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!
This week, Mike and Carol Brady wonder if they truly love each other.
(Directed by Jack Regas, originally aired on March 21st, 1977)
As always, we start with the Kroftettes dancing while the audience cheers. The announcer recites the names of our stars. Don’t Florence Henderson and Robert Reed look happy? Little do they suspect what’s about to happen to the marriage of Mike and Carol Brady!
Proving once again that they have their fingers on the pulse of the culture, the Bradys come out and perform Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo’ Bye), a song that was all the rage in 1922. This song was already 55 years old when it was performed on this show. Fortunately, the Kroftettes entertain the audience with some water ballet in an attempt to keep anyone from wondering why the Brady kids were so enthusiastic about singing a song that was even older than their parents.
After they finish singing, all of the Brady kids joke about how Mike can’t sing. “I can carry a tune!” Mike objects. Carol and the kids laugh at him. Poor Mike! Oblivious to how much Mike is suffering, Carol announces that tonight’s guest star is, “The always unpredictable Charo!” Cindy says that they’ll also be joined by “the far out Hudson Brothers!” It falls to poor Marcia to inform everyone that Rip Taylor will also be on tonight’s episode.
We then cut to Rip Taylor, who excitedly tells the audience that he’s so excited because there’s a mystery guest tonight! He puts on a sleep mask before calling out for the mystery guest because he wants to be truly surprised. The problem with this is that we already know who the guests are because the Bradys told us who tonight’s guests are going to be. We know the mystery guest is not going to be Rip Taylor because he’s the one telling us about the mystery guest. We know it’s not going to be The Hudson Brothers because Rip said “guest” and not “guests.” So, that only leaves Charo as a possibility.
Out comes Charo. Rip is so excited! “I love Spanish women!” Rip exclaims. After some pointless banter, Charo grabs a guitar, sits down on a stool, and plays a surprisingly good version of Malagueña.
We then cut to Marcia, who informs us that Mike actually got his feelings hurt after his kids humiliated him about his singing on national television. Marcia explains that Mike was determined to show that he really could carry a tune. “Little did he know how much trouble it would get him into,” Marcia says. Uh-oh!
Flashback time! At the Brady Compound, all of the Brady kids and Alice are practicing their singing and their dance moves. They are observed by Mike, who is wearing a turtleneck that makes him look like he’s just returned from recording a commentary for NPR. Mike announces that he’s planning on singing on the show. Everyone struggles to find a new way to inform Mike that he can’t sing. Carol mentions that no one can be good at everything. “I can’t play tennis,” Carol says. Even Rip Taylor drops by unannounced and, after singing a bit of Singin’ In The Rain, he reminds everyone that Mike can’t sing. Needless to say, Mike is not happy to hear any of this. Never tell a man in a turtleneck and a camel hair blazer that he can’t sing.
Mike leaves the house and heads to the set, where he tries to play a guitar. This immediately attracts Charo who jokes about Mike’s plan to perform a song on the next show.
“I’ll level with you, Charo,” Mike gravely says, “this isn’t a joke. I want to sing this song but nobody in my family will accompany me …. I don’t think they want to be too close to me when I sing.”
Realizing that Mike has the worst family in the world, Charo agrees to help him. Yay, Charo! Seriously, Mike takes himself way too seriously but his family really is the worst. “We will make beautiful music together!” Charo announces, little aware that Rip Taylor and Carol Brady happen to be standing right behind them.
Cut to Carol, standing alone on stage and oversinging Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. Seriously, though, how hard is it to apologize to Mike for rather cruelly making fun of his bad singing? I mean, it’s not like Carol is apologizing for cheating on him or embezzling money or anything like that. All she has to do is say, “Hey, Mike — sorry I laughed at you when you said you wanted to sing.” If she can’t even apologize for that, then maybe Carol deserves to lose her man to Charo.
Looking like two demonic cult children, Cindy and Bobby come out and welcome us to the second half of the show.
“Mom was really worried about Dad and Charo,” Bobby says.
Cindy repeats, “Mom was really worried about Dad and Charo.”
That’s right — Cindy is now repeating everything that Bobby says, word-for-word. That’s like not creepy at all.
At the Brady Compound, Carol tells Alice that she saw Mike and Charo singing together and now Mike wants Charo to come have dinner with the family. Carol is really upset and worried that she’s going to lose Mike. “I’m a bad wife and a lousy cook!” Carol says. Wow, Carol, it sounds like maybe he should leave you.
After Carol leaves the kitchen, Greg, Marcia, and Peter come in. Peter is impressed that his father is having an affair with Charo while Marcia, who is wearing a hat that makes her looks like she should be one of Tony Montana’s bodyguards, says that Mike is just not the type to cheat.
