Episode 9: The Private Ear

Hello again readers, friends and family.  Thank you for joining me this week to review “The Private Ear”.  Viewers first saw Peter’s eavesdropping antics on November 12th, 1971.  The episode is a solid one and the first in some time to have no guest stars.  Also, no scene of the entire episode occurs outside the Brady’s house and yard.  While it is not the whacky laugh riot that was “And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor”, it also was not the drama that was “Juliet Is The Sun”.  While the plot of Peter planting a tape recorder and listening to his siblings is not comedic, there are some funny lines sprinkled throughout the episode.  Let’s begin reviewing “The Private Ear”.

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For the second time in the series, Marcia arrives home starry eyed and walking on air.  This time her romantic fantasies involve Andrew Whitaker instead of Harvey Klinger. Upon entering her room, Marcia swears Jan to secrecy before revealing she is in love.  In a funny line, Jan first replies with a awestruck “Wooow” and then asks “Who is it this time?”  Marcia says this time around being in love differs from those schoolgirl crushes of the past.  She compares this go around with love to a shooting star versus a firecracker and states she is so happy and miserable at the same time.   She and Jan leave the room and Jan is reminded about her vow of secrecy.  In another funny line, Jan says she won’t tell anybody because she doesn’t even understand Marcia’s love predicament.  As they leave, Peter enters the room.  He pulls a tape recorder out from under Jan’s bed and plays back the conversation she and Jan just had.  Regular viewers may notice the distinctive canned laughter of one man who had a “ho-ho-ho” laugh.

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Okay readers, I hate to kick off an episode with nitpicking gripes, but here goes.  Jan sitting at the desk working on homework(?) would suggest she had been there for a while.  How much recording time was on one of the tapes this device uses?  He also enters the room as soon as the girls leave.  If he was going to stay so close by and eavesdrop, why does he even need the recorder?  Finally, this must be one top of the line recorder!  From under the bed, it was able to capture Jan and Marcia’s conversation with crystal clear audio.  The pair sitting on the bed alone should have creaked the bedsprings enough to distort it some.

 

 

The scene that follows did have some laugh out loud moments for me.  As underhanded as Peter’s deed was, his dealings with Marcia thereafter were funny.  While she reads a book in the family room, Peter approaches her with a quizzical look on his face.  He tells Marcia she looks different.  He uses the same descriptions of being in love Marcia just gave to Jan to describe how Marcia looks different; he states she looks happy and miserable at the same time.  At this, Marcia’s suspicion is rankled and says Peter knows something.  Peter adds fuel to the fire by stating he knows nothing, not even the difference between a shooting star and a firecracker.  With this, Marcia hisses “Jan” and is off to confront her seemingly loose lipped sister.

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As Marcia confronts Jan, she still seeks to keep the details of her being in love a secret as she accuses Jan of telling you know who, about you know what, about you know whom (excellent grammar Marcia!) and now it will be all over you know where, resulting in Marcia’s ultimate humiliation.  The you know what/who/where gag is as old as the sitcom itself, but it was played well here.  As Jan denies sharing Marcia’s secret love life, Marcia accuses her of telling an “outright fib”.  This line rang strange for me as a fib always seemed to me like a humorous tongue in cheek white lie or an exaggeration, not a full blown scandalous lie as Marcia’s anger would suggest.   An outright fib to me sounds like saying a house fire was aggravating.  As both girls storm out, Carol enters to see what the ruckus was about and Alice repeats back the you know whos and you know whats.  In a funny reply, Carol thanks Alice for clearing that up for her.

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The next scene sees Greg repairing a clock.  Peter comes into the room and Greg is a bit short and snippy with his brother.  When Marcia enters, Greg asks Peter if he would “get lost” so he can have a private chat with his sister.  Peter obliges, but stops on his way out to turn on the tape recorder stashed under the bunk beds.   With Peter gone, Greg shares how he checked out “The Red Badge of Courage” from the library and forgot about it.  A funny reply comes from Marcia as she says some books are like that.  He then clarifies he forgot to return the book.  The 40 week overdue fine consumed his allowance and left him with no lunch money.  Readers, for those of you who got an allowance growing up, did you have to use it to buy your lunch at school?  I took my lunch most of the time, but when I did not, lunch money was not part of my allowance or considered discretionary income available to me.  He hits up Marcia for a loan of lunch money so he can avoid a talking to from Mike and Carol.

device

In case anybody wanted to know more about the recording device, above is a close up image of it.   It doesn’t look like the typical cassette tape recorder that I am familiar with.   If any readers ever used one of those, please share your experience and any details about the contraption.

