Episode 12: The Elopement

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Byron Webster

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.

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Bella Bruck

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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.

34 thoughts on “Episode 12: The Elopement”

  1. This is to me also a duller episode of the series, but it’s not one I avoid, like “Miss Popularity” (I generally dislike the “swelled head” episodes.). I’ve also noticed from THE BRADY BUNCH BOOK that this episode was produced earlier than a lot of episodes that aired before it, which to me is a possible indicator of a clunker of an episode.

    As you may guess from later in the episode, Mike Lookinland was actually pretty good at the organ (& piano), so he did a good job playing badly here, and slightly better as time went on in the episode.

    I thought Bella Bruck was enjoyable in this episode. She was great at small but memorable sitcom roles. I still remember her as Rhoda’s parents next-door neighbor in their apartment building in RHODA’s most-watched episode, “Rhoda’s Wedding”. She sees Rhoda in her wedding dress and asks her “What’s new?”. Then Rhoda tells her “not much”, and she responds “same here” in a nice understated way. I did feel bad though that this poor woman lived next to Rhoda’s parents, knew Rhoda, but yet apparently wasn’t invited to her wedding.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Combine a Three’s Company “misunderstanding” with the most boring Brady plot and we get “The Elopement” – a stinker of an episode .

    The writers sure take liberty back and forth about if Alice can drive or not. It’s implied in this episode that she can drive, since she forgot the shopping list and had to return, and Carol was obviously not with her. There is no way that she can bring home a Brady-sized shopping order on a bus by herself. Of course, as we all know, there are a number of previous episodes where Alice clearly does not know how to drive nor wants to.

    Does anybody else besides me have fun reading Sam’s various meat posters that are always on his walls?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for commenting Marty! I enjoy Sam’s posters if only to compare meat prices from then to today.

      As for Alice driving to the market, whatever happened to having the groceries delivered? Maybe the kid who brought them refused to come back after being set up and ousted by Marcia.

      I’ve watched maybe two entire episodes of Threes Company. One I saw had Chrissy and Janet finding Jack in bed with another man after a party one night. Turned out the other man was Mr. Roper and the misunderstanding amplified.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah never thought about greocery delivery..excellent point. I’ve read some where that Sam’s meat prices were sometimes unrealistic even then..usually too low. At that time there was a big national meat shortage and prices skyrocketed. Sam and Bradys/Alice have made some jokes over the past seasons about high price of meat. I think you can multiply Sam’s meat prices by about 5 or 6 to adjust for inflation to get a sense of those prices in today’s dollars. If you want to get really analytical you can find a price converter online and you plug in 1973 and it tells you exactly what it is in today’s prices.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Alice could’ve shopped and had the items sent out (delivered) to the house. Back then stores had a thing called “will call.” Especially dept stores used this. You bought stuff, left them there and someone later “will call” to get them.

      Thus Alice could’ve had Greg or Mike pick them up at the store later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eric, with the delivery services now, where you order someone else to shop and bring home the groceries for you, Alice would never need the car!

        Like

  3. Wow, I knew this episode was a stinker. However, I never expected to hear crickets and see tumbleweeds In the comment section though. Here we are on Sunday afternoon and there are only two reader comments! If you can’t say anything nice….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes..good point about the few comments. Ironic that they have the actor from Poseidon Adventure in this episode. He was in a movie about a sinking ship. The Elopement episode is also a sinking ship!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m a little surprised too that more folks haven’t commented yet… hopefully we’ll get to hear from everyone!

    “The Elopement” was bad. By that I mean really bad.

    1) Good point about Marcia and Jan trashing Bobby’s playing… it does seem like it’s one or the other…either the Bradys support their sibling in unison or five of them will trash the sixth.

    2) Ah yes, the opening shot of Mike’s building jogged my memory…that IS a colorful building! The style is similar to the establishing shots of a number of other scenes, but the other building didn’t have all the colors.

    3) I thought the same thing…Sam’s looking for a house for his friend so he calls an architect? I guess Mike is the closest thing he know to someone in the “real estate” business. Besides, how else are they going to get the Bradys involved in this?

