMDB trivia for the title notes this was filmed in 1969 but not aired until 1977.  This would make the 1971 film “The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler” his last acting gig.  He died in 2003.

Back at the Brady house, the rest of the family could not be happier or more supportive that Carol is writing an article for Tomorrow’s Woman magazine.  Marcia, Jan and Cindy all comment what a great magazine it is and how they are regular readers.  The boys are excited too.  Peter states it is great to be written about in a famous magazine, even if it is a woman’s magazine and not Popular Mechanics.  Kudos to the writing staff for having him compare the fictitious Tomorrow’s Woman with the real Popular Mechanics.   Mike shows his support by setting up Carol with her own desk to write at in his den.

trash

A laugh out loud moment occurred in the scene that follows.  Carol is really struggling to get her thoughts typed out and the discarded papers are piling up.  The boys are tasked with emptying the wastebasket and seize the opportunity to read the article.  Carol shoos the boys on and Mike enters.  He isn’t allowed a peek at the article either.  Carol delivers another funny line when asked about her progress, she says she is doing great for a paper drive.

The next scenes show the children practicing being famous.  The scene with the girls was the one that always first came to mind when this episode was mentioned.  All three pretend to be high society women with the stuffy accents to go with the role.  There is a cute moment with Cindy when she fakes being aghast at the article referencing her as Cindy instead of her true name, Cynthia.  Greg is dressing the part that fame will bring.  As he puts on a tie, he explains that when somebody is famous, he can’t look like a slob.  After donning his tie, Peter says he looks like a slob with a tie on.  Both scenes here with the kids were funny and well done.

Back in the den, Alice is asking if she is a part of the article.  Carol assures her she is and that the article is now finished.  Carol sends it off and is told to expect follow up within a week’s time.  A weeks passes and she is a nervous wreck.  Finally, the reply comes via a special delivery.  Carol’s article has been declined.  She is quite disheartened by this.  Mike’s reply is some of that Brady corniness that has endeared the show to the hearts of many.  He tells her she was only rejected by Tomorrow’s Woman magazine and not by “tonight’s husband.”

meeting2

The next scene returns us to Patio Dining.  Mike is having lunch with Mr. Delafield seeking additional feedback on Carol’s rejection.  Mr. Delafield says the article “tells it like it is” and that’s not the angle Tomorrow’s Woman is seeking.  Mike says one can’t mix a second marriage, six kids, a housekeeper and a dog and expect Romeo and Juliet.  I question how this line got past Robert Reed.  Romeo and Juliet was one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, not a delightful love story.  With the dramatic nature of the past few episodes, maybe Robert Reed had let up on his critiques as he found the show going in more in the direction he appreciated.  His reference to a second marriage is the first in a long while that mentions the family being blended.

Mr. Delafield explains that his magazine likes to accentuate the positive in today’s dark and grim world.  Mike asks if Carol might write another draft of the article doing just that.  Mr. Delafield says he will be happy to read another submission.  A title like Tomorrow’s Woman suggests to me this is a publication seeking to cater to females in the progressive era of the early 70s.  Do any of you find it strange that it is Mike going to bat for Carol seeking a second chance for her?  One’s husband doing such doesn’t seem in step with “tomorrow’s woman”.  Granted, he is doing this without Carol’s knowledge, but him doing so just seems out of place.

typewriter

Carol is not happy that Mike took action on her behalf.  She claims she is never going near that typewriter again.  In an often used, but still funny, gag the scene immediately transitions to Carol sitting at the typewriter.   There is a continuity goof as the shirt we see in the close up shot of Carol typing that introduces the scene does not match what she is wearing when the wider shot is shown.

With her new draft complete, she seeks the feedback of Mike, Alice, Greg and Marcia.  Another funny moment occurs as the camera gives a close up of each person and their less than enthusiastic reaction.  Alice says she had something else on her mind while reading it.  Greg says the typing was great, but the subject matter is not what he typically enjoys reading.  Marcia says it was too sweet and goody-goody, but that Carol did a good job.  Mike says a husband can’t testify against his wife.

goodnews

Despite any misgivings by her family, Mr. Delafield is very pleased with Carol’s new draft and says it will be published.  He shares the news via a phone call where Alice hovers over Carol awaiting the news.  With the acceptance of the article, he asks if he and his staff might come to the house for a tea party.  Carol shares with Alice the good news and in all the excitement mixes up the time Mr. Delafield will be coming over with his staff for tea.

wrongtime

Carol’s mix up brings the episode to a humorous conclusion.  With the Tomorrow’s Woman entourage arriving an hour before expected, Carol is ill prepared to receive them.   Mr. Delafield has brought with him a photographer, two other staff members and two syndicated writers: Wally Witherspoon and Nora Maynard.

