Episode 18: Two Petes In A Pod

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!”

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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.

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Kathy O’Dare

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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Episode 31: Beaver’s Sweater

Hello again readers, family and friends.  Today we review “Beaver’s Sweater”: an episode I remember well and always enjoy.  During the course of the series, Beaver and his clothing made for some funny plots.  A most timeless episode was when Aunt Martha dressed Beaver in that getup that looked more suited for an upper class boy in a Dickens’ novel.  Later, Beaver will have a school jacket that offers up a fun episode.  This time around, Beaver’s woes come via sweater he purchased with his own money.  It is a fun episode with a great lesson on parenting.

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There is no doubt a time in all of our childhoods when some item seen in a store window became our “Holy Grail”.  We were determined to own it no matter what!  Maybe our parents made us wait until Christmas, had us use our own money or just said no.  Sometimes the toy or item lived up to all our hopes and expectations.  Sometimes, like Beaver’s sweater, the coveted item did not.  For me, it was a Transformer toy called Devastator.  I had saved up enough of my own money to buy it and then was surprised with it at Christmas as a gift from my grandmother.  However, once I got it home and opened it up, I never enjoyed it like I thought I would.  If you’d like, please share any letdown like this you recall from childhood.

Beaver is allowed to spend $12.98 of his own savings on sweater he sees in a store window.  In today’s dollars, he was asking to spend $112.86.  That’s quite an expense for attire a child will outgrow eventually.  Perhaps more dollars were invested in clothing back in the 1950s.  Ward originally denies Beaver the permission for purchasing the sweater.  June then relates an instance from her own childhood when she wanted to buy an opal ring and was denied permission.  Even after she saved her own money for it, she was swayed by her father to buy new rain boots.  June’s intervention on behalf of Beaver is one of the things that made her and Ward’s relationship so great.  She was the “model housewife” in the eyes of many and an all out embodiment of the 1950s.  However, occasions like this show she was not just a woman of the house ever submissive to the directions of her husband.  She and Ward’s onscreen relationship reflected a great chemistry between Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley.

 

Beaver’s sweater, while initially adored by him and his pal Larry, soon proves to be a problem for him.  As he walks the school halls wearing it, he turns the heads of everyone passing by.  Larry cannot wait to own a sweater of his own just like it.  The buzz and hoopla surrounding Beaver’s new attire is quickly silenced.  As Beaver puts it away in his locker, he eyes another student wearing the same sweater.  It is none other than Judy Hensler!  Not only is a girl wearing the same sweater, it is a girl those in Beaver’s class hold in low regard.  Larry, who I never thought was much of a friend to Beaver, laughs at his pal’s purchase when only seconds before he was admiring it.  One really has to feel bad for poor Theodore in this scene.

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Something I wondered about this episode was if this sweater might have been gender neutral all along.  Did women’s clothing not have buttons on the opposite sides than men’s in the 1950s?  Did June purchase the sweater from the women’s section of the store and still think it was for a boy?

Beaver’s attempts to distance himself from his new sweater are humorous.  Ward and June are understandably confused at the lad’s sudden loss of interest in looking like an Eskimo.  As the boys leave to go see a movie, Ward advises them not to sit through it twice.  When Beaver returns home sweaterless, his parents try to figure out why he has lost his beloved outerwear.  In a funny sequence, Beaver explains the most mundane details of he and Wally’s visit to the theater.  He talks of purchasing tickets, snacks and finding a seat.  When pressed further, he begins fabricating a tale of how two big kids robbed him of his sweater.  For some reason, those times the Cleaver boys tried to fabricate a lie or tall tale it made for a very funny scene.  It is a credit to the acting talent of Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow that they were able to give such genuine and uncomfortable portrayals of their characters not telling the truth.

As Beaver tells his father how the two big guys were pulling on his sweater, June answers a phone call from the theater manager.  Beaver’s sweater was found stuffed behind the candy machine at the theater.  After being sent to his room, Wally shares the reason for Beaver’s actions.  In a great bit of script writing, Ward realizes that Beaver lacks the maturity to just come out and explain what happened.  I don’t know of any more eloquent of a way that could have been stated.  Upon visiting Beaver up in his room, the great lesson continues.  Here it is shared that sometimes parents love their children so much, they allow them to do the wrong things.  I had never really thought of it that way, but that is oh so true.  This episode offers a great lesson for kids and parents alike.   Please share with us your own thoughts!

