Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Special – Fright Night!

“Fright Night,” Season 4, Episode 6

We interrupt this blog to bring you a Brady Bunch Holiday Spectacular. Before Roseanne made Halloween a holiday to celebrate on TV, there were the Bradys. Well, not really. But they did do a couple of “scary” episodes, and today, in the spirit of the season, we bring you “Fright Night.” I didn’t plan on watching this one, but as we flipped through, my son spotted it and got excited, “Ooh! Ooh! Fright Night! I want that one!” He was looking forward to some Brady gore, and I was looking forward to seeing his reaction to a lack of Brady gore.

Fright Night opens with Carol and Mike in the den, or what we in the 2010’s call “the TV room.” In what I view as the only truly scary moment of the episode, Carol is sculpting a bust of Mike. She’s wearing an over-the-top groovy smock, and a ponytail, which is really funny to see with that flip-do of hers. Next we see the girls in bed, fast asleep until creepy noises emanate from the attic, waking Cindy and Jan. They look out of the window to see a ghost in the trees! Both scream in horror, waking Marcia and the parents, who inspect the attic and find the window open. On their way to bed, Mike and Carol hear the boys laughing in their room, and say to each other, “there’s our ghost,” but then choose to do nothing and go to bed instead. And then they’re surprised when there’s shenanegans the next night. Hello! Anyway, Marcia suspects the boys and that night the girls make a bet with the boys that they won’t sleep in the attic all night. The boys are dumb enough not to see through the girls’ fake fright and take them up on this offer. Alice sets them up in the basement, and soon, the boys hear Jan moaning and sobbing from the attic trunk. Soon afterward, a cellophane “ghost” emerges from the trunk and Bobby wets his pants. We don’t see that, but I know he did. Mike and Carol make the kids promise they will not scare each other anymore, saying someone could get hurt (this is a brilliant use of what professional writers call “foreshadowing”). In a conversation with Greg and Marcia, Alice reveals that she isn’t afraid of anything, including the “warewoofs” that Marcia mentions. This is all it takes for Greg to get his trial lawyer on and declare they can terrorize Alice because they only promised not to scare each other and they didn’t say anything about Alice. The kids then hatch a plan to scare Alice, and they’re so mean to the poor woman. All the adults leave the house, and the kids set up a screaming ghost that flies down the stairs by cutting holes in Carol’s bed sheets and nailing fishline to the walls. Yeah, Mom and Dad will never find out. And it would have worked too, except that Mike and Carol return home first and set off the trap. As Mike moves to turn on the lights, Alice returns home and gets spooked at nothing and destroys the bust of Mike that Carol labored over by smashing it with her purse. I want to know what she carries in that thing – her live savings in nickels perhaps? The kids learn a lesson about pranks and hurting people, they get grounded, and everyone has a good laugh. Queue closing theme and individual squares of the Brady’s laughing in front of the blue screen popping up at random as we fade out.

While my boy doesn’t ask to watch the Brady’s, he doesn’t protest either. Once it’s on, he will sit transfixed. I imagine this was me after school in 1978 as well. He, like me back then, seems resigned to it. He seems to get the lame beauty of The Brady Bunch. This pleases me. While we watched the show, my son said he would “punch that ghost” that appeared in the yard. As Alice settled the boys into the attic, my son perked up. He said, “I think the girls might’ve done something!” You could hear the anticipation in his voice. When the cellophane ghost emerged, he looked disappointed and said, “I can totally tell that’s made of plastic.” When the episode ended I asked him, “So, was it scary.” He gave me probably the best eyeroll and “bitchplease” look of his life. I asked if it was funny and he said, “Nope. Can I play Dead Rising 2 now?”

Revelations of Mine:

  • Cindy even sleeps in braids and curls. I imagine hers was the most painful pre-show make-up and wardrobe session of the cast.
  • The girls wear very sensible shoes at all times. Never noticed the shoes before.
  • Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

Most humiliating moment for Alice in this episode: either being dumb enough to smash a statue in fright, or when Sam called and she said she wanted to see a movie at the drive-in that they’ve already seen. Ugh. I just don’t want to think about that.

