The Cincinnati Kids. Hawaii Bound. Pass the Tabu. The Tiki Caves. The Subject Was Noses. You might know the five aforementioned Brady Bunch episodes by the key words King’s Island, Hawaii, and Oh, my nose! Time and again as I interviewed fans who were gathered for a recent personal appearance by Barry, these shows were cited as personal favorites. Although I would agree that each of them is a classic, none of them appears in my Brady Six.
The Brady Six is your personal top-six list of favorite Bunch episodes. There is only one criterion for inclusion: each episode you choose should be one that you never tire of watching, the sort of show that causes you to be delighted as the opening credits conclude and you realize that one of the best Brady Bunchesever is on the air. While compiling my own list, I noticed that five of my six favorites include Greg in a prominent role. I swear on my tiki idol that my list would still be the same if I were blogging for the Cindy Brady Project! Here, then, presented in the order in which they originally aired, is my Brady Six.
“She always said don’t play ball in the house.”
Unlike Mom’s favorite vase, this second season gem has no flaws. From the opening sequence of wastebasket ball gone awry to Peter’s last-minute admittance of guilt, the episode is thoughtfully crafted and thoroughly entertaining. The wonderful tension that builds as the kids wonder if they can successfully conceal Peter’s misdeed is further exaggerated when Carol decides that her new flowers deserve to be displayed on the dining table in the recently reassembled vase. The payoff is the classic dinner scene, in which the kids attempt to innocently stuff their faces while nonchalantly ignoring the extraordinary fountain in their midst. Then the tension builds anew, with Peter’s siblings taking the heat and Mike and Carol wondering just how far their middle boy is willing to take his deceit in order to keep a coveted camping trip. With memorable lines (including Peter’s profession of an interest in flower arranging) and a fantastic nightmare loop of the vase getting smashed ad infinitum, this episode takes its rightful place among my Brady Six.
Losing the big bet.
THE BIG BET
From the third season comes this Brady variation on The Tortoise and the Hare, in which overconfident Greg fails to recognize the real threat of Bobby’s zealous training for their upcoming chin-up competition. Once Greg suffers his humiliating defeat, the real fun begins, since he is honor bound to do whatever Bobby tells him to do for an entire week. Naturally, Bobby is soon corrupted by his newfound power and provides Greg with the fodder to embark on an increasingly hostile series of slow burns. We strike sitcom riches when Greg is forced to take Bobby along on his date with Rachel. Mike Lookinland gives one of his best performances, managing to make Bobby truly obnoxious and yet endearingly entertaining at the same time. And really, what Brady fan can see a convertible these days and not think of umbrellas?
Distance lends enchantment!
CYRANO DE BRADY
My favorite single episode from the entire Brady canon. The golden moment for me is when Jan’s friend Kerry, perplexed by Peter’s fawning appearance outside her window, asks why he is standing so far away. Peter nervously relays the query to Greg, who is hidden in the bushes a la Cyrano de Bergerac. Greg responds with the poetic, “Distance lends enchantment,” which Peter clearly finds incomprehensible. His mindless repetition of Greg’s phrase makes me laugh every time I see it. Add to this highlight the concluding soap opera featuring Greg as a predatory ladies man in his “working threads” and Marcia portraying the tragic other woman, and you have what is arguably the funniest Brady Bunch episode.
Pepperoni Frog Pizza
GREG GETS GROUNDED
This show features what may be the funniest sight and sound gag in the whole series: the guttural splat of a meaty frog upon Greg and Rachel’s drive-in pizza. The circumstances leading up to that improbable moment revolve around Greg’s stubborn refusal to admit that he was unaware that he had done anything wrong when he borrowed a friend’s car during his own grounding from the family car. Mike and Carol find a novel punishment for their loophole-loving son by insisting that he adhere to exact words from that point forward (Mike’s paternal sternness reaches a height we haven’t seen since Bobby ruined the roof of the convertible). Of course, Greg finds that abiding by his own words with a lawyer’s precision is not to his liking. Along the way, we get to enjoy some amphibian fun with the other kids and a classic piece of frog-under-the-hat slapstick from Alice.
There’s a lot of bread in those threads.
ADIOS, JOHNNY BRAVO
The definitive Greg episode, wrapped by bonus performances by the kids of the unreleased tunes You’ve Got to Be in Love to Love a Love Song and Good Time Music. In between is a tale of hubris and disillusionment in which a flattered and unsuspecting Greg nearly becomes a mere moneymaking cog in the pop music industry machine. Ironic, too, since the real-life Brady Kids had by then already suffered the inanity of crass commercial decisions (viz, American Pie from Meet the Brady Bunch). Once again, Greg’s voyage beyond reason ends when he comes back down to Earth and understands what Mike and Carol have been telling him all along. From the music to the plot to satisfaction of another Brady life lesson learned, this episode has it all. And if we could all agree on a handful of iconic images from all five seasons, surely the sight of Greg wearing the absurd Johnny Bravo matador vest would be one of them.
What’s that wild scent you’re wearing?
PETER AND THE WOLF
If anyone ever claims that The Brady Bunch was not a funny show, I submit this episode as evidence to the contrary. The transformation of eager and inexperienced Peter into eager and inexperienced Phil Packer (Pete + mustache = Phil) is hysterical. Greg’s “Casanova of Clinton Avenue” coolness is the perfect foil for Peter’s hyperventilating enthusiasm, and another classic drive-in moment makes my Brady Six as Peter attempts to duplicate Greg’s smooth moves without success. Topping this is the revenge of Sandra and her cousin Linda, who fawn over Peter at the pizza parlor as Greg looks on helplessly. With the arrival of Mike and Carol on the scene (entertaining Mike’s clients, no less!) heightening the farce, Peter and the Wolf is one for the Brady Hall of Fame.