 

Episode 24: The Bus Ride

Original Air Date: 3/12/1959

Guest Stars: Yvonne White, Douglas Evans, William Idelson, Edward Marr, Frank Sully

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Greetings readers, family and friends.  Today we review “The Bus Ride”.  It is a fun episode that serves as a time capsule to the way people traveled once upon a time.  The need for long distance travel comes about when Beaver receives a letter from a friend who moved to a farm in Crystal Falls.  The letter is inviting Beaver to come visit his old pal but cautions him not to come “if ya got anything”.

At first the invitation must be declined as Ward and June have committed themselves to attend a barbecue and can’t drive Beaver to Crystal Falls.  It is 90 miles away and a three hour drive.  In this day of interstate highways with drivers averaging a speed of 70 miles per hour, a 90 mile trip would take an hour and a half to two hours.  However, in today’s rush about society, this would remain as inconvenient as a three hour trip would have been in 1959.

Readers, upon giving the matter more thought, perhaps the three hour trip Ward references was there and back, not one way.

A transportation solution is reached in the form of bus travel.  Wally will escort his younger brother aboard a bus to Crystal Falls.  Wally asks his father if he might wear his blue jeans for the bus trip.  Ward shoots this down right away and tells Wally he must wear slacks and a sports coat.  The way travelers dress and how that has changed was discussed on The Brady Bunch blog when the family traveled to Hawaii.  There was a time when travelers adorned their finest clothes when venturing far from home.  Wally claims he must look “ritzy” for the bus driver.

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When the boys are on their way and Ward arrives home, June brings down a hangman’s noose she found in Wally’s room.  This doesn’t invoke worry on the part of Ward and June that Wally is psychologically entranced in a culture of death.  At this time, westerns were full of stories that had no-gooders going to the gallows or maybe sitting atop a horse with their neck in a noose.  Ward just makes a joke that Wally could be training for a profession that is not overly crowded.

The bus trip brings with it the typical inconveniences that young inexperienced travelers would create for others.  For whatever reason, Wally and Beaver were not seated together on the bus and the fellow passengers did not think to offer this up until the boys began conversing with one another over the seats.

 

 

 

The two bus passengers were played by Yvonne White and Douglas Evans.  Neither were strangers to TV, having appeared on many shows through the years.  Yvonne White’s last acting credit was in 1972.  She passed away in 2009.  Douglas Evans last acting credit was in the 1968 feature film “Panic In The City”. He died the same year.

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Things go awry for the boys at a refreshment stop.  After enjoying an ice-cream sundae at the bus station’s lunch counter, the boys split up “momentarily” while Beaver buys some comic books.  A fully stocked newsstand and lunch counter are amenities one might expect in an airport today, but at a bus station, it is not very likely.  The newsstand attendant directs Beaver to the bus bound for Mayfield, not the one that departed Mayfield.  Seeing how young the Beave’ is, the guy should have questioned Beaver a tad bit more to confirm if Mayfield was his destination or point of origin.  Wally boards the Crystals Falls bus while Beaver boards the bus returning to Mayfield.  We can assume the driver on Beaver’s bus didn’t bother to check his ticket.  Otherwise, the whole mess might have been avoided.

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The newsstand attendant was played by William Idelson.  He enjoyed a long career in Hollywood as both an actor and a writer.  He has several credits for hit shows he appeared in and penned.  His final acting credit was in 2007, the same year he died.  His final writing credit was a 1987 episode of Punky Brewster.

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On Beaver’s unintended return to Mayfield he speaks with a fellow passenger who confirms he is on the wrong bus.  This passenger was played by Edward Marr.  This was one of six appearances he would make on Leave It To Beaver.  He passed away in 1987.

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Upon reaching Mayfield, Beaver has the wherewithal to summon a taxi cab home.  Fortunately he has some change on him to pay the fare.  A funny exchange occurs here as Beaver gives the driver a tip.  He asks the man if he gets paid to drive the cab and why he would want free money from a little kid.  The cab driver was played by Frank Sully.This was one of three LITB appearances for him.  He was a known character actor and portrayed toughs and heavies most of his career.  He was a regular player on The Three Stooges and was in 25 episodes of The Virginian.

Things are resolved when Wally arrives in Crystal Falls without Beaver.  The father of Beaver’s friend drives Wally back to Mayfield and picks up Beaver.  He did this because the friend was quite distraught at Beaver not arriving.  When Ward finds out about the snafu, he tells Wally that it will be a secret among him and the boys.  June is not to be made aware of it until a later time.  As I watched this episode, I could not help but imagine this playing out in modern times.  Today, Wally would have been on his cell phone, calling Ward and June, who would in turn have called the bus company who would call or radio the driver and resolve the issue much more quickly.  While many can bemoan the rapid pace of today’s society, some modern conveniences do serve us well.  If I were sending minors on a 90 mile trip unsupervised, I would be much more at ease knowing they had a way to call me right away should something go wrong.

