Greetings again readers, family and friends. Thank you for joining me today to review “You’re Never Too Old”. The episode first aired on March 9th, 1973. Oh friends, I was hoping the years might have been kind to this episode. I was hoping that as an adult, I might appreciate it or at least enjoy it a bit more than when I suffered it years ago. I did not. If there was an episode I could have skipped, this would be it. Dear readers, you were promised a review of every episode and that promise will be kept. If you have a love or affection for this episode, I will let you know in advance, this review will be fair
and balanced, but may seem unkind at times. I know there are many fans of the show who share my own dislike of this episode. I did see a Facebook comment not too long ago where a fan numbered this episode among his/her favorites. Please do share your own thoughts on this episode, love it or hate it. If any of you are familiar with the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, there is a scene towards the end where Dr. Zaius tells George Taylor, “All my life I’ve awaited your coming and dreaded it.” Those are my sentiments on this episode. Let us begin our review of “You’re Never Too Old”.
The episode opens with the floating head shots advertising two of the show’s stars will be portraying other characters. It would be interesting to find out how Robert Reed felt about this episode. I could not help but think this introduction was inserted only to rankle his ire even more if he voiced disapproval with portraying an old man as the script called for him to do. I cannot recall any other television series making it known like this that regular players were playing other roles for a particular episode.
The story begins in the family room as Alice is busy straightening up. Marcia and Jan arrive home from school and Alice shares a surprise visitor is coming to see them. It is their great grandma Hutchins. They are elated at the news as it has been years since they have seen her. The feisty old lady soon arrives and she is as spunky and spry as Marcia and Jan remember her being. The agile lady with a shrill voice and hokey southern mannerisms was written to be a fun loving hip old granny, but man, she just grated on my nerves. The idea that a lady of her age could be so active and full of energy is a nice thought, but the way Grandma Hutchins is played gives the impression she is so high strung it would be a challenge to have a conversation with her.
Mike and Carol apologize to their out of town visitor that they will not be able to have dinner with her that night as they have a previous engagement. Is the lady only in Southern California for the night? The way they apologize suggests they won’t be spending any time with her. Alice and Grandma exit the room as Alice will be showing her where she will stay. I was kind of curious about this myself as the Bradys have no guest room, or one that has ever been mentioned. Of course, neither Mike or Carol have ever mentioned having living grandparents either, so maybe there is an extra room tucked into the Brady abode that has never been seen or mentioned.
Mike and Carol briefly discuss that Grandma is a single lady. Marcia and Jan hear this as they go up the stairs. This gives Marcia the idea to match up Grandma with another single elderly person they know. It turns out that Mike’s grandfather is still around too. Despite, as we will soon see, this man having nothing in common with the spunky old lady from Kentucky, Marcia has the idea to play matchmaker between her great grandparents. Speaking of Kentucky, Carol introduces Grandma Hutchins as the pride of Owensboro, Kentucky. This is an actual city in the Bluegrass State.
Grandpa Brady arrives in the next scene. Marcia had called him over using the ruse of needing help with a homework assignment. The frail old man is as stuffy and scholarly as they come. He greets Alice and then shares some phrase in Latin that only he knows the meaning of. When Marcia and Jan encourage him to meet their great grandma who is “with it” and “far out”, he makes it clear he does not approve of such modern day descriptions.
Out back, the boys are playing basketball and Grandma is refereeing the game. After calling out Bobby for charging, she joins the game herself. The refereeing bit might be removed from syndicated cuts as I recall the scene beginning with her playing the game with the boys. She will show them how Jerry West plays basketball. Jerry West was a Lakers icon in the NBA. Per Wikipedia, it was his silhouette that was part of the NBA logo. His Wikipedia page makes for some interesting reading. Finding it courtesy of this episode is at least one silver lining to reviewing it.
Grandma and Grandpa meet for the first time out on the patio. The initial reception is frosty. Grandma’s over the top personality clashes with the reserved stuffiness of Grandpa. Grandma cracks jokes about his profession that he does not find at all funny. She then has the gall to ask if judges ever go pantsless on a hot day as their robes would conceal their bare legs. With this, Grandpa has had enough and assures her he always wore his trousers.
The makeup jobs done on Robert Reed and Florence Henderson were quite impressive. However, why did they make Grandma Hutchins so pale? She looks as though she might be in Southern California because she landed a role in a zombie movie.
