Hello again friends, family and readers. I hope all the readers from the USA had a great Thanksgiving! I really appreciate your joining me this week to review “The Power Of The Press”. I had forgotten what a good episode this was. The ones focusing on Peter tended to be the ones I found most entertaining. This episode’s main plot takes the story beyond the walls of the Brady home and gives us a memorable guest star. Let’s get started reviewing “The Power Of The Press”!
Like so many episodes before it, this one starts with one of the kids arriving home from school with exciting news. Last week when Bobby ran inside, it was noticed the curtains passed through the glass. This week, I noticed they outright disappear! As Peter enters the house, we see the curtains, but when he is inside closing the door they have vanished! This may have happened many times before, but wasn’t noticed by me until now. Once inside, Peter shares the exciting news with Carol and Alice that he was picked, from a lot of guys who applied, to be the new reporter for the school’s newspaper. He will be penning a column titled “The Whole Truth” under the moniker Scoop Brady.
The power of the press is felt quickly among the members of the Brady family as Peter commandeers everyone’s pencils, erasers and carbon paper. Carol shares with Mike that Peter will now be using his “old brown hat”. I can’t see that Mike would have much use for it as we have never seen him wearing a fedora. Also, that thing doesn’t even fit Peter’s child sized head; surely it was way too small for Mike’s noggin too.
The episode’s most questionable parenting decision comes in the next scene. Peter is working on his column in the family room when Bobby and Cindy enter wanting to watch TV. Peter tells them he is now to be called “Scoop” instead of Peter. Bobby gives a funny reply of, “More like stoop”. Peter doesn’t want the youngest Bradys in the family room watching TV while he tries to work. An argument erupts and Mike comes to intervene. Peter argues he must work near the phone in case a hot story comes in. Mike should have replied, “If there is any late breaking news impacting the Junior High school, one of us will call you to the phone” or better yet, “Peter, this is a junior high school newspaper, not the Los Angeles Times. It will be printed once a week at best. Take your work upstairs.” Instead Mike sends Cindy and Bobby upstairs and says when a member of the family finds something important to him or her, the other family members must make sacrifices. A good reply from Bobby here would have been, “Why not let him use your den dad?”
The next scene begins with Marcia and Jan having a puppet show rehearsal. They will be “ribbing” the teachers a bit on Jamboree Night by having the puppets portray them. Let’s hope that only a very small crowd is planned for the event as these puppets are too small to be viewed from any distance. Perhaps Jan and Marcia were going to mingle among the crowd and perform with the puppets. Peter enters and is suffering from writer’s block. Peter says he hasn’t finished his article yet and upon seeing the blank sheet of paper Jan says he hasn’t started it either. This was a funny line. In this scene, I noticed Jan’s glasses have lenses. This was not the case in previous episodes. A known Hollywood filming device is to have bespectacled characters wear frames without lenses to prevent reflection. This was done on previous episodes of The Brady Bunch, but not here. Also readers, this is the last reference that I will make acknowledging Jan wearing her glasses. Had it not been for the lenses, I would have skipped even this one.
The previous scene had Marcia and Jan giving Peter suggestions for the topic of his article. He took them to heart and has finished his piece. Alice and Greg are giving it a once over and are not impressed with Peter’s work. After gently saying it is dull, Alice suggests Peter appeal to the vanity of those he wrote about by really talking up their efforts. Greg makes a very good point as shares that Peter did not name a single student in his article and that kids like seeing their names in the paper. Peter mentioned at the beginning of the episode that he beat out some classmates for this position with the school paper. If he has such trouble finding a topic and then struggles to write an interesting article, one must ponder what criteria were used to pick him as the new reporter. Was it based on English grades alone (proper use of punctuation, sentence structure, etc)?
Once again, the same establishing shot of the school used so many times before is used to introduce the next scene. It is a bit shorter this time and might even be framed differently. Just like the mentioning of Jan’s glasses, this too will be the last time I point out this establishing shot being reused. The producers of this show sure got their money’s worth out of the location shot they filmed back in season one.
