Paramount // 1974 // 553 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 29th, 2006
"Here's the story..." and how it ends.
As if you don't already know whom The Brady Bunch are. Jan, Marsha, and Cindy. Bobby, Peter, and Greg. Mike, Carol, and everyone's favorite housekeeper, Alice. Two separate families -- a widower and a widow -- who have come together to prove nine heads are better than one. In this final season of the show the Brady clan contends with more wacky adventures, including Greg's descent into the juggernaut that is Johnny Bravo (still one of the best rock star names in the past fifty years), Peter's mix up with a horrific hair tonic, and a final goodbye to a family that will live on in reruns long after you, me, and everyone we know are dead.
The 22 episodes included on this four-disc set are as follows:
* Adios, Johnny Bravo
* Mail Order Hero
* Snow White And The Seven Bradys
* Never Too Young
* Peter And The Wolf
* Getting Greg's Goat
* Marcia Gets Creamed
* My Brother's Keeper
* Quarterback Sneak
* Try, Try Again
* The Cincinnati Kids
* The Elopement
* Miss Popularity
* Kelly's Kids
* The Driver's Seat
* Out Of This World
* Welcome Aboard
* Two Petes In A Pod
* Top Secret
* The Snooperstar
* The Hustler
* The Hair brained Scheme
It must have been a sad day for Brady fans when the last episode aired March 8, 1974. In hindsight, it was most likely the best thing that could have happened to the series -- a time capsule of the early 1970s, the show ended at just the right point to keep it encased in the cheesy wholesomeness of its decade. Did we need to see the Brady Bunch weather the 1980s and beyond?
Most TV shows come and go like a flash in a pan. Most are mundane, destined to be lost on the shelves of various studios. Some shows find an audience, do their time, and fade away. And then there is that rarest of shows, one that becomes popular, fades away, and then comes back with a vengeance and ends up engrained in American pop culture...forever. That would be the fate of the Brady family.
I'm convinced that what makes The Brady Bunch such an endearing classic is A) the time period (something about the '70s is just a hoot) and B) its unabashed insistence on being wholesome and cheesy. It's as if The Brady Bunch went out of its way to embrace its own goofiness, and audiences loved it all the more for it.
By now it seems pointless to critique the performances or stories -- they are what they are. None of the performances are convincing on any level as "real people." They are caricatures of how we wish our families operated (i.e., when a problem arises, it's taken care of in a timely fashion and at the end we've all learned a valuable lesson). Mike Brady (played with "t'sk t'sk" maturity by the late Robert Reed) is the perfect, all-knowing father, and Carol Brady (the always attractive Florence Henderson) is nothing less than stunning as she dotes on her man, uttering her famous "oh, Mike!" as if it were her own calling card. The stories surround the family were never complicated nor all that exciting -- they usually involved the kids screwing up and having to come clean to mom and dad. Then again, did you ever feel cheated that you never witness Peter struggling with a heroin addiction or Cindy pimping her body out for cash?
Studio executives must have known that the end was coming for The Brady Bunch. How else can you account for the inevitable appearance of cute, lovable Cousin Oliver (Robbie Rist) -- the entrance of a new kid is the death nail in any TV sitcom. By 1974, the Bradys had weathered a lot of footballs to the face, a heavy dose of pork chops and applesauce, and more puberty than you can shake a tampon at. The good news is that fans around the world can always revisit them in reruns...or on DVD.
Each episode of The Brady Bunch is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the original aspect ratio of the show's original broadcast. Overall fans of the series won't be disappointed with how these episodes look -- while they're considerably better than reruns on TV, they're not leaps about bounds above most shows from this era. The colors are a bit soft and the black levels only okay. It's the best The Brady Bunch will ever look...until the next incarnation of TV on the home video medium.
Each soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. There isn't much to report about these sound mixes -- they're clearly heard and well recorded, and little else. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this set.
The end of the Brady era goes out with a whimper...there are no extra features included on this set.
Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 553 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Not Rated