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Outside, Peter again uses witty banter to reveal his knowledge of a sibling’s secret.  Peter asks Greg about any good books he’s read lately and then suggests maybe he read one the year before.  Then he shares he went to check out “The Red Badge of Courage” but found it had been long overdue.  With this, Greg is furious and confronts Marcia.  She swears she did not tell, but Peter’s revelation a moment before would certainly suggest otherwise.

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Mike enters the bedroom and the episode’s B-plot is introduced.  He and Carol have planned a ski trip for just the two of them.  Carol is laying out her ski clothes.  Mike presents her with a new purchase for the trip.  Then Carol shares Marcia and Jan are still feuding.  Her change of clothes suggest the argument has transpired for at least a day.  Mike counters with his just experiencing Greg and Marcia feuding.  It is unusual that Mike and Carol would allow all this angst and divisive behavior to continue for any extended amount of time.  Regular viewers will recall from an earlier episode that one of the Brady family sayings was “A wise man forgets his anger, before he lays down to sleep”.  Perhaps they’ve been a blended family long enough to know that sayings and platitudes don’t always work out in real life.

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Downstairs, the wrath of the private ear continues.  This time the victim is Bobby.  He had confided in Cindy that he’d been sent to the principal’s office for the serious infraction of gum chewing in class.  Wouldn’t it be great to return to a time so simple that chewing gum in class was worthy of the school principal’s attention?

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With Peter’s troublemaking efforts impacting all five of his siblings, the Bradys eat dinner in stone cold silence.  Check out that hunk of meat the Bradys are working on.  Even with a household of three adults and six children, they’ll be working on that thing for a while!  Also, the formal place settings made me chuckle.  There is a salad fork and dinner fork alongside a saucer just for a roll.  Perhaps such formality came with the luxury of a housekeeper.  Growing up and still today, meals at my home see the same fork is used from start to finish and one’s roll or biscuit finds itself sharing the same plate as the rest of the meal.  It also looks like none of them even touched their salads.  That’s a lot of lettuce going to waste.  Maybe the salads are consumed along with the meal, but the trend today seems to be that a salad is eaten before the main course.

 

 

While the kids all eat without speaking, they also all leer at one another.  This does not go unnoticed by Mike and Carol.  Carol asks if there is a silence contest taking place.  Mike says if silence is golden then “this” must be worth a fortune.  Mike finally orders some conversation to take place and not about the weather.  This led me to ponder what exactly did Mike want them all to talk about?    Mike’s conversation command is answered with all of the kid’s grievances about one another erupting again around the dinner table.  As they all duke it out verbally, Peter looks on with glee at the chaos he has created.   His exclusion from the arguments does not go unnoticed by Mike and Carol.  What Peter has done here is a very, very lousy thing to do.  Kids do stupid things though.  They start trouble and make waves for reasons known only to the still developing mind.  So, yes what Peter did was bad and he deserved some sort of reprimand, but I will also give him a pass as it can be attributed to youthful indiscretion.

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Peter is called to Mike’s den for a talking to.  He only meant for his eavesdropping ways to be a joke.  Mike warns him that invasion of privacy is no joke and people have been sued for such.  Peter is briefly worried that his siblings will be suing him, but is assured an apology this time around will suffice in place of a lawsuit.  In a funny “true to life” moment, as Peter leaves to apologize he stops briefly at the door in hesitation before Mike motions him onward.  That is one of those things kids just do and it is always fun when those little slices of life appear on “The Brady Bunch”.

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Peter gives his apology to his siblings and all seems to be forgiven.  Jan even concedes it was kind of funny.  The river of forgiveness runs short and shallow for Greg and Marcia.  Within minutes they are plotting revenge against their brother.  The scheme they enact is just as shallow and lowdown as Peter’s eavesdropping was.  Using the very same tape recorder Peter used earlier, Greg and Marcia stage a conversation with one another about a surprise party for Peter.  The faux cause for celebration is Peter bringing home an “A” in geometry after doing poorly all year.  Greg and Marcia’s conversation is so labored that Peter should have known something was up.  Add to this they are holding the recording microphone right up to their mouths, so the vastly improved playback versus when it was under a bed should have clued Pete in too.

