Episode 17: Bobby’s Hero

Hello again dear readers! Thank you for joining me today to review “Bobby’s Hero”. The episode first aired on February 2nd, 1973. It is one of the more dramatic episodes of The Brady Bunch, but well done and relevant enough that fans typically do not bemoan it airing. The only pain point I recall others sharing is in regards to the dream sequence that occurs near the episode’s end. I enjoyed reviewing this episode as it gave me a chance to do some research on the famed outlaw Jesse James. Let us begin our review of “Bobby’s Hero”.


The episode begins in Mike’s den. He is again wearing the patriotic themed shirt we saw him wear in Hawaii. Carol brings her man a cup of coffee and slices of bread. She cracks a joke that she doesn’t want to disrupt a genius at work, so she isn’t worried about bothering Mike. The very minor subplot about a speech Mike is to give is introduced open3here. The conversation is interrupted by a phone call. It is the principal of Bobby’s school, Mr. Hillary. The look on Carol’s face when answering suggests this is not good news. Mike and Carol are asked to come to the school right away and meet with Mr. Hillary. As they leave, they bid Alice goodbye. They share they are going to see the principal, but give no further details. Alice says to herself, “I wonder which kid has done what to who and where.”


The next scene begins in Mr. Hillary’s office.  He has called Mike and Carol there to discuss a composition Bobby wrote for class.  The students were to write about their hero.  Bobby wrote about Jesse James.  The principal laments how the press will glorify and give celebrity status to those who break the law.  This remains very relevant today.  While today’s young people are not idolizing outlaws of the old west, there remains a celebration of those who break the law or live life in a most destructive manner.  Recently Snoop Dogg released an album titled “Make America Crip Again”.  The album’s cover shows him standing alongside Donald Trump’s body in a morgue.  Regardless of how one feels about the current president, to glorify his death (or anybody else’s) is just wrong.  While this is just one example, all genres of music and entertainment are guilty of celebrating lawlessness and violence.  What prompted the meeting, other than the composition, was Bobby running about the playground with a cap pistol pretending to hold people up.  What a different time 1973 was!  Even a toy firearm on a school campus today would result in a lockdown and large scale police intervention.  Sadly, in today’s times this would not be an over the top response to a suspected firearm on campus.  Another sign of a past era sits on the principal’s desk.  There appears to be an ashtray there.

Okay friends, I will try to keep the rest of this review relevant to this week’s episode and not the sad state of affairs today. 


Mr. Hillary was played by Richard Carlyle.  His television career began in 1950 and he appeared on countless shows in the decades that followed.  His only recurring role was on the 1951 series Crime Photographer.  His appearances in films were few and far between.  The most notable of these was the Paul Newman film “Harper”. His last IMDB credit was a 1994 TV movie.  Richard Carlyle died in 2009.


Back at home, Bobby and Cindy play outside.  Bobby is pretending to be Jesse James and holding up Cindy.  She pursues Bobby inside and he claims he has crossed the border into Mexico.  Ever the fun and obliging housekeeper, Alice pretends to be the president of Mexico and grants Cindy permission to pursue Bobby across the border.  Bobby questions if Cindy has extradition papers.  Mike interrupts playtime and says he has extradition papers that will see Bobby extradited to his den.  It was a well timed and well done scene.


The episode’s talking-to follows.  Bobby compares Jesse James to Robin Hood.  A classmate even wrote about Robin Hood being his hero and caught no flack for it.  Mike explains that Jesse James was no western hero, he was a criminal.  Bobby will hear none of it.  Mike and Carol conclude that Bobby will likely outgrow his infatuation with the famed outlaw.


The dramatic and solid nature of this episode offers little to poke fun at or question.  It did provide a great opportunity to research Jesse James a bit.  I love history and research.  Per the information I read, there is no record of Jesse James ever sharing any of his plunder with the poor.  Some of the documentaries that I viewed showed that some still view Jesse James in a sympathetic light.  Some people spoke of the famed outlaw as a victim of circumstance and his times.


As the Bradys enjoy dinner, we see them praying before the meal.  This is the first time we’ve seen religion play into the Bradys’ lives since season one’s “The Voice of Christmas”.  Close examination showed that Greg kept his eyes open during the blessing.  The solemn prayer ends and Bobby’s cap pistol goes off.  Bobby is scolded for having a toy at the dinner table.  Why he had his finger on the trigger during the prayer is not called in to question.


The dinner table discussion is heroes.  Cindy declares her own hero to be Joan of Arc.  Another subtle religious reference is made as she notes sainthood among Joan of Arc’s merits.  Bobby says he has no chance of being a woman.  Peter touts George Washington as a hero worth having.  Bobby says he has no chance of being father of his country.  At this point, maybe a few other of Washington’s accomplishments could have been shared.  Bobby could aspire to be a general or even president.  Greg comments how many heroes exist today.  He gives Wilt Chamberlain as an example.  Bobby replies he has no chance of being seven foot four and black.  I have heard this line has been cut from syndication in recent years.  Watching this episode in the 1990s, Greg’s comment gave me pause.  By this time, Wilt Chamberlain was remembered as a great basketball star and quite the ladies’ man.


