Hello again! Thank you for joining me this week as we review “The Elopement”. The episode first aired December 7th, 1973. I found this episode to be a real snoozer. It falls in line with “Career Fever” as far as entertainment goes. The past episodes that centered on Alice were quite enjoyable. Usually Sam’s presence in the story can liven things up too. The bland quality of this episode suggests it was filmed using the outline of an idea some writer had that was inadvertently sent to the producers who heard the 5 o’clock happy hour calling and wanted to call it a day. If your opinion of this episode differs, we would love to have you share your thoughts! Let us begin reviewing “The Elopement”.
The story begins with Marcia and Jan arriving home and walking through the backyard. They find Bobby in the garage practicing playing an organ. They are none too supportive of his attempts to learn the instrument and celebrate that he has been made to practice outside. The Brady kids were either 100% in support of their siblings or seeking to make sure they were thoroughly torn down. I am sure if Jan had attempted to learn to play the organ two episodes ago, she’d have had the resounding support of her siblings. Bobby defends his lackluster playing by saying his teacher likes his music. He is then asked why the teacher sent the organ home with him if the music was so enjoyed. In my mind, the teacher saw a level of potential that could be built upon by Bobby practicing at home. Marcia and Jan were at their worst in this scene. As they walk away, Bobby plays a mournful sound on the organ. This was a funny bit and one of the episode’s scarce laughs. Maybe Marcia and Jan’s attitude toward Bobby sent me down the negative road for this episode from the outset.
Inside, Alice is on the phone with Sam. His cousin Clara is looking to elope Sunday morning and he and Alice are going to be in their wedding party. Sam wants this kept a secret. Marcia and Jan enter and overhear Alice and Sam’s conversation and immediately assume it is Alice and Sam that are eloping. This misunderstanding will make up the entire episode’s plot. The conversation between Alice and Sam also involves their bowling date for Saturday night. The misunderstanding is fueled further by Alice’s discussing plans for the bowling date.
The two oldest girls talk to Mike and Carol about what they heard. Mike downplays the suggestion that Alice is eloping as she would have given advanced notice to he and Carol. Great thinking Mike! Now, if only you could have remained this reasonable the rest of the episode, this boring story could have been avoided! Carol tells the girls that Alice’s decision to elope or not is none of their business.
The thought of Carol doing all the housework and cooking must have motivated her to be a bit more curious about Alice’s plans as the next scene has her trying to pry information about an elopement out of Alice. Carol states that an elopement was her and Mike’s original plan for marriage. At the suggestion that somebody in the household was planning an elopement, Alice thinks Carol is speaking of Marcia.
Mike’s suspicion is raised when Sam calls him at the office. Sam seeks Mike’s input on low cost housing for a friend. Mike assumes Sam is speaking of himself. Mike tells the butcher, “Sam, I am an architect who designs huge buildings for clients in Hawaii, Ohio and our city government. I don’t design low cost housing. You really should be calling a realtor.” We all know Mike doesn’t say this, but I wish he had and the rest of the episode could have been about Bobby learning to play the organ.
The more interesting b-plot continues back at the Brady house. Bobby’s skill level has improved in that he can play more quickly, but Cindy says he still sounds awful. If Bobby sounds so bad, then why are Cindy and Peter just standing around listening to him play. Bobby was too kind here, I’d have told Cindy to buzz off. Cindy shares with her brothers that Alice and Sam will soon be eloping and encourages Bobby to learn the wedding march.
Back at the butcher shop, Sam is selling a half pound of ground round to a man of the cloth. He tells Sam to make certain that Clara and her soon to be husband are at his house promptly at 8 as he has another wedding at 9. Wait, shouldn’t this guy be preparing a sermon or something on a Sunday morning? Maybe the services don’t begin until 10 AM. Marcia and Greg enter and make polite conversation with Reverend Melbourne. He knows the kids well and inquires about the family. Apparently, the Bradys still have some involvement with a local church, even though we have not seen them attend or mention such since season one’s “The Voice of Christmas”. The three casually discuss wedding ceremonies and the reverend says he is doing a lot of them as of late. For some reason, this cinches the idea that Alice and Sam are getting married in the minds of the two oldest kids. Why the reverend saying he has plenty of weddings to work automatically equals Alice and Sam are getting married is not made clear.
Reverend Melbourne was played by Byron Webster. He had a long acting career in film and television. His only recurring role was on the sitcom Soap. He appeared in the feature film “The Poseidon Adventure”. His final role was a 1990 episode of Knot’s Landing. He died in 1991.
