Friday, September 14, 2018

“The Brady Bunch Hour”: Keep on Movin’

After the huge success of the Brady Bunch Hour pilot episode, the show would go off the air for almost two months. The rushed nature of the production gave the Kroffts little time to retool things based on ABC not being fully happy with the pilot. An odd choice was made to introduce Rip Taylor to the show as a neighbor, because why not? It was such a random choice, one can only assume he was the only one they called who answered the phone.

Why am I here? The folks at the Bullock’s credit card department threatened to break my legs if I kept missing my payments!

The challenges of keeping the indoor pool running and clear enough for filming made the production a 24/7 slog. The massive budget required cuts elsewhere, so public domain songs were used extensively. ABC also provided cheap guests who either had a contract with the network, were promoting something and thus willing to work for scale or were just desperate for work.

Uh, something tells us that your husband isn’t interested in Charo, Carol. Rip Taylor on the other hand...

Despite the high ratings, critics savaged the show. Many people thought that possibly they had just hallucinated the thing. In the months between the first and second episodes, public sentiment seemed to turn against the show. Some people were upset that Jan was being played by a different actress. Others saw the show as being one tacky mess. The Kroffts had no real time to evaluate the feedback coming in. They were rushing to catch up. It was probably impossible to fix this mess, but the rushed production schedule didn’t really help.

Hey kids, dig those hip and with it guests!

ABC and the Kroffts would soon find out what America really thought about this show. By the time the show returned, the ratings had plummeted and the show was a laughingstock. 

Now we understand why Robert Reed signed up for this show.

The show began getting moved around the schedule and it soon became obvious that it wasn’t working out. While ABC saw the failure as just another show that didn’t work, it was disastrous for the Kroffts. The Atlanta indoor theme park that they had opened in 1976 had shut down and gone bankrupt just weeks before The Brady Bunch Hour premiered. They desperately needed the show to work. When it didn’t, the Kroffts were no longer sought out for big name projects. The final nail in their coffin would be the even worse Pink Lady and Jeff Variety Show. That show would also end the reign of the variety show for decades.

Elizabeth- my career is coming to join you!

After the show was canceled, it seemed like the Brady franchise was essentially dead, though it would be resurrected just three years later on NBC’s The Brady Brides. The Brady Brides pilot film would be the first- and last- time that the entire bunch would be reunited together. The Brady Bunch Hour would become forgotten- a long ago project that might have been a hallucination- until Nick at Nite realized that it had the show in its catalog and did a random airing. The show took off, becoming a cult sensation. The tacky time capsule of 1970’s kitsch had finally found an appreciative audience.