That night, Bobby asks permission to stay up late and watch a movie called  “Jesse James On The Vengeance Trail”.  Mike and Carol initially balk at allowing Bobby to watch the film.  The movie exists only in the Brady Bunch universe. It is an excessively violent film with a death count that would raise the eyebrows of Quentin Tarantino.  Considering the amount of bloodshed, his parents decide Bobby seeing the movie movie2may in fact be a good thing.  The film looks to be nothing but a collection of stock footage from westerns.  As Bobby watches it, we hear no dialogue and get nothing resembling a plot.  To Mike and Carol’s dismay, all of the violent scenes are edited out of the film.  The scenes of Jesse James killing bank customers and a prospector are not shown.  This leaves Bobby to conclude that Jesse robbed a bank without firing a shot and was only giving his kidnapping victim a ride on his horse.  With their plan in tatters, Mike and Carol decide they will just have to allow Bobby to grow out of his Jesse James obsession.  One must wonder why the TV station would even bother to air this film if so much content had to be cut.


The b-plot surfaces again when Mike can’t find the speech he has written.  He offers a bounty of $1 to the kid who can find it.  Scenes of the kids searching for it are mingled with Bobby obnoxiously imitating Jesse James.  We get a dumb Cindy moment as she asks her sisters if she may help search the trash cans, begins searching and then asks what they are looking for.  The Bradys sure kill a lot of trees!  All three of those trash cans appear to be full of nothing but loose paper!  Bobby pretends to rob his sisters while they search.  Greg and Peter are going to search the coats in the front closet.  When Bobby pretends to hold them up, they close him up in the closet.  Mike happens upon this and orders the Jesse James games to cease immediately.  The scene closes with Carol finding Mike’s speech and asking for her dollar.


Mike returns some books to the library.  He asks if the library has any non-fiction books on Jesse James.  The librarian says there are several.  I love libraries.  It is sad how they now seem to be nothing more than internet cafes with shelves of books for decoration.


The helpful librarian was played by Ruth Anson.  This was one of two Brady Bunch appearances for her.  Her other acting credits are few.  She had previously appeared on My Three Sons.  Her fourth and final acting credit on IMDB was a 1979 episode of Quincy, M.E.  As recently as 2008 she has a writer and producer credit for “Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney”.


The book Mike checks out, “The Real Jesse James”, gives great detail about the fiendish life the outlaw lived.  Mike notices the author lives not far from the Brady home in Sundale.  A Google search lists Sundale as a “former settlement” in California and also as a neighborhood in the state.  The author’s close proximity gives Mike an idea.


The book’s author, Mr. Collins (listed in the credits as Jethroe Collins), comes to visit Bobby.  The elderly writer is delighted to make the house call and happy somebody read his book.  Mr. Collins shares a very sad and somber story about Jesse James.  The famed outlaw killed his father while he travelled aboard a train bound for California. Mr. Collins states that Jesse James shot his father in the back.  This episode seems to drive home Jesse James shooting people in the back, but the research I did does not suggest this was his common practice.  The scene with Bobby and Mr. Collins is very well done.  Next to the Pearl Harbor scene as the USS Arizona, it is among the most somber and serious The Brady Bunch offered.

The late great Burt Mustin

The powerful scene could not have been accomplished without the great talent of Burt Mustin.  This man’s acting career could be a blog in itself.  He did not begin appearing before the camera until he was 67 years old.  He had a very busy career thereafter.  He appeared in over 150 film and TV productions.  Fans of any classic sitcom likely saw him appear on it once or twice.  He is well remembered as portraying the fire captain Gus on Leave It To Beaver.  He appeared on The Andy Griffith Show a few times too.  Burt Mustin passed away in 1977 at the age of 97.  He was still appearing on television the year before!


The talk with Mr. Collins penetrates deep into Bobby’s psyche.  That night, he dreams of being on a train with his family when it is held up by Jesse James.  Opinions on this scene vary amongst fans and my own feelings on it are conflicting.  In the positive column, Mike Lookinland acted this scene very well.  He looks genuinely horrified as Jesse James shoots each member of his family.  The idea that Bobby would dream such after his talk with Mr. Collins is some good writing.  However, the cardboard train the Bradys are riding in this scene just seems like laziness on the part of the production.  The effort that went into making that corrugated wonder probably cost as much as it would have to just dream4have the Bradys sit on a real train from one of the other productions Paramount was a part of.  Jesse James’ gun in this scene looks like another cardboard creation.  Bobby’s cap pistol from earlier in the episode was a more convincing firearm.  Considering the time and effort that was put forth to adorn the Bradys and Jesse James in period costumes, why could they not put forth the effort to have a realistic pistol?  The scene’s conclusion is where things really get complicated.  I completely understand that a show like the Brady Bunch could not have realistic gunshots being fired into the Brady family.  I’ve thought that just the sound of gunshots would suffice, but even that might have been too much for a show like this.  However, Jesse bangJames just yelling “Bang!” with each shot would not have been my solution to avoiding the use of gunshots in the production.  An alternative I came up with would have Jesse ordering the family to their feet with their hands on the wall.  As he raises the gun to fire those fatal shots, Bobby is consumed with horror and fear and pleads for the lives of his family.  Jesse with an evil grin just says, “Sorry kid.  I am Jesse James after all” and cocks the hammer on his revolver.  Here Bobby could wake up and come to the realization that Jesse James was no hero.  Instead, we get the Bradys giving exaggerated gestures as they each die at the sound of Jesse James yelling “Bang!”.

