THE BRADY BUNCH – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON tells the story of Carol, a single mother of three girls – Marcia, Jan and Cindy and architect Mike Brady, a single father of three boys – Greg, Peter and Bobby who get married and blend the two families into one. Added to the mix are housekeeper Alice and dog Tiger. The Bradys’ experience the same obstacles as any family, from adjusting to their new extended family, to sibling rivalry. The comedy series famous for its catchy theme song truly has become a pop culture icon and is still enjoyed by viewers of all ages.
Because of Gilligan's Island
and The Brady Bunch
, writer-producer Sherwood Schwartz will forever be a TV hall-of-famer. They were his only real hits, but they were both grand slams in their prime times and have remained syndicated favorites ever since. Following closely on the Gilligan's Island
season 2 release, The Brady Bunch
is ready for home theaters with a nicely designed, 4-disc set of 25 first-season episodes. The pilot episode, "The Honeymoon" sets up the story we all know from the theme song (lyrics by Schwartz) by giving us the marriage of Mike and Carol and the coming together of the six kids. Schwartz provides commentary for just this first show, but he fondly recalls his intention of sweet, subdued, and often corny gags the pre-fab family encountered as a precise format each week. Two other episodes include commentary by Barry Williams (Greg), Christopher Knight (Peter), and Susan Olson (Cindy), and their reminiscences are equally affectionate about time on the show and everyone's surprise at its enormous success. Every Brady
episode is a classic in some sense, and this first of five seasons (those kids did grow up fast) includes some real charmers when the six Brady kids still seemed impossibly young. It's hard to say the show was ever hip, even though it became slightly more attuned to a pop sensibility as the Bradys moved into the '70s. But man, is this 1969 everyfamily ever square. Even so, it's hard to resist the way each one gets their own screen time with shows devoted to simple childhood joys and traumas--Jan's missing locket, Cindy's missing baby doll, Greg's crush on his math teacher, Peter's swelled head when he gets his picture in the paper, etc.
In a brief bonus featurette we get more innocuously entertaining interview comments from Schwartz, Williams, Olson, Knight, and Mike Lookinland (Bobby). It's interesting that all the subjects make note of how seriously the classically trained (now-deceased) Robert Reed took his role as patriarch, Mike Brady. His reputation as being "difficult" followed the long run of the show, but if Schwartz's first choice had gotten the role it could have been a lot worse. (Schwartz is delighted to reveal the famous name and career path that followed, so the mystery shouldn't be spoiled here.) As it was during its TV run, The Brady Bunch on DVD is clearly meant for a specific generation--yours. --Ted Fry