Episode 15: Big Little Man

 

Greetings once again!  Thank you for joining me to review “Big Little Man”.   It first aired January 7th, 1972.  The title appears to be a play on the Dustin Hoffman hit film “Little Big Man”.  In last week’s blog, I shared how plots involving Cindy and Bobby were among my least favorites.  After reviewing this episode, I must say it is one of the better ones focusing on one of the youngest kids.  I had forgotten how much humor was inserted in the story.  It is a “woe is me” plot, but Bobby’s efforts to rectify being a “pee wee” are for the most part funny.  The episode also involves Greg a great deal, so that contributed to the enjoyment of it.  Let us begin reviewing “Big Little Man”!

open1

The episode opens with some high drama.  What starts as just a simple repair of a shutter soon transpires into Bobby almost dying or suffering a major injury.  Greg has set up a ladder to repair a shutter outside the girls’ room.  What exactly is wrong with it is not made clear. It looks well attached to me.  I noticed it does swing as a shutter is supposed to do by design.  However, in the 20th century, most shutters on suburban homes were for ornamentation only.   As Greg toils away on the shutter repair, Alice informs him he has a phone call.  Personally, if I found myself being called to the phone while at the top of a ladder in the middle of a task, I’d have told Alice to take a message.  However, teenage social priorities often trump chores and responsibility.

 

 

As Greg heads inside to take the call, Bobby ignores Greg’s admonishment to stay off the ladder.  As he clumsily tries to repair the shutter, the ladder shifts under him and falls to the ground!  Bobby is left hanging from the window sill!  Thank heavens the girls’ bedroom window has no screen and Bobby has something to grab on to!  The scene ends with a freeze frame of Bobby looking downward with a terrified expression.  As one watches this drama unfold, his/her escalated heart rate probably results in the viewer not questioning why Greg even needed the ladder for this repair.  From the looks of the shutter’s location and the screenless window, the repair could have easily and much more safely been handled from the girls’ room.

 

 

As Bobby cries for help, Cindy and Alice run into the backyard and Alice commences to setting the ladder back up.  Fortunately, Greg is in his room and can rescue Bobby right away.  Greg chides Bobby’s actions and reminds him he told him to stay off the ladder.  In a funny reply, Bobby says “I’m off!”  Greg then refers to Bobby as a peewee trying to act bigger than he is.  Bobby thanks Greg for saving his life and says he will pay him back.  I was waiting for him to pledge to be his slave for life, but he didn’t.  The scene ends humorously as Alice has climbed the ladder and declares her action better late than never and requests a rescue of her own.  The humor continues as all three fall to the floor while bringing her in the window.

telling

The next scene is probably my all time favorite featuring Cindy.  Mike, Carol and Jan have returned from a shopping trip.  Cindy rushes down to share the news of the day. First she asks if it would be tattling to share something somebody else doesn’t want you to know.  She is advised that would be tattling. It’s a nice reference to Cindy’s earlier tattling issues.  Jan is pining for this news and even telling2licks her lips in anticipation.  Cindy tries to do the right thing and walk away, letting the three of them know they’ll just have to find out for themselves.  Jan, being sufficiently baited, immediately queries Cindy for the news.  Cindy shares with glee that “Bobby nearly fell off the house.”  The reaction on Mike, Carol and Jan’s faces only adds more humor to this entire scene.  Susan Olsen owned this scene and performed masterfully in it.  The entire scene made me laugh out loud more than once.

smallest

Upstairs, Carol pulls splinters from Bobby’s hands and he is again admonished for climbing the ladder.  Mike asks what he was doing up there and in a funny reply Bobby says, “Hanging on mostly.”  Here, Bobby shares his angst at being a peewee noting he is the second smallest kid in his class.  Mike offers encouragement in that maybe Bobby hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet.  Bobby says being little is the worst thing in the world.

meatdelivery

The next scene begins with Greg sharing he is seeking work.  In another past episode callback, Alice asks if he is planning on buying another jalopy.  This time around, he only seeks to buy a used surfboard.  Seconds later, we see Sam for the first time in season 3.  It’s been a while since he has been in an episode.  I am glad the producers used Allan Melvin for sporadic guest appearances.  He played the part of Alice’s beau very well and was a believable and likeable match for her.  As often as this show reused actors in different parts, I am glad they were consistent with Allan Melvin and didn’t attempt to have other actors fill the role of Alice’s beau in random appearances.  We learn that Sam is in need of a delivery boy as the last one he had wanted fringe benefits to include free filet mignon every day.   Alice suggests Greg and for this episode at least, Greg now has a job as Sam’s delivery boy.  Bobby then enters and Sam greets him as “shrimpo”.  Bobby is devastated and makes his first dash to his room of the episode.

sambobby

As Bobby enters the room, we don’t see him start to cry, but he does reach for his handkerchief to imply such.  It was a nice touch by the episode’s director.  Sam follows Bobby up to his room to apologize.  Alice must have told him what room it was as one must wonder how he’d have known otherwise.  This may be the only time Sam left the first floor of the Brady home.  Sam gives Bobby a pep talk similar to the one Mike gave earlier about hitting a growth spurt.  This time it seems to work as Bobby feels better after their conversation.

