Monday, September 10, 2018

“The Brady Bunch Hour”: Here’s The Story...

Not every television show has a long life; in fact, most shows barely last past one season. Despite the long odds, there are hundreds of new shows produced each year from thousands of submissions. While many of these long forgotten shows live on solely due to their awkward publicity photos, others stand out because of how bizarre they were.

No, we’re not talking about Ferris Bueller, but apparently Jennifer Aniston *can* lose...

One of the most bizarre one and out television shows that ever escaped from Hollywood was The Brady Bunch Hour, a bizarre variety show that was based on the classic ABC sitcom The Brady Bunch. Today, The Brady Bunch is known as a classic, ubiquitous sitcom, it was anything but during its initial run on ABC. The show was in constant fear of being canceled, ABC’s renewal decisions coming in at seemingly the last minute. Most of the show’s side projects, like the soundtrack albums and concert tours, were made to build the show’s visibility, not to take advantage of its success. The show’s biggest success came after it was canceled and entered syndication. The show was given the lucrative afterschool timeslot in most American television markets, and it was here that it became the legendary success that it is known for today.

Unfortunately for the young cast, however, that success translated to few dollars. While reruns were a thing in 1969 when the Brady kids signed their contracts, the idea of perpetual residuals was not. Paramount Television only paid the Brady kids residuals for the first six reruns. After that, they would receive no further remuneration. By 1976, residuals had dried up and most of the kids were unable to find further Hollywood work. The huge success that the show had garnered since its syndication run was definitely noticed by ABC executive Fred Silverman, who suggested that the sagging Donny and Marie variety show host a reunion of sorts for whichever Brady Bunch castmembers were willing to appear. The heavily hyped episode was a huge success. If ABC could mine ratings gold from just four Bradys, what magic might occur from a full fledged Brady spinoff variety show?

Just like formulaic disaster movies dominated the box office in the 1970’s, tacky variety shows dominated television. Featuring tacky, lavish music performances and lame ‘comedy’ sketches, these variety shows were all over television at the time. One of the tackiest, lamest shows was Donny and Marie, a show produced by Sid and Marty Krofft for ABC. Donny and Marie’s strict Mormon parents controlled most every aspect of the show. Sid and Marty Krofft were eager to create their own hit show from scratch, one completely controlled by them. That’s why they were completely receptive when Fred Silverman asked them to quickly setup a new variety show featuring the Bradys. In fact, both ABC and the Kroffts were so excited about getting this new show off the ground, they completely neglected to get permission from either Paramount or original Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz. Would this prove to be a big problem? Would they get the entire family to come back for this ambitious project? Oddly enough, these would eventually be the least of their worries.