Gordon DeVol

Jesse James was played by Gordon DeVol.  IMDB states he is the son of Frank DeVol who composed the Brady Bunch music.  Gordon DeVol enjoyed many TV appearances.  He was in the feature films “Harold and Maude” and “The Killings At Outpost Zeta”.  IMDB lists no acting credits from 1980 to 2012.  In 2013 he appeared as an anchorman in the TV movie “Phil Spector”.


With the end of Bobby’s horrific dream comes the end of his love for Jesse James.  He visits Mike and Carol in their bedroom and hands in his cap pistol.  He says he no longer considers Jesse James a hero.  Mike and Carol are pleased with this news.  The epilogue has Mike leaving to deliver his speech and Carol pitching a bad architect joke. Her joke is so bad, Mike initially leaves without giving her a goodbye kiss, but quickly returns and does so.

Thank you for reviewing “Bobby’s Hero” with me.  Of all the episodes light on comedy, I feel this one was the best.  The conflict Mike and Carol experience with Bobby’s admiration of an outlaw was realistic.  Bobby’s initial blind eye to the foul deeds of the famed outlaw was believable as well.  Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome!  Next week, we enjoy another well remembered episode as we review “The Subject Was Noses”.  See you then!

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.

49 thoughts on “Episode 17: Bobby’s Hero”

  1. The Brady Bunch-“Bobby’s Hero” Review

    This is it everyone! My number one favorite episode of all time! Not only for The Brady Bunch, but also one of TV’s most remembered moments in shows dealing with kids and school violence. The emotional impact of this incredible episode is years ahead of its time and the acting is amazing. I have only one flaw with this episode, to be discussed later.

    Some background. Bobby was originally supposed to worship a skyjacker, presumably D.B Cooper. A man using a presumed alias “Dan Cooper” boarded a passenger jet demanding money and carried a briefcase, which he said contained a bomb. After the plan made a stop to refuel and the passengers got off safely, Cooper ordered the crew to the front of the plane and parachuted in mid flight. He did this at night, wearing a business suit and loafers with ransom money he demanded from the plan’s crew in another suitcase back in November of 1971. No trace of him was ever found, but in 1980, a young boy found some weathered money on a beach with serial notes that the FBI traced back to Cooper’s money. It is believed that Cooper landed somewhere between Washington State and Oregon His fate, alive or dead, remains unknown. (More info about the case online.)

    Anyway, the network thought the skyjacker was too really, so they settled on Jessie James. The power of this episode begins with the meeting with Mike and Carol, and Bobby’s principle. Mike’s line, “Today’s criminals will probably become tomorrow’s folk heroes.” sends chills down the spine. Today, Bobby would certainly face a suspension, and likely expulsion from school for holding up kids with a cap gun.

    The dialogue is so well done in this episode. But what makes this Brady Bunch episode brilliant is the great acting by Burt Mustin as Mr. Collins. When he tells his story and says, “Jessie James killed my father.” The first time I saw this scene, decades ago, I remember crying and getting chills over it’s emotional impact. A similar experience that I recall if you are a fan of The White Shadow, watch Ms. Buchanan’s speech to a troubled student (She was the Carver High School’s Principal) at the very end of the episode “Just One of the Boys.” It deals with homosexuality, and her talk with the gay student will make you bawl your eyes out! (In a good nurturing way!) I have to go back between those episodes to find a seen with so much emotional power!

    The producers did the scene with no rehearsal for Mike Lookinland. Lloyd took him outside and filled his head with all kids of horrible images like his family being shot and really got Mike all anxious because they did not want Bobby to see the family dying funny. They got it on the first take. When you hear Bobby screaming “No Jessie STOP! That’s my family!! No!!!! No!!! You shot my Dad!” The fear in Mike’s voice was 100% real. Loyd than had to take him outside to calm him down.

    When Bobby comes into the Master Bedroom to tell Mike and Carol that he’s turning in his guns. “I don’t ever want to see another gun again.” The music, and Bobby’s finally realizing that he let his obsession with Jessie James go to his head, is another landmark scene. This episode is so good, that I would recommend it to troubled kids who have issues with guns. When an episode carries this type of amazing emotional feeling and power from 1973 and its impact is still felt today in 2018, that is landmark television!