    4) “Filet of Sol”… BWAHAAHAAHAHAHA!! That’s HILARIOUS!!! Oh man, my side hurts from laughing…. Lots of lame jokes with the Reverend. The “Reverend” character, to me, is just as annoying as the way former military personnel are portrayed in sitcoms. I pointed out in the Sgt. Emma episode comments that military people are always portrayed as being unable to communicate unless they employ military jargon, and are utterly incapable of relating in the slightest way to people who aren’t career military… same thing here, the “Reverend” makes a bunch of lame jokes supposedly based on “Biblical” words. Just really, really bad writing. Filet of sol… give me a break.

    5) Pretty sad that Alice has to ask for Saturday night off…with the kids being the ages that they are, they should be able to be home by themselves if Mike and Carol have to go out. Even if Greg, Marcia and Peter go out, we know Jan will be home. She NEVER has a date for Saturday night.

    6) When Mike and Carol talk about giving Alice the week off Carol says she’ll call it to get a replacement from the Employment Agency… holy cow, we’re back to the “family can not function without Alice, even for a few days” premise. How old are these kids again?? And like wow, Carol was really annoying in this episode. But I love the lady who came over about the housekeeping job! I cracked up when she tested the furniture for dust!

    7) Sam suggests giving matching bowling balls for wedding gifts…sorry, that’s too idiotic to even be funny. Although it’s possible I thought it was funny as a kid.

    I think the main problem of this episode is that the entire family is made out to be this stupid. It’s one thing for the kids jump to conclusions about something, but for Mike and Carol to be dragged into it is just ridiculous.

    This was Just a really bad episode all the way through. Too many lame jokes to count, starting with the “Reverend”. Sam and Alice’s fight was lame and the whole family looked like idiots. There’s actually a lot to admire about the Bradys… their integrity (for the most part), the fact that everyone almost always tries to do the right thing… but this was just really bad. Lol don’t know how many ways I can say it

    You make a great point that since the audience knows that it’s not Alice & Sam who are eloping, the episode doesn’t work from the beginning. If it could have been arranged that the audience not know that there will be no marriage for Alice & Sam, it might have turned out differently. But it would take an awful lot to save this episode. I say just dump in on the ash heap of history and leave it there!

    Oh, forgot to mention, Jan looks very nice in yellow! That’s about the only good thing I can think of re: this episode!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. She sure does. Jan wore a lot of green and a lot of yellow during the last season, I thought she looked great in both colors. That’s a great cap you posted of the family smiling at Alice, Jan looks so purty! And lol at Mike peeking out from the table!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Did anyone ask this yet? Why was Clara’s elopement such a big secret? I mean if Alice mentioned this to the Bradys, who were they going to tell? I never quite got that. And how big a secret was it if it was happening at the local church with the Reverend who obviously was a family friend of the Bradys. Were the Bradys close to Clara’s parents and would they have snitched on her? I really didn’t get that. Why didn’t Clara and her man go to Vegas and really elope secretly?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow..never even thought about it, but you are so right. Why would the elopement be such a secret? My only guess is that elopement in the 1970s may have had a negative social stigma. Otherwise: I dunno!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Great point Tripp! I almost brought that up in the review, but was trying to shred some level of believability in the episode and thought maybe, just maybe, the Bradys somehow knew Clara. However, your point about the Reverend openly discussing the pending nuptials with Sam is a great one and one that had not come to mind. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. So Sam likes champagne. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the first, and possibly only, time that alcohol was seen or mentioned on the Brady Bunch?

    Bewitched, on the other hand, was absolutely full of alcohol drinking. Seems like they were always drinking on that show.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The pilot episode, which Me-TV reran this weekend, mentioned not only champagne for the wedding but also tranquilizers, since Mike took one to calm down before the wedding.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think that was the battle of the doctors from Season 1. Mike is apparently getting a taste from a swizzle stick as he says “at this point I’d settle for a witch doctor.”

