Greetings once again readers, family and friends. Today we review “Career Fever”. This episode first aired on November 17th, 1972. It is an episode with a believable story. The story may be a bit too believable as the episode’s pacing is slower than most Brady Bunch stories. The episode’s b-plot of Peter and Jan seeking to someday work in the medical field might have made for a better a-plot while Greg’s lack of desire to be an architect a good subplot. Let us begin our review of “Career Fever”.
The story opens with Mike arriving home from work while Greg helps Marcia with her geometry homework. Marcia laments never needing to use what is learned in geometry while Greg defends the high school course stating it keeps the mind sharp. Both make a good point and Marcia’s thoughts on the matter are those that will remain with students as long as algebra and geometry are taught in schools. Marcia notices a composition Greg wrote and got an A on. As she looks it over, Mike passes by and hears her commenting on it. Seeking to know more about it, he enters the room and Marcia shares the composition with him. In it, Greg has written that he hopes to someday be an architect like his father. Mike could not be more proud. He references Greg working at the office during the “last vacation”, but did not know he did so as he was interested in being an architect. My first thought here was he was referencing Greg working at his office in “Call Me Irresponsible”, but that was not during a vacation. Mike is so proud of Greg’s ambition that he will not allow him to get an word in as he gushes over Greg’s career choice. However, we soon learn Mike’s pride is unfounded as Greg really has no interest in being an architect. He only wrote the composition stating he wanted to be an architect as he lacked any other subject matter for the assignment.
Greg’s career choice has Mike in an excellent mood later that evening. Greg’s fictional essay has Peter and Jan thinking about their own career goals. The middle siblings share with Mike and Carol that Peter someday wants to be a doctor and Jan a nurse. Why Jan did not aspire to be a doctor like Peter is not made known. Perhaps the episode’s writers were still of that old mindset that limited women to being nurses and men being doctors. The pair are quite excited to be on this career path. Jan says they will cure all kinds of terrific diseases. They set about retrieving Peter’s chemistry set to get to work. In one of the episode’s weak attempts at humor Carol yells to them as they leave she doesn’t want any green hairy things growing in the refrigerator again.
Greg seeks to end Mike’s hopes and dreams by intentionally designing a bad structure. Upon completing it, he takes it downstairs to Mike in his den. Mike is perplexed and even more so when Greg asks, “Isn’t that a great house?” The home Greg has designed has a moat and is both a house and a boat. One must question what Mike sought to accomplish having Greg left to his own devices to draw up plans for a building. Why were they even doing this? Greg is still in high school. Did Mike say, “Greg, I am so proud you want to be an architect, but you must start designing some buildings right away.” Mike says Greg’s bad design shows potential and hard work.
Up in their bedroom, Mike explains to Carol he could not destroy Greg’s confidence by telling him how bad his design was. How good of a design could a teenager with no training in architectural design accomplish? Mike then realizes Greg was working without the proper tools or instruction. He will see that Greg has both when he makes his next design. Again, Greg is in high school! If he really was interested in being an architect, he would have at least four years of college to learn how to be an architect. Let the boy finish algebra 2 and calculus first! In this scene, even Carol realizes what a lousy design Greg has made, so maybe it is really bad even to the layman. I wish we’d have gotten at least one close up of Greg’s poor effort.
Peter and Jan’s self study medical training continues out on the patio. They are looking up the names of random ailments and making a list of them. Among those discovered in the medical books is nasopharyngitis acute “caridohol”. The spelling of “caridohol” is very likely to be wrong here. A Google search found nasopharyngitis, but not “caridohol”. After Jan says having such a disease would be awful, she asks what it is. Peter says the ailment is a cold with a runny nose and adds the great thing about being a doctor is that he/she can make any illness sound awful. Attempts at humor like the exchange just mentioned pepper this episode, but never really deliver a good laugh.
Alice comes out on the patio and finds herself in pain as she bends over to sweep. Peter and Jan jump at the opportunity for some real life medical diagnosing. Alice describes where the pain is while Jan holds up an anatomy drawing. Peter says Alice’s source of pain is too high be her liver. Alice replies that maybe her liver is in the wrong place. Granted, Peter is nowhere near old enough to have any kind of serious medical knowledge, but this line just sounds like another weak attempt to make this episode funny. The scene does end with a mild chuckle as Peter says there is a bright side to Alice having a fatal disease; if she has a fatal disease, she will never get it again.
Career fever strikes the two youngest Bradys as well. Bobby and Cindy share with Alice their career dreams. Bobby seeks to be an astronaut and Cindy a model. Bobby wants to be the first man on Mars. Who would have thought in 1972 that over 40 years later, Mars would only have been reached by robotic research machines? Much like the other Brady kids, preparations for future careers start early. Bobby wants to eat only powdered food going forward and Cindy a healthy diet to help her maintain her figure.
The next scene begins with Marcia helping Cindy with her modeling posture. Another weak joke is tossed in as Marcia instructs Cindy to walk through the kitchen. Cindy says that will be hard as she must pass the cookie jar. Greg then enters the room and has decided it is time to tell Mike he does not want to be an architect. Mike enters and talks over Greg as he gifts him his first drafting kit. With such a fine and thoughtful gift, Greg is unable to break his father’s heart.
