Greetings once again readers family and friends. It is great to be back reviewing The Brady Bunch. I will say I was hoping for more feedback on the Leave It To Beaver blogs. Thanks for all those who shared their thoughts and those who did not are still welcome to do so. “Two Petes In A Pod” ranks among my very least favorite Brady Bunch episodes. It is probably second only to “You’re Never Too Old”. The sheer absurdity of Peter meeting somebody who seems to be a perfect DNA match to himself, save the need for eyeglasses, has always fueled my dislike for the episode. Even as a child I found the likelihood of this ever happening straining all credibility. I can’t think of any way a story like this could have been written within the bounds of credibility. Somehow, Robert Reed could be motivated to vacate the set over a plot involving faulty hair tonic, yet he stuck around for this? As always, the episodes review will be fair and balanced despite my dislike of it. If you have similar or different feelings regarding the episode, please do share them. Let’s begin our review of “Two Petes In A Pod!”
The story begins in the halls of Fillmore Junior High. Peter begs and pines for a date with a girl named Michelle. After Peter suggests he is developing a rejection complex after she has turned him down all semester, Michelle relents and agrees to go to a costume party with him. This is surprising as many women would not find such desperation on Peter’s part attractive and would have continued to turn him down either due to genuine lack of interest or to stroke her own ego in knowing there is one suitor that just won’t be obliged. Men are just as guilty of doing this as well. Michelle must be a special kind of gal or Peter is so infatuated that he is okay with taking her out only because he wore out her resolve.
Michelle was played by Kathy O’Dare. IMDB lists this episode as her second acting credit. The few that followed were nothing memorable, save two appearances on Happy Days. Her final acting credit was in the 1978 feature film “Texas Detour”. Kathy O’Dare passed at the relatively young age of 52 in 2010.
Just after landing a date with the object of his affection, Peter rounds the corner and meets Arthur Owens. Arthur looks exactly like Peter Brady. The only difference between them is Arthur wears glasses. The pair of boys even have the same hairstyle, tone of voice, complexion and build. Shenanigans await as the two fellows consider the possibilities of having a carbon copy of themselves.
That afternoon, the identical duo put the resemblance to the test. While Peter hides in the garage, Arthur enters the house with a rundown of the names of the other kids. Oliver is observing a checkers game between Bobby and Cindy. He subtly coaches Cindy with nods or shakes of the head. Bobby takes issue with this. Bobby must really stink at checkers if he must bemoan Cindy getting help from an eight year old. When Arthur enters, he declines any interest in playing and declares checkers a drag. The other three kids find this strange as Peter typically is a big fan of the game. Alice offers up a slice of pie and is shocked that “Peter” would want cherry and the rash that comes with it instead of lemon.
The deception continues when Greg and Marcia invite Peter to accompany them to go swimming. “Peter” declines saying he doesn’t swim and refers to Marcia as Jan. Greg mentions Peter’s fine swimming ability and says it is probably best he doesn’t go since he seems to be acting so strangely. I have no recollection of this particular part of Arthur posing as Peter. I noticed a slight change in the picture quality during the exchange which leads me to believe it was excluded in syndication.
Things turn awkward as Arthur lays eyes on Jan. He is love struck at Jan’s appearances and starts fawning over her. She finds this strange, but not creepy as one might think she would. While Arthur helps Jan with her algebra, he agrees to keep Mr. Phillips’ niece Pamela company on Friday night. He also agrees to continue helping Jan with homework. As she goes to retrieve more study materials, Peter summons Arthur back out to the garage. They both have a laugh over the ruse and Arthur is on his way. He mentions nothing about the promised date on Friday or helping Jan further with her studies.
Back inside, the predictable reverse of all the scenes just played out follows. Peter wants to play checkers, eat some pie and not help Jan with homework. Not helping Jan seemed quite rude. First off, she is his sister and he should lend a hand and second, surely he could reason that maybe Arthur had just promised such in his stead. Next, Peter learns of another obligation Arthur committed him to; the Friday night date with Pamela. For this obligation, just being a jerk won’t free him from it. Mike says the date will be kept!
Peter phones Arthur and confirms he did in fact commit him to chill with the boss’s niece. Peter just doesn’t know what will be done, even though 99% of the viewing audience had likely figured it out by this point. Arthur will come to the house on Friday, dressed the same as Peter and keep Pamela company while Peter goes out with Michelle.