 

 

Bobby’s solution to rapid growth is stretching.  He spends an untold amount of time dangling from the swing set.  Peter says if Bobby doesn’t grow anymore, he could always be a jockey.  Mike and Carol observe Bobby’s stretching from the family room window.  A few Tarzan jokes are made about Bobby’s effort and the potential result.  In the previous episode’s review, regular contributor Tweety questioned Carol’s concern about Bobby and Cindy’s marathon teeter-tottering.  Bobby’s actions here should be cause for concern, but Mike just brushes it off and Carol suggests Bobby could look like a monkey if his arms stretch and the rest of him does not.  Bobby’s actions here could result is some damage to the rotator cuff.  One will notice the first shot of him hanging has him wearing a blue shirt and the subsequent shots a striped shirt.   So, multiple days of just dangling like this should be addressed!

 

 

Bobby measures his progress, or lack thereof, via a strip of tape on the bathroom door.  After his first measurement shows no results, he goes right back to dangling. Bobby’s sisters are concerned for their brother’s small complex and want to do something.  His next few measurements show progress!  He excitedly runs down to the living room to share the news of his growth.  Mike and Carol are skeptical and have good reason to be.  Bobby shares his dangling has caused him to grow and inch and a half.  Cindy informs he only grew half an inch, as she moved the piece of tape down a half inch.  I played this scene back to make certain I heard her correctly.  Her math skills are off as she should have suggested he grew only an inch if she moved the tape down half an inch.  What follows are Jan and Marcia stating they did the same.  Bobby’s joy is completely and understandably squelched.  Mike says while the girl’s efforts were misguided, they weren’t trying to trick Bobby.  What follows is a sitcom cliché moment where Bobby angrily storms off to his bedroom.

 

 

The next scene has Alice leaving for the market to get the makings for strawberry tall cake.  She is hoping by making his favorite dessert, Bobby might be cheered up some.  She won’t refer to it as strawberry short cake in his presence!  As she leaves, Bobby comes home beaten and bruised.   He picked a fight with Tommy Huxley and got a black eye in return.  Carol uses this blunder on Bobby’s part to tell him about Napoleon Bonaparte, who was a short man who tried to act big.  Carol shares that like Bobby, he got clobbered.  Carol might want to read up on her history a bit as Napoleon was largely successful until he attempted to invade Russia; this was his undoing.  Carol asks Bobby if he thinks fighting is the answer and in a funny reply Bobby says, “Not if you lose.”  Carol goes on to share that a lot of great men were small people who used brain power to be great.

It was strange seeing how Bobby’s fight at school was no big deal.  Today, the police would be called and there would be meetings with both sets of parents, an administrator and both offenders.  I am not advocating that school yard fights should not be addressed, it was just interesting to see a glimpse into another time where a scrap resulting in a black eye was handled so lightly.

brainpower

An IMDB contributor noted how Bobby’s black eye heals up very quickly.  In the next scene Bobby is seen arriving home with an armload of books.  Those things are huge!  He must have checked out some encyclopedia volumes.  Also, take a look at his clothes.  A sweatshirt and striped pants are not a combo one would see today.  Bobby puts his brainpower to work right away.  He shares with Marcia and Jan a textbook definition of television.  In a funny and sarcastic reply, Marcia says, “You really took a load off my mind.”  Next, Bobby shares with Mike and Greg that the fourth longest river in the world is the Ob in Siberia.  Longer rivers must have been found since 1972 as Britannica.com lists the river as the seventh longest.  I only know this because I wanted to look up the spelling of Ob for this review.  Fourth or seventh, Mike and Greg could care less about the trivia Bobby shares and both leave to do their own thing.

closeup

Wanting to help Bobby feel important, Alice sends him to the meat market for two pounds of sausage for a meatloaf.  Sam must sell just one kind as she doesn’t specify what kind of sausage she needs.  Maybe Sam would know because she is a regular customer.  Well, Sam won’t be at the shop.  He is making Greg’s deliveries and leaving him to close the store.  Sam and Alice have a date for the demolition derby.  The closing duties include putting the meat away, wiping down the counters and locking the door.  It would seem a sweeping of the floor should be added too as it appears to be covered in sawdust.  However, I learned today that was at one time common in butcher shops.