As Greg puts his new tools to work in Mike’s den, his father’s word echo in his mind. They are similar to those in the previous scene, but not exact. This may be the first time a voiceover like this was used since “A Fistful of Reasons” when Mike and Carol’s words came back to haunt them when they spoke to Buddy’s parents. Cindy enters with a snack for Greg and lets him know she isn’t to disturb him. In a semi-funny line, she asks if she can ask one more question without disturbing him and questions why he hasn’t drawn anything. He answers that he has certain problems which prompts Cindy to leave so she won’t disturb him.
The next scene is one that likely resurfaced after a few decades of syndication cuts. Alice goes outside to hang laundry and finds Bobby doing astronaut isolation training in the dog house. He has a radio and toy space helmet to help him in preparing for an astronaut career.
Back in Mike’s den, Greg laments to Marcia that Mike has given him some “beautiful tools” and now expects a terrific drawing. It occurs to him to produce an even worse drawing than he did before. Mike will then know for certain Greg should not be an architect. If it took Greg this long to think of that plan, maybe he is not cut out for any career involving creative thinking. What has been Greg doing at the drawing board all of this time? Pondering what nice drawing he should now do since he has some drafting tools?
Upstairs, Peter continues to study the medical book and makes a disturbing discovery. He has found he suffers the symptoms of the disease he is reading about! While he can’t pronounce it, he tells Jan he has the symptoms of shortness of breath, sore fingers and facial discoloration. He thought the sore fingers were from playing baseball without a mitt. What? Unless it is a Wiffle Ball he was playing with, the idea of anybody playing a serious baseball game sans-a-mitt is beyond absurd. He’d be suffering broken bones, not sore fingers. The book states Peter has six months to live. He will break the news to Mike and Carol and tell them to look on the bright side, they will still have five other kids.
The book Peter and Jan study appears to be only a prop. A Google search of “Diagnosis of Disease” by James P. Cabe, MD produced no results. A scan of the closing credits did not list the name James Cabe. I was thinking the prop might have been subtle nod to a person working offstage.
Peter goes downstairs to break the news of his impending death. He beats around the bush asking about a will and says he doesn’t want his new skateboard to fall into the wrong hands. He hands over the medical book so Mike and Carol may read the bad news for themselves. Carol notices that two pages were stuck together; Peter read the symptoms of one disease and the diagnosis of another. The fatal disease Peter doesn’t have can only be contracted after being bitten by a hyena or a bandicoot after it has eaten the bark of “certain trees” in India and South Africa. Let’s hope any doctor looking to diagnose the fatal disease knows what trees are among those “certain trees”. Peter had read the symptoms for Anacardiaceae, aka poison ivy. Friends, I have never had poison ivy, but have suffered poison oak many times. Boy does it SUCK. However, my symptoms never included shortness of breath, sore fingers and facial discoloration. I can’t imagine poison ivy to be very different or include any of those symptoms. As I watched this scene, I thought a much better episode/story might have been Peter thinking he was knocking at death’s door instead of Greg not wanting to be an architect.
As Mike and Carol retire for the evening, Greg brings his second completed drawing. Mike praises it saying it shows “tremendous effort”. Outside in the hall, Greg sorrowfully repeats Mike’s praise back to Marcia. She encourages Greg to tell Mike the truth. Back in the bedroom, Carol asks Mike if Greg is hopeless as an architect. Mike replies what they have here is “Frank Lloyd Wrong”. It was a funny line. Carol then says, “You know Mike, you really haven’t overseen either of Greg’s attempts, you just left him to his own devices from the start. Maybe if you actually instructed him some, his third attempt might be better.” No, Carol does not say this, but one must question what they expected from a teenager’s first attempts at architectural design. Is architecture a two strikes and your out profession? Greg comes back into the bedroom and confesses to Mike he doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps. Mike has no problem with it and the episode ends happily.
The epilogue has Bobby and Cindy revisiting their career choices. Instead of a healthy diet for Cindy and powdered food for Bobby, they request Alice obtain sugary and fattening foods from the market. Bobby now wants to be a professional football player and Cindy a lady wrestler. Alice gives a chuckle worthy reply to their list of sweets by asking, “What do you want for dessert?”
Thank you friends for reviewing “Career Fever” with me. This episode was a rough review that I really had to power through. I could not recall much about this episode before I watched it and now I know why. For me, it was quite dull. It seemed to portray a day or two in the life at the Brady house. Most other Brady plots could begin with a family member years down the road saying, “Do you remember the time when…..” This one just doesn’t have that. Greg b-essing a composition about being architect that pleases Mike just doesn’t make for an engaging plot. Peter and Jan’s medical ambitions, diagnosing family members with this or that, playing with a chemistry set and creating havoc that way would have made for a much more fun episode. Perhaps your own feelings differ from mine. Love or it hate it, I’d enjoy your thoughts on this episode. Next week, we review one of my favorites and what I think is among the best of the series, “Goodbye, Alice, Hello”. The two episodes that follow are also very good ones. Thanks again for your loyal readership! See you next week.