To put his plan into action, Peter seeks to vacate the house. Mike and Carol are all ready attending a banquet with Mr. Phillps, hence the need for his niece to be kept company. Greg and Marcia have dates. Peter springs for the cost of tickets for Jan to take Bobby, Cindy and Oliver to the movies. When Peter approaches the younger three, they decline as they want to watch TV that night. They shoehorn in some popcorn, soda and ice cream as part of the movie package and agree to go. In the episode’s lone funny line, Bobby was only going to bargain for soda pop, but at Peter’s mention of ice cream has it added to the bill. If movie tickets and concessions were of a similar cost in 1974 as they are today, this bribe is costing Peter a bundle.
Many fans know this episode was the first one filmed with Oliver, but the second one aired. As I watched it, I noticed it was not stated explicitly that Oliver lived at the Brady home. We never see the boys’ room with the third bed. Maybe this episode’s script originally sought to have Oliver just visiting or hanging out so viewers might become acquainted with the lad. The closing credits even introduce Robbie Rist. The credits also state Arthur was played by Christopher Knight. I am glad this was made clear as I was wondering where they found another actor that looked so similar.
Craziness ensues on Friday night. Pamela arrives before Arthur does. As soon as she comes through the door, Arthur calls Peter to let him know he is running late. He must babysit his kid sister until his parents get home. He doesn’t know when that will be! Arthur is either one flighty or inconsiderate dude. First he doesn’t tell Peter about committing him to the date, then he calls at the last minute to say he is stuck at home for an undetermined amount of time. If Peter didn’t have worries enough, Michelle shows up early! In a semi-funny bit, he slams the door on her twice. He stalls Michelle in the living room, making sure her back is to the kitchen while he also goes to attend to Pamela.
Pamela likes the idea of dancing around the family room and snapping fingers with Peter for a while. Peter obliges her until he fakes an injury to leave. He rushes back to the kitchen, puts on his costume for the party and then returns to Michelle. He then must stall Michelle again to return to Pamela. This back and forth continues for four of the longest minutes of television I’ve endured for a while. Whatever movie Peter set Michelle in front of must be really engaging as she never once turned around at the sound of the family room shutters closing, Peter changing his clothes or talking to Alice. Arthur finally arrives and Peter sends him around back to Pamela. More family room dancing ensues between the pair and Arthur is oblivious when Pamela questions the status of “Peter’s” injured knee.
Pamela Phillips was played by Denise Nickerson. Her most well remembered role was that of the marathon gum chewer, Violet, in “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory”. As a kid, I really enjoyed the scene where she blew up into a huge blueberry. She also had regular roles on Dark Shadows and The Electric Company. Her final acting gig was in the 1978 feature film “Zero to Sixty”. Sadly, she suffered a major stroke in June of this year. Per a Facebook page sharing her progress, she has experienced some recovery.
Peter’s scheme unravels completely as Mike and Carol return home unexpectedly. They pass through the family room and say hello to the dancing strangers in the family room. They enter the living room to find yet another stranger. Michelle introduces herself and beams that she has a date with Peter. Peter then starts downstairs in full costume and realizes at the sight of his parents that the jig is up.
There is no lesson or talking to for Peter as the episode wraps up. Pamela doesn’t mind hanging out with Arthur as he has two good dancing knees. Michelle is flattered at the length of scheming Peter pulled off to keep their date. Carol is satisfied with the outcome as no feelings were hurt. Mike was noticeably absent from this conclusion. I could not help but think whatever lines Robert Reed had for this part were flat out refused by him. Mike would be livid that Peter would pull something like this on his boss’s niece.
The epilogue has little to do with the episode itself. Alice shares with Carol that Peter’s Dracula costume gave her bad dreams all night. She dreamed that several different monsters were carrying her away. What made the dreams bad was that none of the monsters proposed to her while carrying her off.
Thank you friends for reviewing “Two Petes In A Pod” with me. Had such a plot been part of Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched or some other show that often flaunted the credible, it would have been fun. However, The Brady Bunch was typically kept within the bounds of credibility with strains existing on the actions of the characters, not the overall circumstance itself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share your thoughts in the comments section. If you did not, those comments are welcome too! Next week we will be reviewing “Top Secret”. See you then!