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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is probably a first for television: reuniting the cast of a late
60s/early 70s sitcom for an hour-long DRAMA series. Well, CBS did just
that, based on the success of the 1988 TV movie, A Very Brady
Christmas. This was after the concept was already revived in the 1970s
as a variety show, in the 1980s as a sitcom focusing on Marcia and Jan,
and now in the 1990s for what was affectionately dubbed
As you can imagine the effort simply did not work, because people did not want to see Bobby Brady paralyzed or Marcia as an alcoholic. The whole idea of a full time series based around the now adult Brady children and their parents about twenty years after the original series began without a hint of camp or irony was absurd and the show quickly tanked.
Completely unexpectantly, the two-hour pilot of this uh, series, casually
began to play on my television set. For reasons beyond me, it was called
"The Brady 500," which was quite cutesy, but I could still tell it was the
'movie' that led to "The Brady's," a very dramatic one hour drama that
reunites the they're together so often I'm surprised they're NOT a real
family family of the Brady's... you know, Mike, Carol, Greg, Marica (a faux
Marcia, not Maureen McCormack)... yes, THOSE Brady's from the corny sitcom
"The Brady Bunch," only their lives are not so funny anymore.
In "The Brady 500" Mike and Carol are basically the same, as is Alice, the "goofy" housekeeper, whom I think is either still working for them, or just hangs out at their house too often. Greg is married with child (a young Johnathan Taylor Thomas...which was not thrilling news to discover) and is an Obstitrician; Marcia is still married to Wally (from "The Brady Brides"), who's main talent seems to be losing jobs. His last one cost them their house, so they and their two precious children must move in with Mike and Carol; Peter is some womanizer (of all characters) who's been engaged four times, but can never find the right girl; Jan does not seem to enjoy communicating with her family much (stubborn middle child) unless it involves telling them all of her problems, which involve she and hubby Phillip (also of "The Brady Brides") and their inablity to have children; Cindy is a deejay, who is attracted to her older, widowed boss, and Bobby...well, he WAS a budding race car driver who gets PARALYZED during some big, important race. Oh, the horror. How will the rest of the Brady's cope with this dramatic struggle.
Actually, Bobby's paralysis really seemed to take a back burner as the last forty minutes or so seemed to involve his love life with a jilted fiance, Tracy...whom he ends up marrying; as well as Wally's casually getting a new job (truly, nobody seemed to care when he announced it), and Jan and Phillip deciding to adopt and ending up with not a baby, but a young Korean girl, who seemed to only communicate by whispering in her new mommy's or daddy's ear. I guess other episodes probably dealt with Bobby CONTINUING to deal with his handicap--as well as a new wife; Jan and Phil's adjustments; Wally's new job, etc. I believe other plots also involved Mike running for--and winning--a seat on Congress; Marcia *howl with laughter* being an alcoholic, and many other dramatic, tensing situations. I think the Brady's even had to (oh dear) MOVE!!!!!
Quality-wise, I found "The Brady 500" about on par with "A Very Brady Christmas," which means it passed the time, but wasn't all that great. The thing I had to wonder was, what was the point of reuniting the Brady family for a dramatic series, when everyone knows them as the corny, "comedic" Brady's. It presents a concept too hard to swallow (the three flashbacks to the original series did not help...and Dabs "Reverand Alden" Greer as the minister in Bobby's wedding cornily referring to Mike and Carol's wedding did not do much to help me take it seriously, either), which is probably why it didn't exactly go on to last for YEARS or even one year, I believe.
That one word describes this series. The pilot episode involving Bobby being paralyzed and Jan and Phillip's marital problems (among other side archs) was actually well written. The rest of it went down from there. The family has to move because their house at 4226 Clinton Way is in the path of a freeway development. ok, fair enough so far. They are unsucessfull at getting that changed; uh huh. Next, so they decide to move the house; literally cut it into pieces and move it, so that the producers can stop using the fooage of the actual house filmed back in the 60's (the real house, while still there, looks nothing like it did and is now protected by a big wall), but not design new sets. This is where it started to be a stretch. Mike is mad that their councilman wouldn't support them in their opposition so he decides to run against him, and (surprise! surprise!) he won. This is where they lost me. The rest of the series went downhill from there, culmunating with Marcia's alchoholism. Don't get me wrong, I think that Marcia becoming an alchoholic was a good idea (it was built on from the way things were when the series started -- can we say good plot development?) but the writing could have been better, and then she admits her problem (after hitting bottom) gets and into treatment (becoming an advocate for people with her problem to seek help); all in one episode. Then in the next episode it was completely forgotten. Oh, please! The next, and final (thankfully)m episode dealt with the girls putting together a catering business (The Party Girls). Oh, and least I forget, throughout the show Cindy is dating her widowed (or was it divorced, I forget) boss at the radio station where she works as a D.J. Ack Ack Ack. Go away!