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What follows is Greg entrapping his brother into listening to the recording.  He brings the recorder into Peter and angrily accuses him of placing the it under Marcia’s desk.  After Greg leaves the room, Peter reveals himself to be not fully reformed of his eavesdropping ways and gives the recording a listen.  He falls for Greg and Marcia’s setup and is excited to learn about his pending surprise party.

 

 

The prospect of a party with gifts has Peter doing extra chores around the house.  While peeling potatoes for Alice, he suggests he needs a new baseball mitt.  When Carol enters modeling clothes for her ski weekend, he shares with Carol and Alice his feet are now the right size for brown cowboy boots.  Alice and Carol surmise he is just giving very early suggestions for his birthday.  After telling Mike that he just finished waxing his car, Peter pleads his case for typewriter ownership.  Carol enters after Peter exits and shares he mowed the yard twice the day before.  Was Peter just hoping for an increased haul of presents in exchange for all these extra chores?  Was this sort of like a kid who behaves exceedingly well during the month of December in hopes of more Santa loot?

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Peter’s next stop on the gift suggestion rounds is in the family room with Greg and Marcia.  Instead of playing the Brady favorite of checkers, they are enjoying the more sophisticated board game chess.  After asking if there is anything he can do for them, he gives the heavy handed suggestion of some new records as a gift.  He says his own are all warped and scratched up.  Greg and Marcia snicker at Pete’s raised hopes. One will notice here that all three kids are wearing different clothes from the earlier scenes, so poor Peter has been going around suggesting gifts for more than a day.  I would compare their con job on Peter to the likes of giving a person one of those fake lottery tickets that reveal a $10,000 prize and then read the prize can be claimed “At your momma’s house”.

 

 

Back in Mike’s den, he has had it with his typewriter and decides he will record his notes instead.  Carol fetches the tape recorder and they play it back and hear Greg and Marcia’s scheme.  The scene ends with Mike and Carol looking at one another with concern.    The next scene shows Mike and Carol setting out for the ski lodge.  It sounds to me like Mike says they will be back “next Sunday night” suggesting they will be gone a week.  However, when playing it back, Mike might have said “late Sunday night”.  Regardless, Peter smugly replies to himself, “Sure ya will”.  Greg and Marcia stand behind Peter and continue to delight in their misleading him to the prospect of a surprise party.  With yet another change of clothes being evident in this scene, Marcia and Greg have now kept up this ruse with Peter for at least three days.  We thought their worst hour was when they deceived Warren and Kathy in “My Sister, Benedict Arnold”, but this cruel ruse rivals that.

 

 

Up in his room, Peter has adorned his party suit.  He tells Bobby he is going through a neatness period.  Then he goes through a series of disappointments as he barges into the living room and Mike’s den expecting a celebration.  Upon barging into the family room where Greg and Marcia enjoy another game of chess, the eldest siblings conscience final kicks in.  Seeing Peter dressed in his best duds must have done it.  Here it is revealed to Peter that the party expectation was just a revenge tactic they were using.  Peter doesn’t blame them for being sore and supposes he deserved this letdown.  With all acknowledging their own crappy behavior, Mike and Carol enter yelling “Surprise!”  party1With gifts in tow, they announce there is a surprise party for Peter’s A in geometry.  Among the gifts is a tape recorder of Peter’s very own.  None of the sizes of the other packages suggest brown cowboy boots or new records though.  This is one of the more bizarre conclusions to “The Brady Bunch”.  It was one of the most forced happy endings we will see.  Everybody’s bad behavior saw Peter receive gifts; among them was a tape recorder!  It wasn’t as if that archaic piece of technology hadn’t caused enough trouble that Mike and Carol add a second one to the house!  Greg and Marcia are briefly lectured on their poor behavior and told that in the future the discipline is to be left up to Mike and Carol.

epilogue

The epilogue shows that the eavesdropping ways will continue.  Peter demonstrates to Greg and Marcia how to use the recorder, but then tells them they should not (wink wink) listen to what he recorded.  Of course they do and it is just Peter forgiving them for their mean prank and then laughingly chiding them for listening.  It was a light hearted conclusion following Mike and Carol ending the episode with a stern lecture.