Next time, we return to our previously scheduled episode, “The Drummer Boy.”

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Bonus Brady! The Brady Girls Get Married!

“The Brady Girls Get Married,” 1981 TV Movie

Oh. My. God. Last night was a much-needed evening of R & R after a long week. The husband had the remote, and I’m zoning out, and suddenly, he rests on this movie. Killer. Naturally, I hit record on the DVR and forced the 8-year-old to watch. Actually, he just sort of gravitated to it.

Jan and her boyfriend Phillip, who has Asperger’s Syndrome (and I mean that affectionately), finally get engaged after what is described as a long courtship. Mike and Carol, however, are hesitant to give their blessing because Marcia is 3 years older than Jan and she should get married first, even though she doesn’t have a boyfriend and seems pretty happy being a single gal in the city. Jan becomes moody (no way!), and Marcia expresses her concern about the situation to a strange afro-ed white man with a really cheesy mustache who sits next to her in a cafeteria. And just like that, Marcia and the stranger – whose name is Wally (as in, “Don’t be sorry, just be Wally,” which is still to come) fall in love and get engaged. Problem solved! Jan can get married now! And lucky Jan gets to share her wedding with Marcia! Surprisingly, Jan seems to have no problem with this, but of course, there are problems with the theme of the wedding. Jan and Phil – I mean Phillip – want a boring, stuffy wedding, and Marcia and Wally want a hip wedding with sandals. They all fight, Alice comes to town and does a bunch of work and cries, and then they cancel because they can’t agree on a theme. But then Marcia arranges for the two couples to meet and drink cheap wine at Phil’s – I mean Phillip’s – favorite stuffy restaurant and they agree to have a cross-cultural event. Since Peter cannot get leave any time but that very weekend, they even push the wedding up. Despite a sudden rainstorm and a destroyed cake, the wedding goes off without a hitch in the Brady living room, and then Carol sings broadway style. Then, the two couples buy a house together and as my son describes, “put tape all over it and then took it down.” I guess they were hoping to make this a madcap series, complete with unusual living arrangements, unconventional sexual innuendo, communicative misunderstandings, and a nosey neighbor, but Three’s Company threatened to sue, so they had to call it off. 

My son’s initial reaction – “Why didn’t Jan wear her glasses?”

Revelations of mine:

  • I couldn’t help but think of The Love Boat as I watched this, since most of the cast had been on the boat by then and this is what they looked like. I’d kill to see Carol sitting in Captain Stubing’s lap while she sang just one more time.
  • Cindy’s hairstyle hadn’t changed at all. The poor girl had some horrible bangs trauma.
  • Greg, a 25-ish-year old gynecologist?
  • Poor Peter, even a loser in the military.
  • Gawd did Bobby get ugly or what? And the short-shorts he was wearing did not do him any favors.
  • They took some liberties with everyone’s ages here. Since when is Marcia three years older than Jan? And if Jan’s out of college and starting her career as an architect, then this makes her about 22. Cindy is a freshman in college, so she’s 18, and there’s no way those girls were 4 years apart. Could it be that Cindy had to repeat a couple of years? Can a lisp hold you back that much?
  • I would have loved to have seen Tiger reappear in this one.
  • Nice to see that Mike and Carol have not yet remodeled the kitchen!
  • Marcia and Jan got to move the horse statue into their new home. If I was Cindy I’d pitch a real fit about that.
  • Mike offering the grooms “marital advice.” Creepy.

Most humiliating moment for Alice: Recalling her wedding night, during which Sam bowled a 286.

Next Viewing: It’s Bobby’s turn in the spotlight, so “The Drummer Boy,” of course.