Please share your own thoughts about this episode or memories of traveling by bus.  It is hard to imagine a time when a traveler could be so disconnected from his or her family while on the road, but it really was not too long ago this was the norm.  Heck, some people still choose to turn the phone off or leave it at home when out on the open road.

Episode 16: Lumpy Rutherford

Original Air Date: 1/24/1958

Guest Star: Helen Parrish

Notable Facts : First appearance of Lumpy Rutherford

Hello again readers, family and friends. The episode being reviewed today, “Lumpy Rutherford” treats us to the first appearance of Lumpy. He would later become a “friend” to Wally and appear alongside Eddie Haskell in several episodes. The dynamic between Lumpy and his father, Fred Rutherford, was always fun to see. In this episode, we get a very nasty version of Lumpy Rutherford. He is a cruel bully to Wally and Beaver.

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Classic TV is full of plotlines that involve the stars of the show suffering the cruelty of a bully. However, this episode of LITB treated us to another dynamic. The brief glimpse into Lumpy’s home life provides no justification for his terrible ways. His mother seems like a sweet and reasonable woman. His father, while somewhat aloof, doesn’t seem domineering or cruel. At one point during the story, Mr. Rutherford claims that Clarence (aka Lumpy) has a personality that just draws others in. Fred Rutherford is a bit pompous but certainly not intimidating. When Lumpy encounters him briefly after taunting the Cleaver boys, he is timid and acts very obedient towards the kindly Fred.  Readers, your thoughts on the father and son relationship between Fred and Clarence are most welcome.

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Upon learning the boys have encountered a bully, Ward offers to intervene. Not wanting to look weak amongst their peers, the boys decline. Ward then reminisces about his own trial with one and the prank he played on the boy. Wally and Beaver are soon mimicking Ward’s childhood prank as they have spread barrel hoops across the Rutherford’s driveway. As they yell taunts at the house to summon Lumpy, only Fred and his wife hear them. In the episode’s LOL moment, the boys yell “Hey, Meathead! Meathead!”, Mrs. Rutherford says, “Might be for you dear.”

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Helen Parrish

Mrs. Rutherford was played by the stunning beauty Helen Parrish. She had been an actress since age 4 and was a teen star in a few b-movies. Sadly, this would be her only appearance as Mrs. Rutherford. She would appear only one more time in front of the camera before passing away from cancer in 1959.

The boys’ prank goes horribly wrong as Fred exits the house and falls victim to barrel hoops to the shins. The boys scamper away and Beaver loses his hat in the process. That same night as they fear the police will arrive any moment, the Rutherfords arrive instead. Totally oblivious that the Cleaver boys were responsible for Fred’s misery, they seek an enjoyable evening with Ward and June. Fred bolsters the events earlier that night to include a gang attacking him and leaving behind an incriminating hat. Ward suggests he go to the police with the evidence. After Fred shares what happened, the jig is up. Ward discusses briefly with the boys what happened and they are willing to go downstairs and confess their wrongdoing. Instead, Ward says he will take care of matters. As I watched this scene, I thought it was wonderful to see a father taking control and being the man of the house. A sitcom today would have had a dopey dad trying to get the hat from the Rutherfords on the sly and weasel his way out of the predicament.

As the Rutherfords leave for the night, all is well with Ward and Fred. Fred is disappointed in his darling boy and unaware he was called Lumpy. He assures Ward the matter will be addressed. However, like so many other sitcoms of yesteryear we never see the bully get his due. We also don’t see him as best pals with his victim by the story’s end. There is a powerfully touching scene to close out the episode. Beaver comes downstairs and he and his father discuss bullies. Ward shares with Beaver that bullies will always be among us and we just have to find a way to live alongside them and get along. Beaver asks about the best way to beat a bully. Ward gives the wonderful reply that the best thing we can do is never be anything like them.

This episode holds a special place in my memory as I recall watching it the same day I had encountered a jerk of a kid at the park. While he did not target me like Lumpy did the boys, his obnoxious, mean and boastful nature just irked me. I still remember Ward’s advice being comforting when I watched this episode that afternoon. Your own thoughts on this episode are most welcome! We will review the actor who played Lumpy, Frank Bank, in a future blog. See you next time!

