|The Brady Bunch Hour|
The Brady Bunch Hour title card
|Film/TV series name:||The Brady Bunch Hour|
|Film/Series type/genre:||Comedy/Variety TV series (ABC-TV)|
|Based upon:||Characters created by Sherwood Schwartz|
Ann B. Davis
|Preceded by:||The Brady Bunch TV series|
|Produced by:||Sid and Marty Krofft (creators)|
|Written by:||Steve Bluestein|
Mike Kagan (8 episodes)
Terry Hart (1 episode)
|Distributed by:||Paramount Pictures|
|Film.series length:||50 min.|
|Date(s) premiered/released:||28 November 1976 |
– 25 May 1977
The Brady Bunch Hour is an American variety television series featuring skits and songs produced by Sid and Marty Krofft in association with Paramount Television, which aired on ABC between 1976 and 1977.
The series stars the original cast members of The Brady Bunch, with the exception of Eve Plumb, who was replaced by Geri Reischl (a.k.a. "Fake Jan"). The show began as a 60-minute special titled The Brady Bunch Variety Hour on November 28, 1976. The special garnered high ratings and led to eight additional 60-minute episodes which were produced and aired sporadically under the shorter title The Brady Bunch Hour from January to May 1977.
The show's events are not included or mentioned in the later spinoffs and revivals.
When the family is chosen to star in a new variety series for ABC, Mike Brady gives up his career in architecture and moves his family into a beachside home somewhere in Southern California. In addition to the Brady clan, next-door-neighbor Jack Merrill (Rip Taylor) frequently found his way into the act and was a love interest for the Bradys' maid, Alice.
In 1976, ABC president Fred Silverman concocted the idea of reuniting the cast of The Brady Bunch on an episode of the Donny & Marie variety show. Four cast members (Florence Henderson, Maureen McCormick, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen) were booked and when the show aired 8 October 1976 it was a ratings success, prompting Silverman to begin developing a variety show centered around the Brady family. At that time, CBS was airing a summer variety show featuring the Jackson 5 who had recorded with The Brady Bunch before. Donny & Marie producers Sid & Marty Krofft agreed to helm the show, as their paths had crossed with the Brady Bunch stars on numerous occasions, but no one bothered to seek the approval or involvement of Paramount Pictures (the producers of The Brady Bunch) or Sherwood Schwartz (that show's creator). Both parties eventually gave their approval of the new series, mainly as a way to keep interest in the original series. The variety hour remains the only Brady project to not have Schwartz's involvement during production.
Although Robert Reed's dissatisfaction with other Brady Bunch incarnations has become legendary, he quickly signed on to star in the variety show. "We joked that it was the first time any of us could remember him wanting to do something Brady-related," recalled Maureen McCormick. "The Brady Bunch Hour was incredibly bad," Barry Williams once wrote, "but even more incredible was the fact that Robert Reed (who you'd expect would be foaming at the mouth about this mess) really enjoyed being on it." When Williams asked him why, Reed stated, "I've studied voice and dancing. I'm terrible at both, and it proved to be true, but when Sid and Marty met with me, they described the whole thing in very positive terms and I thought, 'What fun! This'll be a hoot!" Quipped McCormick, "He sang and danced without caring that he was lousy and the show itself was worse. His inner Dorothy had found her calling."
Florence Henderson, the only cast member with real experience singing and dancing, was leery of the project but also agreed to appear, so the producers then set their sights on reuniting the Brady kids. Barry Williams was working on Broadway when he got a call from Marty Krofft, who pitched the show as "The Barry Williams Variety Hour with The Brady Bunch", promising the young entertainer featured solos and elaborate dance routines. Maureen McCormick was excited at the prospect of singing and working with the Krofft brothers; and Susan Olsen loved the idea of doing Saturday Night Live-type skits. Christopher Knight had turned his back on the entertainment industry and was aware of his own singing/dancing limitations, but he agreed to do the show when he was promised that his work would be limited to the opening and closing numbers and comedy sketches. "It didn't work out that way," Knight later said, "and I learned one of life's lessons -- always get it in writing!" Mike Lookinland was uncomfortable dancing and had no desire to do the show, so he demanded twice the salary he was offered in hopes that the producers would be forced to recast his role. To his surprise, this resulted in an increased salary for each cast member. However, Mike was still uninterested and proceeded to stay away from rehearsals, until Florence Henderson caught him in the parking lot and confronted him - that if his heart wasn't in it, then neither should he be. Ann B. Davis had left Hollywood in 1974 and was working as a volunteer in a clergy house in Denver, Colorado when the series was hurried into production. Originally, no one thought to include Davis, but at the last minute the crew decided to offer her a guest-starring role, which she retained throughout all nine episodes of the series. The producers made a deal which allowed her to be on the set only a few days a week so she could commute to Denver and fulfill her responsibilities to the church.