    It hurts to write about the only flaw in this episode. The actor saying “Bang, Bang, Bang!” as Mike mentioned previously. Use the sound of a real gun going off, when your going for an amazing scene here. Perhaps this was discussed and the Schwartzes and crew thought the sound of a real gun would be too emotional for kids. However, I think they should have used a real gun sound effect anyway. Saying “Bang, Bang, Bang” somewhat ruins the greatest Brady Bunch episode ever made. However, it is brilliant in all other regards, and in my view, the best episode of the series!


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    1. Huge fan of White Shadow and you are spot on with that emotional scene from Just One of the Boys. I always remember that episode also from the ultra-snobby father making derogatory comments about Reeves high school coaching profession (I think it’s the same episode).

      Great comments about the history of this episode including DB Cooper and two producers scaring Mike Lookinland. You are again spot on with these. Glad they didn’t use DB Cooper because it would have kind of been dated and no one today watching the show would really understand him versus Jesse James and it would have made the episode not as good.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks Jack for sharing your thoughts and some episode trivia! That is so true how this episode remains relevant today. It led me to ponder today’s sitcoms and how that moral lesson that was part of so many shows for so many years is gone now. Today’s sitcom is there to toss out a few insults, sight gags and raunchy jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a few current shows, but would have no issue with television bringing back some morality lessons.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. And why did Bobby not worship BENEDICT ARNOLD as his hero? LOL

    I can understand the cardboard train and the BANG BANG BANG. Remember that this is a dream from Bobby’s perspective. If he in his dream downplayed the train and the gun and focused only on his parents dying..so be it. Fans of MASH will remember a famous dream episode from the perspective of each character and you cannot attribute this MASH episode weirdness to any production challenges. It becomes a question if this Brady Bunch episode was a production issue or if it was a purposeful plot device. Regardless, the BANG BANG BANG has always been very noticeable to me as perhaps cheesy…LOL.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for commenting Marty. I loathe that particular MASH episode. Well, almost every episode of the later seasons were ones I did not enjoy. Great point on the cardboard train being part of a dream and not necessarily reality .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, the dream episode is one of the few later season MASH eps that I actually enjoyed, knowing there was little to no humor in it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. Considering Mike and Carol have to deal with three Jesse James related incidents in one day, you could understand their frustrations with Bobby, especially having to be called into school. I like their sarcastic lines, “I am extraditing you into my den right now” and “Move it, Jesse”.

    2. I was in grade school around the time the Brady Bunch was still on ABC and new to syndication, when one of my classmates had gotten into trouble for having a loaded cap gun in class. Too bad for him that his father worked in the same school. He pulled his son out into the hall by his ear and resolved that one faster than Mike Brady would have!

    3. I never understood Bobby’s reasoning at the dinner table. He’s got no chance of being a woman, father of his country, or tall and black, yet he can be like a western villain? I hadn’t noticed his cowboy hat slung on the back of his chair until my first seeing this on DVD. And while I question whether or not sports figures should be considered heroes, Wilt Chamberlain probably wouldn’t be someone Bobby should emulate either, considering his prowess off the court.

    4. I wonder what type of movie Mike and Carol were expecting Bobby to want to stay up and watch. Moonshine County Express? Oh, I’m sorry, that wasn’t out yet! But growing up in the pre-cable days, my friends would often complain about all those violent movies they saw in the theatre being hacked up on television.

    5. Again, Bobby doesn’t know when to quit if he’d rather play Jesse James than win a $1.00 reward for finding his father’s speech like the other children. I thought the background music that played during these scenes was amusing, as if Bobby was posing a real threat. You even hear a bit of this drum roll as Bobby falls out the vault/closet.

    6. I also didn’t noticed the flat gun during the dream sequence until recent viewings. The train scene worked for me years ago as it does now, but it would have been interesting if Jesse James was carrying Bobby’s toy gun.

    7. After being carried away as a law-abiding safety monitor a few episodes ago, the impressionable Bobby now sees a western outlaw as his hero. Instead of Mike’s speech, the show could have ended with Bobby stealing from one sibling to give to another, since Robin Hood was mentioned. Of course, that would have taken away from the episode’s point. Also, Jesse James is mentioned in the first Grand Canyon episode, but it’s Peter who reacts to his name instead of Bobby.

    8. Speaking of firearms, Mike Lookinland appeared in an episode of The Secrets Of Isis, the Saturday morning adventure show produced in 1975 by Filmation (the same company behind the Brady Kids cartoon). In “How to Find a Friend”, Lookinland’s character tries to bribe an older boy into letting him ride his motorbike by loaning him his father’s war pistol. After shooting out a headlight, the boy steals the gun and attempts to go hunting, and the superheroine Isis gets involved before more damage can be done.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Re: professional athletes as heroes… much less was known about the private lives of athletes when this show aired. Even Wilt’s off court antics weren’t all that well known to the public during his playing days. Players in the league knew what each other did when teams went on the road, but the press rarely, if ever, reported on that kind of stuff.

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    2. Funny the name Isis was once considered a proper name that nobody had questions about, and that in 1975 it was the name of a superhero one.