As the party guests enter, in typical sitcom fashion, things just fall apart.  Nora Maynard looks down her nose at the half-dressed Carol asking, “So this is Mrs. Brady?”  It is then that Marcia and Jan enter the living room in a loud verbal argument with a hiccuping Cindy in tow.  Nora makes a snooty inquiry as to if these are the “lovable little moppets” Carol wrote about.  The boys enter with Bobby having torn his good pants, Peter with a black eye and Greg with poison oak!  Peter’s black eye is courtesy of Buddy Hinton.  It’s a nice call back to “A Fistful of Reasons”.  I guess Buddy got a rematch and another good lick on Peter!

photographer

During this whole crazy ordeal, the photographer from Tomorrow’s Woman keeps snapping pictures.  Mr. Delafield notes he is one of the magazine’s best photographers.  If that is the case, why does this guy keep snapping pictures of a scantily clad Carol?  After yet another unflattering shot, he gives her a skeevy grin.  I can’t help but think these photos were going into the guy’s private collection and not the magazine.  Mr. Delafield never puts a stop to the guy taking unflattering photos either.  Surely he would not want them in his magazine!

dropped

The craziness continues as Alice and Mike collide and spill the tea sandwiches on the floor.  A flustered Carol then introduces Wally Witherspoon as Wally Silverspoon.  This made me laugh out loud.  The uppity Nora Maynard says the family she sees before her is not the one Carol wrote about in her article.  Surely this high society lady knew that Carol’s article accentuated the positive as requested by Mr. Delafield and the Bradys were in fact a real family that existed in the real (sitcom) world!  Wally Witherspoon tells Carol her writing needs to “tell it like it is”.  With that, both of them go into the kitchen.  Mr. Delafield lets Carol know he will be publishing her original draft in his magazine.  Apparently he too was unaware how real families operated and will now change the tone of his publication to include more realistic stories.  Carol’s writing career has ended as she tells Mike she can’t wait to break that typewriter!

Eswann
Elaine Swann as Nora Maynard

The snooty Nora Maynard was portrayed by Elaine Swann.  She has one of the most stretched out acting careers I’ve seen to date.  She appeared in “Car 54 Where Are You?” in 1963,  this Brady Bunch episode in 1971 and would appear on a CBS Afternoon Playhouse installment ten years later.  That was her final on camera appearance per IMDB.  No date of death could be found for her.  While looking over her IMDB page, I was surprised to find an official website link for her.  Upon visiting the page however, it will quickly be discovered the link is not for this Elaine Swann, but some other lady.

ww

Wally Witherspoon was played by Jonathan Hole.  He was seen previously on the episode titled “The Possible Dream”.  He portrayed a bookstore clerk.

epilogue

The epilogue has Alice trying her hand at writing.  Carol has taken over preparing dinner so that Alice may work on her own literary contribution.  Carol asks Alice for an autograph and Alice signs it as Ernest Hemingway.  When questioned about this, Alice says she wants to start at the top.  It was a weak conclusion to an otherwise solid episode.

In conclusion, “Tell It Like It Is” is a much funnier episode than I remember it being as a kid. It is the second in a row that does not focus on the Brady kids, but it was able to pull off a nice mix of humor and drama. The challenges to creditibility are forgiveable as they are those typical of the sitcom writing format of the day. The level of crazy that wrapped up the story didn’t see a model plane smacking the snooty lady in the head or the magazine staff and guests covered in volcano mud; it was a humorous, yet believable conclusion. Next week, we will begin our journey into season 3. Oh friends, with “Ghost Town, U.S.A” we begin our slide down that slippery slope of absurd and outlandish stories that would make “The Brady Bunch” so memorable. Poor Robert Reed probably ended season 2 in a decent mood with the way the final episodes of the season had been written and resumed hating life when shooting commenced for the third season. Season three is going to be a blast! See you next week!

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.

20 thoughts on “Episode 24: Tell It Like It Is”

  1. 1. When Mike walks down the stairs looking for Carol, surely he would immediately see the den door open with the light on. Also, surely Carol hears his calls of “Carol” in the still of the night.
    2. “Romeo and Juliet” could be interpreted as ‘a gripping and riveting tale which one can’t put down’ rather than a love tragedy.
    3. I don’t believe that Carol’s outfit change constitutes a continuity error. I believe it shows that she spent a good day or two retyping her story. The REAL continuity goof is when she is wiping the soot from Alice’s uniform. (Although Alice deserved it for being such a ‘Kibitzer’ while Carol was on the phone).
    4. Mr Delafield was sooo Larry Tate when he said “I never listen to what I say, I listen to what they say.”
    5. Alice is a real speed-typist! I wonder if Mrs Brady was standing there thinking “Damn, if I’d have know that, I woulda just dictated to her!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol does not know how to keep a secret. The more she refuses to reveal her writing project to Mike, the more she calls attention to it. As we will see later in the series, this trait passes on to Greg, when he becomes involved in his own big writing project.

