Hello again dear readers! Thank you for joining me today to look back on a fun spoof of The Brady Bunch. On February 5th, 1989, an episode of the sitcom Day By Day aired an episode where one of the characters dreams he is a part of the Brady family. In case you have not seen it, a Youtube link for the episode is below. It is here that I viewed it for the first time in nearly 30 years. I also obtained the screenshots from here, so please excuse the lackluster quality of them. Let’s begin our review!
Video Link: https://youtu.be/gapSLY5Fxbo
I remember seeing this episode when it aired during prime time. Other than viewing this one particular episode, I had zero recollection of the series as a whole prior to starting this review. I had to Google it for more information. To my surprise, it was associated with the long running series Family Ties. The fathers on each show were college roommates. So in the same TV world where Steven and Elyse Keaton worried over the conservative era of Reagan clashing with their flower child pasts, another family ran a day care and enjoyed The Brady Bunch.
The premise of Day By Day had a husband and wife with successful careers shucking their high paying jobs to run a day care. Thrown into the mix was their teenage son Ross, a toddler aged daughter, a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a neighbor and a pre-Melrose Place Courtney Thorne-Smith as a nanny. The show starred Douglas Sheehan and Linda Kelsey as the parents and Christopher Daniel Barnes as Ross. Thora Birch played the daughter. If any readers are more familiar with this series as a whole, please share your thoughts!
It is a well known bit of Brady trivia that Christopher Daniel Barnes would later play Greg in the Brady movies from the 1990s. He did not reprise the role for the third Brady film where Mike Brady is elected president.
The episode begins with Ross utilizing some vintage 1980s technology to watch a vintage 1970s show. I remember those little hand held TVs being quite the novelty at one time. A friend and his dad were utilizing their own to watch Alf one night at church while waiting to have their photo snapped for the directory. That was advanced technology at the time!
Ross is soon joined by the neighbor, Eileen, and the nanny, Kristin, and they all sing the Brady Bunch theme song together. It was a nice nod to the show’s longevity that so many knew the words to the theme song by heart.
Along with some vintage 1980s tech, this episode also treats us to some vintage 80s fashion. Check out that shirt Ross is wearing. At the time it was current and stylish. Later in this episode, we will see him wearing some laughable 1970s duds. Now, this episode gives a glimpse to the dated fashion of two decades! Eileen’s business attire would still be considered fashionable today or at least it would not catch my eye like a leisure suit or parachute pants would. Kristin’s outfit does have a 1980s Gap vibe, but probably would only reveal that under scrutiny.
The conflict of this Day By Day episode is that Ross has written a lousy history paper. The conflict is revealed with some of those classic 80s sitcoms tropes. The other characters vow their support and then balk moments later. The issue at hand is rendered more grave by dialogue of the other characters still unaware of the said issue. In this case, the parents reflect on the teacher that gave Ross the bad grade and how easy it was to pass his class. These tropes are predictable and heavy handed, but they sure were fun back then.
Ross blames his bad grade on a recent Brady Bunch marathon. Part of this crappy paper stated that Benedict Arnold was the pig on Green Acres. Well Ross, if you were watching a Brady Bunch marathon, you should be well aware Benedict Arnold was not the famous swine from Green Acres. Your parents are so right to be disappointed in you. You didn’t pay attention in class or while watching The Brady Bunch. Ross laments that Mike and Carol Brady would not be angry with one of the kids brought home a bad grade.
Ross must hit the books as part of his punishment for the F paper. This is where the fun begins as he dozes off and dreams he is a part of The Brady Brunch. The opening of the original show is altered in that it excludes Susan Olsen from the opening head shots. I assume the little girl taking her place was the actress who played Ross’s little sister on Day By Day. Outside of this shot, the child does not appear elsewhere in the episode. Susan Olsen is also absent from this mini-reunion. Sadly, we won’t see Eve Plumb or Barry Williams either outside of these opening credits.
Ross finds himself in the Brady home of old and greeted by Carol. Florence Henderson adorned the lady mullet for this spoof. Either the studio audience or a well crafted canned excited audience track erupt upon her entrance. True to the original show, she enjoys one cup of coffee after another. Missing was that pea green coffee pot Alice always served from. In this introduction, we learn that Ross is no longer Ross, but Chuck Brady. We get the only mention of Cindy and Jan here. Carol gleefully shares that Cindy is at a bake sale and Jan just ran up to her room and slammed the door.