      Thirty-plus years later, Isis had a much less-noble meaning.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A few years back, I said hello to an eight-year-old girl with her mother in a bookstore and asked her what her name was. She said, “My name’s Isis, but I’m not a terror.” “No,” I told her, “you’re a goddess!”

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Your #3: in 2019, the most talked about quote from the hero talk at the dinner table, would have been that Bobby COULD be a woman, if he so desired, and woe to those who dared question THAT decision!

      Your #4: Bobby stayed up to watch “Moonshine County Express”?
      I almost did a spit take of my moonshine, reading that! I see what you did there and I bet Barry and Chris rushed to the theatres (in 1977) to see it!

      Your #7: I also wrote in the Grand Canyon review, that Peter was the JJ worshipper, back then. Too bad there was no discussion between him and Bobby telling him that Peter has grown out of it and that Bobby should as well.

      I took the non realty of the setting to reflect the dreamlike state of it all. But as a kid who loved his cap guns and ones that shot plastic bullets, his vocal “Bangs!” really left me cold.

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  4. The dream sequence was intended to be surrealistic, and that is why they intentionally used a cardboard set. It was never supposed to be anything else, as the writers were already treading in dangerous waters by introducing what was considered a serious subject at the time. The late 1800s costumes, cardboard set, and the verbal BANG, BANG all combined to use surrealism to make the point within the confines of a family show, watched by both young children and adults, during the period leading up to what was soon after called the Family Viewing Hour.

    In the early and mid-seventies, complaints about TV violence were rapidly increasing, and ultimately in 1975 the FCC mandated that the networks show any questionable programs after 9PM. (In those days, children still had bedtimes, and didn’t necessarily have TVs in their own rooms, so this was viewed as an effective strategy.) This 1973 episode was airing in the lead-up to that development, so you can be sure that Schwartzie and ABC both wished to avoid criticism of their family-friendly show.

    The dream was perfectly taylored to fit that bill, and I would suggest that anything else, including even slightly more realistic sounds or props, would not only have compromised the very surrealism that was the basis of the dream scene, but would have shocked a noticeable segment of the audience. We’ve become so desensitized by TV and movies’ constant pushing of the envelope for decades, that we forget that things were not always this way, and our perspective becomes skewed. This episode aired when these concerns about television were just beginning. It reminds me of how shocked I was at the violence in the movie Scarface when it came out in 1983. I wasn’t shocked at the violence per se, because I was living in Miami at the time, had seen the crime wave that was being depicted, all while I was pursuing a career as a police officer. I had previously grown up in New York City during the worst crime and deterioration, and my father had been an NYPD Officer . What shocked me was that all of that violence, especially the chainsaw scene, was permitted in an R-rated film. Scarface had twice received an X rating, and twice had to be re-edited to gain the R rating. What hadn’t been allowed in an R film a few years earlier became standard as a result of Scarface and movies that followed. Now when I watch the uncut version, I’m barely even fazed, so accustomed am I to these on-screen images. These concerns were all new in 1973, audiences were different, and the dream sequence on a usually light family sitcom reflected that. The dream any other way might have worked on The Bradys in 1990, but not on The Brady Bunch in 1973.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. The “Jesse James” episode is a very interesting episode. It really told the point on being careful on who to choose as your heroes. My one issue with this particular blog is that you mentioned the sad word 3 times. Hearing or seeing the sad word is one of my biggest pet peeves. Whenever I hear or see the sad word in situations dealing with everyday life, I always say to myself, “I don’t need to hear or read about it being sad”. And your blog was no exception. It’s nothing personal but I didn’t need to see the sad word once much less 3 times on your blog. But it’s your blog and you can write it anyway as you see fit. Well anyway, I do enjoy reading your blogs. I’m a lifelong Brady Bunch fan and I watch the show on MeTV every Sunday afternoon for the Brady Brunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not a lot of laughs in this episode, but a good episode anyway.

    1) Alice is putting together her grocery list and takes two totally empty cookie boxes out of the cupboard…They put totally empty cookie boxes back in the cupboard? Why?

    2) Why did Bobby refer to Jesse James as “a great American” and then when he’s pretending to be Jesse James, all he does is hold up people? What’s great about that?

    3) When everyone else at the table is suggesting other possible heroes for Bobby why does Bobby reject them simply because he can’t do or be what they are? He rejects Joan of Arc because he can’t be a woman. He rejects George Washington because he can’t be the father of his country. And he rejects Wilt Chamberlain because he has no chance of being 7 ft tall and black. So what are we talking about here, Bobby picks Jesse James because he can totally see himself robbing and shooting people?

    4) For two people complaining about Bobby wanting to watch it Jesse James movie, both Mike and Carol sure seem to know the plot of that picture of pretty well. When did they see it? The TV version was cut drastically because of the violence…but since they knew what violent scenes were coming up, are we to assume that they both saw the movie in the theater? How else would they know exactly when the violent scenes were about to happen?

    5) Good thing Bobby was sitting a few feet away from Mike and Carol during the movie…if he were any closer, he’d be able to hear what they were saying!