Contrary to popular belief, Eve Plumb was originally slated to appear in the variety hour. "I wanted to do the show but there was a built-in option for thirteen more shows and possibly five years," Plumb stated in a 1976 interview. Plumb agreed to appear in five of the thirteen planned episodes, but when the network demanded that it was all-or-nothing, she backed out of the project.
In late October 1976, producers scrambled to find a replacement and met with over 1500 hopefuls, eventually settling on Geri Reischl to fill the void. Reischl, who had extensive singing experience, auditioned several times and landed the role only one day before rehearsals began. Reischl's costars made her feel at home (she even developed a lasting friendship with Susan Olsen), because of the re-casting, Reischl was later dubbed "Fake Jan," a moniker which she has openly embraced.
After the pilot was shot, producers decided that they needed a regular comedian on the show, so Rip Taylor was brought aboard to portray the Bradys' realtor, moving man, next-door-neighbor, general Jack-of-all-trades and Alice's boyfriend, Mr. Merrill. Like Reischl, Taylor felt welcomed by the cast - with the exception of Ann B. Davis, who barely spoke to him except when they were doing scenes. "Rip Taylor is a salty guy," commented series writer Mike Kagan, "he's got a dirty sense of humor and Ann B. Davis is a born-again Christian."
The show was intended to air every fifth week in the same slot as The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, but was scheduled sporadically throughout the season, leading to inconsistent ratings. A promo was often shown with Mike and Carol stating, "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour won't be seen this week, but we will be back again soon."
The Krofftettes and Water Follies
|Ep #||Airdate||Title||Director(s)||Writer(s)||Guest Stars(s)|
|1||28 November 1976||The Brady Bunch Variety Hour||Art Fisher||Ronny Graham, Terry Hart, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein||Tony Randall, Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, Patty Maloney|
|Summary: The Brady kids fear their father is not talented enough to appear on their variety show, so Bobby schemes to replace him with Tony Randall.|
|2||January 23, 1977||0101||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Terry Hart, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan||Lee Majors, Farrah Fawcett, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs (Michael Lembeck, Louise DuArt, Debra Clinger and Mickey McMeel)|
|Plot: When the Bradys spend their first night in their new home, they find themselves with two unexpected houseguests: Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett.|
|3||February 27, 1977||0102||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Terry Hart, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan, Carl Kleinshmitt||Milton Berle, Tina Turner, Collette|
|Plot: When Bobby asks Milton Berle to appear on the show, the showman promptly runs amok.|
|4||March 4, 1977||0103||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan, Carl Kleinshmitt||Vincent Price, H.R. Pufnstuf (Van Snowden), Kiki Bird (Sharon Baird)|
|Plot: When Greg decides to move out on his own, Vincent Price warns him that his new apartment is haunted.|
|Plot: When his family criticizes his singing and dancing talents, Mike decides to prove he can carry a tune. But when he teams up with Charo for rehearsal, Carol becomes jealous.|
|6||March 28, 1977||0105||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan, Carl Kleinshmitt||Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Rich Little, Melanie Safka and Van Snowden|
|Plot: Rich Little develops amnesia and believes he's one of the Brady children.|
|7||April 4, 1977||0106||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan, Carl Kleinshmitt||Robert Hegyes, Redd Foxx, Ohio Players, Sharon Baird|
|Plot: Marcia announces her engagement to Winston Beaumont (Robert Hegyes), a carefree hippie. Meanwhile, Redd Foxx lurks around the set in preparation for his upcoming variety show, The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.|
|8||April 25, 1977||0107||Jack Regas||Ronny Graham, Bruce Vilanch, Steve Bluestein, Mike Kagan, Carl Kleinshmitt||Fred Berry, Haywood Nelson, Ernest Lee Thomas, Danielle Spencer, Rick Dees, Patty Maloney, Mike Kagan, Bruce Vilanch|
|Plot: When the Brady Kids announce that they've invited the kids from "What's Happening!" to appear on their variety show, their parents inform them that a last-minute addition to the show is not possible.|
The first and fourth episodes were released on VHS and DVD in America in 2000 by Rhino Entertainment. Plans were made to release the complete series on DVD in 2009 to coincide with the release of the tell-all book Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, but it became unfeasible due to exorbitant fees for re-licensing the vast array of songs featured in the series.
