Thursday, September 13, 2018

“The Brady Bunch Hour”: Time to Change

For better or worse, on November 28, 1976- Thanksgiving Weekend in the United States- The Brady Bunch Hour premiered on ABC.

The show was highly anticipated and heavily hyped. ABC’s promotional machine went into high gear, putting the Bradys on every magazine cover that was willing to have them. The premise of the show was that Mike Brady moved his family out to Hollywood so that they could perform in their very own variety show. A variety show with actors pretending to put on a variety show? Very meta! The premiere featured the Osmonds, repaying their debt to the Bradys for the ratings boost by helping launch their show. A wholesome, Mormon approved 1950’s themed musical sequence takes place, with the Osmonds looking soulful and talented in comparison with the Bradys.

Conformists With A Cause!

The plot of the show (such as it was) centers on how untalented Mike Brady is. He’s so untalented that Bobby decides to hire Tony Randall to play “Mike Brady”. Even more meta! The sad part of this plot is that Robert Reed was indeed not too musically talented or coordinated, though he practiced harder than anyone and wanted to get better as a performer. Hopefully he didn’t take this plot too personally.

An effete, prissy stiff? You’re the perfect person to play ‘Mike Brady’!

ABC wasn’t too impressed with the premiere and ordered changes and retooling of subsequent episodes before this one even aired. Despite its misgivings about the quality of the first episode, ABC got massive ratings for the premiere. America tuned into the tacky spectacle in record numbers- but would it tune in again for episode two? Stay tuned!