    6) So what was so exciting to Bobby about that movie? All it did was just show a guy riding around on a horse not doing anything. What’s heroic about that? And Bobby was really INTO that movie!

    7) Peter was acting like a real jerk putting out his hand TWICE and demanding his allowance. If I was Mike and Peter did that a second time I would say no allowance for 2 weeks for being a greedy jerk and I’d tell him to keep his hands out of my face!

    8) I see that the Bradys wised up when it came to their garbage cans. They now spread all of the wasted paper into three cans. Before, they had apparently packed the paper into one garbage can so tightly that it had a density similar to black hole; thus, they needed a hand truck just to get the lone garbage can down to the curb.

    9) The closet by the front door had some strange looking clothes in it (when Greg and Peter were looking for Mike’s speech)… almost looked like a wardrobe Department at a TV station. It had a strange looking striped jacket that might have been the one Mike wore during the Charleston dance rehearsal in their living room. But it didn’t seem like a regular coat closet at all.

    A little trivia – Wilt Chamberlain was playing out his final NBA season when this episode aired. In the 1973 NBA finals, Wilt’s Lakers were defeated by the New York Knicks in five games, thus ending his career. He retired after that final at the age of 37, having led the NBA in rebounding that year for the 12th time…he may have been the greatest all around athlete who ever lived. His strength and stamina were legendary…at the age of 59 (four years before he passed away), he was still benching 500 lbs. Wilt once played an entire NBA season (at the time, 81 games) and only sat out 8 minutes of the entire season. An NBA regulation game is 48 minutes, but Wilt averaged 48.5 min/game that year, because he sat out only 8 minutes all year, while also playing every minute of overtime, double overtime and triple overtime games.

    In 1973, Wilt came out with his first book… it was titled “Wilt: Just Like Any Other Seven Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door”. It’s a terrific and fun read, I still have my paperback copy of the book (which has been out of print for some time of course, although a few used copies are available on Amazon).

    As a 13 year old at the time, I had been sort of a fan of Wilt’s for several years, but it wasn’t until that book came out that we (as fans) had any idea of his off the court pursuits. We never thought of professional athletes in that light, we just knew what went on during the games and that was it.

    Re: Jesse James – “Little House on the Prairie” once featured an episode involving Jesse James and his brother Frank. The two of them passed through Walnut Grove (Minnesota) on their way out west after a couple of members of their gang were shot and killed during a robbery. At first, they are able to conceal their identities, but a group of bounty hunters comes to town and hands out posters with pictures of the James brothers, and the folks in Walnut Grove now know who they are. The episode has a lot of suspense, and at the end of the episode, we find out that one of the students in the Walnut Grove school was referred to as Bobby Ford. Turns out, he is Robert Ford, the man who killed Jesse James in real life. The show takes place in 1876; Jesse James was shot and killed by Robert Ford on April 3, 1882. Ironically, Ford shot him from behind, hitting James in the back of his head. James was unarmed at the time.

    The name of the Little House episode is “The Aftermath”. It was Episode Eight of Season Four

    Wiki has a good article about James.


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    1. Great comments Tweety! I really like your thoughts on Bobby watching the movie. For there to be no dialogue and to be mostly stock footage, he sure was enjoying it. I still wonder why the station aired the movie if they had to cut out all the scenes that would advance the plot. I didn’t notice the empty boxes going back into the pantry. Great catch!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. btw, re: Dale Murphy… I don’t think you could find a better role model than that guy. There are a lot of good role models in sports (and lots of bad ones as well!) but Murphy was as good a role model as they come.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. On more thing… when Jesse James “kidnaps” the girl, the movie skips to the part where she’s just riding his horse with him… and Bobby says something like “Boy, wasn’t it nice of Jesse to give that girl a ride?”. Seems like a more natural reaction would have been “Ewwww, why is Jesse hanging out with a GIRL??”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’d like to make a slight correction here: Burt Mustin was born in 1884, so when he died early in 1977, he was still a relatively youthful (!) 92. He’d appeared recently on PHYLLIS as Mother Dexter’s bf, whom she married in their last episode. Judith Lowry was already 86 at the time, and she died before this episode was filmed, and Burt Mustin died shortly thereafter. For reasons like this, much younger woman often are cast playing older women, such as Estelly Getty, who was only in her 50s when she played Dorothy’s mom, Sophia, on GOLDEN GIRLS.

