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…

11 Jan
Bob Hunt

The Brady Basement

written by Bob Hunt in Blog, The Brady Bunch | 11 comments


No fair choosing all six Oliver episodes.

A while back we asked you to name your Brady Six, the sextet of classic episodes that you consider to be the best of the Bunch.  Now it’s time to visit the other end of the spectrum with the Brady Basement.  These are the half-dozen lesser shows that you recognize with a slight sigh of disappointment whenever they air, not because they are inherently bad but simply because they are not great.  Though I truly enjoy all 117 episodes (call me the Father Flanagan of Bradyphiles, but I believe there are no bad Brady Bunch episodes), I am less likely to spend precious Brady Bunch-watching time with the following six installments, presented in the order in which they aired.


The angst of being the youngest one in curls.

EENIE-MEENIE-MOMMY-DADDY

First season episodes of The Brady Bunch stand conspicuously apart from the rest of the series for many reasons:  the kids are so young, the Peppermint Trolley Company warble the opening theme, and storylines focus on whether or not this whole blended-family experiment will succeed.  A more playful tone would eventually emerge, but some of the initial shows get stuck in syrupy drama or lethally sweet cuteness.  This episode has both, with director John Rich pushing Cindy to her most adorable limits and then casting her into the pit of melodramatic despair.  Should she give Mommy the single ticket to her school play?  Should she give it to her new Daddy?  Modern Brady watchers with the benefit of multiple rerun hindsight can only watch helplessly, unable to reach through the TV screen and shake little Cindy out of the dumps.


Mike plays it cool as Bobby runs away.

EVERY BOY DOES IT ONCE

Bobby surpasses Cindy’s despair and adds a dose of self-pity for a foul mood that will reign as The Worst Brady Funk Ever until Jan becomes unhinged in the fifth season (see Try, Try Again).  The source of Bobby’s depression?  He gets carried away watching Cinderella and becomes convinced that Carol is a wicked stepmother.  No amount of evidence to the contrary can persuade him otherwise, and again we viewers are powerless to stop a little Brady from wallowing in misery.


Split screen in Season 3 (…and again in Season 4…and Season 5)

SERGEANT EMMA

Some might say the appearance of a regular cast member in a dual role is a sign that writers are running out of ideas, but there was still plenty of good stuff coming down the Brady pipeline when Ann B. Davis appeared as Alice’s cousin Emma in the third season.  My beef with this episode is that I find the presence of abrasive and bossy Emma nearly as unpleasant as the Bradys do.  Why do they put up with her?  Why?  Why?  Is Alice totally unaware of her cousin’s pushy arrogance?  Whatever the reason, writers would give Robert Reed and Florence Henderson a crack at dual roles in the next season’s “You’re Never Too Old” (still not running out of ideas, though), and the split screen would be employed again in season five’s “Two Pete’s in a Pod,” in which Peter meets his double, Arthur Owens (okay, the idea well was starting to run dry).


Jan’s insufferable bout with her self-esteem.

TRY, TRY AGAIN

Here’s the story:  Jan doesn’t make the cut for the ballet recital.  Jan believes that she has no talent.  Carol suggests tap dancing.  Jan tries it.  Family is annoyed.  Jan believes she has no talent at all.  Marcia suggests baton twirling.  Jan breaks window.  Jan believe she has no talent at all for anything.  Kids start to let her win games of ping-pong, Monopoly and darts to increase her self-confidence.  Jan feels much better.  Mike and Carol get wind of the deceit and make the kids come clean.  Jan is almost suicidal over her lack of talent.  Carol suggests acting.  Jan shows no talent for it – BUT – her flair for painting is serendipitously discovered.  One minute of happy resolution preceded by twenty-four minutes of self-indulgent moping.  The Worst Brady Funk Ever.


Where have all the Bradys gone?

KELLY’S KIDS

“Kelly’s Kids” is not a bad half-hour of television, and one wonders what might have followed had the network picked up this pilot for a Ken Berry spinoff series.  Kudos to Sherwood Schwartz for introducing a socially progressive program that sought to entertain while confronting prejudices about race and adoption in a gentle yet constructive way.  Further compliments go to Todd Lookinland (brother of Mike), whose skillful portrayal of Matt includes one of the most convincing crying scenes by a child actor.  So what’s the problem?  Not enough Brady.  The regular cast and even the reassuringly familiar set of the Brady home make cameo appearances, with the bulk of the plot involving novel characters in new settings.  Midway through, when a weepy variation of the Brady theme underscores a tender scene set at the Kelly house, the effect is bizarre and unsettling (not unlike the “this is wrong” message that flashed through your brain when you first saw Fake Jan).  Bottom line:  A Brady Bunch should be about the Brady bunch.


In which the last shreds of Brady believability are butchered.