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The Not-So-Rose Colored Glasses

“The Not-So-Rose Colored Glasses.” Season 3, Episode 13

So now we’re on to Jan. Where does one even begin with Jan? It’s a gold mine of psycho, and I don’t even know where to start. Do I go with the wigged out Jan? Practical joker Jan? Imaginary boyfriend Jan? In the end, I went with Mrs. Magoo Jan and I’m glad I did. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

At the beginning of the episode, we see Jan wobbling around aimlessly on her bike. Mike and Carol then receive a phone call from some man who apparently runs a local park? Or he hangs out there all day? Either way, it’s creepy. He tells the Brady parents that Jan has stolen a bike. This is a major deal to everyone, but seriously, I don’t know why. The bike was prettymuch identical to Jan’s bike – there was only a small dent to distinguish hers from another girl’s bike (and why didn’t the Brady boys fix that dent anyway?). Somehow, this is supposed to be evidence that Jan is having problems with her vision, though I don’t see why. Anyway, Mike and Carol then receive some more bad news about Jan – a note from her teacher that she is unfocused in class and her grades are slipping – they discover what the culprit for all these problems with Jan is: borderline personality disorder. No, actually, it’s her eyesight. Jan is horrified that she needs glasses, because she fears they will make her look goofy (nevermind the wig in a near future episode) and she is hot after some boy in her class. Prior to her glasses appointment, Mike takes the kids to a stoner photographer to have their picture taken as an anniversary surprise for Carol. Jan gets her glasses and she does all she can to avoid wearing them. She heads to the park because the guy she’s chasing is there, and she stashes her glasses. Upon her return home, she wobbles her bike right into the aforementioned family photo Mike was hiding up against a wall in the garage. She’s that blind. She could not see the wall in front of her. Greg helps her up, and, rather than alert his parents to Jan’s possible brain tumor, they inspect the photo and realize they need to redo their photo.

Jan comes up with the money to replace the photo without her father’s knowledge, which because of the scatterbrained photographer, requires the six kids to take another photograph, as he lost the negative. When Carol opens her gift on their anniversary, Mike sees Jan wearing her glasses in the photo, and realizes this is a retake. He grounds Jan from her bike, but finds out that’s a moot point when Jan reveals she sold her bike to pay for the retake. Aww.

After this episode, I asked my son, “So, how do you like The Brady Bunch?” His response? “It stinks.” But he watches it every time I put it on, so he can’t think it’s that bad.

Revelations of mine:

  • How do they ride those bikes with those short skirts and dresses on?
  • I would have loved for Jan to have had her own show after The Brady Bunch was cancelled. Something like “Jan in the City,” and she’s  crazy.
  • I laughed out loud every time she got on her bike and feigned blindness.
  • The photographer was typical of the insulting humor I remember this show providing me in my youth.
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The Personality Kid

“The Personality Kid.” Season 3, Episode 6

Since the first two episodes we explored involved a spotlight on Greg and then Marcia, I decided to do one episode involving each kid. Peter’s such a loser, and there were so many episodes showcasing this, but ultimately, I had to go with the classic “pork chops and applesauce” episode.

Sad, sappy music plays in the background as sad-sack Peter walks through the back yard (incidentally, the wrong way) and into the house. He tells Carol and Mike that no one talked to him at a party he had just been to, and one kid told him he was dull and had no personality. At one point Marcia pays off a friend to pretend she is interested in Peter’s description of a movie called “Invasion of the Potato People,” until Cindy ruins it by flapping her mouth about the fakery it in front of poor pitiful Peter. Mike tells Peter he’s sick of his whining (it is boring to listen to after all) and if he isn’t happy with his current persona, then he should develop another one. What kind of advice is that? Peter then watches a lot of old tv and tries to pretend he’s a snooty-wealthy type with a bad accent. No one remembers that one. What we all remember is Peter’s second attempt at being someone else: Humphrey Bogart. And what did the Brady’s have for dinner that night? I don’t even need to tell you. Carol and Mike (or rather Mike, with Carol standing next to him) tell Peter that he isn’t developing a new personality but stealing an old one. Then Peter gets a joke book and decides that telling really lame jokes will send him straight to the top of the social hierarchy. He throws a party at the Brady home, but another boy steals his thunder by jumping on his punch lines. Peter gets all miserable again, but then the girls take pity on him and thusly, Peter learns the old trick of faking a broken heart to gain a girl’s sympathy and attention. Meanwhile, Bobby and Cindy come home from school with plans for a home safety campaign involving fire drills. Hilarity ensues.

