For a family that uses the word "groovy" so often, there isn't a cornier and more nauseatingly wholesome bunch than the Bradys—a blended family of two adults, six kids, a dog, a cat, and a housekeeper who lived in virtual lalaland. During a time of turbulence, with Vietnam protests and love-ins, the Bradys were a throwback to simpler times, when children respected authority and families did things together.
The Bradys, in case you've lived in a cave the past 30 years, were a widowed architect, Mike (Robert Reed), who was living with his three sons, Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland), who married a "lovely lady" named Carol (Florence Henderson), who had three daughters: Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb), and Cindy (Susan Olsen.
They deserved to be spoofed in two feature films, but the Bradys, a hit in reruns, are also finding another generation of fans because parents are buying the sets and watching them with their children. Every season has some classic moments, but this season the Bradys take their Grand Canyon trip (and receive Indian names), Jan gets glasses and has her first real "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" fit, Greg thinks he's cooler than anyone else until a clunker of a car convinces him otherwise, Peter does Humphrey Bogart, Marcia dogs Davy Jones of The Monkees, Alice's evil twin (make that cousin) subs for her, and the Brady's try for their 15 minutes of fame via see-saw records and laundry detergent commercials.
Here's how the 23 episodes shake out:
1) "Ghost Town, U.S.A."—Mike piles his brood into their station wagon with a camper in tow, heading west for a dream vacation. Jim Backus guests as an old prospector who accuses the Bradys of claim-jumping.
2) "Grand Canyon or Bust"—Bobby and Cindy turn up missing when they finally get to their destination.
3) "The Brady Braves"—The Bradys get Indian names and the Indian boy they befriend becomes an unofficial Brady.
4) "The Wheeler-Dealer"—Greg's first set of "wheels" turns out to be a Grade A lemon.
5) "My Sister, Benedict Arnold"—It's not enough that Greg loses his spot on the baseball team to Warren Mulaney and also the race for student body president. Now the guy's adding insult to injury by wanting to date Marcia!
6) "The Personality Kid"—Peter starts channeling Humphrey Bogart when he decides he lacks personality.
7) "Juliet is the Sun"—And Marcia is the DIVA who becomes insufferable after the Bradys boost her confidence so she can play Juliet in a school play.
8) "And Now, a Word from Our Sponsor"—To plug soap, or not to plug soap, that is the question as the Bradys weigh fame and fun against the ethics of product sponsorship.
9) "The Private Ear"—Peter's running amok with Dad's tape recorder, doing the Nixon taping thing, much to everyone's annoyance. But Greg's and Marcia's retaliation is even crueler.
10) "Her Sister's Shadow"—This classic episode features Jan trying to do something great in order to escape the shadow of "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
11) "Click"—Greg has to come up with another extracurricular activity when Carol puts the kibosh on football.
12) "Getting Davy Jones"—Another classic episode features Davy Jones fan club president Marcia shooting her mouth off about being able to get Jones for their prom, and spends the episode trying to deliver.
13) "The Not-So-Rose-Colored Glasses"—Jan needs glasses, and is reluctant to admit it until she crashes her bike into a few important things and her grades begin to suffer. Yet another classic.
14) "The Teeter-Totter Caper"—Bobby and Cindy rebel against being "too little" by trying to break the record for see-sawing.
15) "Big Little Man"—It's Bobby paranoid about being little again, this time sporting a shiner by episode's end.
16) Dough Re Mi"—Okay, fans of the singing Bradys, here's one where the kids sing "We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter" until Peter's changing voice darkens the group's prospects for a studio recording. Where's Johnny Bravo when you need him?
17) Jan's Aunt Jenny"—Imogene Coca stars as the aunt that everyone says Jan resembles as a child. . . which scares her after she sees how Aunt Jenny looks as an adult.
18) "The Big Bet"—Greg loses a chin-up contest to little Bobby and ends up catering to the little guy's every annoying wish—even accompanying him on a date to the drive-in theater.
19) "The Power of the Press"—Peter abuses the school paper after he receives a "D" in science.
20) "Sergeant Emma"—A fun and familiar episode spotlights Davis in a dual role as Alice and her cousin, Emma, who's a retired Army drill sergeant. Ten . . . hut!
21) "Cindy Brady, Lady"—Too young to be included in discussions of boyfriends, Cindy gets depressed until Bobby secretly creates a secret admirer for her.
22) "My Fair Opponent"—A near-classic episode has Marcia playing Pygmalion, but losing big-time when Molly, the monster she creates, becomes her ruthless rival.
23) "The Fender Benders"—Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester, from TV's "Addams Family") guests as a driver out to sue Carol for a collision . . . with collusion from Carol's own kids, Bobby and Cindy, who claim Mom's to blame.
Video: This four-disc set is housed in twin thin keep-cases that slide into a handsome sleeve with a holograph of the famous Hollywood Squares-style opener. The picture quality is quite good for the period in which it was shot, and presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Colors are vivid enough and delineation sharp enough to make you giggle over all the wild and garish and (dare I say "groovy"?) clothing and accoutrements.
Audio: The audio is a fairly distortion-free Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, which sounds good even when the Bradys sing. Well, not when Peter's voice cracks. Then you're glad it's only Mono.
Extras: There are no extras.
Bottom Line: Fans of this beloved series are going to snap up whatever sets become available, but "The Brady Bunch" should also find an appreciative new audience. They're a fun and sometimes funny time-capsule of family life the way many believe it still should be practiced. In a sitcom world that's become increasingly more populated by wisecracks, backtalk, and do-your-own-thing days, the Bradys are a reminder that it wasn't always so hectic or disconnected . . . and maybe it doesn't need to be.