“The Private Ear” was a simple and solid story.  The questionable conclusion of still having the surprise party is what defines it in the memory of some fans.  Otherwise, the story is simple and not that memorable.  Your own thoughts and opinions are most welcome!  Next week we review “Her Sister’s Shadow”.  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.

25 thoughts on “Episode 9: The Private Ear”

  1. 1) Re: the recorder Pete used to start all the trouble (Mike’s)… this was not a cassette tape recorder, it used reel-to-reel technology, which preceded cassette tapes. The control on Mike’s recorder worked like a stick shift. There were four directions to move the stick control: play, fast forward, rewind and stop. Pressing the red “record” button at the same time as “play” would start the recording process.

    Re: quality of the recordings… I think that the quality of reel-to-reel recorders was generally better than cassette recorders. Some of it may have to do with the tape itself, but cassette recorders were mass produced to sell them quickly (like transistor radios), and the early ones just didn’t seem to have the same level of quality as reel to reel. Still, you’re correct about the quality of the Marcia/Jan recording. With the recorder being under the bed, it probably should not have sounded as good as it did.

    2) You’re right… “fib” is not a word that anyone would have used when accusing a sibbling of doing what Jan did… “outright lie” would have been used in the real world.

    3) I agree that an allowance would be separate from any monies needed to buy lunch at school, unless you wanted
    to buy something over and above the standard school lunch (maybe an extra desert).

    4) The Bradys obsession with skiing was always kind of funny to me. In an early episode, when Marcia was being
    punished and it was made clear that she would miss the upcoming family ski trip, Carol says something like
    “Marcia would rather ski than eat”. Really Carol? How long did the obsession last with the kids… plus, Mike
    and Carol hadn’t been married that long, does Marcia have a long history of skiing exploits? Re: Carol skiing… Carol was totally uncoordinated when she tried her hand at baseball (with the boys) and golf… I really can’t picture her doing much on a ski slope.

    5) lol, love your observation about how wise old sayings and platitudes don’t always work out in real life. So true!

    6) Chewing gum was definitely a major offense in those days… and other than fighting or cheating on a test, that was about the worst thing that a kid could do in elementary school.

    7) The meal at the dinner table seemed to have more stuff than most meals the Bradys had. Maybe it was a Sunday dinner and they pulled out all the stops. Sunday dinners were usually the fanciest. Can’t really tell from the flow of the show what day it is, but if it is Sunday, then the fussing and feuding would have gone on for several days, including a Saturday.

    8) I totally understand why Peter did what he did. He probably either had a friend who did the same thing or he saw a TV show which employed surveillance and thought it would be cool to do that at home. I believe him 100% when he said he just meant it as a joke. He’s too immature to consider what he would do if one of the other kids did that to him.

    9) Peter stopping at the top of the den steps was a good moment, very true to life (“Do I really have to do this?”)

    10) I always laughed at Marcia’s first attempt to deliver her lines during their ruse… “What EVER do you MEAN, Gregory?” What doesn’t ring true is Greg then stopping the recording, saying the word “Erase” and then we hear the high pitched chipmunk talk. If you were using a recorder like that, you wouldn’t go back and erase when you just recorded and THEN start your fake conversation recording again, you would simply record over Marcia’s blunder. You don’t need to take the extra step of “erasing”.

    11) It made absolutely no sense that Greg thought Peter would be fooled by the accusation that he was planting the recorder again. Pete knows he didn’t do anything, so why didn’t he defend himself more forcefully? If I’d done what Peter did and then was accused of bugging a room again when I know I didn’t do it, I would have fought over it to defend myself against the false charges.

    12) I did like the humor of Pete doing the extra chores (Pete: Maybe I’ll mow the lawn Mike: It’s night out, besides I don’t think it’s grown much since you mowed it this morning).

    13) The Brady kids sure did love a party!

    14) It looked silly to have Peter bursting into every room when he thought a party was going on. Just walk in like you’re not expecting anything.

