Greetings once again readers, friends and family. Thank you for joining me today to review “My Brother’s Keeper”. The episode first aired on November 2nd, 1973. It is one well remembered among fans as it has one of those silly Brady plot lines where something is overpromised and quickly overwhelms the one making the commitment. The story is light on drama and offers a few chuckles. This week we have no guest stars to review. This is a completely “organic” Brady Bunch episode as we have only the main cast involved and everything takes place at the Brady home. Let us begin our review of “My Brother’s Keeper”!
The story begins in the backyard. Peter is listlessly digging a hole in the flower bed and slinging dirt on the Astroturf. Greg stands atop a ladder and is painting a shutter. Either the Bradys have bought new window adornments or somebody took the time to strip all the old paint off the shutters. That would be no easy task! Greg gets a phone call and takes a most unsafe shortcut to go to the phone. That ladder is not a stable enough platform to try to enter a window as Greg does!
Bobby exits the house with trash in tow. He stops to chat with Peter for a moment. Somehow, the garden hose is wrapped around one of the legs of the ladder. Such a twist on a hose would take effort! That does not happen by accident. Why it is like that is not made known. As Peter goes to water the flowers, the precariously twisted hose rocks the ladder. Bobby valiantly shoves his brother out of harm’s way and is rewarded by being covered in paint. Peter is shaken up by the incident. He notices how the ladder smashed some terracotta pots and says that could have been his head. Readers, help me understand just how Peter was in peril here. Based on the way the ladder fell, it does not look like it would have landed on the middle Brady son. It appears to me that Bobby pushed Peter in the direction the ladder was falling. Bobby was standing in the same place Peter was and only suffered a paint spill. Maybe Pete was just being overly dramatic or maybe the set dresser was not on his or her game that day.
Later that day, Peter sits at the desk in his room and writes out his will. All of his earthy possessions will be left to his brave and courageous younger brother. Carol visits Bobby in the bathtub. She says Alice made a special dinner for the heroic Bobby. Bobby bathes different than most as his head is under the faucet. Yes, this was done as it would have been easier to film than if Bobby was sitting the normal way, but it just looked strange to me.
Down at the dinner table, the b-plot is introduced. The girls room is getting an update a-la new wallpaper. The trio cannot decide what color they want. Marcia suggests earth tones add a relaxing ambiance to a room. Greg cracks a funny joke that earth tones are restful if you are dead. Peter chastises his sisters for arguing of such petty and minute things when life has so much more to offer. Bobby’s saving his life that day has Peter contemplating mortality and seeking to live and value life to the fullest. Carol asks if Peter is taking Bobby’s actions a bit too seriously. Peter is certain that he is not.
Alice brings out Bobby’s hero’s dinner. It is Hungarian Goulash. She declares the dish all American due to the fact that Zsa Zsa Gabor became an American citizen. Maybe news of Zsa Zsa doing this was topical back in 1973. I know who that lady is, but can’t really see her American citizenship being that big of a deal. Maybe it was bigger news due to the Cold War. With the main course on the table, Peter announces that his gratitude for Bobby saving him will see that he is now Bobby’s slave for life. This proclamation is made right in front of Mike and Carol who do nothing to dissuade or discourage such a commitment. Surely they don’t think this will be sustained or even end well.
Peter’s lifetime of slavery begins in the next scene. He walks in on Bobby shining his shoes and will have none of that. He takes over the polishing duties and encourages Bobby to do something he enjoys. Bobby seeks enjoyment via listening to a radio, but its static ridden output prevents this. Peter will fix the radio instead of attending a party being thrown by Barbara. At this point, Bobby is gracious and humble at his brother’s giving ways.
The b-plot continues in the girls’ room. The new wallpaper will be a bright yellow floral design across a white background. This was not necessarily agreed upon, but decided via the flip of a coin. This will be the first major redesign of a room since the series began. Well, Greg’s attic digs were a big change, but they were also not commonly seen before he made the room his own. Check out Mike’s shirt in this scene! Did he wear his pajama shirt under his suit that day? I know the seventies had some crazy styles, but that just looks clownish.
Peter’s servitude to Bobby continues the next day as the elder brother is building a go-kart for the youngest. Bobby goes inside to enjoy his copy of a “Dr. Stran” comic book. This is obviously a Dr. Strange comic with the “ge” obscured to avoid any copyright concerns. Bobby receives a phone call asking him to come watch a baseball game. Bobby can’t make it as he has hedge trimming duty. During this scene I wondered if maybe the neighborhood association or maybe just Mike and Carol allowed hedge trimming during certain hours only. I don’t see why Bobby could not have trimmed the hedges after the game or maybe the next day. He can sit around and read a comic book, so the hedges can’t be too urgent of a task. Bobby really wants to go to the baseball game and gets an idea when he sees Peter coming.