Sunday Special: What the Future Holds

Greetings readers, family and friends.  Thank you for joining me today for this Sunday Special.  During the summer, it was discussed what future show could potentially be reviewed upon our completion of The Brady Bunch.  This blog is to let you know that decision has been made.  I really do appreciate all the encouragement and suggestions that were given.

The next show being reviewed will be Leave It To Beaver. (Some of you may have got an unintentional spoiler about this over a week ago).  However friends, each week’s review will not be the thorough scene by scene analysis that we have experienced for The Brady Bunch.  Instead, it will be more of a summary of the plot, what it meant for the characters on the show, the show itself and the times in which it aired.  Rest assured, these reviews will not be a weekly lament of how wonderful the good old days were and how bad things are now.  There will still be screen shots from the episode, though not as many, along with a review of the episode’s guest stars.

This week dear readers, there will be three blogs posted in the new format reviewing three different episodes of Leave It To Beaver.  They are randomly selected episodes from seasons one and two.  Please give me your honest feedback and critiques!  If the format is not to your liking, if you likely won’t be a regular reader, if you love it….all thoughts on the format and blogs are welcome.  Your own thoughts on the episodes are most welcome too!  The three blogs posted this week will serve as a pilot to determine if an ongoing weekly blog will follow.

The episodes being reviewed this week are season one’s “Lumpy Rutherford” and “The Bus Ride” and “Beaver’s Sweater” from season two.  Thank you for reading!

 

Episode 17: Welcome Aboard

Greetings again readers, family and friends.  Today we review “Welcome Aboard”.  The episode first aired on January 25th, 1974.  It took almost five seasons before the show underwent any major changes to the cast.  There was no new recurring neighbor, friend or relative to the Bradys until this episode.  Plenty were mentioned, passed through the house or appeared for a single episode.  However, Cousin Oliver’s arrival changed all that.  We all have our thoughts the character and I encourage you to share them in the comments section.  Let’s begin reviewing “Welcome Aboard”!

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As I have stated in previous blogs, I do not hate Cousin Oliver.  Many fans bemoan his joining the show as its “Jump The Shark” moment or what ruined the show.  I do not share these sentiments.  The show was never a major hit when it first ran and its renewal was always in question.  Aside from this episode, the character’s future appearances were limited to the likes of the other Brady kids.  His arrival was not an attempt to revamp the series as “The Adventures of Cousin Oliver”, but just a failed attempt to generate some new life in to the series.  Based on some other season five plot lines, the series needed all the help it could get.

Oliver was played by Robbie Rist.  He was seen fairly regularly on TV in the 1970s.  I recall seeing him on What’s Happening! and CHiPs.  However, he appeared on several other popular shows.  The 1990s saw him voicing Michelangelo in the feature film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.  He would voice the character in a sequel and continue to do voice work for several cartoon shows thereafter.  IMDB lists acting credits as recent as 2018 with unreleased work for 2019.  As far as a recurring role, the only acting gig I saw was Big John, Little John.  After reading the plot for the series, it looks like it would have been a fun show to watch as a kid.  The only occasion I know of Robbie Rist appearing with his Brady Bunch cast mates was the game show The Weakest Link.  If any readers know of any others, please share.

Based on the kid’s popularity in the 70s, I wonder if Mason Reese was considered for the role of Cousin Oliver?

 

 

The story opens with Mike arriving home and Carol messing with his head.  She shares there is going to be a new addition to the family.  Mike immediately and understandably thinks that Carol is with child.  This was kind of a crappy thing for Carol to do.  Suppose this idea overjoyed Mike and only minutes later she would have to crush his happiness with the news that the new addition is eight years old?  It reminds me of people who give those fake winning lottery tickets as gag gifts.  It’s just wrong.  Bobby and Cindy overhear Mike and Carol’s conversation and also believe the news to be that Carol is pregnant.

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A few seconds later, Carol clears things up in confirming the new addition is her nephew Oliver, son to Jack and Pauline.  I don’t remember Carol ever mentioning a sibling by either name before.  Oliver’s father has a job in South America and is taking his wife along, but not his kid.

 

 

 

Upstairs, Bobby and Cindy share the news that a seventh sibling is on the way.  Alice is in the girls’ room when Cindy shares the news and gets in on the misunderstanding.  Greg and Peter are overjoyed at the news. Greg likes the idea so much that he rocks his guitar like a baby.  Down in the kitchen, Alice and the family are extra accommodating and kind to Carol. Finally, Carol gets wind of the family’s false impression and clears things up.  Alice goes to cancel the order to the diaper service.  Good grief, Carol does not have as much as a baby bump showing and Alice all ready called a diaper service?  Do any readers know of a diaper service still in operation?

