Rhino // 1995 // 42 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // December 4th, 2000
There's a story...of a lovely lady...
The Brady Bunch is one of the biggest icons of 1960s television, and has remained in syndication ever since. You would be hard pressed to find someone in America (or much of the world for that matter) who hasn't heard of the show. The show brought to the '60s the familiar formula of the perfect family on television. From Ozzie and Harriet we move on to the Brady Bunch, and in this case includes the subtext of two families becoming one. As with so many sitcoms with kids, we watched them grow up, and when they did it was time to retire the show. But even today many people still watch, and a reunion movie and remakes on film have already been done. There was also a television special that reunited the stars and let them show off home movies taken on and off the set. That special is now available on DVD, thanks to Rhino, the little distributor specializing in public domain films and television programming.
I was of the age to watch series like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family during the late '60s. They were largely too-sweet-for-words with families who never had any serious problems. One of the kids has his voice changing and that becomes a major crisis to be solved by the end of the show. But there was something comforting about these shows; especially when the world around us was in such tumult. It is no surprise that the series has survived so well and keeps a nostalgic place in the hearts of so many. The '90s saw a resurgence of remakes and nostalgia pieces, with the Brady Bunch a prime candidate for both.
The show is basically just an excuse to see the stars again and how the kids have grown up. Everyone expresses fond memories of the show and each other. Everyone seems to have done pretty well, though none except Florence Henderson has really kept her face in front of the screen since then. The rest of the show consists of the home movies shot by the members of the cast. Early in the show's history, Robert Reed (who played the father and tragically died of AIDS in 1992) gave each member a Super 8 movie camera as a Christmas gift. So each had their own films taken on their own and together during the location shoots in Hawaii, and during a group trip to England. Though there were hours of film, apparently only about 15 minutes or less of it was deemed good enough for the show, and many of the shots are shown over and over.
The DVD is pretty fair for some admittedly shallow material. The picture quality varies, from quite good (about satellite television broadcast quality) for the new footage to pretty poor for the home movies, which were grainy and often out of focus. That is no surprise considering much of it was shot by kids in 1969, and it was only Super 8 to begin with. The sound quality is adequate for the material, being a normal stereo track consisting almost entirely of dialogue. You can understand everything being said, and that's all that was needed.
The show was originally an hour long television special and converts to a 42 minute showing sans commercials. In addition to the show we get a 24 minute interview with Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland, who played Cindy and Bobby on the show. They speak at length of their own experiences and memories of each member of the cast and how their lives have been changed by the show. Another extra feature are even more of the home movies, this time without any narration.
Those home movies! They had about 10 to 15 minutes at best, and I must have seen each shot 15 times by the time it was over. Having another session of the same shots again as an extra feature was overkill. Other than that, I really have no complaints, except that it's just pap. Watch it once and say "ooh, look how they are now" and forget about it, and switch to the Travel Channel or something.
Die hard Brady fans will probably want the disc, just to have a permanent copy of the show, along with the extra content. Casual Brady fans like myself would be happy to rent it once and forget it, or just forget it anyway. Obviously people with no attachment to the show would find little to like here.
Rhino is acquitted since they provide a service by redistributing television shows you might have missed the first time around or simply want to keep. The Brady Bunch needs no judgment from me; they have remained an icon and probably always will.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 42 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Home Movies