Marcia’s matchmaking ways continue as she requests that Alice conjure up a romantic dinner for her great grandparents. All the kids will bow out of dinner at home that night, leaving the old folks alone. Alice is on board with the idea. For reasons unknown, Grandpa hung around the house until dinnertime. After the icy meeting he had with Grandma earlier, why didn’t he leave? The two share a drink in the living room. Grandpa sits and sniffs the booze while Grandma downs two glasses of it. As the two finish dinner, an argument erupts. Grandpa accuses Grandma of being the orchestrator of the romantic liaison. She says she did no such thing. Insults fly with her calling him an old goat and he calling her no spring chicken. Alice’s flaming dessert is ignored and Grandpa leaves in a huff.
I am willing to give credit where credit is due. Both Robert Reed and Florence Henderson did a great job stepping outside their regular roles and portraying different people. As the episode progresses, it does seem as though we are not just watching Mike and Carol dressed as old folks. Grandpa Brady and Grandma Hutchins do seem like totally separate characters. The problem is all this talent was wasted on two very grating characters. Perhaps the roles they played would have worked as an annoying background character for a sitcom. However, to have an entire episode dedicated to their bickering and personality clashes is just annoying. The idea of sitting in a room with either of them for an extended amount of time is not appealing. Part of the charm of The Brady Bunch was that many of us as kids liked the idea of living in a home like the Bradys had. This episode doesn’t offer that. I have never been a fan of All In The Family on similar grounds.
The next morning, while Grandma is off on her morning mile jog, Marcia learns that the date did not go well. Greg encourages her to leave well enough alone, but Marcia is determined to match them up so they can fall in love. When Grandma returns from her morning cardio session, she says she will never speak to the judge again. Not even if he is the last man on earth with the key to the wine cellar. The conversation about the previous night’s events has her so steamed, she goes to jog some more.
Marcia and Jan visit Grandpa and try to appeal to his fair and reasonable nature and motivate him to make amends with Grandma. He won’t hear of it and speaks some more Latin. It seems the kids’ curmudgeonly great grandfather doesn’t live too far away. It is a shame they don’t visit him more or he doesn’t visit them more. In the kids’ defense, he doesn’t seem like somebody who enjoys a lot of company.
Marcia plans a “coincidental” rendezvous at the park. Bobby is there just chilling with Grandpa. Marcia encourages Cindy to visit the park with Grandma. This meeting between the elderly opposites goes much better. Apologies are offered to one another. Grandma accidentally misshapes Grandpa’s hat. As the two go to mend the smashed hat, their hands touch and sparks begin to fly. Grandpa invites Grandma to join him in seeing the sights around town and then to attend a stringed ensemble performing of Mozart. As Grandma raises her eyebrows at this idea, he changes the date to attend a “groovy” rock concert. It looks like Grandpa will be a tad hip after all.
That night, Mike and Carol are awakened by something going bump in the night. It turns out that Grandma is leaving on the sly. She and Grandpa are eloping to Las Vegas. Carol offers up a full blown wedding for the pair, but Grandma declines. At their age, every minute counts! Grandpa does ask that their elopement be kept a secret as he would get quite a ribbing from the chess club if word leaked out.
When Mike and Carol are awakened by the sound of Grandma’s exit, one will notice a book on Carol’s nightstand. “The Mind Goes Forth” is an actual book. It was surprising to see a genuine title appear on the show. The book can be purchased on Amazon. There are no reviews by any readers/purchasers on the site.
The epilogue has Alice sharing a postcard from the newlyweds with Marcia and Jan. The geriatric couple will be going waterskiing that day. While one can see Grandma doing such, the way Grandpa lumbered and labored about during the episode, the idea of him water skiing is a stretch. This is the last we will ever hear of Grandma and Grandpa Brady. It seems that since Grandpa lived nearby, Grandma would be around a lot more often thereafter. She wasn’t. This is one continuity gaff I am more than willing to forgive. Perhaps Grandpa headed back to Owensboro with Grandma.
Phew. This one was rough to review friends. Thank you for sticking it out with me! Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome. As the closing credits rolled, I checked to see if Tam Spiva had input on the script. He did! Can you imagine this episode without his contributions? Yikes! As far as Brady Bunch episodes go, this one remains my very least favorite. It is a total strikeout. However, you can’t win ’em all. Coincidentally, that is the name of next week’s episode! Please join me next week as we review “You Can’t Win ‘Em All”! See you then!