 

 

 

With Oliver’s arrival only seconds away, Carol lectures the kids about the adjustment the boy will go through upon living with them.  Bobby looks forward to having a younger person to push around.  Seconds later, Oliver arrives to much fanfare by the other kids.  He is pulled in different directions as Bobby and Cindy are anxious to spend time with him.  Peter then shares the exciting news that on Saturday, the entire family is touring a movie studio.  In a cute line, Oliver says if he knew living with the Bradys was going to be so much fun, he’d have come to live with them years ago.

 

 

 

The hoopla and excitement soon give way to bad vibes as a series of mishaps follows.  The first mishap in the girls’ room must have been cut in syndication as I have no recollection of it.  Jan is working on a painting of Cindy.  Friends, I enjoy art and try to appreciate most any effort, but whatever Jan is working on would never hang on my wall.  Why does she need Cindy to model for that travesty?  Oliver tries to help Jan by retrieving more brushes and knocks the easel over, “ruining” the painting.

 

 

 

Next, Greg is making a sandwich Dagwood would envy.  When the ketchup stubbornly refuses to exit the bottle, Oliver helps out with some whacks on it.  This sends ketchup splattering all over Greg’s shirt.  Next, as Oliver and Bobby play tug of war with a trash bag, Bobby goes barreling backward and breaks two flower pots.  Of all the mishap scenes, this one is the weakest.  The pulling effort Bobby was putting forth was nowhere near enough to send him falling backwards that far.  A ripped bag that spilled Astro-turf clippings all over the yard would have been much more realistic and just as annoying to Bobby.  Another bad mojo moment comes as Oliver goes to say goodnight to Mike and Carol.  As he walks away, he unravels an afghan Carol has been knitting.   Finally, Oliver’s snoring prompts the youngest Brady boys to attempt to roll him over in his sleep.  In trying to do so, they fall from the bunk beds and break a lamp.

 

 

 

The next day, the kids hold a confab in the family room to discuss how their newly arrived cousin is a jinx.  The previous mishaps are mentioned along with Marcia dropping some dishes.  Greg and Marcia are dismissive of the jinx talk, but the four younger siblings are not.  Jan even asks why he could not stay with another relative.  As this conversation takes place,  we see Oliver sitting outside the family room window hearing all that has been said.  This scene has always made me feel sad for Oliver.  Most any eight year old hearing this from his older cousins would be quite hurt.  The look on Oliver’s face shows this.  It was a well done scene for the new cast member.

 

 

 

The next scene has Oliver exercising his miseries in the dog house.  As the audience we know that dog house existed to cover a burned spot in the yard.  However, why the Bradys still have a dog house after all this time without a dog is unknown.  Carol has a heart to heart with Oliver and there is another talk with Mike.  Mike assures the lad he is no jinx.  Mike then addresses the four youngest kids about their making their newly arrived cousin feel so awful.  In a very funny line, Cindy says if they’d known he was out there, they would have closed the window.  Way to miss the point of Mike’s talk Cindy!  I would categorize this as a clueless Cindy moment.

 

 

 

The kids’ efforts to make Oliver feel included produce a monster of a mishap.  Marcia sits outside working on a ceramics project while the boys play basketball nearby.  Even without Oliver around to create a mishap, this seems like a bad idea.  I don’t think the boys are so apt at handling the ball that there is no chance of it bouncing over that way.  At first Oliver declines the boys’ invitation to join them in a game, but then relents at their urging.  Inside, Mike is showing Carol a model he constructed of a building he designed.  As he turns to walk away with it, Carol asks to see it.  Had Carol not done this, Mike’s creation would not have fallen victim to the pending mishap.  Predictably, Oliver throws the ball over Greg, sending it crashing into Marcia’s ceramic vase and into the kitchen where Mike trips on it and destroys his model.  Maybe if Mike had not been carrying it through the house at eye level, he could have kept a better footing and not crashed into the kitchen island.

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On a side note, just before an Oliverarian mishap occurs, there was that distinctive “Whaaaoooaaaah, wahooahan” sound played.  It always gives me a chuckle and was very fitting for each scene.

