Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Classic Reborn (again): The Bradys (1990)

By the end of the 80's, the Brady Bunch franchise had moved to CBS with the 1988 TV-movie, "A Very Brady Christmas", which saw Greg (Barry Williams) follow sisters Jan & Marcia into marriage. More than a year later, the clan reunited one more time, but CBS made the same mistake NBC had made 9 years earlier, thinking that installing The Bradys in its familiar Friday berth would bring the fans back. Um, no.

The series ran for 5 weeks (the opener was a 2-hour movie), and continued the story. Cindy (Susan Olsen) was now working in radio, and Bobby (Mike Lookinland) was a race car driver. The opener has Bobby in a big race, with Cindy on-site to report on the action. However, a horrific crash ends Bobby's racing career, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

This not only brings the family together, but there's an unexpected bonus, in the form of Tracy Wagner, Bobby's college sweetheart, who is looking to reconcile. At first, Bobby turns her away with a curt, "It was good, it was fun, but it's over". However, Tracy won't take no for an answer, and eventually, when the two do get together one afternoon, Bobby finds it within himself to pop the question.

The rest of the series addresses a variety of issues, including Mike (Robert Reed) in a bid for political office, Bobby's attempts to walk again, and the girls starting a catering business. Unfortunately, with the original series still in reruns, viewers preferred the classic series and the memories, apparently feeling enough stories had been told.

While Eve Plumb had by-passed the 1977 Brady Bunch Variety Hour, Maureen McCormick opted not to return for this show, but her replacement, Leah Ayres, hasn't been heard from much since the series ended. And let us not forget that the Schwartz family made the genius move of going for the MTV generation by casting original VJ Martha Quinn, on her 2nd tour of duty with the channel at the time, as Tracy. That should've brought a few more eyeballs, even with Martha plugging the show on MTV, but it didn't work. Quinn would later use her experience as a plot point on another MTV show, Just Say Julie, and before leaving MTV a 2nd time in 1992, had a short stint on Full House, her last significant acting gig of note on the small screen.

Here's the open, in triplicate. 3 different themes were used over 5 weeks. Two were instrumentals, the last with Florence Henderson on vocals:

The 1 hour format, obviously, was the right call, with 4 of the kids now married, but CBS would've been well served to run it on another night.

Rating: B+.

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