Herbie J Pilato On the REAL Story of ‘The Brady Bunch’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking to expand your ability to write reviews as well as your appreciation of classic TV? Contributing Editor Emiritus Herbie J Pilato has you covered. Right here.


by Herbie J Pilato

Here’s the REAL story…of The Brady Bunch, the unstoppable television show that has charmed millions of viewers for what seems like millions of years.

Author Kimberly Potts exquisitely chronicles the TV phenom in her new book, The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How The Canceled Sitcom Became The Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking About Today (Grand Central Publishing, 2019).

Although it’s really only been on the air (in one form or another sequel or remake somehow) for 50 years, The Brady Bunch debuted on ABC in the fall of 1969, along with other now-classics such as Marcus Welby, M.D.Love, American Style, and Room 222 (the latter two of which premiered on the same network’s Friday night line-up as the Brady brood).

But the Bunch was never an immediate hit. The show struggled along for five original seasons and depending on which fan you talk with, peaked around the fourth year. While the fifth season began with a stellar season-opening musical episode showcasing the Brady kids all grown-up, rumblings from leading actor Robert Reed, who played father Mike Brady to Florence Henderson as Carol Brady, and the controversial add of young Robbie Rist to the cast (as Cousin Oliver), eventually muddied any chance of there being a sixth season.

Apparently, had the show gone into that next season, Reed would have been replaced by Robert Foxworth (pre-Falcon Crest, and before meeting and falling in love with Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery on the set of the 1974 TV-movie, Mrs. Sundance).

And that would have been an ironic twist; for as Foxworth once explained, Reed had allegedly stopped him one day on a studio lot, admiring his curly locks.

The next time Foxworth saw Reed, the latter’s head-locks were permed with curls, with which the remaining Brady Bunch young male cast members seemingly followed suit. Although some may argue that the hair atop the heads of Barry Williams, as Greg Brady, Christopher Knight as Peter, and Mike Lookinland as Bobby, just happened to grow more textured with age.

At the same time, everybody knows that little Cindy Brady, played with natural adorability by Susan Olsen, was the “youngest [female] one with curls.”

Meanwhile, the two older Brady girls, Maureen McCormick as Marcia, and Eve Plumb as Jan, along with Olsen, were blond to match Henderson, who, during the show’s third season, created a unique bottom-flip-up hairstyle that rivals in TV history popularity that of Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel” do decades later on Friends.

Into this mix, was TV vet Ann B. Davis (Love That Bob) who as Alice, the loyal Brady housekeeper, who kept the family clean and laughing, as much as possible.

Potts explores all of this, and so much more, in-depth, and yet with brisk, readable prose about a show that became only really became a hit after it mass audiences discovered in syndicated reruns.

In the process, The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch trails a new path for television history/companion books. It shares meaty storytelling and memories, without over-doing it on the trivia and trivial aspects of the series.

The trivia is still there, but it’s surrounded by entertaining perspectives and recollections (from many of the cast and production team, including writer/producer Lloyd J. Schwartz, son of Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz (who, among other landmark shows, also ignited Gilligan’s Island).

There’s never been anything not to like about The Brady Bunch, and the same now holds true for The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch.

Potts tells and seals it all with pure Brady bliss.


Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of classic TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime, Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, and author of several classic TV companion books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE. This article first appeared in Medium.

Why ‘Mr. Robot’ is the Most Thought-Provoking TV Series in History

You thought The Good Place was profound?

Pshaw!

Emma Fraser knows the Truth. (And so does Mr. Robot. Bwahh!)

(Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

HOW MR. ROBOT TURNED A DYSTOPIAN LANDSCAPE INTO A UTOPIAN FINALE
by Emma Fraser

The world of Mr. Robot isn’t too dissimilar from the current political and social landscape; the one percent of the one percent have an exorbitant amount of power, and this level of control has led to overwhelming wealth disparity. Over four seasons, hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) took on those who “play God without permission” to break the system, which hit a lot of bumps along the way. His original target was E Corp, one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates (often referenced as Evil Corp). It isn’t a subtle name, but when veering into a dystopian landscape, nuance often gets left at the door.

Debuting in 2015, the main action of the entire series takes place across that particular year, revealing a “darkest timeline” version of a period that was already pretty messy IRL. However, the nightmare landscape shifts in the final season, offering up a semblance of hope about our collective future. In the final episodes, this contrasts with the image of a personal utopia turned hellscape. At the center of the story, an identity constructed out of trauma underscores why authentic personal connections are ultimately more important than imagined ones.

Creator Sam Esmail delivered numerous jaw-dropping twists and turns throughout Mr. Robot‘s run, including the Fight Club-style Season 1 reveal that Elliot’s friend Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is not real — rather, he is a personality created by Elliot, resembling his deceased father. This is just one layer of Elliot’s disassociative personality disorder; the final twist is that the person we have spent the most time with isn’t the real Elliot, either.

Mr. Robot is a show that doesn’t always spell out what is imagined, so when Elliot wakes up in the seemingly perfect alternate reality at the start of the two-part finale, questions stack up. Whiterose (BD Wong) claimed she could transport someone to a better version of their life; maybe she wasn’t lying after all?

In this other place, Elliot’s parents are both alive, and so is Angela (Portia Doubleday) — she was murdered in the Season 4 opener. Meanwhile, Elliot is not the hoodie-as-armor, anxiety-ridden figure we have spent four years watching….

Read it all at syfy.com

Cartoon: Funky Winkerbean Sums Up Hollywood

Truer Pictures Were Never Drawn Department:

See the original wherever Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean is up and running!

Oh, and here’s a value added extra. Commentary from the Comics Curmudgeon himself, Josh Fruhlinger. 

There can be absolutely no more appropriate ceremony to begin the process of sinking millions of dollars into a prestige Lisa’s Story movie than to ritually set some money on fire.

Why is Everybody Hating on Doctor Dolittle?

Marketers control the world these days…at least that’s how it often seems. Here’s a marketer’s perception of the failure of the latest version of Dr. Dolittle to grace our local cinema’s. And not just any marketer, Seth Godin, whose wisdom in the eyes of this TVWriter™ minion knoweth no bounds.


The Dolittle effect

Why is the new Dolittle movie so bad? Savaged by critics and viewers, it had:

  • One of the most bankable movie stars in the world
  • A story that had previously been the basis of two hit movies
  • The best CGI houses in the world
  • Unlimited time and money

I think the best way to understand why it failed is to look at the reasons above. Ironically, it’s these assets and lack of constraints that created the circumstances that allowed the movie to become a turkey.

Too many meetings.

Too many self-important voices around the table.

And most of all: No one who cared enough or was bold enough to stand up and say, “no.”

That would have been enough. If at three or four critical moments in the development of the project, someone had stopped the assembly line until the work was good enough to proceed, everything would have been better.

Sometimes, the investments we put in place to avoid mediocrity are the very things that cause it.


Don’t just sit there marveling at how much a showbiz non-pro knows about Hollywood. Instead, click on over to Seth’s Blog and see what else he knows and is so willing to share.

Cartoon: Mental Space

TVWriter™’s all-time favorite artist/philosopher, Grant Snider, tells us every creator really, really, really wants, and, perhaps more importantly, what we/they really need.

We love the fact that this is a cartoon containing words that genuinely deserve to be remembered.


See more of Grant Snider’s extraordinary perception of human creativity at Incidental Comics, HERE

Buy Grant’s new book, What Color is Night? at Amazon.Com!