Despite the similarities between the series and the 1968 theatrical release Yours, Mine and Ours starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, the original script for The Brady Bunch pre-dated the script for the film. However, the success of the film was likely a factor in ABC's eventually ordering the series.
Often erroneously cited as the first series to show a "blended" family (two series which debuted in the 1950s, Make Room For Daddy and Bonanza, had step-siblings and half-siblings respectively), it came at a time when divorce and remarriage in America was seeing a surge. Episodes in the first season chronicled the family learning to adjust to its new circumstances and become a unit, as well as typical childhood problems such as dating, rivalries and family squabbles and the fact that their house had two bedrooms for six children.
Subtle references to larger social problems found their way into the dialogue from time to time. In one social-issue episode, season two's "The Liberation of Marcia Brady," Marcia explores the oppression of the Brady women and sets out to prove a girl can do anything a boy can. The boys find this very upsetting and Peter finds himself joining the Sunflower Girls, Marcia's club, in hopes of making her back down from her 'bad idea'.
Mike did much of his architectural work in an office/design studio within the house, an apparent way of lending some realism to the way in which sitcom dads seem to be almost always at home while nonetheless earning a good living. In the episodes where he was shown in his away-from-home office, he often came home from work about the same time the children got home from school.
The theme song penned by Schwartz quickly communicated to audiences that the Bradys were a blended family, though the situation largely was deemphasized from the second season on with a few exceptions. Two episodes from the third season, "Not So Rose Colored Glasses" and "Jan's Aunt Jenny", mention that Mike and Carol had been married for three years. In "Kelly's Kids," reference was made to the Bradys' adoptions ("Either way, you adopted three boys and you adopted three girls, right?") when their neighbors, the Kellys, adopted three boys of different races.
In 1971, due to the success of the Brady's ABC Friday night companion show The Partridge Family (about a musical family), some episodes began to feature the Brady Kids as a singing group. Though only a handful of shows actually featured them singing and performing ("Dough-Re-Mi" in the third season, "Amateur Nite" in the fourth and "Adios, Johnny Bravo" in the fifth), the Brady Bunch began to release albums. Though they never charted as high as the Partridges, the cast began touring the United States during the summer hiatus from the show, headlining as The Kids from the Brady Bunch. Although only Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick stayed in the music business as adults, Christopher Knight readily admits he felt he could not sing and recalls having great anxiety about performing live on stage with the cast.
The Brady Bunch never achieved high ratings during its primetime run (never placing in the top 25 during the five years it aired) and was canceled in 1974 when Greg graduated from high school and was about to enroll in college. Despite its less-than-stellar primetime ratings and having won no awards, the show would become a true cultural phenomenon, enduring in the minds of Americans and in syndication for decades. The series has spawned several sequel series on the "big 3" U.S. networks, two made-for-theater and three made-for-TV movies, a touring stage show and countless specials and documentaries on both network and cable TV.
Since its first airing in syndication in September 1975, an episode of the show has been broadcast somewhere in the United States and abroad every single day of every single year through at least 2007. Reruns were also shown on ABC in the daytime from July 9, 1973 to August 29, 1975, at 11:30 a.m. Eastern/10:30 Central. The run was interrupted only once, between April 21 and June 27, 1975, when ABC ran a short-lived game show, Blankety Blanks, in that time slot.
When the episodes were repeated in syndication, they usually appeared every weekday in late-afternoon or early-evening slots on local stations. This enabled children to watch the episodes when they came home from school, making the program widely popular and giving it iconic status among those who were too young to have seen the series during its prime time run. The show's longevity in the public mind largely owes to that phenomenon, which was a unique aberration from the traditional norm of a previously-run network program being sold to stations as schedule filler between network programming blocs.
