The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

31 Mar
Bob Hunt

Brady Book Review

written by Bob Hunt in Blog | 1 comment


Welcome to the glorious debut (and quite possibly the inauspicious finale) of Brady Book Review, in which the intrepid staff of the GBP flexes its intellectual muscle (say, where did we put that intellectual muscle?) in unbiased critique of Brady literature.  Today’s installment concerns William Johnston’s 1969 effort entitled The Brady Bunch, a Lancer Book publication available wherever musty, out-of-print books are sold.  It was the first of eight Brady novelizations (five of which would be penned by Johnston) that crowded the paperback racks during the original run of the TV series.

If a survey of the genre is any indication, William Johnston was a prolific author of TV tie-ins, having already written books based on series such as Get Smart and The Flying Nun before the Brady Era (or BBE) and moving on to create Happy Days and Welcome Back, Kotter novels afterward (or AFJ – After Fake Jan).  Biographical information on Johnston is elusive, however, leading me to suspect that he might have been the Alan Smithee of TV novelizations.  Or at least the Franklin W. Dixon.  In any case, real or not, William Johnston knew how to crank ‘em out.

Published to coincide with the first season’s broadcast, The Brady Bunch suffers from character mannerisms that are inconsistent with the show, a common problem among TV tie-ins.  The most glaring example is that the kids always address their stepparents by their first names.  A trivial detail, perhaps, but it is nonetheless jarring to hear Marcia observe, “You say a lot of incisive things, you know, Mike.”  There is little to distinguish one Brady child from another apart from their names, with the exception of Cindy, whose every line includes a phonetically spelled lithp.

To be fair to Johnston, his Mike and Carol are credible versions of their sitcom selves, and it is almost exclusively around them that the plot revolves.  A chance appearance on the TV quiz show Stunts and Stumpers leads to sudden celebrity status for our favorite couple.  Carol endears herself to the viewing audience with her ditsy ebullience, while Mike charms everyone with his impressive intellect and dry wit.  Naturally, the situation spirals ever upward toward the very edge of farcical ridiculousness, with sensible Alice and the kids saving the day.

Unlike even the weakest Brady episode, this story is a bit of a chore to slog through.  Johnston himself seems bored at times, tossing in extraneous asides and distracting details as if he were trying to stay awake long enough to finish writing the thing in one sitting.  What else could explain the inclusion of supporting characters named Jackie Jackson, Solomon I. Solaman, Walter W. Walter, and Danny Daniel?  Tellingly, there is also a script writer who refuses to divulge his name unless his work receives successful ratings.

But it’s not all bad.  Consider the following exchange between an embarrassed Mike and Carol, who are looking for a place to hide:

“We could go down to the basement,” Carol said.

“That’s a good idea,” Mike nodded.  “There’s never much traffic down there.  We can be alone and…and try to figure out what happened…”



“I just remembered…this house doesn’t have a basement…”

Not too far off the mark for Brady dialogue, eh?  Can’t you just see the scene unfolding?  Can’t you just hear Mike and Carol saying those words?  Can’t you just imagine Robert Reed storming into Sherwood Schwartz’s office, thundering “I am the architect of the house, for God’s sake!”?

Then there’s unintentional humor, as in this on-air argument between Mike and Greg, who is being intentionally obnoxious in an attempt to derail his parents’ stardom:

“Say, that’s what I call a sharp retort, babe,” Greg said to Carol.  “You have quite a wit.  About half-size, I’d say.”

“Greg!” Mike squeaked.

“Aha!  The other half was just heard from!” Greg said, winking at the camera.

Mike found his full voice again.  “Young man, you can go straight to your room!” he commanded.

“Yo-ho-ho — if I went straight I wouldn’t be a member of this family!” Greg retorted.

And there you have it:  The Brady Bunch, by William Johnston.  A mere 60 cents back in 1969, you can still find it floating around the Internet at a price commensurate with inflation adjustment.  Tell ‘em the GBP sent you.


1 Comment

    on Apr. 2nd, 2008

    Yeah, I found a copy of this in the early 90s at a used bookstore, and I was aghast at the characterizations. It was apparent to me that Johnston had no idea who these people were.

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