    I remember seeing this episode when I was young (not sure if I saw it first-run or not), and I saw the scene like Bobby, where Jesse James was really killing his family. I don’t think I cried about it, but the scene hit me pretty hard back then. I didn’t care or even notice that the set & props were cardboard and Jesse was shooting by saying “Bang! Bang!”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oops, I just noticed another error here. Obviously Judith Lowry was still alive when her character’s marriage was FILMED, but she died before it was AIRED.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting that the totally hacked-up Jesse James movie was an important plot point in this episode, given how Brady Bunch episodes have been sliced and diced numerous ways while in syndication… talk about life imitating art!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I have enjoyed reading over all the posts here on this blog as I too came to enjoy The Brady Bunch as it reached syndication on TV Land when I was a kid. Today I am a librarian…before reading this I had surely thought that you’d have poked fun at how stereotypical the librarian scene was; her demeanor, look, etc. I was a bit offended though that you think libraries are only places that homeless hang out and the books decorate us. That is not at all true and you don’t strike me as a regular library user if you think that. Yes in urban areas homeless are very present libraries (and by the way that woulda been true in the 1970s too)…but book are still a big part of what we do. We have countless book discussions, computer workshops, yoga, author talks, language learning classes…just to name a few. Countless people come in for help with e-government services, want to research something historic, or just need a quiet friendly space that they can work. We are delighted to help you whether you’re homeless or not…and while I do no think we as a career get the respect we deserve, usage of libraries has indeed increased…but yes the way we use them might be different. I strongly suggest you visit your local library and see what great things they offer before coming to the conclusion you reached here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. In the blog I only referenced how libraries seem (to me) like Internet cafes. I never mentioned them being a gathering place for the homeless as your comment suggests. However, my local downtown location does seem to host a lot of homeless folks. I am glad they have the opportunity to use the internet there as it may be the first step in getting back on their feet. Thank you for sharing the wonderful things your own library is doing in the community. I know the local branches here offer some kids programs in the summer and have a rack with government forms by the entrance. I still visit my local branches to check out books or access newspaper archives when I am researching something. Those in your profession get no lack of respect from me. Anyone dedicated to helping people learn and grow gets nothing but praise from me.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Any of the other fans of this site recall what kind of toy guns you and your pals played with: cap, noise, disc shooter, water or the kind that fired plastic bullets?
    I had cap guns and water pistols. My cousin and older brothers had the Johnny Eagle Lt rifle that not only fired spring loaded silver colored plastic shells but, had a roll of caps that went off with each trigger pull!

    I noticed a couple times Bobby had a water pistol in the shape of a German luger; this show was the only time I saw him use a cowboy cap gun. When he had his cowboy gun taken at school, I wondered why he didn’t get out his water pistol to harass his siblings. Afterall, no kid I knew worth his salt only had one toy gun to play with (and no back-ups!)


  12. Just finished watching this episode. While I thought it was fantastic and very powerful there were two points I wanted to mention.

    1. I thought the scene at the end where Bobby comes into Mike and Carol’s room to turn in his gun would have been even more effective without any dialogue whatsoever. Everything that needed to be said was written all over Bobby’s face.

    2. In one of the comments above someone mentioned how during the scene with the Brady’s getting shot the director asked Mike Lookinland to visualize his own family getting shot and he was so distraught that they had to console him after the scene was over.

    Ethically I kind of have a problem with that. By my calculations Lookinland had just turned 12 when the episode aired. While I understand they were trying to get an emotional and intense reaction from him, which it certainly did, that’s a pretty horrible thing to ask a child that age to imagine.

    Perhaps they didn’t think he would take it that hard but I would have felt horrible afterwards knowing that I had caused the kid some emotional scarring.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This was a good episode as it shows how sometimes bad guys are glorified.
    I have never seen this scene with Mike in the kitchen on the DVD and I admit, I wonder what RR thought of Mike’s joke that he shared with the girls. I really hope Mike took that joke out cause I didn’t get it but not sure the architects would get it either.

    I noticed the platter was used as a tray when Carol took it from the kitchen with the sandwiches and coffee for Mike. Seems like Mike is allowed to work from home more, guess Mr. Phillips is okay with that.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Something I forgot to ask, when the kids yell and scream, Mike and Carol run to their aid, how come when Bobby was yelling, the parents stayed in their bed?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The scene of the principal saying that “today’s criminals will become tomorrow’s folk heroes” is very accurate. Look at how criminals like Charles Manson (who was still in the public’s memory when this episode aired) became some type of mythical demigod to a bunch of future generations

    Liked by 2 people

  16. My favorite Bobby episode. Mike Lookinland gives an excellent performance. Burt Mustin actually was born two years after the real Jesse James died. And James was himself shot in the back of the head by Robert Ford, who was looking to cash in on a reward. The Wilt Chamberlain joke was funny, I don’t see anything offensive about it.
    The recent movie “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford” give a fairly believable look at the outlaw. Brad Pitt portrays him as a paranoid thug. Casey Affleck plays Robert Ford, who also hero worships Jesse before he gets to know him better. Jesse tells Ford that all those heroic stories about him are untrue and he treats Ford like a nuisance.


  17. I think this episode is SO out of character with most other BB episodes. It is really one of the only “serious” episodes; hey it was a sitcom! Having just watched it, I was almost floored when I saw the prayer/blessing scene at the table!! This was really “out of the blue.” I’m not criticizing saying a prayer or blessing before meals, and of course it is common on “The Waltons” or “Little House on the Prairie.” But seeing it on the BB was completely unexpected and a little puzzling, at least for me. In the same scene, I noticed they’re drinking MILK with pizza!! Ugh! I like both milk and pizza, but not at the same time! LOVED Jan and Marcia’s outfits in the kitchen scene where Mike tells the joke; also loved their facial expressions in that scene. This is the only episode I remember where they open the closet in the foyer; I’ll have to watch more carefully in other episodes to see if the closet is even there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually kinda liked this episode as this was one of the very few times that The Brady Bunch took their time to address certain issues that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Hero worship is very concerning if a person is showing respect for someone as cruel and malicious as Jesse James.

