Greetings once again family, friends and readers! Thank you for joining me to review “The Personality Kid”. It ranks among the most memorable episodes of “The Brady Bunch”. It gave us that immortal Brady line, “Pork chops and apple shaush.” The story of a Brady kid finding some level of fault within themselves was nothing new by season 3. As previously shared, the “woe is me” Brady plots are my least favorite. However, like we saw in “Will The Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?”, in this episode the Brady kid’s effort at rectifying the self perceived fault makes for an entertaining story. Therefore, this “woe is me” episode ranks among my favorite in the series. So let us begin reviewing “The Personality Kid”!
The episode opens with the slow ominous Brady background music. Peter, clad in his finest duds, is walking across the patio after dark. Before he enters the house, he stops. Inside, the episode’s subplot is being introduced right away. Bobby and Cindy have a school assignment to see that their home is safe as possible. In the kitchen, the danger created when multiple appliances plugged into a single outlet is being discussed. The array of cords going here and there is identified by the kids as an “octopus”. Alice enters the kitchen and Carol shares how the room is now safer since they have gotten rid of the octopus. Alice is understandably confused by Carol’s remark. A funny wrap to this scene would have been Alice shrugging and then noticing the appliances unplugged and rendering the kitchen dangerous again.
As they leave the kitchen, Mike and Carol notice Peter is home early from a party he was attending. When questioned why, he gives the vague reply of “something happened”. This “something” was an event so grave he doesn’t want to talk about it. After going upstairs, Peter is convinced to share the events of the evening. It turns out he was practically invisible at the party and nobody sought to socialize with him. Another kid at the party diagnosed Peter’s social pariah status as the result of having no personality. Mike and Carol try to convince Peter he has a good personality, but he replies they are only saying that because parents have to “say junk like that”. Mike and Carol tell Peter the words that cut him like a knife tonight will not seem so bad tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. After they leave, Peter looks in the mirror and says, “Boy are you dull.” It never occurred to me until this episode, the Brady kids, and sometimes Alice, looked into mirrors and talked to themselves quite often. Here is a quick snapshot of some past occurrences and our most recent.
The next day, the electric outlets are getting an upgrade. As part of the safety initiative, Cindy and Bobby pitch the merits of a fire drill. Mike is running late for a golf engagement and is not interested. Bobby and Cindy tout the fire drill as practice getting out of the house quickly. In a funny line, Mike replies that is what he is trying to do. Upstairs, Peter and Greg chat about the events of the previous night and Peter’s current identity crisis. Greg’s efforts to boost his brother’s confidence fail. After Greg shares there are “lots of guys duller” than Peter, he is challenged to name one. His inability to do so sees that Peter’s angst will continue.
When Mike arrives home, Bobby and Cindy immediately remind him of the need for a fire drill. He obliges his safety minded children. In a scene that played a few seconds too long, he overly explains how the family is supposed to be acting when he initiates the fire drill. While standing at the bottom of the stairs, he yells up to them to be certain they are acting naturally and not expecting him to blow the whistle. Carol finally tells him to get on with it! The Brady family (minus Peter) and Alice are out of the house in 21 seconds. Alice exits the house with a chicken in tow. The way she picks at it, it appears she was plucking it. Were chickens in need of plucking still being sold in stores in 1971? This bird still has its neck too! I imagine it’d take two or three birds to feed the Bradys and Alice, so she had her work cut out for her! She makes a few lame jokes about the bird being too well done in the event of a fire and how the next surprise drill will have the chicken left on its own.
With the fire drill over, the other kids notice Peter is absent. He was excused from it due to his self loathing. Feeling upset over no personality trumps the need to exit the house safely in the event of a fire! Greg shares what happened the night before and points out how a few careless words can really wreck a person’s feelings. It’s a shame prime time TV today doesn’t have these subtle reminders. The girls seek some way to help Peter out. Readers, please take a look at the shirt Jan is wearing. It has a pair of footprints on the pocket. Earlier, a shirt Cindy wore had the same. Were these footprints representative of a popular brand back in the 70s?