Just what were the writers and producers thinking when they decided to feature a family from a half-hour situation comedy in a new one-hour drama?? While it was nice to see a post-series Brady Bunch reunion TV-movie ("A Very Brady Christmas"), bringing them back in a new series was completely uncalled-for! A one-hour drama for a hilarious family just doesn't cut it. I didn't like the idea of Bobby being paralyzed. Too depressing! This 1990 revival made the "Brady Brides" look better.
This show probably ended the notion of people trying to milk the Brady franchise for all its worth. The idea of trying to turn one of the corniest, but memorable, sitcoms in television history into an hour long drama is probably one of the worst ideas in the history of television. To me, the idea of the Brady's finally having real life problems is so absurd after the surrealism of the original series. Just thank God they didn't bring back cousin Oliver.
Bless their hearts, they tried. They tried to put a situation comedy family, who is at the cornerstone of American pop culture, in a family drama. But it simply didn't work. It's just like trying to make a Cadillac out of a Volkswagen ... it ain't gonna happen! Assigning major problems to each of the family (e.g., Marcia's alcoholism, Bobby getting paralyzed), along with using a laugh track just didn't work. In hindsight, if the producers had gotten a decent writing staff and flexible directors, "The Bradys" might have worked. Unfortunately, it simply destroyed the Brady franchise. Fortunately, we still have the reruns of the original 1969-1974 ABC series, which will be around for a long time. So will, unfortunately, this show, which is bound to turn up in reruns at some point.
This show was actually very good.It works much better than you would think it should,and we come to care about the charachters just as much as we had in the original series.The acting is very good,and the writing was excellent.Watch for a young Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Greg and Nora's son ,Kevin.
Being a fan of "The Brady Bunch", I was interested when I first heard
that CBS was going to release this show as a Spring replacement.
Since I couldn't watch the episodes at the time it aired due to other commitments, I set the VCR for the first episode. When I watched it, I didn't like what I saw. It looked horrible. I thought that maybe it was a fluke, so I taped another episode and it was more of the same.
What bothered me the most is it seemed like the Brady Family was going out of their way to say, "we are no longer that goody-goody little family you used to know and remember, way back when".
Also, it seemed like every week, a new crisis struck the Brady family; From Marcia becomes an alcoholic, or Bobby becoming a paraplegic in a racing accident. You had to ask yourself what tragedy could happen next; Peter gets shot in a bank holdup? Or maybe Cindy ends up missing.
With every week being what seems like "The Brady crisis of the week", it makes the show unbelievable and you end up thinking; No family could have as many problems as they do.
Just watching it makes it painful to watch; Not painful in the sense that you're feeling the Brady's tragedy, but getting that "I can't take anymore of this crap" feeling.
Only 4 episodes were aired and Maureen McCormick had the good sense to stay away from this "turkey". In a way, I felt it was 4 episodes too many.
Mike Brady running for office? Bobby handicapped? True enough, the
Brady Bunch wasn't funny. But why rub it in with this schlock??
I have to admit, when Bobby gazed up like Bambi at Mike and asked if he'll walk again I did get a little choked up. But then I immediately started laughing! God strike me down. I've loved the Bradys since the beginning, so I felt a little torn, but let's be serious, there's nothing dramatic about the Bradys. So why try? This attempt at drama, turning the Brady Bunch into the Colbys was ridiculous!
There was something really wrong-headed about this show. I kept waiting for footballs in the nose and lies about George Glass and arguments about using the toilet and Pork Chops and Applesauce! And if everyone was supposed to be there, then where the hell was Cousin Oliver?
Sure it was cheesy and took itself too seriously, but I find it very easy to love, nonetheless, and it holds a special place among my favorite shows.It isn't high quality in the way my other favorites are, but there is still something very special about it, and it's the natural followup to "A Very Brady Christmas". Leah Ayres did a fine job as the replacement Marcia, and the rest of the cast got a chance to show that they truly were talented dramatic actors all along. I can't help but love this show.
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