According to Schwartz, the reason the show has become a part of Americana despite the fact that there have been other shows that ran longer, rated higher and were critically acclaimed is that the episodes were written from the standpoint of the children and addressed situations that children could understand (such as girl trouble, sibling rivalry and meeting famous people such as a rock star or baseball player). The Bradys also comprised a harmonious family (compared to the likes of the Bunkers, the Bundys, the Simpsons, etc...), though they did run into problems occasionally when one of the children did not cooperate with his or her parents or the other children. In fact, anticipating the likelihood that some children might "act out" some plotlines, the producers had a form letter they sent to children who wrote stating their desires to run away from their own families and live with the Bradys. It has also been noted that the Bradys, while not wealthy, lived well by the middle-class standards of the early 1970s, having a live-in housekeeper and taking frequent trips.
The regular cast appeared in an opening title sequence in which video head shots were arranged in a three-by-three grid, with each cast member appearing to look at the other cast members. The sequence has been widely imitated and lampooned since.
Ann B. Davis
A recurring character was Alice's boyfriend, Sam Franklin (Allan Melvin), the owner of a local butcher shop. (By the time of The Brady Girls Get Married, a made-for-TV movie in 1981, Alice and Sam were married.) Sam is incorrectly perceived to have appeared in many of the show's episodes. While he is frequently mentioned in dialogue and Alice occasionally went out on dates with him when she wasn't needed around the house, Sam actually appears in only eight episodes, although his appearances span the show's five seasons.
Although many actors who become type-cast into the roles they played on a particular series sometimes resent this, it is exactly the opposite with the actors and actresses who played on the Brady Bunch series. Recently on a TV Land documentary, the actors revealed that they all remain close friends, and most have remained in regular contact with one another. On several episodes of Christopher Knight's reality show series, My Fair Brady, Florence Henderson made guest appearances, and gave advice on Chris' ongoing relationship issues. Knight also invited Barry Williams, Susan Olsen, and Mike Lookinland to a wedding party, during which most of his time was spent hanging out with them, away from the party, and he stated that it was important that his fiance accept that his Brady Bunch friends are an important part of his life.
According to Barry Williams, the doghouse remained visible in the backyard set because it was used to cover holes in the artificial turf caused by a falling stage light.
In The Brady Bunch Movie, after Carol tells Mike "Go get 'em, tiger" she remarks to herself, "Tiger... Tiger... whatever happened to that dog?"
At the end of A Very Brady Sequel, a dog runs through the yard where a party is occurring. Cindy and Bobby turn to each other and say "Tiger?" Cousin Oliver chases the dog offscreen, which is followed by the sound of an unseen car crash. Cindy and Bobby seem unfazed.
The series pilot contained the only appearance of Fluffy, a cat that belonged to Carol's girls prior to her marriage to Mike. No explanation was given for the cat's absence in subsequent episodes.
The real house is a small single-story ranch home. A false window was attached to the front's A-frame section to give the illusion it had two full stories during filming of the series' many establishing shots, all of which took place before the program debuted.
The address of the house in the series was given as 4222 Clinton Way (or Avenue). Although no city ever was specified, it was presumed from references to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Rams, and a Hollywood movie studio, among many others, that the Bradys lived in Southern California, most likely Los Angeles or one of its suburbs. In the 2002 TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House, Cindy's map and Mike's speech state that the family lived in Santa Monica, California.
In the years since the show first aired, those who have owned the house have had problems with visitors who trespassed on the property to peep into the windows, or who came to the front door asking to see the fictional Bradys. As a result, the property has been extensively re-landscaped, so someone casually driving by most likely would not recognize it as the house shown in the TV show. For many fans, however, it is indeed still recognizable as the Brady house.
Contemporary establishing shots of the house were filmed with the owner's permission for the 1990 TV series The Bradys. The owner refused to restore the property to its 1969 look for The Brady Bunch Movie in 1995, so a façade resembling the original home was built around an existing house.
Mike is still an architect and Jan has followed in his footsteps to become one herself; Carol is a realtor; Greg is a physician; Marcia is a stay-at-home mom; Peter works in an office; Cindy is in her last year of college; Bobby was in graduate school studying for business but dropped out to drive race cars.