 

 

When Bobby arrives at the store, we get a second go around of high drama for this episode.  With all the meat stashed away, Greg must go inside the meat locker to retrieve Alice’s order.  Bobby quietly follows him in and shuts the door.  This is bad!  Although the laugh track did play a single person laughing at Bobby doing this.  Sam has a policy that the door remains open anytime somebody is inside the meat locker, as it is antiquated and can only be opened from the outside.  If the door can’t be opened from the inside, I wonder what that silver handle is for.  Greg attempts to whack the handle with the broadside of an axe, but it only breaks as the axe strikes it.  He then breaks the axe trying to pry the door open with it.

 

 

The third escape effort has Greg breaking the window with the axe handle.  The window is too small for Greg to fit through, per the script.  To me it looked like he would be able to wriggle through.  Since he won’t fit, it is up to Bobby to save the day.  To his own surprise, Bobby says, “I sure hope I am small enough.”  With Bobby out the window he goes to payphone to call for help.  He comments on how cold the dime is he has to use and Greg angrily compares the dime’s temperature to his own.

rescued

The scene transitions to Alice, Sam, Mike and Carol at the butcher shop.  A pry bar is used to remove the handle and free Greg.  Sam comments he will modernize that meat locker no matter what the cost!  I could not help but wonder if Sam’s entire inventory would now be lost due to the damaged door.  Something else that didn’t make much sense was Alice’s attire.   First off, she and Sam seem way too well dressed to attend a demolition derby.  Maybe at the time folks dressed up regardless of the occasion.  Secondly, since we know the sausage never made it home, was she going to make the meatloaf dressed like that?  Bobby is thanked for saving Greg’s life.  Never mind that he was the one who imperiled it by closing the meat locker door!  Bobby is now glad he is little.

epilogue

The epilogue has Bobby standing on his head trying to prevent growth.  Just kidding.  It really has Greg giving Bobby a surfing lesson on Greg’s surfboard.  Peter is sneaking up to splash water on Bobby, but Bobby was tipped off and ducks at Greg’s warning of a big wave.  The water misses Bobby and splashes Greg instead.  The scene is just the Brady boys having fun.

Thank you for joining me to review “Big Little Man”.  It is another solid and enjoyable episode and an example of The Brady Bunch in top form.  The strains of credibility are few and far between.  It was also fun seeing Sam again.  Next week’s review will be of “Dough Re Mi”.  Have a great weekend!

 

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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.

23 thoughts on “Episode 15: Big Little Man”

  1. Sam mentioned if Bobby grew 6 inches a year till he turned 21, he would stand at 10’2″. After doing the math I realized if Bobby was 10, and he grew 5 and a half feet for 11 years, he was 4″8″. That is average height for a 10 year old boy. Also, in the previous season’s episode “The Winner”, Bobby was 4’3″, therefore, he grew 5 inches that year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A solid episode, with believable situations and no slapstick. Seems to equate to what Robert Reed expected in this situation. But how did the facts about the Ob river and some of Napolian’s successes get by him? With Reed being such a history, Shakespeare, and Encyclopedia authority and especially as the episodes’ director, it is surprising that it was missed.

    With the friction between Robert Reed and the Schwartz’s, I am even surprised that Robert was permitted to direct any episodes, and he got to do three of them. I would sense a certain arrogance or at least opininatedness with Robert as a director. Kind of like, “OK, Sherwood, and Lloyd, let me show you how an episode story line and script is supposed to be followed.

    Good call about Alice being over-dressed for the Demolition Derby. Also, what did the Brady’s have for dinner that night? Would Alice and Carol have had time to prepare the meatloaf and accompanying sides for dinner, following the meat locker incident? Or did they have leftovers that night? Did Alice even get her sausage for the meat loaf?

    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wondered the same about Robert Reed’s being allowed to direct. Maybe it was thought if he was “thrown a bone” from time to time and allowed to sit in the director’s chair, he would be less difficult to work with. This episode’s directing duties may have kept him busy enough to miss the incorrect trivia/history and Cindy’s bad math calculation. Maybe Alice thought Bobby was taking too long/got distracted and had to make something else o nthe fly and go ready for her date. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  3. I agree that the scene where Cindy says “that Bobby nearly fell of the house” was hysterical. Susan Olsen did indeed nail it and the look on the faces of the three of them was priceless.
    I used to wonder why the director’s didn’t catch the mistake when Cindy said that Bobby only grew half an inch. She should have said an inch, since she moved the marker a half an inch.
    Allen Melvin always brought some extra humor to the show. Like when he said that he was such a pee wee in kindergarten that he flunked because the teacher couldn’t see him so she kept marking him absent.
    Very funny episode. Well acted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that this was a solid episode, and it has also always ranked among my favorite “Bobby” stories.