Peter’s indebtedness to Bobby seems to be over before Bobby even seeks Peter’s labor. Peter’s thumb suffered the fate of a hammer blow as he worked on Bobby’s go-kart. Peter seems none too happy about it. Just a few minutes before, he would have said something, “A smashed thumb is nothing in comparison to a life lost” or something like that. Bobby shames him into taking over the hedge detail and Peter begrudgingly agrees. Talk about a quick change. Carol observes the entire exchange between the two boys, but does not stop it. She could have easily said the chore was Bobby’s and must be done by him. Instead she questions if Bobby didn’t just take advantage of Peter and states he has been running him ragged.
Bobby arrives home from the baseball game and shares his friend pitched a two-hitter with a final score of 14-13. A lot of walks were given up during the game. Man, this must have been one boring game to watch if that many batters were walked. Bobby again tries to take advantage of Peter’s pledge. He suggests in a roundabout way that Peter help him sell magazines so he can win a surfboard. Peter is none too interested and a fight erupts between the pair. Peter calls Bobby a selfish creep and emancipates himself from being Bobby’s slave.
Check out Bobby’s hair in this scene! This is not the first time we’ve seen a Brady boy with a mess of a hairstyle.
Up in the girls’ room, prep work for the wallpaper has begun by Mike, Greg and the girls. One can’t help but wonder why Bobby and Peter were not drafted to help with the wallpaper detail. Bobby enters and asks to speak to Greg. Before Bobby can even ask, Greg says the answer is no; Bobby cannot move up to his room. Bobby says there is no respect for heroes. Maybe Bobby’s bad hair was hiding a swollen head!
Back in the boys’ room the feud continues. Peter seeks to be extra annoying by using his bedpost to noisily crack nuts. At one point, he is just tapping the hammer on it, sans a nut, to annoy Bobby. Bobby tries to return the favor by playing his radio. Peter escalates things a bit further by turning on a TV. The Brady boys’ room becomes a room divided as Peter lays down a ribbon of tape. Bobby points out that the bathroom is on his side of the room. This statement is followed by the sound of a toilet flushing.
That evening, the entire family has plans except for the feuding brothers. Alice stayed up too late the night before watching “The Demon That Devoured Detroit”. Classic TV is full of characters referencing fictitious horror movies that often involve a creature wreaking havoc on some major city. I can think of examples on The Andy Griffith Show and Sanford and Son right off the top of my head. Greg is leaving for a date. The girls are sleeping over at a friends house to avoid the odor of fresh wallpaper paste. As they leave, I could not help but notice they are not carrying any bags. Maybe the friend was loaning them pajamas or they were just going to sleep in their clothes. As Mike and Carol leave for the night, they encourage Bobby to apologize to Peter and put the ordeal behind them.
Bobby goes upstairs and gives Peter the “crummiest apology” ever. He apologizes for saving his brother’s life. Peter of course does not accept the apology. Things escalate again and Bobby hurls a pillow at Peter. It is thrown with such force that it breaks the toy plane Peter was holding. So angered is Peter that he chases Bobby around the bedroom. Bobby seeks refuge in the closet and Peter angrily leaves.
As Bobby tries to leave his place of safety, he finds he is stuck in the closet! The door knob falls off when he tries to exit. Fortunately for Bobby, this is one spacious closet. Seriously, that closet is almost a room itself. There is plenty of room for Bobby to stretch out and relax until help comes along. Instead of taking advantage of the space, Bobby panics and begins pounding on the door. The only help available to him, his brother Peter, is downstairs chatting it up on the phone.
Eventually, Peter’s evening of phone call socializing ends and he returns to the bedroom battle ground. He recues a panicked Bobby who is most grateful. Bobby worries about running out of air or dying as a result of a non-existent fire. So worked up was his mind that he feared spontaneous combustion could have occurred while he was in the closet. We have seen Bobby overreact when trapped before. When he and Greg were stuck in the meat locker, his mind led him to think it was much colder than it actually was among the frozen meat. With Bobby’s rescue comes a genuine apology. Peter at first tries to enslave Bobby, but Bobby puts a stop to that saying they are even now.
The epilogue shows the completed wallpaper job in the girls’ room. In my opinion, the bright yellow hues don’t quite match the tan carpet. The room looks kind of washed out. This led me to question if such an earthy floor tone also existed when the room was pink. A check of an older episode confirms it did. Carol begins to suggest other updates for the room, just as she did when her’s and Mike’s bedroom was painted, but Mike nixes it.
Thank you for reviewing “My Brother’s Keeper” with me. It is a fun episode and one well remembered among fans. While many of season five’s plots seemed a bit crazy or over the top, I could easily see this episode playing out in an earlier season. Your own thoughts on the episode are most welcome! Next week, we review “Quarterback Sneak”. See you then!