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As the family leaves for the aforementioned movie studio tour, Oliver says he is not going.  With this, Carol, Alice and Greg state they aren’t going either if Oliver isn’t.  In a funny line, Bobby says he is going regardless.  This was a nice reminder of his refusal to share the found loot and desiring the prospector’s treasure from previous episodes.  Oliver says he will go with the family, but they are doing so at their own risk.  I found this funny too.

 

 

 

Oliver is finally convinced he is not a jinx as his presence allows the family to appear in a movie being produced at the studio.  His coming through the gate saw that the family made up the group that included the studio’s one millionth visitor.  The studio employee that shared this good news was played by John Nolan.  He had several acting roles through the years with multiple appearances on Dragnet and Adam 12.  Per IMDB he appeared on Quincy M.E. ninety times, portraying the bartender.  I’ve never watched Quincy M.E. but I could not help but wonder if John Nolan got a screen credit each time he served a drink to a character or if he had some important nameless role as the bartender.  John Nolan died in 2000.

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The film the family will appear in is a take off of the silent movies of old.  Dressed in early 20th century attire they walk down the street and encounter a traffic accident between two bakery trucks.

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As they act out their part, the film’s director delivers instruction off stage.  I noticed there was a boom mike in operation, but was not sure why if this was supposed to be a silent movie.  Maybe sound was being used in some capacity.  The man playing the director was Judd Laurance.  He continues to act today with a feature film as recent as 2016.   Per Linked In, he is a part of Gum Tree Films.

 

 

 

The two drivers of the bakery trucks argue with one another and then start throwing their wares in the face of one another.  A policeman arrives on the scene and is hit with a pie.  This escalates into an all out pie fight between the three men and the Brady clan that revives memories of The Three Stooges.  Oliver is made to feel welcome to the family by being pelted with pies.

The three actors in the film being produced were played by Dick Winslow, Ralph Montgomery and Snag Werris.  Dick Winslow previously appeared in “The Teeter-Totter Caper”.  This was Snag Werris’ third appearance on The Brady Bunch.  Ralph Montgomery had a long career in Hollywood, but it would seem he spent his first five years in the industry as doing work without credit.  His IMDB roles from 1943-1948 are all listed as uncredited.  He would later appear on Ozzie and Harriet, Bonanza and have some more uncredited appearances.  His final role was on the TV show Salvage 1 in 1979.  He died in 1980.

epilogue

The epilogue has Oliver writing his parents and chatting with Alice.  He talks of how Bobby has shucked some chores off onto him.  He doesn’t mind as he is paying him back via a lizard in his bed.

Thank you for reviewing “Welcome Aboard” with me!  I would classify it as a fun episode and a good way to introduce Oliver.  As stated before, the new character’s arrival did not dominate the show thereafter.  If any readers ever watched Family Matters, you likely recall how it was an intelligent show about the Winslow family before Steve Urkel showed up and it became “The Urkel Show” thereafter.  Thankfully, that did not happen with Oliver.  Your thoughts on the episode are most welcome!

Next week, I will taking some time off to spend with my family.  A trip to the Brady destination of King’s Island is a good possibility!  Therefore, we will not be reviewing “Two Petes In A Pod” until a week from Friday.  However, starting on Sunday there will be some other blogs posted through the week for you to peruse.  Sunday’s posting will be sharing a big announcement!

Episode 16: Out Of This World

Hello again readers, family, friends and perhaps those from another planet.  I’m so glad you could join me today to review “Out Of This World”.  This episode is a good one up until the final couple of minutes when it goes off the track.  It gives us a few guest stars with interesting resumes.  I remember enjoying this one very much as a kid, but as an adult not so much.  Please share your own thoughts on this episode and extra terrestrial life in the comments section!

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The episode opens like no other Brady Bunch episode before it.  It would seem a talk show was airing, not a family sitcom.  The guest on the talk show is former astronaut James McDivitt.  The host, Mario Machado, welcomes his guest and then asks him about the unidentified flying object (UFO) he observed on a mission to space.  I did not realize until writing this blog that James McDivitt was not just an actor playing an astronaut and that he did claim to see a UFO while on the Gemini 4 Mission.  However, by the time Mario Machado got around to interviewing James McDivitt, over eight years had passed since the highly questionable object was seen.  According to Wikipedia, McDivitt visited space again in 1969 and later became Manager of Lunar Landing Operations that same year.  He also led a team that planned the lunar exploration program and redesigned the spacecraft to accomplish this task. In August 1969, he became Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program and was the program manager for Apollo missions 12-16.  So, after all of these wonderful accomplishments, he is invited on a talk show to talk about a suspect UFO seen almost a decade before.