The next scene begins with the girls’ plan being put into action. Marcia has invited Kathy Lawrence (portrayed again by Sheri Cowart) over to help her boost Peter’s ego. The pair must have bonded over the Warren Mullaney debacle in the last episode and are now friends. Kathy went from “Miss Ra-Ra” and Marcia’s most disliked classmate to friend in no time! Last week, I mistakenly listed the Sheri Cowart’s appearance in “My Sister, Benedict Arnold” as her only Brady Bunch appearance. It was a surprise (to me) to see her again. When Peter enters the family room, Marcia has him share with she and Kathy the plot of a movie titled “Invasion of the Potato People”. A Google search produced no actual movie by this name. With every description Peter gives of the movie, Kathy acts positively riveted. Peter should have been wise to this scheme right away as Kathy really overdoes it with her reactions. With Kathy’s goading, Peter hides behind a chair to reenact a scene. At the most inopportune time, Cindy enters and asks if Kathy fooled Peter into thinking he was interesting. With the jig up, Marcia and Kathy look quite ashamed. As Peter walks away with his pride even more beaten down, Kathy tries in vain to tell Peter she really did think he made the movie sound interesting. Nice try Kathy.
As Mike and Carol enjoy some type of board game with small tiles, Peter gets a phone call. It is Peggy calling to invite him to her party. Peter puts her on a mock hold to check his availability to attend. He comes back on the line and gives his regrets. Mike and Carol inquire as to his declining the invite. He asks “How would like being the fourth guy invited to a party?” This line always kind of baffled me. First off, a message board poster asked a great question years ago. How did Peter know he was the fourth guy invited? Surely Peggy didn’t say, “I’ve already invited Jimmy, Joe and Dick, now I am inviting you to my party.” It is hard to imagine Peter had heard from three separate guys that they’d been invited to a party of ahead of him. Mike asks the most valid question of why does it even matter if Peter was first or fourth, he was invited to the party. In one of the best Carol moments in a while, she calls Peter out for feeling sorry for himself and suspects he is starting to enjoy it. Mike fuels the fires of good advice by telling Peter to quit feeling sorry for himself and change his personality if he doesn’t like it. Way to go Mike and Carol!
With their sound and solid instruction, perhaps they should have shared with poor Peter what exactly a personality is. In the scenes that follow, he seems confuse personality with a persona. After watching some suave and debonair Englishman on TV, he decides to adopt that persona with the understanding that it is a personality. He debuts the first incarnation of the new Peter Brady at the family’s next fire drill. He emerges well dressed and carrying an umbrella. With the background music playing a British sounding tune, he greets his family with “Top of the day old chaps”. It’s so absurd it is hilarious. At this point, Peter had decided he’d spend the rest of his days talking like an Englishman from a movie and dressing the part too. He walks away dejected as his family rightfully laughs at his reinvention effort.
If trying to act the part of an Englishman was not ludicrous enough, Peter’s next misunderstanding of persona versus personality is one of those defining moments of the whole series. With the television still there to guide him, Peter decides that acting like Humphrey Bogart will see that his personality is clearly defined and known. Peter gives his new personality a trial run by once again looking in the mirror. He tucks his upper lip above his teeth and begins speaking in a voice that I suppose sounds like Humphrey Bogart. I will admit to being very unfamiliar with the late entertainment icon. I have only heard other impressions and heard various sound bits from his career through the years prior to writing this blog. Peter’s attempts to mimic him got me curious. Courtesy of Youtube, I found some old clips of Humphrey Bogart. In none of them was he talking with his upper lip tucked against his gums and his shoulders hunched up. With Peter’s practice run satisfactory, he goes downstairs to show off his new personality.