Soon, Robert Reed comes from Mike’s den sporting a mustache and some classic Mr. Brady attire. In a funny bit, he chides Chuck about his long hair. The boy refuses to have it cut, but Mike Brady isn’t asking that at all. He asked that Chuck get that long hair permed. Most devout fans of the show now know the curls of the Brady men came naturally, not chemically, but this was still a really funny line. It was fantastic that Robert Reed took part in this, despite his misgivings about the original series. Perhaps this opportunity to poke fun at it could not be resisted by him.
It is soon revealed that Mike is carrying a ukulele. He cracks a silly joke about taking it to a roaring 20s party. He says that’s where “we all get roaring and act like we’re twenty”. Carol of course finds this hilarious. Throughout this entire dream bit, Florence Henderson and Robert Reed look to be having a blast spoofing their old characters. It was great to see them together having so much fun.
Soon Ann B. Davis makes her entrance. She references the boxing gloves she is wearing as being a gift from Sam The Butcher. It was nice that her old beau was at least referenced. As of 1989, Miss Davis did not appear to have lost a step. She dances around throwing jabs and looks as fit as ever. I’ve shared before that Ann B. Davis was known to be in excellent health right up until the day she passed. Her death took those who knew her by surprise. During this scene, Alice also mentions Buddy Hinton giving Chuck trouble at school. Whoever crafted this spoof seemed to know the show very well.
The audience is then treated to the arrival of two of the Brady boys. Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland enter the scene. It was funny seeing Bobby with a mustache, still dressed like he was 12 years old. They introduce the mini-conflict of the episode when they share that Chuck is running for student council president. Chuck refuses saying he does not do extracurricular activities. Here Mike pulls aside Chuck and the music is queued that accompanied wisdom being shared on the original series. The “talking to” lasts all of 15 seconds as Mike shares facing new challenges is part of growing up and closing with “I’m glad we had this talk” as the music stops abruptly. It was a funny well done parody of the original series.
The next scene has Maureen McCormick entering the dream sequence. A very pregnant Marcia rushes over to Chuck to share with him some “wonderful news”. Chuck is taken aback by a pregnant Marcia. At the time this episode was filmed, Maureen McCormick was pregnant. I remember when I watched this years ago, Chuck questioned if Mike and Carol knew Marcia was with child, but this is cut from the version posted on Youtube. It’s a shame too because it made for a really funny exchange. The wonderful news Marcia has to share is that she is running for Student Council president.
The remainder of the dream sequence treats viewers to more silliness via the spoof of the original series. At one point Chuck suggests he and his brothers get on their bikes and go someplace, but is rebuked by Peter saying “we never ride our bikes” followed by Bobby saying “we just fix them”. While us die hard fans of the show know this not to be true, to a casual viewer it makes for continued hilarity. Eileen and Kristin appear in the dream as two of Marcia’s cheer leading chums and kind of stand in for Jan and Cindy. The boys and girls march across a the living room, divided by a white line, in support of the candidate of their gender. Carol intervenes and Marcia states she wishes she was part of the Partridge Family. Another super quick “lesson” is shared with the music queued.
The dream sequence comes to an end with a laugh. Mike again shares the roaring 20s joke. When questioned about this by Chuck, Mike states he knows the joke was shared all ready. Carol states they are now in a rerun. Alice reenters throwing jabs and belts Chuck Brady, returning him to reality as Ross. Well, almost returning him. Ross awakens from the dream only to find his actual parents dressed like Mike and Carol Brady. This lasts only a few seconds as he awakens again to his own reality. The bit concludes with his own parents becoming enraptured with an episode of The Brady Bunch.
Thank you for reviewing this episode of Day By Day with me. I chose to review it as it is a testament to that lasting legacy in pop culture the Bradys left us. At the time this episode aired, the original show had been off the air almost 15 years. This episode is but one of many examples of how the Bradys have remained such a powerful mainstay in pop culture. We just saw the original house used only in establishing shots undergo a major renovation as the nostalgia associated with it was so great, so many did not want to see it razed. There a few classic TV shows with such staying power. Please share your own thoughts with us on this episode/spoof. The plan for the next review is The Brady Brides. See you soon.