When I was a kid in the now-fabled 70s, my schedule would run something like this: Rush home after school in time to catch the 4 OClock Movie, especially if it was Monster Week, particularly if it was Godzilla Week. Then, at five (hey, after the fourth viewing of Monster Island, I had it pretty much memorized), switch over to the UHF station for either The Munsters or The Addams Family, depending on which one was in season. At 5:30, a quick stop at Gilligans Island, to bask prepubescently in the splendors of Mary Ann and Ginger.
Taking dinner on an actual fold-up TV dining tray in my room ("Cant miss my shows!"), I would greet the top of the hour with either Batman (starring Adam West, of course) or Lost in Space, according to my mood. Science fiction adventure or caped crime fighting? If I flicked the channel knob fast enough, I could have both. Then, if I was feeling especially generous, I would share some quality time with my parents, moving myself into the living room to watch Bowling for Dollars or Match Game P.M. with Gene Rayburn.
And, of course, there were the assorted odds and ends throughout the television viewing year that Id watch less frequently: The Flintstones, The Green Hornet, The Three Stooges, Bewitched, Courtship of Eddies Father, Green Acres, Ultraman, Beverly Hillbillies, I Dream of Jeannie, A Family Affair, crappy Spiderman cartoons. All of em were syndicated wonders, coming back around year after year like familiar friends throughout my childhood.
But there was one show I refused to watch, one show that overwhelmed my TV appetite, crossing the line of what I considered proper televised entertainment. It was so painfully stupid I couldnt possibly bear it: The Brady Bunch.
I mean, what a bunch of goobs. They were always so unnaturally polite all the time, and had the silliest problemslike nothing I ever experienced in my own family. And whats with that maid? What the hell does she do there? At least The Partridge Family had a few oddballs I could relate to. The Bradys were from another, much cleaner dimension.
Flash forward 20 years, and most of the TV shows of my youth are being made into big screen movies: The Addams Family, The Flintstones, Beverly Hillbillies, Batman, Star Trek, as well as upcoming treatments of Lost in Space and The Love Boat.
And the latest is (shudder) The Brady Bunch.
How did this happen in the first place? I can understand Nick at Night nostalgiathats only natural as we so-called "Gen-X"-ers slink our way into middle age. But why this morbid obsession with resurrecting the TV dead and reanimating their corpses across the silver screen? If we want the pure, uncut camp experience, isnt it enough simply to flick on the original shows, which are broadcast on cable around the clock?
Well, its not about nostalgia, really, its about unearthing new gold from old veinsa Hollywood specialty. And after debuting at number one at the box office last week, The Brady Bunch looks set to hit it big. Why must pop culture fail me so?
It was with a queasy dread that I went to see The Brady Brunch, sure that I would be revolted by the movie just as I had been by the fawning media coverage. Do slackers really memorize all the episodes, basing their entire lives on them? Were the Bradys really the prototypical family of the 70s, revealing our national gestalt? Could a stupid sit-com really be that important?
Well, no. But (shockingly) I found the movie to beif not exactly a laugh festpleasantly entertaining. The gimmick here is that after 20 years, the Bradys are still the Bradys: a hyper-70s family stuck in the 90s, wearing the same clothes, talking the same slang, having the same idiotic dilemmas. And oblivious to modern times.
While much of it is a retread of the series (Mike prattles on with sagacious words of advice concerning tattling, Carol smiles supportively), the movie manages to poke at least some fun at the characters. Jans inner voices turn into demonic possession, Peter undergoes puberty and faints dead away at the mere touch of a womans body, Greg is convinced hes a groovy ladies man, yet most girls think hes really creepy.
Andgood gollythere are actual sexual innuendoes. In particular, theres a positive portrayal of a teenage lesbian impossibly attracted to Marcia (who of course doesnt understand)and shes not deranged or murderous.
So, anyone who likes the series or is able to feel irony about the 70s will probably enjoy The Brady Bunch. As far as stupid entertainment goes, its only a few I.Q. points above Dumb and Dumber. But its not insulting, and for that I give it a grudging middle rating. After all, as they used to say, a frown is just a smile turned upside down.