I told my son that he can say “pork chops and applesauce” to anyone over the age of 30 and they will know exactly what he is talking about. So far, he only tested this on my hairdresser when I made him do it. She knew.

Revelations of mine:

  • OMG Carol has a shirt repeat! In the last episode we watched (where Marcia gets creamed by the football) Carol had the same shirt on! It’s this one:
  • I didn’t realize how dull and boring this episode was. Perhaps that was by design – creating the mood of dullness so that we can fully appreciate Peter’s dullness? This is art after all.
  • Imagine sending your child to a party and he comes home saying that no one talked to him and one kid called him dull and boring. Wouldn’t you just flip out?
  • Carol Brady doesn’t seem to have much to say. Every time Peter whines to them, Mike lays down the law and Carol just stands there. I guess I never noticed that before. She is even more vapid than I remember. 
  • It boggles the mind that kids used to dress up in suits and dresses for other kids’ parties. I am so glad we as a nation have moved beyond that dark period.
  • Peter was actually a cute little kid.
  • I would very much like to see “Invasion of the Potato People.”

Next Viewing: “The Not-So-Rose Colored Glasses”

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The Subject was Noses

“The Subject was Noses.” Season 4, Episode 18

Doug “Big Man on Campus” Simpson asks Marcia to the dance on Saturday, but then she remembers that she already has a date for Saturday night with a ginger boy (and wallpaper store heir) named Charley. She consults with Greg, asking him how he breaks his dates, and Greg advises her to use the line, “something suddenly came up.” Then they share an evil laugh regarding their mutual meanness (this is a family blog so I choose my words carefully). Marcia cancels her plans with Charley, and then we all watch with glee as she gets hit in the face with a football. Her nose is a disaster, and Doug “Big Man on Campus” Simpson then cancels on Marcia, telling her, “something suddenly came up.” Marcia dreams that night about her accident, and we are treated to repeated viewings of her face being smashed. When she wakes up in the morning, her nose has healed, and the Big Man on Campus decides he can be seen with Marcia after all. Marcia, however, turns him down. She then confesses to Charley that she ditched him in favor of the Big Man on Campus, but that she will now make his year by allowing him to take her out on Saturday and spend his hard-earned wallpaper delivery money on her. Lucky Charley! He is so overcome by his good fortune that he ties his shoe to the bench he was sitting on. Meanwhile, Mike and Carol can’t agree on which wallpaper to use for their bedroom. Hilarity ensues.

My son made me proud when he cackled loudly every time they showed Marcia get hit in the face with the football. Also, he would have gone with the striped wallpaper, if forced to choose.

Revelations of mine:

  • As far as Brady Bunch episodes go, this is one of my favorite. Maybe it’s the slow-burning anger that has been residing inside of me lately, but I find the repetition of the football making contact with Marcia’s face cathartic. Whoever edited this episode was a genius and is quite possibly my spirit guide.
  • I could not help but think of the Brady Bunch Movie of the 90’s while watching this episode. The movie displayed the Brady’s in over-the-top fashion, but they prettymuch presented this incident verbatim. There really is no other way. The swollen nose was spectacular, and Marcia is even more narcissistic than I remember. It’s already over-the-top so there was nowhere to go.
  • My first re-viewing of a Brady bicycle repair! I am sure there are many more to come.
  • When Marcia told Charley, “You can take me out Saturday night,” I turned to my son and said, “don’t ever date a girl who treats you like that!” He gave me a disgusted look. He hates girls.
  • Doug “Big Man on Campus” Simpson was not cute. In fact, he was quite ugly. It wasn’t just the awful hair and clothes. He also looked to be about 40 years old. Sorry if you’re reading this, Doug, but you’re not attractive.