    The photographer in Mr. Delafield’s party must be trying to make Carol into her own chapter in his long-term study, “The Frump Book”. Philippe Halsman was a photographer whose work graced many covers of Life magazine. In the course of his career, he would get many of his famous subjects to jump for him. These shots were the basis of “Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book”.

    I am dismayed by the way the episode ended, the way Carol’s positive spin on her family was undone by all the flareups that occurred when Mr. Delafield and company came to call. And the decision to go with the original article goes against what Mr. Delafield wanted for his own publication. It made me think that all publications strive to “tell it like it is”, and most of what “it is” turns out to be very depressing. Knowing that most so-called “Cinderella stories” don’t have the happy ending made me stop looking for Cinderellas in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a pretty good episode to end the second season on a very strong, emotionally humorous and suddenly very solid final note. A few things I should point out:
    1. I find Jan making fun of Bobby rather childish and out-of-character for her, especially with the “Bobby torn his good pants” remark. At least this time it wasn’t that mean-spirited unlike in “Every Boy Does It Once” and “The Drummer Boy”. Then again, I do find Bobby (and Greg) making fun of Jan’s wig in “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” to be quite hysterically humorous.
    2. Looks like Peter lost the victor to Buddy Hinton in this episode. I was hoping that Buddy would be reformed and be a changed man after the events of “A Fistful of Reasons”, maybe even apologizing to Peter and reveal why he felt this way later on in the show, but nope, he went back to his bullying ways and give Peter a sock in the eye (a la The Honeymooners’ “One of these days, Alice, one of these days…POW! Right in the kisser” reference). Sorry, Peter, better luck getting the victor from Buddy again in Season 3.
    3. I read on TV Tropes that this episode was a rather odd one episode to end the second season on, as several giveaways show that it was filmed early during the season (i.e., no later than August or September 1970) and was likely intended for airing sometime in the mid-to-late fall 1970, but this episode ended up airing in the spring of 1971 as the season finale. One clear sign is Greg’s voice not having hit its adult pitch, where it had in several late-Season 2 episodes. Then again, episodes during a particular season do tend to air out of order as opposed to the filming order:
    3.A. “Going, Going, Steady” (first episode filmed for the second season)
    3.B. “The Dropout” (this one and “The Babysitters” aired first but also in the way they were filmed)
    3.C. “The Babysitters”
    3.D. “The Treasure of Sierra Avenue”
    3.E. “The Un-Underground Movie” (this episode was filmed before “The Slumber Caper”, but “The Slumber Caper” aired first before this episode)
    3.F. “The Slumber Caper” (filmed after “The Un-Underground Movie”, but aired before that episode)
    3.G. “Confessions, Confessions” (last episode aired in 1970, but not the last one filmed in 1970)
    3.H. “The Tattletale” (first filmed episode without one Brady kid in it, i.e. Peter)
    3.I. “Call Me Irresponsible” (second filmed episode without one Brady kid in it, no Cindy)
    3.J. “The Impractical Joker” (first episode aired in 1971, although could have been a week after “The Not-So-Ugly Duckling” in 1970)
    3.K. “A Fistful of Reasons” (third filmed episode without one Brady kid in it, no sign of Jan)
    3.L. “What Goes Up…” (fourth episode without one Brady kid in it, sorry Marcia)
    3.M. “Coming-Out Party” (fifth and final episode without one Brady kid in it, case in point Bobby)
    3.N. “The Not-So-Ugly-Duckling” (last filmed episode to aired in 1970)
    3.O. “Tell It Like It Is” (last episode during the second season to be aired, but not quite the last one during the season to be filmed)
    3.P. “The Drummer Boy” (both the sixteenth episode of the season to be aired and filmed, aired after “When There’s Smoke” and “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?”, but filmed before those two episodes)
    3.Q. “When There’s Smoke” (this episode and “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” were the last two filmed episodes during the season to be aired out of order, aired before “The Drummer Boy”, but filmed after “The Drummer Boy”.)
    3.R. “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” (last filmed episode during the second season to be aired out of order as the rest of the next six episodes during the second season were aired in the way they were filmed.)
    3.S. “Our Son, the Man” (from this point on during the rest of the season, the next six episodes were aired in the order they were filmed.)
    3.T. “The Liberation of Marcia Brady”
    3.U. “Lights Out”
    3.V. “The Winner”
    3.W. “Double Parked”
    3.X. “Alice’s September Song” (last episode filmed for the second season and second-to-last episode aired during the season.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Anytime. Assuming for the second thing I pointed out maybe Buddy was making fun of Cindy’s hiccups instead of her lisp and Peter intervenes and well, I’m sure you get the general idea of what happened with Peter’s black eye. Maybe even quite an reenactment of “A Fistful of Reasons”, only this time Jan is in it. And as for that loud verbal argument that Marcia and Jan were fighting about, I had no idea what they were arguing about (Marcia chopping Jan’s school frame just because she is older than her?), I don’t know why exactly Jan accuses Marcia of chopping her school frame and I don’t think I want to know why exactly or what they were arguing about.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Or maybe I’d never heard the word “goons” as in Marcia’s “You called those goons friends?” remark until I re-watched a clip from this episode.

