Greetings once again! Thank you for joining me this week to review “The Big Bet”! It is the first episode of what would become a Brady trend. That being where some member of the family found himself (or herself) to be indentured to some other family member after making some bet or proclamation. This time around, Greg finds himself at the mercy of Bobby’s whims after losing a bet. There is a subplot where Mike and Carol attend Mike’s high school reunion and Carol is challenged to find Mike’s old flame known as “Bobo”.
The episode opens with Bobby whizzing down the driveway on his bicycle. He is really moving quite quickly. His speed would raise concern outdoors, much less on a soundstage! Bobby runs inside in search of his parents so he can share some exciting news about his day. A savvy viewer here will notice the curtains pass through the sliding “glass” door. The adults are no place to be found. Bobby finds Greg in the family room. Greg is talking on the phone to a girl he has recently become acquainted with. He is trying to remind the girl who he is by the meal he had purchased in the cafeteria. This form of recognition brings to mind a funny visual, “Hi, I’m Charley, I have potato salad. ”
“Hello, don’t recall seeing you around before, my name is Tim and I am eating veal cutlets.” “What’s up? Greg Brady, spaghetti and meatballs”. He says he didn’t have a chance to talk with her in the cafeteria because he had to get to basketball practice. Does this cafeteria serve dinner or afternoon snacks? One would think basketball practice would be after school. While Greg tries to woo this girl with memories of lunch, Bobby is interrupting him with news of completing five chin-ups. Greg says while this is impressive for a fellow Bobby’s size, it doesn’t compare to his own chin-up ability. This leads to the “big bet” that Greg can do twice as many chin-ups as his youngest brother. If he fails to double Bobby’s efforts, he will do whatever Bobby says for a week. If he is successful in besting Bobby two times over, Bobby will serve at Greg’s instruction for the same amount of time.
The next scene has Bobby training to win the big bet. It is a bit refreshing to see a Brady in training for something realistic. Greg trained only because he thought he was on his way to the big leagues. Marcia became a diva/tyrant in her delusion of being a modern day Shakespeare actress. Bobby just wants to show up his brother and have him doing as he says for a week. Bobby could have ended any chance he had with his attempt at a bench press, minus the bench. He tries to lift a barbell that is too heavy for him by lying on the ground and reaching back for it. Just watching this scene made my rotator cuffs wince in pain.
Back inside, the b-plot begins. Mike is reviewing the mail and receives a notice that his 20 year high school reunion will be on Saturday. This reunion planning committee is not on the ball. Most people would need more than a few days notice to attend such a momentous occasion. In the days before social media, high school reunions were a much bigger deal and remain as such to older people.
Upstairs, Greg and Marcia discuss the bet he and Bobby made and Greg’s lack of worry concerning it. Marcia hopes Greg beating Bobby will put the brakes on Cindy’s always making wagers against her. Greg assures Marcia that he won’t be too rough on Bobby when he has him at his disposal for a week; he won’t be too easy on him either though. Oh, pride goeth before destruction!
Down in Mike’s den, Carol is looking through Mike’s old high school yearbook. While social media is making a reunion increasingly obsolete, it is also doing the same for yearbooks. This is sad. A yearbook makes available a school year’s memories, in print, that can be thumbed through and remembered. While all this content can be stored on a device, clicking through pages on a computer or device doesn’t trigger memories like the pages of a yearbook. Mike’s yearbook prompts memories of his senior year crush, Bobo. A bet is made between Mike and Carol that she will identify the girl who was nicknamed Bobo; the stakes are the same as Greg and Bobby’s bet. If Carol fails to guess the identity of Bobo, she has to do whatever Mike says for a week and vice-versa. Most adults might politely tolerate such stakes amongst children and possibly even discourage it. In the Brady house, the grown ups take inspiration from childish bets!
Determined to win the bet, Bobby continues his strength training. Alice offers encouragement via a foul tasting vitamin drink. Mike gives Bobby some pointers on lifting dumbbells for optimal benefit and cautions him to exercise safely. Marcia is the jerk in this episode. She comes along and tells Bobby he is wasting his time and efftort; she is certain Greg can beat Bobby with one hand tied behind his back.
Marcia’s comments unnerve Bobby enough that he approaches Greg with a subtle request to end the bet. Bobby cautions Greg that he is now able to do seven chin-ups. Greg says there is no way the bet will be cancelled. I felt bad for Bobby here. He was trying to end this foolishness and save face. Greg, his older and wiser brother, had to know this but chose to still see that Bobby was humiliated and his slave for a week.
The day of the contest arrives. Bobby’s training sees that he completes eleven chin-ups. Peter tells Bobby he is rooting for him and follows this statement with a wink at Greg, showing his true support. Peter echoes the same statement to Greg while he does his chin-ups but with no wink Bobby’s way. This was funny. Greg’s chinning efforts see that he does only nineteen; three short of doubling Bobby’s effort. Bobby’s celebratory effort while annoying is understandable for a kid his age.
