Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Fridays, I will be reviewing The Brady Bunch Hour, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1977. All nine episodes can be found on YouTube!
Ugh. What fresh Hell is this?
(Dir by Jack Regas, Originally aired on March 4th, 1977)
“It’s the Brady Bunch Hour!” the announcer shouts as the Kroftettes dance at the pool.
As opposed to the previous three episodes, the audience’s applause sounds a bit deflated, as if they know what’s waiting for them.
The Bradys come out and perform (Keep Your) Sunny Side Up, from the hit 1929 musical Sunny Side Up. If you’ve never heard of this song before, don’t worry. Up until I watched this episode, I had never heard it either. And judging from their performance of the song, I would be willing to guess that Bradys hadn’t heard it until maybe an hour before performing it.
While the Bradys sing, the Kroftettes perform water ballet. For some reason, someone decided it would be a good idea to film the Kroftettes emerging from the water in slow motion, which kind of makes it look like they’re sea beasts emerging from the ocean to kill the Bradys. Not that the Bradys notice, of course. They’re too busy trying to remember the lyrics to Keep The Sunny Side Up. Trying to keep up the family’s flagging energy, Florence Henderson sings with a lot of intensity. The kids look embarrassed and who can blame them? I doubt singing a song from 1929 was one of the selling points when the Kroft Brothers approached them to do this show. As Mike Brady, Robert Reed has a silly grin on his face. He’s obviously having the time of his life. When the song finally ends, Reed is noticeably out of breath. For whatever reason, The Brady Bunch Hour loved to show the audience the Bradys struggling to catch their breath after every performance. I guess we were supposed to say, “They worked really hard!” but instead, it leaves the impression that the show is actually killing its cast.
Anyway, the song finally ends and we spend some time with the kids bantering. Greg is noticeably upset about his siblings being so immature. An argument breaks out. Carol yells at everyone to hold it down. It’s like being forced to watch someone else’s terrible Thanksgiving dinner. Carol and Mike announce the guests for the show are going to be Vincent Price and Rip Taylor. Greg gets mad because he wanted to introduce the guests. IT NEVER ENDS!
Finally, we go to commercial break. When the show returns, The Brady Bunch is singing It’s Not Where You Start from the 1973 Broadway musical, Seesaw. Again, you have to wonder if this was really the music that everyone was listening to in 1977. I mean, this was the same year that Saturday Night Fever came out. This was the year of Star Wars. I just doubt there was a nationwide demand for a show featuring Robert Reed singing Broadway show tunes. Again, this performance ends with close-ups of Robert Reed and Florence Henderson gasping for breath. Obviously, performing requires a lot of physical exertion but Reed gasps like he’s got a pack-a-day smoking habit. Carol explains that they just sang this song because it reflected an experience that they had with Greg earlier in the week. What a weird way to introduce a flashback.
We cut to the Brady compound, where Greg is in the living room, attempting to write a song, strumming his guitar, and getting annoyed with the family. In Greg’s defense, his family is loud and annoying but, at the same time, is there no other room in the house where Greg could have worked. Anyway, Greg announces that he’s going to have to get his own place. Seeing as how Greg is in his 20s …. well, yes, he does. There’s really no reason why Greg (and for that matter, Marcia) should still be living in the Brady House and having to ask his stepmother for permission to stay out late.
Anyway, Mike and Carol attempt to have a serious conversation with Greg about his desire to move out so, of course, Rip Taylor shows up as Jackie Merrill, the landlord. It turns out that Jackie has a place that Greg can rent. “It’s funky but not junky!” Jackie announces. Mike orders Jackie to leave. “I see Papa Bear is cranky!” Jackie replies. “Dad,” Greg announces, “I love you …. but I’m not your BOY anymore!”
DAMN! LOOK AT GREG STANDING UP TO HIMSELF!
We then cut to Marcia Brady, saying that everyone at the Brady House was really sad about Greg wanting to leave. And then from there, we cut to Jackie showing Greg his new apartment.
Someone knocks on the door and demands to be let in. And …. hey! WHAT’S VINCENT PRICE DOING HERE!?
Vincent asks Jackie and Greg if they’re dead. When he discover that they’re alive, Vincent explains that he’s a ghost hunter and Greg’s apartment is haunted by “Stella Beaumont, among others.” Vincent explains that Greg looks a lot like Stella’s great grandson, Dinky, who died when he fell off of Greg’s new couch. Vincent Price has a lot of fun hamming it up but you probably already guessed that.
While Greg worries about ghosts, his family sits around the house and worries about him. Greg calls Carol so that he can give the family his new phone number. Carol starts to cry. “Say hello to everyone for me,” Greg says. Uhmm …. did Greg move to another country? Aren’t they all in Hollywood and still doing a variety show together? Why are they acting like they’re never going to see him again? Did Vincent Price talk to them?
Anyway, we then cut to Carol singing Traces while Greg sings All By Myself. As usual, Florence Henderson knocks the song out of the park. Barry Williams, however, struggles a bit as All By Myself is a terrible fit for his rather limited vocal range. Don’t get me wrong. Barry Williams has a perfectly pleasant singing voice but when he tries to hit those emotional high notes, it’s just cringe city.
Mike Brady welcomes us to “the second half of the Brady Bunch hour …. minus one.” Mike doesn’t seem to be too upset about Greg moving out. It’s interesting that Greg’s stepmother seems to be more emotionally invested in him than his own father.
We then cut to Carol and Greg in their living room, talking about how all of their children will have soon moved out. Carol is upset that Greg is not answering the phone at his new apartment. Mike tells her that it’s good that Greg is out and having fun. Suddenly, Greg rings the doorbell and says that he was just in the neighborhood. Greg then confesses that he owes Carol and Mike an apology for moving out without telling them and he also explains that he hates his new apartment. Greg says that he wants to come back and live in his old house. I guess Mr. Merrill forgot to have him sign a lease.
We cut to Peter saying that we’ve reached the part of the show where Greg always pushes him into the pool. But this week, Peter says, he’s going to do the pushing. Peter sneaks up on Greg but, just as Peter is about give him a shove, Greg moves slightly to the left and — yep, Peter falls in the pool! It’s kind of sad that this recurring bit is the only part of The Brady Bunch Hour that I ever find myself looking forward to. Greg then introduces a giant creature named H.R. Puff-in-Stuff, who proceeds to “lip-synch” to an Elton John song called Celebration.
Alice the Maid comes out on stage and explains that “Well, Greg’s back now,” and the family is going to throw a party for him. But first, it’s time for Marcia to sing Time In A Bottle. Much as with Barry Williams, it’s not that Maureen McCormick has a bad voice. She has a perfectly pleasant voice. But she’s singing a song that’s way outside of her range. Plus, someone decided that she should wear her hair up for her performance, which was not a good look for her. Maureen McCormick had really pretty hair so why would you hide that?
We then cut to Jackie Merrill, delivering a Tennessee Williams-style monologue about how he was only doing his job when he gave Greg that terrible apartment. The Bradys then throw a party for Greg. Bobby gets a cake smashed in his face. Bleh. I hate that gag, it’s so messy. Is this over yet?
Actually, it is almost over. The Bradys perform the finale, a medley of songs about being happy, including the Happy Days theme song.
This episode was kind of annoying but at least it had Vincent Price. Plus, that bit with the dancing monster was enjoyably weird. I don’t blame Greg for wanting to get out of there.
Hey, there’s only five more episodes of this show left. Yay!