TOP SECRET

It was “The Hairbrained Scheme” in which Robert Reed infamously refused to appear due to the implausibility of hair tonic turning Greg’s hair orange.  Surely the same thought of escape must have occurred to him with this episode.  We are asked to believe that Sam wants Mike to draw up preliminary butcher-shop expansion plans in secret because he wants to surprise Alice.  We also must swallow the idea that Bobby is lunkheaded enough to believe Oliver’s wild theory that Sam is a double-agent spy.  The subplot provides little relief as the Brady ladies are convinced that Sam is planning a honeymoon cottage for Alice, the very thought of which sends them  into hyperventilating excitement.  The chopped liver of Brady plots.

Now Search & Win for Great Brady Prizes!

 

11 Comments

    David H.
    on Jan. 12th, 2009

    Okay, here we go (in no particular order):

    1. You’re Never Too Old
    The dual roles just didn’t work for me.

    2. Every Boy Does it Once
    Bobby’s non-stop (and sudden inexplicable) self-pity is not fun to revisit, though the ending is rather sweet.

    3. Kelly’s Kids
    No Bradys, No Peace

    4. Two Petes in a Pod
    Disbelief can only be suspended so far. This is the Brady Bunch, not The Patty Duke Show.

    5. Top Secret
    Just doesn’t work for me, and Oliver remains a buzzkill.

    6. Tiger! Tiger!
    approx. 22 minutes of looking for a dog that won’t be around much longer anyway.

    Bob Hunt
    on Jan. 12th, 2009

    David: Thanks for your thoughtful “Brady Six” and “Brady Basement” lists (nicely annotated, too!). I agree with all of it. BTW, regarding your “Brady Six” faves, “Love and the Older Man” also includes one of the all-time great lines, as Jan tries to gently break the truth about Dr. Stanley Vogel to Marcia: “He has a wife, kids…maybe even a dog.” Beautifully deadpan delivery from Eve Plumb.

    David H.
    on Jan. 13th, 2009

    I forgot that line- but you’re right! Another highlight. This is also the only episode to offer a clear view of Maureen’s belly button, after she covered it up so carefully in the Hawaii shows. Not that this figured into my top 6 ranking, but it didn’t hurt, either.

    Dan
    on Jan. 13th, 2009

    Great job, guys!

    I’ve watched these episodes so many times and I never get tired of them. To be honest, I think the only THREE in my Brady Basement would be:

    1) You’re Never Too Old: I love Robert Reed and Florence Henderson to death but the two of them as GREAT-grandparents? They couldn’t have played parents or even grandparents? That’s a stretch, even in the Brady universe.

    2) Kelly’s Kids: Not enough Bradys! Watching this one is like being in the Twilight Zone. Very weird.

    3) Out Of This World: Just because I’ve always thought those little aliens are too creepy.

    Dan
    on Jan. 13th, 2009

    One more thing. I know that Oliver takes a lot of heat but in my opinion, I don’t think he did any lasting damage to the series. After all, he was only on for six episodes.

    Compare and contrast him to Ricky Segall on the final season of “The Partridge Family.” I watched a show the other day in which David Cassidy (one of the all-time great pop voices) was forced to listen to the little moppet sing an entire song. Cassidy was visibly squirming. Now, you never saw anything THAT uncomfortable in any of the Oliver episodes!

    David H.
    on Jan. 15th, 2009

    Oliver wasn’t annoying as much as he was unnecessary. Ricky Segall grated on my nerves a lot more. His “songs” were bad enough- worse were the reaction shots of usually intelligent characters like Shirley and Laurie, laughing uproariously at his performances.

    Bradypalooza
    on Jan. 16th, 2009

    I’d like to add “Getting Greg’s Goat” and “The Hair-Brained Scheme.” I can only imagine what Barry was feeling shooting those two shows.

    David H.
    on Jan. 17th, 2009

    I’ve always liked “Getting Greg’s Goat.” It was a classic “Noises Off”-style farce, and Robert Reed did a great job directing the episode, which I imagine was a more complicated job here than on most Brady adventures. Plus, where else can you see Mrs. Kravitz in the Brady residence?

    Megan W
    on Jan. 20th, 2009

    i think sometime people get real real weird and old like you are 70 somethin sheesh!

    Dan
    on Jan. 29th, 2009

    I like “Getting Greg’s Goat” too. Totally fun screwball stuff.

    Samuel
    on Jan. 20th, 2010

    I would say that I agree with most of this list though one I would have to take out is the one where Emma visits… this is possibly one of my favourite, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because I like the (albeit unrealistic) collision of this person with the sweetness of the rest of the family. Which episode would I replace it with? Definitely the one where the brady family performs snow-white. Why? IDK I just never have like this episode from when I was a kid

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