The scenes that follow are of Greg’s suffering at the whims of Bobby. While he shines the young lad’s shoes, he is informed that Bobby’s sneakers need cleaning too. After wheeling the trashcan back to the house, he is informed he is chauffeuring Jan and Marcia to the library. At first he refuses, but then learns this is Bobby’s orders. Not only must Greg do whatever Bobby says, the other kids have him at their will by proxy! A funny line from Cindy comes as Greg receives the message that Bobby want him to sand his skateboard. Greg angrily says, “Do you know what you can tell Bobby?” Cindy replies, “Sure, that you’ll do it.” The montage of Greg’s misery concludes with Bobby deciding he wants the last slice of pie just as Greg was about to enjoy it. Alice comes down and takes it from Greg. Did Bobby send Alice all the way downstairs for the slice of pie? She lost no bet to him; she should have sent him down to get it himself!
The b-plot continues in the next scene. Carol is thumbing through the yearbook in search of Bobo. Mike pretends to be talking in his sleep and begins naming names. Carol, unwise to the ruse, begins searching the yearbook for the names Mike mentions. When he mumbles the name Zelda she knows something is up and they both have a laugh over it.
The next scene takes place in the family room. Greg is on the phone trying to make a date with Rachel. Based on Greg’s comments, she suggests that seeing one another at school suffices for her level of interest in him. Perhaps she was just playing hard to get. Greg suggests they attend a double bill at the drive-in. Bobby walks in and eavesdrops on Greg’s plans. In a funny moment, he nods in agreement at Greg’s drive-in suggestion. Upon being informed by Bobby that he will be joining him, Greg makes it known he is dead set against it. Bobby threatens to tell Mike and Carol that Greg is welching on the bet.
The argument escalates to the kitchen. Both boys plead their case. Greg says the bet didn’t include dates. Carol disagrees and sides with Bobby stating the bet had no exclusions. Greg threatens the most logical course of action, he will cancel the date. Bobby has no objection to a trip to the drive in with or without Rachel. During this scene, regular viewers will recognize Wakey Flakies, Bran Shreddies and Sunflower Girl cookies in the cabinet.
For reasons not explained, Greg keeps his date with Rachel and brings Bobby along! Maybe Rachel is such a catch that it was worth Greg’s effort to show her a strange and annoying time than cancel plans. If I were in Greg’s shoes, Bobby and I might have wound up at the movies, but certainly not with a new girl I was trying to get to know. Bobby is his predictably annoying self, demanding snacks and seating arrangements to his liking. In a funny line, Greg chides Bobby for not even watching the movie and Bobby counters with neither are Greg and Rachel watching it. A frustrated Rachel suggests they all watch the movie. We get a brief glimpse of the western playing on the screen. I’d be curious to know if this was from an actual movie or just some stock footage that was on hand for the scene. The link shared in last week’s review gave the location of this drive-in theater in southern California. The theater is no longer there.
As Bobby goes mad with power, he becomes increasingly annoying. He decides he wants the top down on the convertible. This may have been the only time we see the top up on this vehicle on The Brady Bunch. Greg obliges Bobby and lowers the top. As he does, the other patrons at the theater honk their horns as their view is obstructed. How low were their seats or how tall was this top that it warranted aggravated horn honks? With the top down, Bobby decides the threat of rain makes necessary an umbrella. Why this irritated Greg so is not made known. He won’t have an umbrella up in his car at the drive-in. He tells Bobby to put the umbrella away and begins raising the top. Bobby, refuses to do and the top is punctured as it comes down on top of the umbrella! Bobby makes the tear much worse as he tries to close the umbrella through the ripped top.
Back at the Brady house, the mood is light for the moment. Carol determined the true identity of Bobo as the woman simply included the nickname in her introduction. All good humor ends when Bobby and Greg return home in a damaged convertible. A replacement top will cost approximately $150. The Brady Six could have bought more studio time for that price! I wondered why an entirely new top would be needed. Surely convertible tops can be repaired. I suppose if I had that sweet, sweet Cuda, I’d want the top replaced and not just repaired. For a family on a budget though, a repair might have to do. Mike really should have more family friendly vehicle anyway and not some convertible muscle car. The episode concludes with the knowledge that Bobby has learned his lesson about being bossy and getting his way; he also learned a lesson about umbrellas at the drive-in.
The epilogue is fairly simple and straightforward. As winner of she and Mike’s bet, Carol is being annoyingly troublesome in having Mike fulfill her needs. Twice after he has laid down for the night she requests he fetch her another item. It ends with a playful kiss between the two of them.
“The Big Bet” is another serving of that classic Brady formula that made the show itself so memorable. There is sibling rivalry, crazy bets and questionable parenting for allowing such. This episode is solid in a Brady sense and a lot of fun. There is no “talking to” until the episode’s end and other than not being a bossy little brother if you win a bet, no real lesson to be learned. Next week we review “The Power of the Press”. I haven’t seen this one in ages, so it will be fun! Have a great week! I look forward to your thoughts and comments!