The next scene has the girls sharing the fact that they saw Alice leaving the dress shop. The entire family is now convinced that Alice will soon be eloping. Just then, Alice enters the family room and asks for Saturday night off. Naturally, the convinced family thinks this is so she and Sam can elope. The girls all give knowing and loving gazes to Alice who is a bit confused by the attention. Out in the garage, Bobby practices the wedding march on his organ. Alice questions the tune he is playing and Carol says it doesn’t sound a thing like the wedding march. Carol is way to savvy for a joke like this to be believable or funny for her character.
With Alice off on an errand, Carol has the opportunity to acquaint the temporary housekeeper with the Brady home. The second chuckle of the story comes as we see the housekeeper slyly check for dust. A common lament among viewers of The Brady Bunch was why the Bradys even needed a housekeeper when Carol did not work. I’ve never faulted the Bradys for having hired help as Carol was a very active parent in the kids’ lives and often seen helping Alice prepare lunches and meals. However, if Alice were only going to be gone a week, I think Carol could have shouldered the extra responsibility for a few days. When she was gone before and Alice out of commission, the kids were all tasked to pitch in and help. However, if Carol or the kids had taken on extra duties, we would not have had the attempt at humor that follows as Carol tries to explain away Gladys Harris’s presence when Alice returns unexpectedly. Alice forgot the shopping list and returned for it. Carol pretends that the potential employee is an old friend who just dropped by. Carol overdoes it sharing fake memories with the confused woman and sends her away.
Gladys Harris was played by Bella Bruck. She appeared in the feature films “Alligator” and “The Cheap Detective”. She appeared on several hit shows to include Mannix and Rhoda, but often in unnamed roles that were identified as “woman” or “landlady”. Her final role was the TV movie The Ugily Family. She died in 1982.
The bowling date for Alice and Sam is off when the pair get into an argument about the gift for cousin Clara and her intended. Sam wants to get the pair his and her bowling balls. Alice thinks this is a terrible idea and she and Sam have words over it. It escalates to Alice telling Sam his tie is ugly and his meat prices too high. Also, their bowling date is off as are their plans for Sunday! I could not help but think how Alice was leaving poor cousin Clara in the lurch as she had all ready agreed to be the maid of honor at her ceremony.
In the next scene, Mike and Carol let Alice know she can have the entire week off, not just Saturday night. A bit confused at their generosity, Alice lets them know she won’t even be needing Saturday night off as her bowling date is cancelled. This spurs the family into action as they attempt to mend fences between Alice and Sam. Carol meddles in suggesting Mike call Sam and invite him to the house so that he can discuss the low cost housing. The kids also try to speak to Sam and Alice who each say the other must make the first move in apologizing.
All the meddling has the intended result of healing the rift between housekeeper and butcher. After an icy reception by Alice, Sam says he has decided to get Clara and her man an electric mixer as a gift. Man, the one time I priced these, they were expensive. Sam could have been intending to buy a hand held mixer as those cost less. Maybe electric mixers were more affordable in 1973. Otherwise, that’s a nice appliance to gift to two newlyweds. Of course, bowling balls for the pair may be pricey too.
The reconciled duo leave for their bowling date and the Bradys spring into action setting up their wedding reception. Alice says she will be back in a few hours and Carol acts confused. For all the completed party preparation we see in the following scene, it looks like they were ready and willing for Alice to return in a short time. Mike sends them away with a request that Sam take care of Alice. This could have been funny with a better script, but at this point in the episode it just seemed like a tired joke.
When Alice and Sam return home they are welcomed with a reception that includes well dressed Bradys, streamers, champagne and a cake. Bobby clumsily plays the wedding march on the organ in the episode’s third chuckle. The confused victorious bowlers finally make clear they were not married nor planning to be. The entire family is embarrassed but decides to party anyway. Sam does make an eloquent speech. As it begins it would seem he is about to propose marriage or set a date to marry Alice. Instead, his solemn words are followed with the good news that the meat packers advanced in the bowling tournament.
The epilogue has a well dressed Alice talking to Mike and Carol about the wedding ceremony. She confirms that she and Sam are engaged, but he won’t commit to a century for the wedding.
Phew, thank you for reviewing “The Elopement” with me. The boring factor for this episode was likely amped up in that we as the audience knew the entire time that no wedding was to take place and the Bradys were just spinning the wheels of confusion for naught. There was no question as to how the plot would be resolved as we knew there was no pending wedding for Alice. If you have a different opinion of the episode or just wish to share your thoughts, please do so! Next week, we will have some fun again as we review “Miss Popularity”. Yes, it is a swollen head episode, but I remember it being a pretty funny one. See you next week!