Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Brady Bunch Hour... for when you need to watch something truly weird.

Last night, I got bored.  I started flipping through YouTube videos and came across a couple of uploaded Brady Bunch Hour specials.  Back in 1977, evidently while under the heavy effects of some hallucinogenic drugs, the people who used to be on The Brady Bunch put together a variety show.  Variety shows were big in the 70s, thanks to the likes of Donny and Marie Osmond.  Indeed, the "Bradys" had a set near the Osmonds' set.  Instead of ice skaters, they had synchronized swimmers.  They also had a truly bizarre array of skits and guest stars, as well as a ridiculous premise.  Mike Brady decided to quit being an architect and moved the family to California (uh... I thought that was where they were already from) to get them in show biz...

Susan Olsen wrote a book about this weird ass show.  I reviewed it and you'll find my thoughts below...

Anyway, someone uploaded a few videos which were apparently taped when the shows actually aired because they included ads.  The ads are especially interesting.  I remember a few of them.  One thing I notice is that a lot of them are about food.  And instead of five or six of them, there are only two.  You got more show for your buck in the 70s.  While the Bradys are pretty shitty, I have to admit, it's fun to watch them sing and dance for awhile.

I remember that Golden Grahams ad.  Why don't they make commercials like those anymore?

Maureen McCormick looks a bit out of it in this...

This one includes Rick Dees...

I didn't pack my copy of Susan Olsen's book, Love to Love You Bradys...  I kind of wish I had.

The Brady Bunch Variety Hour... here's the story of a truly bizarre 70s relic

Oct 5, 2009 (Updated Oct 6, 2009)

Review by knotheadusc

Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros: Very interesting reading for Brady fans.

Cons: Won't appeal to people who hate bad TV.

The Bottom Line: A tongue in cheek book about perhaps one of the weirdest shows in TV history...

I'm no longer afraid to admit that I have a strange affinity for truly bizarre, cheesy, and downright laughable television, especially if it was created during the 1970s or 80s. I'm willing to bet that most people would count The Brady Bunch as one of the cheesiest creations of the 1970s. Being a total cheese myself, I've eagerly watched every single episode of The Brady Bunch hundreds of times over and seen at at least one episode of each of its three ill-fated sequels. I've also seen the movies and read most of the books about The Brady Bunch, a show that was never particularly well-regarded by critics, yet has still somehow managed to touch different generations of people over the past 40 years.

Is it any wonder that I was quick to snag a copy of Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour when it hit the shelves last month? Written by Ted Nelson, Lisa Sutton, and the Bradys' very own Susan Olsen, I knew this book was a must have for a Brady geek like me. Wait a minute. You say you've never heard of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour? You must have been living under a rock!

But seriously... though the original Brady show has always been easy to catch in re-runs, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour consists of just eight episodes, most of which remained buried for over thirteen years. Although a couple of episodes were shown on Nick at Nite back in the early 1990s, I never even saw the show myself until I managed to get my hands on a DVD released in 2000. Sadly, while that DVD was crammed with the Bradys' delicious 70s era craptastic entry in variety show history, it only included a couple of episodes of what is probably the worst variety show in history.

Obviously, the authors of Love to Love You Bradys figured out there was a story to tell, particularly to Brady geeks like me. So, over the course of about four years, they interviewed all willing participants of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which was taped from November 1976 until April 1977 and shared the same studio as Donny & Marie did back in its early days.

Speaking of Donny & Marie, we actually have the Osmonds' show to thank for giving us the Bradys in variety show format. You see, several Brady characters had appeared on Donny & Marie and scored very respectable ratings. Fred Silverman, who was at that time the head of ABC, decided that if audiences wanted to see Bradys on a variety show, he'd oblige them. So, even though the Bradys went off the air for the first time in 1974, the actors from the original Brady Bunch were contacted to star in this new effort, created by Sid and Marty Krofft. And most of the original Bradys were decidedly uninterested... that is, of course, until the network started throwing big wads of money at them. Eventually everybody except Eve Plumb, who originally played middle daughter Jan, signed up. And then the character Jan was replaced by Geri Reischl, an actress and singer who forevermore will be known as "Fake Jan".

My thoughts

This is a great book to have if you're a Brady fan. Unlike most books about the Bradys, Love to Love You Bradys focuses almost entirely on The Brady Bunch Hour, which is a show that was so weird and ill conceived that a lot of people don't remember it. The book is printed on heavy duty paper with lots of colors and photographs and plenty of glitter. The colors and glitter are very appropriate, given the guilty pleasure subject matter.

I appreciated the fact that Susan Olsen weighed in with her firsthand observations of her experiences making the show. She's a bit of a smart @$, which makes her parts of the book especially fun to read.

Aside from Olsen's input, there was also ample input from most of the other Bradys, excluding Robert Reed, who died in 1992, and Eve Plumb, who didn't participate on the show. I liked that the authors devoted a lot of space to Geri Reischl, who not only looked a lot like Eve Plumb, but could also sing better than just about anyone else who played a Brady. I also got a kick out of finding out that Paris Hilton's mom, Kathy, was one of the young women Reischl beat out for her role as Fake Jan!

This is a great book for entertainment trivia buffs, since the authors have included tons of information about all of the guest stars who were unfortunate enough to be on the show. That list includes folks like Tina Turner, Redd Foxx, Charo, Farrah Fawcett, Lee Majors, Milton Berle, Vincent Price, and even Tony Randall. Moreover, I enjoyed reading about the Krofftettes, a group of dancers/swimmers who were enlisted to help entertain the masses with synchronized swimming. Yes, the Osmonds may have had ice skating, but the Bradys had swimming and diving-- a concept that the authors hint was concocted under the influence of a certain type of weed. Anyone who's seen the movie Grease will no doubt recognize that one of the the Krofftettes was Susan Buckner, who later went on to play Patty Simcox in Grease.


This book is a real hoot to read, especially for Brady devotees. I would definitely recommend it to those who love 70s nostalgia and Brady fans everywhere.

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