We then cut to the dinner with Charo. Charo is sitting on the couch with Mike while the rest of the family awkwardly stares at them. Charo says that she likes “hot stuff” and Carol gives her a death glare before ordering all the kids to go walk on the beach at night. After the kids leave, Carol threatens to kill Charo and shouts, “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT, MIKE!?”
Carol runs outside. After telling Charo that they better hold off on their duet, Mike goes outside and tells Carol that he understands that she was just jealous.
“Of course I’m jealous,” Carol says, “you’re a very handsome man and she’s Charo!”
Carol finally apologizes for making fun of Mike’s singing. Was that so hard, Carol? We then cut to Mike singing I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face and oh my God, his voice really is terrible. The kids weren’t kidding when they said Mike couldn’t carry a tune. Why did Carol allow him to do this!?
With all of that resolved, it’s time for the Bradys to once again prove their cultural relevance by singing Strike Up The Band, which was the most popular song of 1927. They also perform Seventy-Six Trombones, which was only 20 years old when this episode originally aired.
We then cut to a comedic skit, featuring Charo as “Sissyrella” and Rip Taylor as her stepsister. Sissyrella and her step sister live on a farm. Sissyrella gets upset when she’s told that she can’t go to the hoedown. Alice the Maid appears as Sissyrella’s fairy god mother. The Fairy Godmother not only gives Sissyrella a nice jumpsuit to replace her farm clothes but she also announces that Sissyrella is going to go to the hoedown. (It’s hard to describe any of this without making it sound like some sort of bad 70s porno film.)
The Hoedown is being held at a saloon. Marcia plays a madam who flirts with a cowboy in white who is played by her stepbrother, Peter.
Meanwhile, Greg plays Black Bart, the Rhinestone Cowboy.
Sissyrella shows up and both Peter and Greg announce that they love her. “Boys, boys,” Marcia says, “what about me?” Well, Marcia, you’re like their stepsister so it’s not illegal but it is kind of icky.
Unfortunately, the clock hits six and Sissyrella has to get back to the barn. However, as she runs off, Peter manages to grab Sissyrella’s boot. Sissyrella, now once again dressed as a farmhand, come back on stage to get her boot. Peter suggests that he and Sissyrella should ride off into the sunset together. So, 16 year-old Peter marries 40-something Charo and the audiences goes crazy.
We then cut to Peter and Greg standing on stage. Peter worries that Greg is going to push him into the pool. Greg promises not to. Greg then introduces the Hudson Brothers before pushing Peter into the pool. Fortunately, Peter does not break his neck when he hits the water but you know it’s going to happen someday. Maybe Mike should take a break from his affair with Charo to tell Greg and Peter the basics of swimming pool safety.
The Hudson Brothers — one of whom is the biological father of Kate Hudson, though Kate has always said that she considers Kurt Russell to be her actual father — perform Disco Queen while the Kroftettes do their thing in the pool. It’s actually a nice break from whatever the Hell we’ve been watching for the past 40 minutes.
Now, it’s time for the finale! This week, it’s songs about places! As always the family introduces the finale together and then they somewhat frantically run off stage as the performance starts. I’m not sure why this show thought it was a good idea to always show us how panicked the family was before performing and how out-of-breath they were after performing. It really does make seem as if the show is detrimental to both their physical and mental well-being.
Mike and Carol sing a bit from Chicago (That Toodlin’ Town). Not mentioned in their performance is Chicago’s long history of political corruption and organized crime.
Marcia sings a bit from California Dreaming, but does not mention the wildfires, the earthquakes, or the serial killers.
Carol sings Back Home Again In Indiana, but fails to mention all of the young people who suffered life-threatening injuries while playing basketball on Hang Time.
Marcia, Jan, and Cindy sing Do You Know the Way to San Jose, without mentioning the threat that Big Tech poses to human freedom. Admittedly, that probably wasn’t as much of a concern in 1977 as it is today. Still…
Robert Reed and Florence Henderson perform The Theme From San Francisco but somehow, they forget to mention Jim Jones and the People’s Temple.
Barry Williams and The Hudson Brothers perform a song called Philadelphia Freedom but somehow, they fail to mention the time that a bunch of Eagles fans tried to kill Santa Claus.
Ann B. Davis and Rip Taylor perform Big D, a song about Dallas. Yay!
The entire family then performs America and United We Stand. They’re lucky they were performing in America, where everyone has the right to be off-key.
And the show ends, with Carol announcing that tonight’s show was very special to her for many reasons. For instance, her marriage didn’t fall apart. Yay! Probably the most positive thing that I can say about this episode is that Charo actually proved herself to be a far better musician and singer than I was expecting. The worst thing that I can say is that the Sissyrella skit went on way too long. The important thing is that, after 48 minutes, the episode ended.
Next week, Rich Little thinks that he’s a member of the Brady family! Poor guy.
Once again, the highlight of my week
🙂 🙂 🙂
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