The power of the press’s potential to corrupt a body is made known in the hallways of Fillmore Junior High School. It all starts when Peter is approached by a girl named Iris. The nice things he said about her in his article resulted in her being picked to be yell leader (maybe yellier?). I could not quite make out what she was saying. One student’s opinion got her the job? I Googled yell leader and yellier; yell leader seems to be a role limited to Texas A&M University and yellier produced no results. Readers, if any of you know what position Peter’s flattering words gained Iris, please let us know. So grateful is she that she is taking Peter to the malt shop after school. Harvey is the next student to grease Peter’s palm. Peter wrote about what a great dancer Harvey is and is given a box of candy bars. The girls are beating down his door with the knowledge of his dancing prowess. Did Fillmore Junior High have a dance team or a dance recital that Harvey was part of? Or did Harvey just own the floor at some school dance? 1972 was a different (and better) time as if a boy at my middle school was hailed a great dancer, he’d have just been laughed at and not had the ladies flocking to him. Next, Diane approaches Peter in the hallway. His writing about her singing got her a solo at the next performance. She shares with him she will soon be having a super party and he is at the top of the guest list.
During these scenes, the above poster is seen on the school bulletin board. Was this to warn students and teachers that students were hiding knives in common items brought to school? I Googled the term and found nothing about any school clubs, old sayings or even PSAs about “daggers in disguise”. If any reader can share more about this, please do so.
The kids corrupting Peter were played by Jennifer Reilly, Bobby Riha and Angela Satterwhite. This was Jennifer Reilly’s second and final appearance onscreen per IMDB. This one came some six years after her previous one. A Google search produced no further information. Bobby Riha’s film career was limited mostly to television. He was a regular on The Debbie Reynolds show and appeared on other hit shows such as Green Acres and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. His final appearance was in 1976 on an episode of Quincy M.F. Today he works as a freelance photojournalist. His photography website makes no mention of his past acting. This episode was one of two appearances on The Brady Bunch for Angela Satterwhite. She had previously appeared twice on Room 222 and IMDB gives her final acting appearance on a 1974 episode of That’s My Momma. Google offered no additional information about her.
The next scene has Peter calling a friend in search of his next story. As Mike enters the kitchen, Peter quickly switches gears and gives the ruse of calling his friend with a question about schoolwork. Peter fake questions the definition of osmosis. Mike and Peter briefly discuss the upcoming final exams. Peter looks up the meaning of osmosis after Mike walks away. Here it is obvious that the power of the press has seen Peter neglecting his studies.
Knowing his own dire straits, Peter seeks the assistance of Greg and Marcia in studying for Mr. Price’s science exam. Mr. Price has the reputation of being a challenging and somewhat aloof teacher. While he knows science well, his ability to teach it can be off putting to the students. Marcia and Greg suggest rhymes that help in remembering definitions. The scene ends with Marcia holding the Mr. Price puppet and stops in a freeze frame on the doll’s head.
The scene then transfers to a freeze frame of Mr. Price himself. The writers wrote this guy to be one who marches to his own beat, but is no fool or absent minded professor. He does have the curious trait of speaking with his head angled down and looking up at Peter. Peter asks if he is finished grading the exams. He replies he has not and adds “As is my customary procedure, I grade the papers alphabetically, I’m presently up to L.” For me it was just s strange and labored line; why would he explain all that to Peter? I guess it was to setup the humorous line that follows as Peter laments that Mr. Price being at L means his paper was graded. Mr. Price commends Peter on his keen analytical deduction and how it was better than those he made on the exam. Mr. Price states his disappointment in Peter as Peter learns he got a D on his exam. I wonder if teachers like Mr. Price still teach in public schools today. There was a time when a teacher was respected and listened to simply because he/she was the teacher. While I am sure this is still true in many schools, I know that in many it is not. Today, teachers must master communication with students as it seems the burden is on him/her to hold the student’s attention (and no longer the student’s to pay attention). They must administer classroom discipline in an effort to have the students adhere to manners and standards not taught at home. They must also stay on top of government testing standards. All this must be done while still teaching the subject. I have immense respect for those in the teaching profession.
