Greetings fans, friends and readers. This week we conclude the Bradys’ Grand Canyon adventure with “The Brady Braves”. The episode concludes Bobby and Cindy’s dilemma and allows the Bradys to meet the chief of a nameless tribe that lives at the bottom of the canyon. We are treated to a guest star who remains a classic TV icon. The story is simple and solid enough and a decent conclusion to the three part season opener. Let us being reviewing “The Brady Braves”!
Ominous music plays as the opening credits roll. The establishing shot of the beautiful canyon ends with a zoom in on the canyon bottom. The editors sneakily transition to another aerial shot of the lost Bobby and Cindy. Cindy is blaming Bobby for their peril as he was the one who wanted to chase the Indian boy, Jimmy, they encountered in the last episode. Their trying to follow him saw they could not find their way back to camp. Then we see both search parties of Carol, Greg and Jan and Mike, Peter and Marcia searching for the lost children. Via a voice-over, Mike recaps the events of “Grand Canyon or Bust”. Mike’s narration ends with Bobby and Cindy continuing to wander aimlessly about the canyon. As they walk past the camera, it zooms in on Jimmy observing them from a distance.
As Bobby and Cindy change directions yet again, Jimmy comes down to speak to them. One might notice here that the sun decided not to set after all and now shines brightly overhead! The last episode ended with concerns about the kids being lost as the sun went down. A cute exchange occurs amongst the three youngsters. Bobby greets Jimmy with the most generic Indian greeting of, “How”. Jimmy replies, “How what?” Jimmy assures them he knows the location of their camp, but when Cindy asks if he will help them get back there he gives a flat out, “No”. Bobby continues the generic Indian talk and asks Jimmy if he likes “us palefaces”. Jimmy says to cut that kind of talk out. He explains he has run away from home and fears the kids will give him up if he returned them to their camp. The initial reaction of a viewer might be to ask how he could be so cold as to just leave them to their own devices and possibly their demise and not help them. Jimmy gets a pass as he is just a child and likely well versed in extended time in the outdoors; he may not be aware that Bobby and Cindy are not. Bobby and Cindy dicker with Jimmy and he agrees to show them the way back if they won’t rat him out. Once he points out the way to their camp, Bobby and Cindy agree to bring him some food after everybody retires for the night. Seconds later, the kids reunite with Carol. What follows is another lecture by Mike about staying together.
That night, the Bradys all sing by the lights of their lanterns. They all sing the campfire standards of “Down In The Valley” and “Home On The Range”. Poor Alice is on duty and isn’t there to sing with them. She must man the camp stove. Bobby is seen putting a hotdog in his jacket pocket. There will be no bun for Jimmy, even though we see one sitting on Bobby’s plate. He and Cindy break away from the sing-a-long to under the guise of getting additional helpings of dinner. For a moment they fear the jig is up as Alice says she doesn’t think they are eating the hot dogs, but inhaling them! She then steps away to do the dishes. Bobby deems his flashlight worth sacrificing for Jimmy saving his life. It is in the battery case for the light that he scoops some beans for Jimmy to enjoy later.
With the Brady family and Alice bedded down for the night, Bobby rises and signals to Cindy via a bird noise that it is time to deliver Jimmy’s meal. As they go to see Jimmy, a coyote is heard in the distance. Cindy is scared, but Bobby encourages her to continue on and “Just think of how hungry Jimmy is.” Cindy has a funny reply when she says, “Just think how hungry the coyote is”. Jimmy is found quickly and commences to eating the food he is brought. It is worth noting Bobby does not use any insulting or generic Indian terms in this conversation with Jimmy. The trio then hear noises nearby and all hide behind the rock. The noises turn out to be Greg and Peter in search of the two youngest Bradys. Jimmy is introduced briefly before Greg rushes Bobby and Cindy back to camp. It would appear Greg has little concern for another child wandering the wilderness. However, this is not the case. As he walks back to camp with Bobby and Cindy, he encourages them to tell their parents about Jimmy. Bobby says they were sworn to secrecy after Jimmy saved their life. Greg makes a very valid point that sharing the young Indian’s plight with Mike and Carol might very well save Jimmy’s life. As they walk down the path, they hear another noise nearby. A looming silhouette takes up the left side of the screen as the shot fades out. This was no doubt the location of a commercial break during the original run (and perhaps in syndication).
The looming figure turns out to be Mike. He was out looking for the kids. Bobby and Cindy try to avoid sharing the existence of Jimmy, but Mike finds out. He sits down for a heart to heart talk with the boy. Jimmy isn’t the brightest of boys. When questioned about why he wants to run away from home, he can give no good reason. He complains of how his grandfather only speaks of the old Indian ways. Jimmy is tired of being an Indian and wants to be an astronaut. Mike questions if Jimmy’s grandfather is mean to him. Jimmy says he is not, he loves him very much. Mike than asks how his grandfather feels about his astronaut aspirations. Jimmy doesn’t know as he has not told him. Fortunately, the writers of the episode gave Mike the good sense to realize and point out to Jimmy there is no real problem here. Jimmy ran away because he could not be troubled to share with this grandfather plans he has made ten years down the road. I suppose we can just chalk this up to a dumb kid action. The producers of “The Brady Bunch” sure shorted those under 10 years old on smarts.
