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, Marcia’s getting married!
(Dir by Jack Regas, originally aired on April 4th, 1977)
We open, as always, with the Kroftettes doing a line dance in front of the pool. The announcer introduces the Brady Bunch and informs us that this week’s guest stars include Rip Taylor, Redd Foxx and The Ohio Players. The audience goes wild.
The Brady Bunch comes out, all dressed in red. They sing a song called Celebrate. It’s not the Celebrate Good Times Come On song. Instead, the lyrics are like, “I want to celebrate another good day blah blah blah.” According to Wikipedia, this song was originally recorded in 1968 by Three Dog Night. So, this song was only nine years old when the Bradys performed it. Considering that the Bradys usually performed the greatest hits of the 20s and 30s, that’s actually kind of amazing. That said, the family is so off-key and look so nervous while going through their very simple dance moves, you’ll want to celebrate when the song ends.
Of course, you may want to reconsider that reaction when you realize that the end of the song leads to the Bradys bantering. Cindy, proving herself once again to be the dumbest member of the family, asks, “What are we celebrating!?” with all the frantic energy of someone trying to figure out how to disarm a bomb.
“We’re back with another Brady Bunch hour!” Carol declares.
“YEAH!” the Brady Bunch children yell.
Mike announces that their special guest star tonight is “one of our daughter’s favorites, the star of Welcome Back Kotter–” TRAVOLTA? — “Robert Hegyes!” Oh. Well, he’s probably cool too. I’ve never seen Welcome Back Kotter. Fake Jan announces that the Ohio Players will be providing music. Peter says that “our good friend, Rip Taylor!” is in the studio. Greg announces that the Kroftettes and the Water Follies are going to be on the show. (They’re on the show every week, Greg.)
Suddenly, the notoriously profane nightclub comic, Redd Foxx, wanders out on stage and announces that he is going to have his own variety show, “right here on ABC.” Redd says that he’s going to hang around and watch everyone so that he can get ideas for “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.” Redd leaves the stage fairly quickly and I don’t blame him.
After we return from commercial, the Bradys sing If They Could See Me Now while dressed up as a wind-up dolls, complete with big keys sticking out of their backs.
Rip Taylor and Ann B. Davis come out on stage and start to awkwardly trade jokes about whether or not Rip was ever a young man. (Apparently, Ann B. Davis was very religious and Rip Taylor was very ribald and, as a result, Ann only spoke to Rip when they were onstage together.) The skit is interrupted by Redd Foxx, who comes out, insults Rip Taylor’s sideburns, and tells them to just go to the flashback showing what happened earlier this week.
We cut to the Brady Compound. Cindy and Bobby are arguing because, while they were out roller skating, Cindy met a guy but Bobby thinks the guy is a creep. Bobby told the guy to back off and then says he can’t understand why anyone would want to talk to Cindy or why Cindy would want to talk to them.
“Our little girl is becoming a woman,” Mike says, in a line that is not at all creepy.
Alice the Maid enters the living room and refuses to tell Mike where she’s been for the past few hours. Mike finds it amusing that his mad thinks that she can have a personal life. It turns out that she was hanging out with Jackie Merrill. Apparently, she and Jackie are a couple now, despite the fact that Jackie is Rip Taylor. Whatever happened to Sam the Butcher? For that matter, why is Alice even in Hollywood? Just because Mike decided to ruin his children’s lives by producing a variety show, does that mean Alice’s life has to be ruined as well?
Fake Jan comes into the living room and complains that she doesn’t have a boyfriend to drive her around. Her parents tell her to stop crying and accept that she’s the middle child.
Greg comes in the living room and worries that Marcia is acting a little weird. He mentions that Marcia is going out with some new guy, which takes Mike and Carol by surprise. Marcia finally enters the living room and announces that she wants her parents to meet her new boyfriend. She explains that he’s totally soulful and vulnerable and poetic.
“It’s either got to be Walter Cronkite or David Bowie,” Carol says.
Nope, it’s Winston Beaumont, played by tonight’s special guest star, Robert Hegyes.
After Winston flashes a peace sign and elaborately shakes everyone’s hands, Marcia announces that she and Winston are engaged.
“Whoa!” the audience says in unison.
We then cut to a cemetery, where Greg, Fake Jan, and Marcia sing Southern Nights. It’s actually a good song for Greg and Marcia’s limited vocal range. That said, Fake Jan’s voice is so good that it serves to remind the viewer of how vocally limited everyone else on the show (except for Florence Henderson) actually was.
We cut to Cindy asking Peter if he thinks that she’s pretty. Peter tells her that she’s totally awesome and that he would totally go out with her if she was a little older and if she wasn’t his sister. Technically, Cindy is only his stepsister but still …. ick! Redd Foxx comes out and asks how things are going with Winston. “Watch this!” Peter says.
Cut to the Brady Compound, where Mike and Carol ask Marcia and Winston what they mean by engaged. Marcia says they’re going to get married. Winston says Marcia is totally outrageous. “Hate is a four-letter word, man,” Winston says. And it’s true! Greg sits in the corner of the living room and stews. I guess it makes sense that Greg would be angry. Greg couldn’t even handle moving out of the house for two days and now, Marcia is getting married!