      To be honest, if I was Sherwood, almost the whole of Season 4 would have episodes like this. I’d take out some fluff like Career Fever, You’re Never Too Old, and You Can’t Win ’em all, and replace them with more episodes like this. For example, in Season 4, I probably would’ve made Peter have depression, a version of Jan The Only Child where Jan becomes disillusioned with her family’s optimistic lifestyle, and Marcia would have a teen pregnancy episode. Maybe even give Alice a tragic backstory to explain why she’s so attached to The Bradys. Season 5 would focus on issues like puberty, the draft, and maybe even have an episode which touches on why Carol married Mike. For the latter point,I would make Carol’s backstory go as follows;

      Carol and Mike were High School Sweethearts, but never ran into each other again once they left for college. Carol eventually married a physically and emotionally abusive man named Roy. One day, Carol ran into Mike again at a shop with his 3 sons, and Mike encouraged Carol to divorce Roy. Once the divorce happened, the 2 started dating and become kindred spirits due to the losses they have faced in life. For Mike, his wife was killed in a car accident, and he’s been finding it difficult to cope. The 2 fall in love and get married.

      I’d probably get rid of Adios Johnny Bravo and replace it with another musical episode; “Bobby’s Rock N’ Roll fever”, which would focus on Bobby becoming obsessed with Pink Floyd after Dark Side of The Moon is released. Greg then takes him to a Pink Floyd concert, where Bobby meets Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and the rest of the band, and the episode ends with them inviting Bobby on stage to play piano during a performance of Great Gig in The Sky. Mike Lookinland was a talented pianist, and that might be a good showcase for his skills. Then again, I don’t think Pink Floyd would be too keen on making an appearance, so David Bowie might be a substitute.

      Seasons 1-3 would be as they are in real life, but Seasons 4 and 5 would be the heavy ones. And perhaps Robert Reed would actually tolerate those episodes.

      And for Bobby’s Hero, I would have actual gun sounds be played instead of Jesse saying; “Bang!”, and if ABC threatened to cancel the show, I would say; “Fuck the censors”, and make The Brady Bunch an indie TV series in order to have more episodes like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the Brady parody movie sequel, I believe Carol’s actual first husband was Roy, as in
        Pr. Roy Hinkley, aka the Professor from GILLIGAN’S ISLAND.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Except this isn’t a parody, and Roy is not a comedic character in my version. Otherwise, if Seasons 4 and 5 had gone in my imagined direction (I accidentally signed into my Google account and posted the above comment, but I’ve signed back into my WordPress account now), would you have enjoyed them?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. As I did not enjoy the dramatic tone set by the short lived THE BRADYS, I can’t say any serious format would work for me.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. I noticed a small editing mishap. When Bobby says; “Boy, isn’t Jesse nice to give that girl a ride?” it seems like Mike Lookinland dubbed himself over the shot where Bobby says; “Wow! Jesse didn’t even use a gun!” because his lips don’t match up with what he’s saying. The reaction shot of Bobby turning from Mike and Carol to the screen is also reused after Mike rolls his eyes at Carol when watching the film

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Here are 5 things I liked about this episode:
    1. Bobby has a change of heart by the end of this episode and realizes that Jesse James is a bad person.
    2. Mike wears the patriotic themed Oxford shirt he previously wore in the Hawaii episode.
    3. Burt Mustin’s performance as Mr. Collins.
    4. Richard Carlyle’s performance as Mr. Hillary.
    5. The Bradies pray before eating dinner.

    Here are 5 things I disliked about this episode:
    6. Mr. Collins sharing a very sad and somber story about Jesse James. The outlaw killed his father while he was traveling aboard a train bound for California.
    7. The fact that Bobby idolizes Jesse James.
    8. The fact that Mike and Carol would let Bobby watch a movie on Jesse James.
    9. I never understood Bobby’s reasoning at the dinner table. He’s got no chance of being a woman, father of his country, or tall and black, yet he can be like a famous outlaw? It’s too bad that Bobby didn’t write about Wilt Chamberlain for his English composition.
    10. Bobby bringing a toy firearm to school and to the dinner table.


    1. gogetter,
      thanks for #5 – I knew they said grace at least once and didn’t know which ep it was.

      I think they shared a bit more on the ChrX ep and in the Very Brady ChrX TV movie, Mike gives a dinner speech, mentioning their many blessings.


  20. As a kid, I was under the impression that Bobby’s hero worship was due to the movie showing Jesse as a good guy, giving to the poor, sharing rides. And Mike and Carol were aware of a violent movie when it was first out.

    Liked by 1 person

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