 

 

After McDivitt left NASA, he worked in the business world until the mid-90s and is still with us.  Mario Machado was an actual newscaster from the Los Angeles area who also acted in a number of TV shows and movies.  He typically played news anchors or announcers.  He would win eight Emmy awards during his career.  Mario Machado died in 2013.

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After the show, some fans gather around the astronaut for autographs.  Bobby and Peter both have their autographs made out to state they are “good friends” to James McDivitt.  Are autographs really sought out anymore?  There was a time people kept a book just for famous people to sign.  Other than autographed items on Pawn Stars, I’ve not heard much about people seeking them in recent years.

 

 

The next scene makes clear why viewers were treated to a news talk show opening the episode instead of a down and out or super excited Brady kid arriving home from school.  The clock on the wall gives the time as 11:45 and Peter and Bobby are fast asleep.  A whirring whistling sound awakens Peter who in turn wakes up Bobby.  They look out  the window to see a UFO hovering in the sky!  They are understandably excited at seeing the craft.  The next morning at the breakfast table, the UFO is discussed and cutlipnobody believes Peter and Bobby.  It is suggested it was a helicopter or a blimp.  Greg comes downstairs and shares he cut himself shaving.  Greg must use a greasy handled straight razor to give himself a gash like that!  Actually, it is some well known Brady Trivia that Barry Williams was in a car accident that resulted in his lip being split open.  However, the show must go on and the injury was written into the script as a shaving mishap.

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The b-plot commences with Carol having Alice help her arrange fruit for a photograph.  Alice seems a tad irritated at the task.  Alice does have much better things to do during the day than set up a fruit arrangement!  Carol has taken up photography and will be entering a contest.  Much to her ire, those passing through the family room help themselves to some of the fruit on display.

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Peter and Bobby arrive home from school dejected as none of their classmates believed they saw a UFO.  In a funny line, they suggest that their classmates took this load of nonsense much less seriously than the typical lies and extensions of truth shared at school.  A plan is put into place to camp in the backyard that night and photograph the watch2UFO.  As the boys set up the night watch, Jan and Cindy come outside to give them a hard time about it.  While this does seem like a crappy thing to do, such goings on are the nature of teenagers when some other kid is on a fool’s errand.  Some heckling can be expected.  Well, in today’s more socially sensitive times, this may no longer hold true, but I sure remember giving and receiving such treatment.

 

 

It is not long before the UFO returns.  With the camera at the ready, the boys spring into action.  However, the origin of the flying craft is confirmed not be extra terrestrial, but coming from the Brady home.  From his attic digs, Greg has orchestrated the UFO prank.  Holding a flashlight and blowing a whistle, Greg has created a UFO plausible enough to fool his brothers.  Upon being caught in the act by Marcia, he explains why and how he did it.  After his brother’s told on him for getting home late, he built the UFO pranking contraption using a whistle, a clear plastic curtain, some fishing line and some pulleys nailed to the window frame.  Wow, that is a pretty elaborate setup just to get back at his brothers.  Marcia is 100% on board as the boys squealed on her too.  That must be some whistle.  It looks to be nothing but some thin plastic, but it sure gives off some interesting and very loud sounds.  That must be one powerful flashlight as well!  This was in the days before LED flashlights.  The more I think about the setup, the more I realize how easily the younger brothers should have seen right through this.  A light reflected off  a plastic curtain in a tree and a whistle being blown nearby does not a convincing UFO make.

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After the boys snap their photos, they rush the film upstairs for Carol to develop.  They are understandably anxious to have photographic evidence of the UFO, but are told they must wait until morning.

 

 

Anxiously awaiting the development of his photos, Bobby dreams that night of visitors from another planet.  Why was it always Bobby whose dreams viewers saw?  We’ve seen him win trophies, watch his family die and now visit with aliens.  It was not until the most recent viewing that I realized how one dimensional the UFO visiting Bobby is.  Maybe today’s improved visuals via DVD allowed for this.  The UFO looks to have been borrowed from some amusement park ride it served as the back drop for.  The aliens existing the craft are a cute couple from the planet Kaplutis.  They are very big for their own planet and are surprised that Bobby is very small for his.  As Peter awakens Bobby from his dream, Bobby shares he was about to be a Kaplutian basketball star.  The entire scene is fun and well done.

