Paramount // 1970 // 600 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // October 5th, 2005
Wider collars, shorter skirts, longer sideburns, and pimples. Gosh! These Bradys sure are groovin'.
"...that's the way we became the Brady Bunch."
That's right; it's a full-blown family affair now. Gone is the Peppermint Trolley Company as the Brady Kids themselves step up to the microphone to croak out the infectious opening-title jingle. Discarded are the boxes of hair ribbons. Dispensed are the fears of merging two displaced families. And, hey, has anyone seen Tiger or Fluffy? It's a new year and a new outlook for TV's hippest home where Mike and Carol run referee to all manner of conflicts and calamities that alternately afflict Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy. Alice remains in the kitchen but always within earshot of the goings on, ready to whistle in the troops or whip up some homespun answers of her own. And, in the end, it all serves up another year of life's lessons where viewers can copiously collect more sage advice when they later wonder, "Hmmm...what would the Bradys do?"
Having survived their first year together, an often tumultuous but always triumphant endeavor to bring together a widow and widower, three boys, three girls, a housemaid, a dog, and a cat, the Bradys are convinced that "from here on out it's gonna be smooth sailing."
It's a second year and these grammar- and junior high-schoolers aren't little kids anymore. Growing up, getting ahead, and getting noticed are the goals for this gaggle of goody-goodniks in the promising years of 1970 and 1971. Eldest Greg (Barry Williams) is convinced he's ready for adulthood, whether that be dropping out of eighth grade to be a big-league baseball phenom or dropping out of society so he can tune in and turn on to the grooviness of his own pad and older girls. Marcia (Maureen McCormick) is looking for a whole lotta loving from the opposite sex when she's going steady with Harvey Klinger and then decides it's respect she really craves when she decides to infiltrate the traditionally all-male Frontier Scouts. Peter (Christopher Knight) is somewhere in-between the realm of blissful boyhood and anxiety-provoking teen angst yet is still confronted with sizable perils of his own as he faces off with bullying Buddy Hinton and alternately goes androgynous when he stumps as a Sunflower Girl (!). Jan (Eve Plumb) gets blindsided big time by the onset of middle-child mayhem and sows the seeds of her life-altering identity crises as she struggles to emerge as a viable Brady in her own right. Her struggles are mighty and many, including daring to see if it's brunettes who really have more fun and conjuring up romantic Romeos in the form of a hastily summoned George Glass. Bobby (Mike Lookinland) is tired of being a little boy and fears that, at 8 years old, he just might fail to chalk up any significant accomplishments of his own. He quests for a trophy to call his own, hoping the Kartoon King ice cream contest might gain him the conspicuous congratulations he so desperately requires. Cindy (Susan Olsen) seems quite content in her pigtails and party dresses. Don't let those adorable dimples fool you, though, because this little cherub shows her darker side when she becomes the resident family fink and must withstand the taunting of a lisp-adverse schoolyard creep.
Opportunity and adversity doesn't limit itself to the Brady kids, though. Mike (Robert Reed), finds he has to make fast reparations with his boss, Mr. Phillips, after normally demure Carol (Florence Henderson) launches into an uncharacteristic tirade over the employer's "broken down barnacle barge." And Alice -- well she's always on-hand to catch some of the shrapnel from the Brady barrage and still manages to desperately grasp for true love, whether in the hooks of buffoonish beef wrangler, Sam the Butcher (Allan Melvin) or at the advances of one-time flame Mark Mallard.
Yep, smooth sailing.
As it rolled into its second season, The Brady Bunch established itself as a TV favorite during its Friday evening prime-time slot. (The show was nudged down from 8:00pm to 7:30pm during Season Two but would reclaim the 8:00pm slot in ABC's Friday night lineup, where it would remain for the remainder of its five-year run.) Although it could never break into the Top 30 in the Nielsen ratings race, the show nonetheless became part of the American Family's regular weekly diet of situation comedy and familial friendliness. Clearly the show could out-saccharine the cuddly Cleavers of Leave it to Beaver but audiences approved all the same. Series creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz (Gilligan's Island) maintained his faith in the family unit and continued to bet the Bradys offered the sort of hip-but-not-hypocritical wholesomeness that would draw viewers across the nation (and ultimately around the world). Schwartz was right and the program ran for a strong five years with very few throwaway episodes (those wouldn't come along until Florence Henderson's Wesson years and the introduction of pie-faced cousin Oliver in 1974).
As far as Brady lore goes, Season Two is responsible for some of the best-remembered storylines and oft-repeated quotes: "Gee Marcia, you sure know your bugs," "Baby talk, baby talk. It's a wonder you can walk," and "Mom always said, 'Don't play ball in the house.'" These are some true gems of the series as you'll find these and more in this boxed-set's 24 full-length episodes:
* "The Dropout"
* "The Babysitters"
* "The Slumber Caper"
* "The Un-Underground Movie"
* "Going, Going...Steady"
* "Call Me Irresponsible"
* "The Treasure of Sierra Avenue"
* "A Fistful of Reasons"
* "The Not-So-Ugly Duckling"
* "The Tattle-Tale"
* "What Goes Up..."
* "Confessions, Confessions"
* "The Impractical Joker"
* "Where There's Smoke"
* "Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?"
* "The Drummer Boy"
* "Coming-Out Party"
* "Our Son, the Man"
* "The Liberation of Marcia Brady"
* "Lights Out"
* "The Winner"
* "Double Parked"
* "Alice's September Song"
* "Tell It Like It Is"
Each episode is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame format as originally televised and each looks better than you've likely seen in some time. The transfer is clean, consistent, and colorful, rivaling the quality of the mildly disappointing Season One authoring. There is frequent softness in the presentation yet that seems inherent to the original production value and not the result of an indifferent transfer effort. The audio is offered in a clean and clear Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. Really, this is a fine presentation, visually and aurally and the DVD production team is to be congratulated and encouraged to keep up the good work.
Although Mike Brady would certainly have a bit of finger wagging and philosophical spouting to launch into over this, it's disappointing that there are no extras in this second-year presentation (no commentaries, no interviews, no featurettes, not even a photo gallery). It's more than baffling why Paramount would overlook the necessity to add more to the Bradys digital coming-out party. We can only hope this is rectified quickly (although early reports indicate the Season Three set will be likewise bereft of bonus material). Worth noting, however, is the return of the fun lenticular cover image featuring the nodding and bobbing Bradys in their signature tic-tac-toe tiles. Also, each show begins with the "in color" still panel featuring the famous staircase photo with superimposed show logo. For these two elements, we can show some generosity in acknowledging these quasi-extras.
It's the sort of goodness that gags some and delights others, this Brady state of consciousness. The simple fact is that the show has maintained a syndicated presence ever since its first-run cancellation in March 1974 and it appears unwilling to let up any time soon. Although it's cartoonish and syrupy-sweet, The Brady Bunch remains a time-honored mainstay of our pop-TV diet. Enjoy, but don't forget to brush your teeth after each heavily sugared episode.
So what's wrong with sweetness and conspicuous innocence? Nothing, that's what. There is no crime in having a good time. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2005 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Release Year: 1970
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Pre-show Bumper Panels
* Lenticular Slipcase Cover