Peter arrives home and for the second time this episode deceives a parent. Carol inquires about his grade for the science final. He tells the truth in that all the papers are not yet graded, but is untruthful in inferring that his was among those not yet grading. To the teenage mind, I can see how this might not be viewed as dishonest or deceptive (despite it being so). He tells Carol he is sure he didn’t get an A and she replies she will settle for an A-minus. I suppose it is nice that Carol has high expectations for the kids, but at the same time, this teacher was known to be tough, so she might be setting the bar kind of high, even if Peter had studied diligently. He had only a B in the first half of the semester.
Upstairs, Peter shoos Bobby and Cindy away with a candy bar from the box of them given to him by Harvey. After Peter explains their origin, he realizes the power of the press sometimes motivates people to give things to others. He gets the foolish idea that flattering remarks in the school newspaper about the stuffy and all business Mr. Price might see him give Peter a better grade. He queries Greg for some flattering adjectives for his “special column” dedicated to Mr. Price.
Over in the girls’ room, Marcia and Jan are practicing the puppet show. Jan says she can still see Marcia’s lips move when she talks. It appears the performance has morphed from a puppet show to a ventriloquist act. Greg interrupts the practice to share Peter’s column with Marcia and Jan. They all get a good laugh at Peter’s comparing Mr. Price to Washington and Lincoln. Mike enters and asks if based on the laughter, they have an Art Buchwald in the family. I had to look the name up, but he was a known humorist with a newspaper column at one time. The kids share with Mike what a dull teacher Mr. Price is. Greg says while he isn’t a bad teacher, he has problems getting through to the kids.
In the next scene, Carol finds Peter’s exam. She and Mike discuss Peter’s bad grade and Mike realizes Peter’s flattering words came to be after he received the bad grade. This leads to the episode’s “talking to”. Mike shares with Peter that the power of the press brings with it a responsibility to be truthful. It is a good talk between the two and a good lesson for the episode. Peter questions what he should do next and Mike replies, “I’m sure you will think of something.” This was a well written and well acted scene that concludes with Mike knowing Peter got the message and knows to do the right thing.
Peter pays a visit to Mr. Price the next day. He shares with him the column that is coming out and how he didn’t mean Mr. Price was the greatest teacher, just fantastic. Mr. Price replies with only a suspicious look. Peter tries to amend his flattery to just the description of terrific. Again, Mr. Price’s look indicates he calls malarkey on Peter’s comments. It was a funny and well acted scene. Mr. Price makes Peter aware that he has all ready seen the column. It is a nice scene where when the honesty finally comes forth, Mr. Price is grateful to know how the students receive his teaching. Peter explains a bit further that he often talks over the students’ heads and this results in part of the detachment. Mr. Price says both he and Peter have learned something from the experience. I wish there could be more conversations like this between adults and young people. It was a really well done scene. It ends with a humorous note as Peter is assured he will receive the grade he deserves and Peter replies, “I was afraid of that.”
Mr. Price was played by Milton Parsons. His acting career spanned five decades. IMDB lists many uncredited roles for him. For those for which he was credited, he often played the part of a butler, clerk or one employed in the end-of-life industry. No recurring television role could be found for him despite his long career. His final on camera appearance was in a 1977 TV movie. Milton Parsons died in 1980.
Peter approaches Mike in the den and tells him that he went to Mr. Price and talked to him about the article. Peter has resolved that he will from now on be an honest and truthful reporter who does not accept gifts from friends and readers. Peter says he feels much better about the situation and Mike says he does too. In a funny line, Peter asks if he could maintain those good feelings until his science grade comes out.
The epilogue begins with Mike signing all the kids’ report cards. There were 12 As, 29 Bs and 7 Cs. What follows is Mike smooching on Carol and her grading his kisses. On his third attempt, he gets an A and they continue making out as the camera does a freeze frame. This is the only time I recall seeing this used in the epilogue. It was also another nice dose of the Robert Reed/Florence Henderson chemistry that worked so well.
Thank you for reviewing “The Power Of The Press” with me. It is a fun and solid episode with a decent story. It also took us beyond the walls of the Brady home for a large part of the episode and those episodes always tended to be more interesting. Next week we will review “Sergeant Emma”. I remember the plot well enough, but very little about the episode itself. Your thoughts and comments are most welcome! Have a great weekend!