Carol and Alice are understandably confused with Peter’s new way of speaking. He inquires as to what will be served for dinner that night. Upon learning of the meal planned, he repeats back the immortal line, “Pork chops and apple shaush” and adds “ain’t that shwell”. In a funny line, Carol asks if Peter has something caught in his teeth. Right after asking this, Mike is heard coming home from work. If you look closely, Carol stifles a laugh as she leaves to greet Mike. It was a well played and very well done scene; it ranks among the funniest the show ever treated us to. With Carol gone, Peter subjects Alice to some more of his new personality. He asks again about the “pork chops and apple shaush”. Alice replies in kind with her own upper lipped tucked into her gums while rocking her shoulders. Despite the level of crazy in this scene, it still plays out very realistically. Carol and Alice react just like one would expect good natured adults to in such a situation.
Carol greets Mike and does her own version of “pork chops and apple shaush” for him and lets him know that Peter has taken on Humphrey Bogart’s personality. Peter enters and utters his famous line one last time. Mike is charitable and tells Peter he is doing a fine impression. Peter soon realizes this new personality is a flop too. Mike explains it is not Peter’s new personality, but Humphrey Bogart’s old one. Peter then walks away dejected. Carol then says she hopes there is not a Dracula movie on television later. This leads Mike to do an impression of Count Dracula and nibble Carol’s neck. This is the second Dracula/Bela Lugosi reference I recall. As we know, Peter will later dress as Dracula for the costume party in “Two Petes In A Pod”. Readers, were there any other references? Dracula and Benedict Arnold seem to be among the producers’ favorite references.
Before we move on friends, let’s analyze this entire scene just a bit more. The scene is so great because it is so believably absurd. I am sure at some point in our life, we knew a kid who attempted to take on a new persona only to abandon it after a short time. Heck, one of us might have even been that kid! You may recall a friend who had decided he was always going to wear a cowboy hat every place he went, but abandoned the idea when he realized it was too inconvenient to take care of and keep up with. Perhaps some girl in your class talked like a “valley girl” for a week or so until it got old and she resumed her normal way of speaking. It would have been beyond hilarious if Peter somehow went unchecked and went to school talking like this! A huge disappointment for me regarding the 1990s “Brady Bunch Movie” was that the trailer had Peter doing just that. There was a scene of him talking to a girl at her locker at school saying “pork chops and apple shaush”. Alas, it was not in the movie! Overall the movie was a disappointment for me, but that missing scene just added to it. The second point I’d like to reference is the use of Humphrey Bogart as the impersonated celebrity. By the time this episode aired, Humphrey Bogart had been gone over a decade. Was there a time when he was the “go to celebrity” when an impersonation was needed? Today, it seems that honor goes to Elvis Presley. Anytime a humorous impersonation is needed on TV, the person will imitate the King of Rock and Roll.
On his third attempt at a new identity, Peter seems to finally be grasping what a personality is. He shares with Mike and Carol he has taken up joke telling. Why can’t horses go to college? They can’t finish high school! At least with joke telling, it gives upon a first impression that the person is jovial, likes to make others laugh and is sociable. So, at least telling jokes is somewhat of a personality trait. I’ve never heard somebody when describing another person say, “Oh he’s very Bogartish” or “I enjoy working with him, he pretends to be an English gentleman”. If anything, that would define a strange or quirky personality. That is certainly not what Peter was going for!
The Bradys are going to be as supportive as they can with this personality attempt! It starts in the den when Peter tells a joke about a man stating a job making switches for the electric company was not steady work, just off and on. Alice can’t stop laughing upon hearing that. Alice’s uncontrolled hysterics are way over the top! She does a fantastic job pretending to find the joke hilarious. I must say pretending because in no stretch of the imagination, can I imagine anybody nearly breaking a rib laughing at that; not even by 1971 standards. The charity laugh montage continues in the kitchen as Alice signals Bobby and Greg to laugh at Peter’s joke. In the girls’ room, Greg does the same in encouraging his sisters to laugh at Peter’s joke. With chuckles abounding and Peter’s confidence restored, he asks to have a party to debut his new self. Mike and Carol agree.