After a series of pratfalls to get the family together, everyone comes home harboring various secrets (e.g., Jan and Phillip are considering separation; Wally is out of work again, having lost his job in a merger at his toy company; Greg's wife Nora wants to spend Christmas with her family; Cindy felt pressured to come home in lieu of a skiing trip with her college friends; Peter feels inferior to his girlfriend, who is also his boss; and Bobby hasn't revealed his leaving graduate school for a racing career). Alice, meanwhile, temporarily moves back in with Mike and Carol after her husband, Sam, runs off with another woman. (Allan Melvin did not reprise the role; he had retired from acting and was replaced in a single scene by Lewis Arquette.)
Even Mike has problems: Contractor Ted Roberts, wanting to save money on a downtown office complex project (at 34th Street and Oak) where Mike is the architect, demands that he redesign the building to omit important safety specifications. Mike advises against it and causes his firm to lose Roberts' services. On Christmas Day, the building crumbles, and Roberts, unable to contact anyone at the new firm he hired, must rely on Mike to find what caused the building's structure to become unstable. While inside, the building continues to crumble, trapping Mike and two security guards inside. Of course, everyone turns out to be okay, and Alice and Sam reunite.
The movie, which aired on CBS in December 1988 to high ratings, renewed interest in the Brady clan and set out the current careers and family situations which were continued in The Bradys.
The fact that this movie aired on CBS gave the Bradys a rare feat: the original show and reunions aired on all of the "big 3" networks — ABC, CBS and NBC.
With this short-lived series came a brand new opening sequence and theme song. The visual still featured the familiar blue squares of the original series and reunions (with the exception of the variety hour); then they all divide and move off-screen in different directions, with current episodic clips with the actors' names on the box they contain and a clip (from the Brady Bunch 1969 opening) of each actor superimposed in the back of a colored backdrop as a full clip opens up afterwards. Florence Henderson and Robert Reed appear side to side, the rest of the cast appear solo. After the last cast member (which is Mike Lookinland's "Bobby") is seen the familiar squares move back on screen with Ann B. Davis appearing in her spot; her clip blinks out and the squares divide staying on screen this time with the title appearing in the familiar title area (Alice's space).
The theme music used an instrumental version for the (CBS) network run and a lyrical version for reruns. The theme lyrics no longer featured the "That's the way we all became The Brady Bunch" lyrics, and the theme was no longer sung by The Brady Kids — it was performed by the Brady mom Florence Henderson.
TV critics dubbed this thirtysomething-style dramedy "Bradysomething".
Reed did not appear in a 1972 episode, "Goodbye Alice Hello," although his absence from this episode was never explained. By the final season, his arguments with the producers led to his absence from the series finale, "The Hair-Brained Scheme", because he believed a key plot point - a boy selling hair tonic and his older brother getting orange hair when he uses what turns out to be a non-FDA approved substance - was too implausible to be believed. In addition to "The Hair-Brained Scheme," Barry Williams' autobiography, Growing Up Brady, contains two of Reed's negative critiques of the episodes "The Impractical Joker" and "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor" (1971). Williams cites in his autobiography the likelihood that Reed's character would have been killed off had The Brady Bunch been renewed for a sixth season.
|Season||Ep #||First Airdate||Last Airdate|
|Season 1||25||September 26, 1969||March 20, 1970|
|Season 2||24||September 27, 1970||March 20, 1971|
|Season 3||23||September 17, 1971||March 10, 1972|
|Season 4||23||September 22, 1972||March 23, 1973|
|Season 5||22||September 14, 1973||March 8, 1974|
|DVD name||Number of|
|The Complete First Season||25||March 1, 2005|
|The Complete Second Season||24||July 26, 2005|
|The Complete Third Season||23||September 13, 2005|
|The Complete Fourth Season||23||November 1, 2005|
|The Complete Fifth Season||22||March 7, 2006|
|The Complete Series||117 (with extras)||April 3, 2007|