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Friday, September 10, 2010
"Brady Brady Brady": Here's the story of an oft-old story ... never told with quite this much authority
By Jude Cormier
When I first heard that a book called Brady, Brady, Brady was coming out, my first thought was, "What? Another book on The Brady Bunch? Hasn't that subject been covered to death?"
And I say that as a die-hard fan. Then I saw who the authors were to be: Sherwood Schwartz and his son, Lloyd J. Schwartz, the two guiding hands behind the Brady family throughout most of their incarnations. So I knew this was a must-own for me.
When I first got my copy, I was surprised to see it was a hardcover. All of the other Brady books were paperbacks. I had owned most of them and had read and re-read them many times. What could be possibly be said that's new and different? Well ... not much. Plenty of the facts that were covered in the other books are simply verified here. The difference is we get the perspective from the two men who were there from day one.
Misconceptions the other books have put forward as fact are corrected here, such as the supposedly near-death drowning of Susan Olsen, who played Cindy, while on an outrigger filming one of the show's more adventurous episodes. Lloyd tells us that has been a gross exaggeration of what really happened.
The book is written in two sections, the first by Sherwood, the creator, who basically gives us the story of how the Bunch came into being. He clearly states that this book is not intended to be an episode-by-episode guide, so if you have one of the other books, hang onto them just for that aspect. I noticed a few errors that a fact-checker, an editor or proof-reader from the publisher could have corrected. When I mentioned this to Susan (yes, we are casual acquaintances via Facebook), she told me (in humor) that I was "picky, picky, picky."
The second section is written by Lloyd, who handles the Brady story after the original 1969-74 ABC series. Lloyd's section is really fun to read; he has a great way with words and storytelling. Lloyd shares his account of being a college student during Bunch's genesis after serving as a dialog coach on his father's previous TV creations, Gilligan's Island and the short-lived cave-people comedy It's About Time. Initially he was hired in the same capacity for his dad's new blended family sitcom, but soon he realized that all the things the associate producer was doing, he could do and better.
His father gave him a chance, but not the title, less nepotism charges be levied. Lloyd more than proved himself and soon Sherwood granted his son the official title of "associate producer," making him one of the youngest to have achieved that status.
One subject that both father and son clearly agreed on was Robert Reed. Specifically, that he was a pain and only landed the role of Mike Brady thanks to his Paramount "pay or play" contract. They contend he was clearly not into doing comedy, much less Gilligan-esque slapstick. But they also concur that Reed loved his TV kids deeply and was overjoyed to be asked to reprise Mike Brady for the 1981 TV movie The Brady Girls Get Married.
But by the time of The Bradys--CBS's short-lived 1990 primetime attempt at making the Bunch into a quasi-soap opera--everyone had just about enough of Bob's temperament. (When Ann B. Davis cusses you out, you know you have sunk to new depths.)
Lloyd discusses further Brady incarnations such as the theatrical movies and the fight to get the first big-screen feature properly made as a satire that didn't destroy Bunch's reputation. He doesn't care for A Very Brady Sequel, which was made without the father-and-son team's input. The follow-up Fox TV movie The Brady Bunch Goes to the White House was a Schwartz production--and Lloyd is very proud of it. Here is where I heartily disagree with Lloyd. It is the one Brady project I refuse to own. Seeing it once on TV was one too many times.
The book, though, is a must for any Brady fan, simply for the fact you won't get this perspective in any other Brady tome. It is a light, airy read, which helps offset the fact that it covers really nothing new (as in major revelations) that you haven't more or less known before. Except for the bit about the dead security guard found during the filming of the Bradys-do-a-TV-commercial episode.
Now go off, buy the book and start practicing your "Keep On Moving" choreography in your plaid bell-bottoms!
Check out Jude's Facebook campaign to bring season four of The Donna Reed Show to DVD!