It seems those in Peter’s circle like to party. During this episode thus far, we have seen him come home from one party, be invited to another and have one of his own. The jokes
Peter attempts at the party are better than those heard earlier. This man walks into a restaurant and asks the waiter, “Do you serve crabs?” And the waiter says, “Sit down, we serve anyone!” These improved jokes have also been heard before by the guests. Confidence deflated once again, Peter goes to the kitchen and tells Mike and Carol that the guests are delivering the jokes’ punch lines before he can. His new comedic personality is yet another flop. Here we again see that tile game Mike and Carol were playing earlier. I zoomed in on the box to help identify the game. Readers, do you recognize it?
The two party goers lacking manners were played by Jay Kocen and Pierre Williams. Neither of these fellows ever made a go of it as actors. This episode was Jay Kocen’s only on camera appearance per IMDB. A Google search suggested he now works for a designer delivery company in the Los Angeles area, but this can’t be confirmed to be the same person. Pierre Williams previously appeared in “The Drummer Boy” as one of Peter’s football teammates. One will notice his distinct voice in that episode when he suggests Peter’s singing ambitions leave him better suited to be a pom-pom girl.
Back in the dumps, Peter sits down at the bottom of the stairs to rue his dull existence. Here he is approached by a female party goer who wants to know why he is just sitting around, like he did at the party the week before. The young lady, listed in the credits as Kyle, seeks to console Peter and enlists the help of other female partygoers. Soon, other female partygoers gather around him and give him the much needed confidence boost.
Kyle was played by Monika Ramirez. She had previous acting experience prior to this episode. She had appeared on “The Flying Nun” and “Marcus Welby, MD” among other shows. She would go on to be a regular on the Krofft company’s “Bigfoot and Wildboy” and appear in other feature films and TV shows. Her most recent on camera appearance was in 2001 in an episode of “Any Day Now”. Judy was played by Margie DeMeyer. This episode concluded her acting career which previously included appearances on “My Three Sons” and “Gunsmoke”. Susie was played by Karen Peters. IMDB lists this episode and an appearance on “The Bill Cosby Show” as her only appearances on camera.
Back in the kitchen, Mike and Carol lament Peter’s newest personality letdown and surmise that he must be miserable. As Alice peers in on the party, she says if Peter is miserable, that is the only way to be miserable. Mike is delighted to see Peter has formed a harem in the living room. Just as Peter gets his groove back, Bobby and Cindy call for a fire drill. I always found this ending annoying as a kid. If I had a bunch of friends over and a sibling pulled this, I’d have been irritated. If I were Mike, I’d have stepped in and put a stop to it and told the partygoers to continue enjoying themselves. Peter takes it all in stride though, just giving mild irritation at having his party interrupted when he was enjoying time with his five guests. Carol, ever aware of a headcount, reminds Peter he had eleven guests. He replies asking, “who counts boys?”
The epilogue has Mike, Carol and Peter cleaning up after the celebration. Peter is still claiming himself dull. However, he now likes being dull. He enjoys the attention the ladies lavish on him in an effort to convince him he’s not dull. I got bad news for you Pete, that won’t last! Eventually they will just think you enjoy feeling sorry for yourself and you will be even more ostracized than you ever imagined you were before! Peter also shares he is the first guy invited to three parties the following week. Three parties? Like I said before, those in Peter’s social circle are some party animals! Carol suggests Mike be dull and the episode ends with another Humphrey Bogart impression.
Thank you for joining me this week to review “The Personality Kid”. It was a fun and solid episode. Peter’s efforts to resolve his personal woes are fun and entertaining, not dramatic and angst ridden. Mike and Carol give Peter some solid advice about not feeling sorry for himself and being proactive when he feels there is a problem at hand. Your thoughts dear readers are most welcome and anticipated. I hope you all have a great weekend! Next week’s episode is “Juliet Is The Sun”. With my upper lip tucked into my gums, I’ll bid adieu with “Shee ya’ then.”