In Popular Culture
- TV Guide listed the series at #4 in a 2002 compilation of the 50 worst television series in American history.
- The show is the subject of a 2009 coffee table book entitled Love to Love You Bradys by Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady). It was released in September, 2009 by ECW Press. In addition to many color photos and artwork, the book features over 100 new interviews including the Brady Bunch, Sid Krofft, Marty Krofft, Sherwood Schwartz, Bruce Vilanch, Rip Taylor, and Paul Shaffer.
- This show was parodied on a Season 3 episode of That '70s Show ("Red Sees Red"). The entire family, due to a forced curfew, is sitting around watching the show and each one leaves separately in anger (Red himself remarking that "This show is crap!"). Kitty then daydreams that she and her own family are the stars of a similar show in which they perform "I've Got the Music in Me" before Charo makes a surprise appearance. As the daydream ends, Kitty remarks, "Oh no, this is crap."
- The show was also parodied as part of "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase", wherein the Simpson family stars in a variety show spin-off of their show. It's noted during the show that Lisa Simpson had refused to participate (in much the same way Eve Plumb did), so she was replaced with a much older prom queen-type who also claimed to be Lisa.
- In a third season episode of Tiny Toon Adventures entitled Grandma's Dead, Elmyra's pet hamster Jan Brady dies. Ultimately she gets a new hamster which she also names Jan Brady and refers to as a "midseason replacement."
- "Geri Reischl: The Legend". http://www.gerireischl.com/about/the-legend/. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Nichelson, Ted (2009). Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. ECW Press.
- Williams, Barry (2009). Growing Up Brady. Harper Collins. p. 178-180.
- McCormick, Maureen (2009). Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. Harper Collins.
- "BradyHour.com Presents An Interview with Christopher Knight". https://web.archive.org/web/20020111041019/http://www.bradyhour.com/ckinterview.html. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "Excerpt from: The News Citizen - December, 1976". https://web.archive.org/web/20030225105808/http://www.bradyhour.com/newscitizen.html. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- "CD Baby: Fake Jan Sings for Real". http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gerireischl. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- "amazon.com: 1200 Riverside". http://www.amazon.com/1200-Riverside-Geri-Reischl/dp/B005Z5H0D0/. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- "You Tube: Your Song (2011 Version) Geri Reischl". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFLABZWri7E. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour #2 (with commercials!)". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJW4VDb06xg&t=56m46s. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "All-American Girl Debra Clinger Stars in "Midnight Madness"". https://web.archive.org/web/20090804155742/http://geocities.com/TelevisionCity/1378/artclinger.html. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Rock Flowers doll commercial with "Fake Jan" (30 second version)". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srkA41F0U6k. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Rock Flowers doll commercial (60 second version)". http://www.retrojunk.com/commercial/show/2445/rock-flowers. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "The Real Life of Fake Jan: A Conversation with Brady Bunch Alumni Geri Reischl". http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/geri/. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "You Tube: Paul Williams Interview - Phantom of the Paradise At The Museum of the Moving Image". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSVMKGC728g&t=13m35s. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "amazon.com: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour Volume 1". http://www.amazon.com/The-Brady-Bunch-Variety-Hour/dp/B00004YA72/. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "amazon.com: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour Volume 2". http://www.amazon.com/The-Brady-Bunch-Variety-Hour/dp/B00004YA73/. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- "amazon.com: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour DVD". http://www.amazon.com/The-Brady-Bunch-Variety-Hour/dp/B00004WMP2/. Retrieved June 6, 2014.