    A few thoughts:

    1) I grew up in a two story four bedroom colonial (in NJ), built in the early 60s. The homes in our development had shutters, but they were also of the decorative type and they did not close or even move. They were completely fastened to the exterior walls of the homes. We had them in the front windows but not the back or sides. The shutters were strictly for viewing from the street. They were nice and did add a nice look to the homes.

    Re: fixing the shutters from outside.. probably gave Greg a better angle than leaning out of the window.

    2) Greg’s phone call… at first it does seem strange that he wouldn’t tell Alice to take a message, but I guess that surfboard was pretty important to Greg (important enough for him to get a job to pay for it), so if he’s waiting for a call with info on the board, I guess I can understand him climbing down the ladder to take the call. Granted, Alice didn’t tell him who it is, but perhaps he was expecting the call anyway.

    3) What the heck was Alice doing climbing that ladder?? She couldn’t just call the guys to the window if she wanted to ask how things were. Notice that when Greg and Bobby brought her in through the window and on to Jan’s bed, they kept sliding and fell to the floor, but there just happened to be a big stuffed animal right there on the floor for Alice to land on.

    4) Sam’s former delivery boy… that was a lame reason to create an opportunity for Greg to get the job… a 16-year-old that wanted “fringe benefits”…spare me. And “free filet mingone” yet? Just an opportunity for a joke, I guess, but it was just bad.

    5) Susan Olsen was wonderful in the scene when she spilled the beans about Bobby!

    6) I think Cindy’s math may have been OK from her standpoint… she may have thought Bobby made a mistake measuring himself or something along those lines… her telling Bobby that he only grew one-half inch is consistent with what she thinks would have happened (since she didn’t know about Marcia and Jan getting the same idea).

    7) I guess this is the second time in the series that the Brady kids screwed something up because more than one of them came up with and carried out the same idea but didn’t tell the others… the first time this happened was when Peter broke the vase and everyone (except him) confessed without telling each other what they were going to do.

    8) Re: Bobby’s black eye… Carol’s reaction was kind of mild compared to her reaction when Greg winced in paid after the football game (when he sat down in the living room and she noticed him grabbing his rib area). She was practically in panic mode with Greg, but with Bobby’s black eye, she was a lot calmer. I question what Bobby was expecting to accomplish by challenging a boy who was twice his size. I understand Bobby thinking he could do things around the house like fix the shutter, but taking on a boy who’s that much bigger than him… why?

    There really wasn’t much they could do about the black eye… in Peter’s case, he got it while in the act of defending his little sister from Buddy Hinton… so in that case, it was OK for Carol and Mike to talk to Buddy’s parents. But in Bobby’s case, he brought it on himself (just as he did earlier in the episode when he got all those splinters hanging on the window sill.

    Bobby didn’t seem to be in much pain as the splinters were being removed. I’d expect a kid his age to be in agony.

    9) I lol’d when Bobby came home from the library with those books… when Peter asked him what he was up to, he said “I’m on my way to brain power”. Peter says “Brain power? What’s that?”…and Bobby replies, “if you had any, you’d know”. Great line, great delivery.

    10) After Bobby stumps Mike and Greg with the 4th longest river trivia (in the middle of Greg explaining surfing to Mike), Greg notices the time and says “I gotta get over to Sam’s!”… then, out of the blue, Mike says “I gotta go too, bye Bobby” and he takes off… that was just a strange exit for Mike. Wonder where he was going? Greg’s job was after school and all day on Saturdays… doesn’t seem like Mike should have just rushed off like that without a word. I know the idea was to leave Bobby alone because no one is really interested in his trivia, but it was just a weird way for Mike to exit the scene.

    11) When Greg and Bobby are in the meat locker, it does almost seem like Greg could squeeze through, at least from inside the locker. From outside, in the counter area, the window seems a little smaller when Greg looks through it. Maybe his shoulders were a little too broad.