    15) Crazy bit of parenting on Mike and Carol’s part to essentially reward Peter after what happened. Just made no sense.

    16) The recorder Pete got for the geometry “A” was the EXACT cassette recorder I had as a kid. I think I got it in 1971. It was a Panasonic. The shot of the recorder even showed the yellow “Demonstration” tape that came with it. In those days, cassette players/recorders would come with a demo tape. One side of the tape had pre-recorded instrumental music (and was labeled “For Demonstration”, the other side was blank and labeled “For Recording”). The demo song might be “Walk Don’t Run” or something like that. There wasn’t much recording time on the tape, maybe 10 minutes per side or something like that.

    Overall, a decent episode, despite the “poor parenting” ending. The kids acting was always very good when they got to arguing and yelling at each other. This is an episode I never minded watching. IMHO Peter had some of the more interesting story lines of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts Tweety! I had never considered Carol’s lack of coordination when comparing her baseball fiasco with skiing. Maybe she and Mike were really just more interested in a weekend to themselves up in the mountains and the skis were brought along so the kids would not raise too many questions resulting in an uncomfortable chat.
      That’s a cool bit of history about the tape recorder. It’s fun to see pieces of our past on a TV show. I remember Arnold’s and Willis’s bedroom on Diff’rent Strokes always having a toy jeep my brother had prominently displayed.
      Peter strolling into the room with that “I don’t notice anything” whistling would have made for a funnier entrance than him dashing in. Why on earth would he suspect a surprise party in Mike’s den? Even if they were having one for him for which he wasn’t supposed to know about, I doubt it would have been held in a room off limits to the kids!

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      1. After thinking about it, I suppose we could say that the writers wanted to illustrate Peter’s eagerness for the party by showing him running into every room… great point about Mike’s den lol, why would they have the party there??

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  2. 1. Why did Greg need lunch money? I thought Alice made lunches for all the kids.
    2. Greg’s groovy purple outfit makes yet another appearance.
    3. How did Peter know when the surprise party would take place? It wasn’t specifically mentioned on the tape.
    4. My family had both styles of tape recorders seen in this episode. We had the reel-to-reel one until about 1975 when we upgraded to the more state of the art one seen at the end of the episode. I remember ours also coming with a demo tape, and I still remember what it was! It was an instrumental recording of La Bamba! I didn’t know the tune at the time and it was only years later when I heard the actual song with lyrics that I made the connection!

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    1. Re: How Peter knew when the party would take place… didn’t Greg and Marcia say on the tape that Mike and Carol would pretend to leave for the ski lodge on Friday night and then return for the party?

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      1. Oh okay, my bad. My DVD must have jumped! Damn modern technology! I can’t keep up! Which reminds me of a great line by comedienne Rita Rudner who once said: “I’m willing to buy a DVD Player if they promise not to invent anything else.”

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  3. 1. Did you notice the goof when Peter listened to the recording that Greg and Marcia made. If you notice, a line that was delivered by Greg mysteriously disappeared. Originally, he said “he buckled down and bang, he brings home an A”. When Peter listened to recording, the “he buckled down” part was gone.
    2. I loved the dinner scene when the kids are arguing and Mike first notices that Peter is happily enjoying his meal. Then, makes eye contact with Carol and motions towards Peter. I thought that was great acting by Reed and Henderson.
    3. Peter mowed the astroturf lawn twice?
    4. When we were kids, my sister had a tape recorder and she used to always make me reenact the scene where Greg and Marcia make the recording. She used to love to say the line, “whatever do you mean, Gregory?!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great catch Tripp! That had escaped my notice.
      That was a well done scene with Robert Reed and Florence Henderson.
      That Astroturf was some of the best maintained ever!
      That’s funny about you and your sister playing “The Brady Bunch”. My sister, our friend and I would do the same.

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  4. As others have said, reel-to-reel tape recorders preceded cassettes. Huge reel-to-reels were in the fifties, but they were clunky, heavy, and expensive, and gave way to the smaller, more portable version in the sixties. That is what is shown in the episode. In the late sixties, the audio cassette came out, and replaced the small reel-to-reel, though obviously, like any new technology, not everyone immediately ran out and invested in a new tape recorder and cassettes, so you did still see the small reel-to-reels in the early seventies. But cassettes became popular and affordable quickly, and by the mid seventies, reels were hard to find.