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Fans of the show like to note how the actor and actress playing the Kaplutians, who were married in real life, were stand-ins for the Brady kids.  While this is true, I was surprised to read both were actors in their own right and appeared on other programs.  Frank Delfino appeared on other hit shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza and Lost In Space.  He was a regular on The Feather and Fang Gang.  He last acted in 1988 and died in 1997.  Sadie Delfino appeared elsewhere too.  She was in the feature film “White House Madness” and appeared on an episode of Rhoda.  She last acted in 1975 and died in 1991.

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The next morning, Carol works at developing the boys’ photos.  In a funny line, both cast doubt on Carol’s ability to develop the pictures and question if they should have taken them to a professional instead.

 

Down at the breakfast table, the other kids discuss the UFO.  Jan mentions the boys said it was shaped like a cigar.  Uh, why would they do that?  That red thing floating in the sky looks nothing like a cigar.  Maybe the original script called for such a shape to be added in post production.  This may have been a homage to a well known rash of UFO sightings that occurred in the late 19th century where the mysterious craft were identified as being cigar shaped.  You can read about it here after you finish reading this blog.

As a kid, I loved reading tales of UFOs and even scanned the sky a few times myself hoping to see one.  One summer night, I thought my wish had come true.  While sitting on a dock at a local lake, the strangest sparkling light came from over a ridge.  It was a bright beaming ball of light with almost straight lines of light protruding from it.  As it grew closer, the protruding lines of light shrunk and gave way to a small airplane.  I don’t know what environmental factors led to the original appearance of the plane that night, but for a few brief seconds I thought something other worldly was in the sky!

 

 

The boys rush downstairs with the photographic “proof”.  The black and white photos with a blob of white light have the family convinced some visitors from another planet hovered above the Brady’s town the night before.  It is not clear if these photos accompanied the boys to school.  However, if they did, I doubt many classmates would have been convinced.  Carol herself is suspicious and says the boys must wait until Mike sees them before calling the newspaper.

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Blobs of light against a black background are enough to convince Mike to call the Air Force.  What?  This is where the episode derails for me.  Before alerting the United States Military, it seems Mike would do a bit more of his own research.  A sensible man might spend some time in the backyard himself or have a more knowledgeable local resource look the photos over before calling Carter Air Force Base (which doesn’t really exist by the way).

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Instead of some official from the Federal government gracing the Brady’s door, a local policeman arrives.  He has little interest in investigating the claim of a flying saucer, but is just two years away from his pension and duty calls.  He is dismissive of the photographic evidence.  He claims he has investigated hundreds of UFO sightings and they are all bunk.  Wow.  There have been hundreds of calls to the police department about UFOs?

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The disbelieving police captain was played by James Flavin.  He had a long career in Hollywood that spanned over 40 years.  He was a regular on the series The Roaring 20s and Man With a Camera.  Per IMDB he was usually cast as “the heavy” in his onscreen roles.  His final acting roles were in some TV movies in 1976.  He died the same year.

 

 

Greg comes downstairs and realizes his prank has gone too far when he sees the local police involved.  He takes Mike upstairs to demonstrate his high tech UFO setup.  He does this while the police captain is still there.  Why the guy was even still around is not made clear.  He had all ready called nonsense on the photos.  Also, why Greg had to demonstrate it right away doesn’t make much sense.  Mike should have said, “Look, the police have all ready said there will be no investigation.  Let’s keep this quiet.”  Instead, he allows Greg to demonstrate the setup and amp up the hysteria.  So convincing is a flashlight beamed against clear plastic that even the police captain thinks the UFO is for real.  I will admit to finding it funny that the captain wanted his photo taken reporting the UFO.  Greg’s setup is then shown to the captain who is humiliated at believing for a second UFOs are real.  He and Greg agree to keep the incident quiet and all will be forgotten.

epilogue

All is not forgotten at the Brady house.  Greg is punished for pulling the UFO prank.  The epilogue shows him being grounded from use of the family car that weekend.  He laments the loss of his fishing trip and asks how he will be able to go to the lake.  Carol jokes he could catch a ride on a UFO.  Man, if we needed 100% proof positive this episode had crumbled to nonsense, Carol’s joke here in the epilogue provides it.

Thank you for reviewing “Out Of This World” with me!  With a different conclusion, this might have been one of the series’ best.  Maybe Peter and Bobby could have gotten wise to Greg’s prank and retaliated with an alien visit, a phony Air Force investigation or something similar.  All the boys could have then learned a lesson about fooling others.  Instead, we got what we did.  Your thoughts on the episode are most welcome!  Next week we review “Welcome Aboard”.  I have not watched the Cousin Oliver episodes in a long time, so it should be interesting.  See you next week!