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry for the delay in commenting. Everyone so far has been right on the money. This was one lemon of an episode. Coming two weeks after my favorite season 5 episode (The Cincinnati Kids-there was no episode December 1st), this outing was a letdown and the worst pre-Oliver season 5 show. Seems like it takes longer to watch it than it did to write it. Part Three’s Company (the misunderstanding) and lame jokes, this episode just doesn’t go anywhere. The most surprising thing about this is Robert Reed’s participation in it. With all of his careful attention to detail and realism, you’d think he’d be foaming at the mouth about the script.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You’re right. Friday November 30, 1973, ABC had a rerun of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, which also preempted THE ODD COUPLE that night, as it ran 8-9 PM ET.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. I wonder if bella brook ad-libbed the finger testing for dust during rehearsals and it was added to the script. This episode was so poorly written it’s hard to believe the writer/writers could come up with something that funny when the rest of the writing was so putrid.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I agree with Doug (and disagree with everyone else apparently), but more so. I thought it was a perfectly good episode, funny enough and entertaining. Why Sam would call Mike instead of a realtor (and the assumption that Mike is buddies with realtors and knows anything about the market) is silly, but as it goes along with the plot I really don’t have a problem with it. My daughter and I like to watch these episodes (mostly BB and Leave it to Beaver) and pick them apart, but we wouldn’t do it unless we liked watching them.

    I got a kick out of Bobby’s poor organ playing at the beginning. Before this (Johnny Bravo) Bobby told Greg to ‘let them know I play the organ’. Uh, not really! But he does improve a bit during the episode. I liked seeing the folding kitchen stool serving as his seat. My mom had one just like it. Still does!

    Unlike Alice, I don’t think of an electric mixer as romantic, but it’s certainly more practical than bowling balls, seeing as most people mix, but most people don’t bowl.

    Marty, I also like reading Sam’s posters.

    That Carol would need a substitute for Alice for just one week would be ridiculous for most people, but for lazy Carol it’s entirely believable.

    And why was Alice wearing a wedding dress to someone else’s wedding?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I suppose Sam loves bowling so much that he cannot fathom the idea that anyone else would not also love bowling. The problem we, the audience, never find out.

    If you stop to think about it, if Clara and her fiance are bowlers, like Sam and Alice, bowling balls are great gifts. They are (and were back then) expensive and I assume will be engraved.

    But there isn’t even a throw-a-way line to give us indication like Alice saying, “but the couple doesn’t bowl” or Sam saying, “Clara’s been bowling since she was ten years old.”

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My 2 cents:
    This seems to be another S5 ep I’ve never seen.

    This had the single, BIGGEST change to the Brady dynamic of Season 5 (other than Cousin Oliver), that I’m aware of: Alice and Sam got engaged!! The BB seems to share the philosophy of another ’70s series, BARNEY MILLER in that, most of the action occurs off camera, with the characters relating what occurred, back on the main set. In BM, arrests happened off camera and then they were brought into the precinct. On BB, weddings, Greg’s graduation, dances, Roaring 20s Parties and Sam’s proposal to Alice, were all off camera. I get that it saves a boat load of money, but it really diminishes what is a HUGE announcement. I had no idea that they ever progressed past dating on the main series, until this seeming afterthought mention, during the closing minutes. Good to know Alice finally got her man to commit (well, sort of).

    As the reverend walked away from the meat counter, he gave a “pinched” look as he peered into his change purse. A nice bit of character play.
    Either the Bradys don’t talk to their Reverend after services or they hop around to other churches in the area. He seems to know them but not more than their names.

    Boy that Mike – Sure is swell guy, isn’t he, giving Alice “the WHOLE day off”, to elope? He said it with such grandeur, believing she was getting married when Alice asked only for Saturday night. Glad he came to his senses and eventually upped it to about a couple weeks.

    Coming back from a commercial break, there goes that blue convertible driving past the Brady house again; must be a neighbor.

    Carol sure was LOUD dealing with Mrs. Harris. Oh, and annoying. Really, really annoying.

    I agree that the bowling balls may have been perfect for a bowling couple. Sam knows his cousin well enough that she wanted him to stand up for her at her elopement, so why not? However, electric mixers are MORE “romantic”? Really? I think Alice has been a maid too long.
    You know what’s even more romantic? Sam giving Alice that gift of “4 pink panties”, even if they are wrapped around lamb chops. Hmm, now I think maybe Sam has been a butcher too long.

    The most unintentional laugh of the episode: everyone has been using “bowling” as a euphemism. When Carol says to Alice to take all the time she needs tonight, Alice replies, “Sam can never stay awake for very long after we’ve been ‘bowling'”. *snicker, snort* Hey, I know it’s juvenile, but in this episode, you have to take your laughs where you can find’em!

    Finally – what’s up with Greg’s giant bowtie? It looks like it’s applying for its own S.A.G. card.

    Like

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