    But what’s interesting is that in season one, Greg borrowed Mike’s CASSETTE recorder to make campaign announcements for his student council run against Marcia. When he could not play back his seemingly erased ad, he removed the cassette, turned it over to the other side, and checked there for his ad. (The ability to record on both sides of the tape cassette was one of the selling points of cassettes that allowed them to overtake reels so quickly.) So this episode actually reverts to an older technology, and ignores the fact that Mike had had a newer tape recorder earlier in the show.

    Regarding the “formal” place settings, I don’t know how formal this setting is, as it’s hard to see. Having a separate salad fork doesn’t make it formal, either, as plenty of everyday silverware sets have them. I will say that when I was a child, we ate in the dining room every Sunday, and used different dishes than our kitchen set. Then we had another, more formal, set for special occasions. This was certainly common in middle-class homes, back when families ate together and the table, be it kitchen or dining room, was an important gathering place. It was important enough that there was an entire set of additional behaviors that were called “table manners.” We all heard things like, “We don’t _____at the table.” Fill in the blank with sing, scratch, read, play, watch TV, etc. We even had to ask to be excused before we left the table. This all applied whether we were eating in the kitchen or dining room.

    I do love this episode, especially Peter’s attempts to be nonchalant at dinner, and the nonverbal contact between Mike and Carol. I can picture my wife and I having done the same eye bit. I also like Peter’s bursting into each room, expecting a celebration, exaggerated though that may be. But that’s what makes a farce funny.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that! You are right on the lack of continuity regarding the tape recorders. As we know, “The Brady Bunch” producers didn’t seemed too concerned about continuity.
      It’s sad how times have changed. By the time the 80s rolled around, my family would still occasionally all have dinner at the table, but even on Sundays we lacked any formality. We would have fallen in the “lower middle class” bracket. Even when visiting my grandparents, such formalities did not occur. It’s interesting to know that such dinners did exist outside the realm of TV Land.

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    2. That’s exactly how it was with us on Sundays. I grew up in a middle class suburban neighborhood, and on Sundays, most families would have dinner together in the dining room. We lived in NJ about an hour from New York City, where a lot of our fathers worked. During the week, our Dads wouldn’t get home from work until after 630, my Mom would fix dinner for us kids (three of us) early and we would eat at the kitchen counter. Then, when my Dad came home, he and my Mom would eat dinner in the dining room. But on Sundays, the whole family would have dinner the dining room and we would also use a different set of dishes than what we used during the week. We’d typically have a meat dish, either ham or roast beef, potatoes, a vegetable or two, along with salad and desert. It was much more formal. Typically, we would all remain at the table until everyone was finished with dinner… we would have to get permission to leave the table early. The Brady dinner table looked like it could have been a typical Sunday dinner for middle class America during the early 1970s.

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  5. 1. Mike definitely said “next Sunday night”. Not only can I clearly hear it as you did…but when I turn on closed captioning it also reads “next Sunday night”. I don’t think they are going to be gone a week – it’s just a weird choice of words when Mike means only a few days.
    2. Right before Greg’s Red Badge of Courage confession to Marcia…when Peter goes under his bunk he never hits the red record button on the tape recorder and hits only the play button. Therefore he should have not been able to subsequently hear their The Red Badge of Courage conversation.
    3. When Peter goes downstairs looking for his party we hear Marcia ask Greg if she can move the queen in any direction. This is ridiculous as Greg and Marcia have been playing chess for at least 2 days now.. there is no way she could have played this long without knowing how to move a queen.. sloppy bit of writing there.
    4. Weird connection to future episode. Peter is a Private Ear in this episode. In season 4 he will become a Private Eye when he looks for Carol’s earrings in The Great Earring Caper (and Carol dresses up in ski outfits this episode vs. Cleopatra in the earring episode!).

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  6. A good episode with a crap conclusion,

    Great catches about the recording error when when Greg and Marcia’s “Teach a Lesson to Peter’s” recording is different on the second listening with the word’s “buckles down” gone. Obviously, Barry and Maureen had to do the recording several times, and the error was never caught post-production.