    12) When Bobby goes to call home, he goes to the pay phone. Doesn’t Sam have a store phone he uses? Customers don’t call their orders in on the pay phone number, do they? Yeah, it’s an opportunity to slip in an “I don’t have a dime” joke, but still…

    13) In the final scene, when Greg is “teaching” Bobby how to surf, I wonder if Peter and Bobby were already in cahoots? Did Peter tip Bobby off about his and Greg’s plan, so that Bobby would know to duck at the right time?

    Definitely a very good “Bobby” episode. Thanks for the great review, looking forward to Dough Re Mi!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 7) RE:I guess this is the second time in the series that the Brady kids screwed something up because more than one of them came up with and carried out the same idea but didn’t tell the others…

      Can also classify Dear Libby in this category.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You make some great observations Tweety! Thanks for sharing them. I wondered about Mike’s abrupt exit too. Great comparison regarding Carol’s reaction to Bobby’s black eye to Greg’s injury in a past episode. You are right, from a parental standpoint, not much could be done about Tommy Huxley’s actions. I was thinking more in the broader terms how a schoolyard fight these days (at least where I live) results in all kinds of action from parents, administrators and sometimes even the police. There was a time when a handshake the next day following the scrap resolved it, but today it’s a legal, psychological and extreme disciplinary issue. When I was in school (20+ years ago), fighting was an automatic three day suspension. I think the suspension is even longer today.

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      1. Very true about schoolyard fights today… of course, it wasn’t clear exactly where Bobby and the other kid were when Bobby challenged him…if it was on school grounds, seems like some teacher or administrator would have gotten involved. In a lot of areas, there are spots near the school that serve as meeting places, and if two guys want to have it out, they’ll agree to meet there after school. It’s usually off school grounds. And you’re right, many fights are forgotten the next day with a handshake. But fighting on school grounds would definitely mean a suspension, and this was true in the early 70s as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Regarding the pay phone at Sam’s butcher shop, actually it was Alice’s discovery of the pay phone at his shop that eventually led to the pay phone being installed in the Brady home in season one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One other thought… re: Greg’s getting a job to buy the surfboard… seems like in TV land, the only reason a kid ever gets a job is to make enough money to purchase a specific item (in this case, a surfboard). Don’t kids in TV land ever work just to have money to do things with their friends, go out on dates and buy general things like clothes and records ?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We seem to be in a trend of “Bobby is Small” episodes all near each other. One episode ago the Teeter Totter episode ….now Big Little Man…and three episodes in the future Bobby the little guy bets bigger guy Greg who can do
    more chin ups.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, good point! I guess we can chalk it up to typical little brother stuff…although, as the youngest in my family, and a brother who was 4 years older, as a kid I was kind of intimidated by the things they were able to do… they were both very mechanically inclined and also very good with woodwork. I tried to learn what I could from them but never went around challenging them and claiming that I could do things just as well as my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Some other funny exchanges took place when Greg and Bobby were trapped in the meat locker. Like when Bobby thought he was suffocating and Greg said, “quit pretending like this is some sort of submarine movie!”. Or when Greg told Bobby to exercise if he was cold and Bobby started jumping around like, as Greg said, he had “ants in his pants”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One thing that I also like about this episode is the nice sensitive interaction between Sam and Bobby without Sam’s lame “I am a butcher” joke lines at every comment. Are there any other episodes with Sam that we don’t see these lame jokes? It really cheapened his character, where without the butcher jokes, or maybe them toned down by at least fifty percent it would make Sam more likeable. One line I always liked from him in “Sorry Right Number.” was when he says, “Somebody has to take Alice to the movies, it’s one of those pictures with an R-rating and she ain’t sixteen yet.”

    Jack

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts! I always liked Sam and found him a nice blue collar contrast to the Brady family. We do see him at his most sensitive in this episode. I liked in “Sorry, Right Number” when he wanted to hang around and watch Mike call his potential client back and “see how it turns out”.

      Like

  9. I always wondered why Greg did the maintenance on the grounds – this episode and a couple others, including fixing the swingset. What’s wrong with Mike? He certainly doesn’t work extended hours, often home before the kids.

    Bobby wears the most interesting clothes – he has loud pants more than anyone else, and interesting shirts, especially in the later seasons.

    When I was in elementary school, boys got into fights nearly every day (and this was Catholic school). I was involved a few times. Rarely did anyone really get hurt. Suspensions were almost never given out – sometimes detention (on Saturday morning), sometimes nothing. Even the nuns realized that boys fight, and no harm done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Cindy was correct. She lowered the tape half an inch. So when Bobby says “I grew an inch and a half,” Cindy corrects him accurately, at least to her knowledge. She had no idea Jan and Marcia lowered the tape as well. Since all Cindy knew was that she lowered it half an inch, she would have no reason to subtract anything.

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