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    2. I just want to say that Peter’s “like a slob with a tie on” comment may be the single most laugh-out-loud line of the entire series for me. A gem in an otherwise unmemorable episode.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait a minute, I think what they were arguing about was something with Marcia insulting one of Jan’s school friends. Then again, I have no idea what they’re arguing about.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been reading your page a lot the last couple of weeks. Trying to get through each episode. You do a great job. I do think that season 2 was, for lack of a better term, the “worst” of all the seasons. Some episodes were cute and mildly entertaining but, the third season truly saved the show IMO. And seasons 4 and 5 were great too.

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      1. This episode applies a great deal of “Murphy’s Law.” That whatever will go wrong does go wrong. It mixes elements of a more serious tone, i.e Carol writing a story, with some elements of comedy, and I think some Robert Reed influence. Notice that we have a one-time only director for this episode, Terry Becker.

        This episode isn’t one of my favorites, but it is not that bad either. I think that Mike’s comment to Mr. Delefield at the restaurant was a Robert Reed compromised line, “You can’t mix a second marriage, six children, a husband, a housekeeper, and a dog, and come up with Romeo and Juliet.” Even the episode title “Tell it Like it is” sounds like one of Robert Reed’s insistent demands.

        The comic element of Carol and Alice mixing up the time 3:00 versus the 4:00 is unbelievable for my taste, and maybe was for Robert Reed as well. However, I could possibly see the time mix up being a problem with their excitement about Mr. Delefield interest in publishing the article.

        The conclusion for me is too comical, reminiscent of slapstick humor. I can accept Peter getting into another fight with Buddy Hinton, which was a nice continuity reference in explaining his black eye. But Cindy’s hiccups, Jan and Marcia fighting, Greg’s “Poison Oak?” How did all of this come about at the same time?

        Worse, we have Mike coming in and crashing into Alice’s sandwich platter, dropping the flowers. We have gone right back to the slapstick chase scene with Tiger and Fluffy in the “Honeymoon.” That kills the episode for me. Poor script writing on the conclusion. It seems that the writers needed a comic conclusion for this episode. Or could a more realistic conclusion be written here? Nora Maynard’s line, likely another Robert Reed influence, “The truth isn’t always stranger than fiction, but far more interesting to the average reader.” is a good line. This episode needed a less comical conclusion, which would have made it more enjoyable, and more believable.

        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to mention Bobby tearing his good pants after jumping over a fence. To reiterate Jack’s question, “How did all of this come about at the same time?”.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. For some reason, I never saw this episode when I was a kid. I saw it as a young adult and was astonished that there was a Brady episode I had never seen.

    I have to laugh that the girls think they’re going to be famous just because of a magazine article. And that being famous means you have to speak with a British accent.

    One other comment: I would have socked Nora Maynard in the nose if she had come into my house and started using that snotty, condescending tone with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mike, you asked why Carol would be so secretive….. She probably just didn’t want to be bugged or maybe they wouldn’t like it and give a sour face about it. Other than that, i got nothing. lol

    In the past I have written fan fiction, since I’ve been watching the DVD I bought I have had a few little story plots in my head but just don’t feel like writing even though I feel like I should give it a try. I remember when I did write fan fiction when CSI: NY was on, it was fun I even took a notebook to work and started writing and when co workers or managers would ask and I would tell them, for some reason it bugged me that I’d get a strange reaction like a sour face. I do play some games on FB and really, I could give it a try as sometimes the game gets boring.

    Liked by 1 person

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