    There were times when the Brady’s had HUGE dinners, even for the nine people in the family. I seem to recall similar food served at the table in “Confessions, Confessions” the broken vase episode. The meals seem to be consisting of roast beef as the meat. What other side dishes do you see?

    My problem with this episode is that I think Greg and Marcia’s apology to Peter should have been enough. Mike and Carol should not have given Peter the party, and it sounds like they spent a lot of money. Buying all those presents was WAY OVERBOARD, and does not match up to the quality of Mike and Carol’s parenting at any other time. They told Peter that he could only keep one toy from Driscol’s Toy Shop for saving Tina Spencer in “The Hero.” but now, they buy him presents like they came from the kids. One of which is a tape recorder! What? Why is Peter rewarded with the product that caused all the trouble in the first place? I can reluctantly accept the party for Peter at the end of “The Hero.” None of his friends came to the party, because they got sick of his story, so the family has a little party to make him feel better. But in “The Private Ear.” spending money like that was wrong for Mike and Carol to do. A simple talk to Greg and Marcia about their resentment about Peter only needing to apologize for his eavesdropping, would have sufficed.

    Jack

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  7. When Carol said to Pete about his new tape recorder, “I think you know what to do with me of these.” It seems more like she should have said “I think you know “what you should not” do with one of these.” Regarding the many changes of clothes, did anyone also notice that Greg and Marsha also changed clothes between when they came up with the phony recording and when they actually did it?

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  8. With this episode aiding a month and a half before Christmas, it’s a wonder that Carol and Alice did not assume that Petey was suggesting Christmas presents when he was hinting about his supposed surprise party.

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  9. The episode is actually a fun story and typical Brady hi-jinx. I really hate the climax though. Just because a revenge joke is made, does that mean Peter after all he did actually ‘deserved’ having a surprise party? I don’t see the correlation. Peter was wrong in what he did, and so were Marcia and Greg. But to have Mike and Carol actually give said phony party to Peter because his feelings would be hurt? I’m not sure that is the proper resolution to the situation. Marcia and Greg both admit to Peter it was a joke and he seemed to accept that. That really resolved the situation and actually would have taught Peter how it feels to be on the other end of it.

    A better resolution would have been for Mike and Carol to talk to all involved and have Greg and Marcia apologize to Peter and everyone learns a lesson. You can even throw in the gift of a tape recorder to Peter after that talk hoping that he can be trusted to use it properly after everyone learned their lesson. That would have worked. It’s just weird to think of the fact that no matter what phony reward idea Greg and Marcia left on the tape, the parents would have went through with so feelings weren’t hurt. Boy they sure thought too small here with a party gag if that’s the case. 🙂

    Also Mike and Carol left the lodge to do this quick surprise party only to claim they are going to head back after this party ends? The writers remember they do live in an unspecified part of Southern California right? How many hours drive are we talking about to get to the snow lodges of Northern California or the area? Just a weekend trip mind you. I think the writers blew it on the ending here big time. A simple talk and a cheap gag was all that was needed to end this situation.

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  10. I just saw this episode rerun on Me-TV today and noticed that all of Marcia’s awards that caused Jan such grief in the next episode were in place on top of the dresser behind Peter when he was in the girls’ room to stop & listen to his tape recorder. It’s nice that her awards at least had a life before “Her Sister’s Shadow” whether they did after or not.

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  11. The Party Duke Show had a similar episode about eight years earlier. Party’s younger brother tapes the girl’s conversations at a slumber party and uses the information to blackmail them.

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  12. For me, the conclusion of Mike and Carol calling Greg and Marcia on their shenanigans was quite appropriate, and perhaps following through with the “party” was the way they felt their message was best delivered.

    Far-fetched or not, it was apparent to me Greg and Marcia took matters into their own hands when they disagreed with their parents over Peter having to apologize and that be enough. What did they want … to hear the noises of the whipping of a belt and Peter yowling in pain coming from Mike’s den, followed by an angry, fear-of-God warning that if it ever happens again … worse will happen?

    In any case, the point was that Greg and Marcia are not the parents, and they could disagree all they wanted with how they dealt with Peter, but they had zero say in the matter. Mike saw sufficient remorse and Peter truly understood the potential consequences of what he did had it been left unchecked and that him having things explained to him was enough and the the apology was appropriate.

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