Mike says that he and Carol need to think all of this over. You can think about it all you want, Mike. Marcia’s over eighteen and can marry anyone she wants. Winston and Greg leave the living room and Mike tells Marcia that she’s not getting married. “I don’t want him to be my son-in-law,” Mike says. Marcia announces that she’s going to marry Winston whether they like it or not. “Whoa!” the audience says.
The next day, at the breakfast table, Alice tells Mike and Carol that sometimes, it’s hard to understand what people see in each other. Carol, in typical Brady fashion, responds to Alice’s attempted kindness by giving her a hard time about dating Mr. Merrill. On cue, Mr. Merrill stops by to see Alice and, misinterpreting the conversation, accuses Carol and Mike of trying to break up him and Alice. This leads to three minutes of Rip Taylor shouting, which somehow also leads to Mike and Carol deciding that they need to get to know their future son-in-law. Mercifully, the scene ends and the show goes to commercial. Since this show aired in 1977, it was probably a disco-themed car commercial starring California Governor Jerry Brown and the future king of England.
We return to Mike and Carol standing on stage and introducing the second half of the show.
“In case you just joined us….” Carol starts.
“You should be ashamed of yourself! You’re half-an-hour late!” Mike snaps.
Redd Foxx walks out on stage and asks Mike why he doesn’t like Winston.
“Would you like your daughter to marry a mellow cat!?” Mike demands.
This is a weird episode.
Anyway, we then cut to the Brady Compound, where Greg is whining that Winston refuses to play beach volleyball because “he says sand has feelings!” It turns out that the entire family, except for Marcia and Peter, dislikes Winston. Marcia, of course, loves Winston because he’s her man. Peter likes Winston because Winston is apparently a baseball fan. Peter evens tells Marcia about how Winston was talking to a girl in “a tiny bikini” about baseball.
(Random sidenote: Winston should meet my sister!)
Marcia realizes that she and Winston have never discussed baseball. She also says that she just now noticed that Winston seems to agree with everything that he hears. She accuses him on being a phony. “I’m Marcia,” she snaps, “but who are you?” (Actually, you’re Maureen McCormick and you’re on a show pretending to be a part of an imaginary family.) Marcia dumps Winston so I guess that storyline magically resolved itself.
The show cuts to Greg and Peter standing by the pool. Peter tells Greg to just get it over with and push him into the pool. Peter seems to be so traumatized by the whole pool thing that it’s hard not to feel that Greg is one of the world’s greatest monsters. Peter ends up jumping into the pool himself, just to get it over with. Redd Foxx comes out and announces that he will be stealing the pool gag for his show but instead, it’s going to be a pool table. Redd then says, “I take care of my brothers,” before shoving Greg in the pool.
Redd introduces a band called The Ohio Players. The Ohio Players are best-known for a song called Love Rollercoaster but, on this show, they perform a song called Fire, which I immediately recognized as the theme song from Hell’s Kitchen.
We then cut to Florence Henderson singing her song of the week. This time, she sings How Lucky Can You Get? from Funny Lady. It’s not a bad performance. Florence could sing and this song is a good one for her somewhat overdramatic style. That said, Florence Henderson is no Ohio Player.
Redd Foxx comes out on stage and says, “Don’t tell the Bradys but I’m going to split now.” I don’t blame you, Redd. Redd admits that he’s not sure if he can do a Brady-style of show. “I can’t smile all the time,” Redd says. Redd also says he’s not sure if he can handle having six white folks on his show. Redd goes on to say that he can’t do any silly stories on his show, “like that thing about Marcia wanting to marry that dude.” Redd assures the audience, “The Redd Foxx isn’t going to look like the Brady Bunch Hour” and then walks off stage.
(According to the imbd, The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour was renamed Redd Foxx and aired in September of 1977. One more episode followed in 1978 and then the show was canceled. Among Redd’s guests were comedian Andy Kaufman and anti-gay rights activist Anita Bryant.)
It’s time for the finale! The Bradys stand on stage, holding flowers. Greg bitches that Marcia got a dozen roses while he got one crummy carnation. (Gee, I can’t imagine why Redd Foxx didn’t want to stick around for this.) Peter points out that he doesn’t even have a flower. “I’ve got a crummy onion!” Carol explains that he’s actually holding tulip bulb and Peter asks if Thomas Edison invited the tulip and WILL YOU GUYS JUST START THE GOT DANG FINALE!?
The finale music starts and the Bradys run off the stage in a panic.
Check out the finale for yourself! Some things just need to be seen.
This episode was actually not as painful as some of the previous ones, as the Brady banter was kept to a minimum and the Ohio Players performance of Fire definitely livened things up. The Bradys are still pretty annoying but at least Redd Foxx was there to assure us that he found them to be annoying too. Interestingly enough, the idea of Marcia Brady marrying a free-spirited mellow dude was reused in The Brady Brides. So, even though The Brady Bunch Hour has been deemed non-canonical by most Brady scholars (*snicker*), perhaps this show did have some influence on the Bunch’s future after all.
Next week, it’s the episode I’ve been waiting for. It’s …. DISCO NIGHT!