Most humiliating moment for Alice in this episode: having paint slapped across her face when she opened the door to Carol and Mike’s bedroom (They couldn’t decide on a wallpaper pattern so they went with paint instead, and made it a fun family event with all the kids paining. I cannot even imagine what would occur if we decided to do that in my house.)

Next Viewing: “The Personality Kid”

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Adios, Johnny Bravo

As I wrote in my first post, this all started with Johnny Bravo. Not a bad place to start, if you really want to capture the essence of all that is Brady.

So, without further ado . . .

“Adios, Johnny Bravo” Season 5, Episode 1.
A talent agent signs Greg to become a rock star named “Johnny Bravo.” Greg lets his new fame get to his head, until . . .

As I fired up the DVR, I explained to the kids that this show was on all the time when I was a kid. My older son left the room in a hurry, but my younger son stuck around. It wasn’t until this episode was over that I thought of this little project, so this post is a short one.

I had to leave the room to put some laundry away (I won’t do that anymore!). The 8-year-old joined me later and I asked him, “how was Brady Bunch?” He responded with a serious tone, “Turns out, they only wanted him because he fit the suit.”

Next up: “The Subject was Noses

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The Brady Bunch Project

Here’s the story . . .

It all started the other night when my sons were on some sort of a roll, telling me all the reasons why Barney and Friends is the worst show that has ever been on tv.

And it occurred to me as I was tuning them out: my poor kids really do not have any splendidly bad television programming to enjoy. There is some splendid television right now, and there is bad television, but nothing splendidly bad. Nothing that’s so inane that you enjoy every minute of your viewing, mocking the weak plot, the crappy characters, the cringe-inducing lines, the tacky outfits and poor special effects. And yet, you secretly find that you cannot miss an episode.

The king of this genre is of course, The Brady Bunch. I used to know every episode by heart, and am still undefeated in the little game I play entitled, “Guess the Episode.” Yes, I know everyone else plays that game too, but I like to think I invented it, and I really was unbeatable. I could usually tell you the episode in the opening shot. I had a complex formula that never let me down. Some people have special abilities. I am one of them.

Sadly, television evolved, and The Brady Bunch rerun onslaught was replaced by Full House reruns. Which were shortly replaced in the lives of our youth by original programming on Disney and Nickelodeon. Sad. So, so . . .  sad. And, for better or worse, I evolved as well. I graduated college, started working full-time, got married, had kids, bought a house, got a dog – all that stuff. My time for sitting in front of the tv was over. It’s probably been 10 years at least since I’ve seen a Brady Bunch episode. I cannot believe it as I type it. I found out not too long ago that some new channel on my dish was running The Brady Bunch, and I set my DVR to groovy (Yes, I know it’s on DVD, and maybe one day I’ll go out and buy it).

And so, the other night, I pulled up a random Brady episode on the DVR. As luck would have it, the episode was Adios Johnny Bravo. My older son left the room, on to what he considers better things. My 8-year-old, however, remained in the room, transfixed. OK, maybe not transfixed, but he was watching nonetheless. And it was fun. And it occurred to me – there really are no sitcoms on tv that I can think of that the whole family can watch without causing me to have to answer awkward questions or abruptly change the channel. I love the raunchy stuff – don’t think that I don’t – but it would be nice of there was something funny that we could all watch and laugh about together.  

This is where my project begins. It’s an ambitious effort: re-watching The Brady Bunch with my 8-year-old son, who has a sense of humor very similar to my own, but is still young enough to perhaps not fully grasp that this is not exactly Emmy award-winning material. I’m excited to see where this goes, and can’t wait to relive this part of my youth through his eyes – and through the fog of my own early onset senility.

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