Jimmy agrees to return to camp with the Bradys for the night so he can go home the day following. Mike brings Carol out of the tent to see Bobby snuggled up in a sleeping bag with some strange child. He tells Carol she is looking at the first Indian to go to Mars. Oh what high hopes Americans still had for NASA back in 1971. Here we are almost 50 years later with only rover and aerial images of The Red Planet. The next morning, the boys share that Jimmy has split. Mike has limited concern and states he gave Jimmy the best advice he could, but he couldn’t make him take it.
Meanwhile, Alice is about to set out on an errand to fetch water. She tells Carol that if she is not back shortly, to send a forest ranger. Even if she is to be back shortly, she tells Carol to send a forest ranger anyway. Poor Alice. At least we can laugh at her lonely heart! Upon going for water, Alice encounters an adult Indian, Chief Eagle Cloud. She gives a greeting of “Yata-hi”(sp?). Chief Eagle Cloud replies, “Yata-hey” and begins speaking to Alice in his native language. In a chuckle worthy line Alice replies he must have taken the advanced course. Chief Eagle Cloud thinks Alice is Mrs. Brady and she says she is not, she is Alice. He then asks if Mr. Brady has two squaws. Groan. This line made me cringe. For as chapped as Jimmy was at Bobby’s Indian references earlier, having Chief Eagle Cloud ask that question with such a generic Native American term just irritated me. At least he didn’t say, “Mr. Brady have two squaw?” We learn quickly that Chief Eagle Cloud is Jimmy’s grandfather. Jimmy has returned with him so he may meet the Bradys.
The actor playing Chief Eagle Cloud is no stranger to fans of classic television. He will forever be remembered as Tonto on “The Lone Ranger”. However, his acting resume included several other roles. He was also a very good athlete in his younger days. His stage name “Silverheels” came from his days as a competitive boxer. Jay Silverheels final role was in 1974 in another Sherwood Schwartz incarnation titled “Dusty’s Trails”. It was a western version of “Gilligan’s Island” with Bob Denver playing the lead role again. Jay Silverheels post acting years saw him involved with horse racing. He passed away in 1980.
Chief Eagle Cloud meets the Brady family. He offers many thanks for Mike encouraging Jimmy to return home. He smiles at “the foolishness of this child” and shares he has no problem with Jimmy aspiring to be an astronaut. The Chief says, “He thinks because I speak of Buffalo, I do not understand blast off” and if he were a boy of Jimmy’s age, he’d want to “swoosh to the stars” too. Carol says that’s what they call a generation gap. The Chief says the Indians call it the same thing. To show his gratitude, he wants to make the Bradys and Alice members of “his tribe”. There will be a ceremony that night at his village where everybody will have a “groovy time”.
That night, viewers are treated to more Indian dancing, similar to the rain dance performed by the Hopi Indians in the last episode. Chief Eagle Cloud’s tribe remains ambiguous. Jay Silverheels hailed from the First Nations who reside in Canada. I am glad that some tribal name was not conjured up for the episode.
Chief Eagle Cloud talks of his tribe’s history. He shares how they race fast horses. I found this funny as Jay Silverheels was a fan of racing horses. He declares the Bradys will be part of his tribe “from now until forever”. This line rang historic as it was similar to Chief Henry’s “I will fight no more forever”. As part of their induction to”the tribe”, the Bradys and Alice all get an Indian name. Mike’s name is spoken in both the tribal tongue and then in English. The others are not.
Mike is “Big Eagle of Large Nest”
Carol is “Yellow Flower With Many Petals”
Greg is “Stalking Wolf”
Peter is “Middle Buffalo” or “Sleeping Lizard” or “I get back to you”
Bobby is “Little Bear Who Loses Way “
Marcia is “Willow Dancing in Wind”
Jan is “Dove of Morning Light”
Cindy is “Wandering Blossom”
Alice is “Squaw In Waiting”
Alice asks that it be a short wait and we are reminded of her lonely manless existence. The Bradys then join their new fellow tribe members for a dance around the fire.
The next shot is of the Bradys driving out of the campground at the top of the canyon. Greg asks if they may stop for one last look at The Grand Canyon. In a very lazy move, the shot of the family looking over the canyon from the last episode is just reused. They could have at least thrown a jacket on some of the kids between shots or maybe put Marcia’s hair in a ponytail. Alice’s loud pants really give the reused shot away.
As the Bradys bid farewell to The Grand Canyon, Cindy asks the still uncredited lady at the gate if she remembers them, the Brady Family. Bobby corrects her that they are now the Brady Braves. I suppose this counts as an epilogue. We then see the Bradys drive away as they conclude their Grand Canyon adventure.
The Grand Canyon episodes are fun for the most part. I’d love to someday visit that natural wonder. The Bradys’ adventures here were a nice break from the typical suburban woes and drama we had grown accustomed to. Sharing your own thoughts on the episodes or your own Grand Canyon experiences is most welcome. Next week we return to that nameless California burb in “The Wheeler Dealer”. See you then!