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The Brady Bunch

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox television

The Brady Bunch was a US television situation comedy, based around a large blended family. 117 episodes were broadcast between September 1969 and August 1974 on the ABC network. The idea to make the series was partly based on series creator Sherwood Schwartz reading an article that half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce, and partly based on the 1968 theatrical release Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.

Mike Brady, a widowed architect with sons Greg, Peter, and Bobby and a wisecracking housekeeper named Alice, married Carol Martin (born Carol Tyler), whose daughters were Marcia, Jan, and Cindy; the daughters take the Brady surname. Carol's circumstances were never explained; producer Sherwood Schwartz had intended to make her a divorcée, but relented when ABC censors learned of his idea.

The new family, including Alice, all moved into a new home designed by Mike. Episodes detailed the family learning to adjust to their new circumstances and become a unit, as well as typical problems of childhood and teen-agers (such as dating, rivalries and family squabbles). While there were no very special episodes to deal with complex issues (such as racism or drug use), subtle references to "the real world" occasionally found their way into the dialogue. Mike worked in an office/design studio within the house, an apparent way of lending some realism to the way in which sitcom dads seem to be almost always at home while nonetheless earning a good living, a circumstance that has been ridiculed almost as long as the genre has existed.

The show is something of a cultural phenomenon, having lasted in the minds of Americans for over 30 years. Since its first airing in syndication, an episode of the show has been on TV somewhere in the world every single day. This is despite the fact that The Brady Bunch was not a particularly high-rated show during its first run on television. When the episodes were repeated in syndication, usually appearing every weekday in early-afternoon slots so kids could watch the episodes when they returned from school, the program became widely popular and achieved iconic status among children who were too young to have seen the series during its original early 1970s prime time run.

The teenage talent on the show spun off singing careers as they toured the USA in the 1970s, calling themselves The Brady Bunch Kids.


Contents

Cast

The cast appeared in an opening title sequence in which video head shots were arranged in a three-by-three grid, with each cast member appearing to look at the other cast members. The sequence has been widely imitated and lampooned since:

Maureen McCormick (Marcia)Florence Henderson (Carol)Barry Williams (Greg)
Eve Plumb (Jan)Ann B. Davis (Alice)Christopher Knight (Peter)
Susan Olsen (Cindy)Robert Reed (Mike)Mike Lookinland (Bobby)

Also appearing on occasion was Alice's boyfriend, Sam Franklin (Allan Melvin), the owner of a local meat shop. The two were engaged in a 1973 episode.


Cousin Oliver

In 1974, the show's final year, the producers attributed declining ratings to several of the child stars approaching adulthood (Barry Williams was 19 during the show's final season and the youngest Bradys, Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland, had also entered their teens). To that end, a new character was created – Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist), purportedly to renew interest in the show by younger viewers.

In the episode Oliver was introduced ("Welcome Aboard"), Carol explained that Oliver's parents were moving to Africa to engage in an archaeological dig, and that they were unable to bring their young son along.

However, the change did more harm than good. Already being beaten soundly in the ratings by Sanford and Son, the popular sitcom then running opposite The Brady Bunch on NBC, the producers finally acknowledged the show had run its course and ended the show at the end of the 1973-1974 season before it could be cancelled by ABC. However, as Mark Twain might have put it, the rumours of the death of the Bradys were greatly exaggerated.

Spinoffs and Sequels

A variety show called The Brady Bunch Variety Hour was spun-off (Eve Plumb was the only actor who declined to be in the series; the role of Jan was recast with Geri Reischl) in 1977 and was canceled after only a handful of episodes were aired.

A TV reunion movie called The Brady Girls Get Married, and a spin-off sitcom as well as a dramedy were attempted (The Brady Brides and The Bradys, the latter of which Maureen McCormick refused to be a part of. She was replaced in that series with Leah Ayres). While the reunion movie fueled new interest in the clan, the television shows were not successes and were canceled almost immediately.

A 1995 movie, The Brady Bunch Movie placed the original 1970s sitcom characters, with their 1970s fashion sense and 1970s sitcom family morality, in a contemporary 1990s setting, and parodied the resulting culture clash. It featured cameos from four original castmembers as well as Davy Jones. The resulting movie was successful enough that in 1996 a reasonably well-received sequel, imaginatively titled A Very Brady Sequel, was produced, which made sly comment on the well-documented real-life sexual tension between some of the teenage cast members of the original TV series. In 2002, a telefilm called The Brady Bunch in the White House was produced, which received poor reviews. The movies featured plot references and songs from the TV show.

The Brady house

The house used in exterior shots of the series is located in North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, within the city limits of Los Angeles, California. The house was only one-story, but a false window was attached to make it look like it had two. In the years since the show first aired, those who have owned the house have had problems with visitors who trespass on the property to peep into the windows (perhaps expecting to see an interior that looked like set of The Brady Bunch), or who even come to the front door asking to see the Bradys. As a result, the house's exterior has been extensively re-landscaped, so that to someone casually driving by it most likely would not be recognizable as the house used in the exterior shots from the TV show. For one who already knows the house's history, though, it is indeed still recognizable as the Brady house.

Albums

During the run of the television show, the cast recorded several albums:

  • Merry Christmas from the Brady Bunch
  • Meet the Brady Bunch
  • Kids from the Brady Bunch
  • The Brady Bunch Phonographic Album
  • Maureen McCormick and Chris Knight from the Brady Bunch

Two very popular songs were "Sunshine Day" and "Keep On."

External links

  • bradyworld.com (http://www.bradyworld.com) - online resource for The Brady Bunch
  • The Brady Bunch TV Show (http://www.crazyabouttv.com/bradybunch.html) page at Crazy About TV provides trivia, a description, cast information, and an episodes list for the series.
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