Here’s the Story of Brady, Brady, Brady
I just finished reading Brady, Brady, Brady, a behind-the-scenes look at The Brady Bunch and all of its various incarnations written by Sherwood and Lloyd Schwartz, the father and son team that created, produced, and wrote the series. I’ve read a few different books about the Brady family — most recently having read Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, which was released by ECW Press and co-written by Cindy Brady herself, Susan Olsen — but I found this book difficult to put down. Without further adieu, and at the risk of overusing an already overused expression, here’s the story…
As I mentioned, I really enjoyed the content of this book. I have an affinity for finding out the story outside of the camera’s view on my favorite TV shows and movies. It’s for that reason that I purchase DVDs (I have a pretty decent home collection of movies I saw in theaters and bought on DVD only for the special features). Truth be told, when I was in middle school I attempted to write a behind-the-scenes book on The Brady Bunch. As you would imagine, my book was a 30-something page plagiarized mess, mostly culled from information I’ve read in other books. Don’t worry; my upcoming book Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse is based on all my own research.
This book stands out — and will likely stand the test of time — because it’s actually written by the people who were there. The book is separated into three parts: Sherwood, who created the series and co-wrote the series, takes the first and Lloyd, his son who started on the show as a dialogue coach and then became associate producer, takes the latter two. The result is a book that feels very conversational, yet occasionally redundant. Father and son sometimes recount the same anecdotes, with slightly different perspectives, of course, but there isn’t enough variance between the two tellings to warrant the duplication. Simply put, if you’re going to say something twice (or, in some cases, three or four times), at least be different each time you say it.
A lot of the repetition comes when the authors talk about Robert Reed, the book’s antagonist who often stalled production with long written diatribes to the network executives about how the show was not real enough for an actor of his caliber. I’m paraphrasing here, but that seemed to be his general argument. Reed was a formally trained Shakespearean actor who was more-or-less forced onto The Brady Bunch and never enjoyed a day working on the set. He would often fact-check the scripts for errors (for example, he refused to say the line “It smells like strawberry heaven!” in one episode where Carol and Alice are stewing berries into jam because he read in the encyclopedia that strawberries, when being cooked, are odorless) and would make his distain for the Schwartzs known on set to anyone who would listen.
While these stories are interesting, they are harped upon and the book suffers a bit for it. Lloyd in particular seems to have remained stung by Reed’s on-set antics and never passes up an opportunity to take a hit at one of America’s favorite TV dads. Perhaps I have a warped moral compass, but it seemed particularly insensitive for the book to hit so hardly at the one deceased Brady Bunch cast member. Truth is one thing, bullying is another.
What I found most interesting in the book was the last section, which discussed the Brady legacy and the various projects after the show wrapped in 1974. Even though I grew up on The Brady Bunch in syndication, I loved The Brady Bunch Movie. I thought the concept was inspired and the new Brady cast were perfect ’90s versions of their original counterparts. It was great to hear, really for the first time, about how that movie was produced and all the challenges that plagued pre-production on it. As an aside, I begged one of my aunts to take me to see A Very Brady Sequel in theaters and she reluctantly agreed. I didn’t even realize we were in the right movie for the first ten minutes (she actually left the theater to double-check they weren’t playing the wrong move by mistake because the opening of the film is so tonally non-Brady) and, when it was over, I didn’t have the heart to tell her she just wasted her money on two tickets to a movie I didn’t even like.
With that being said, Brady, Brady, Brady was a pretty entertaining book. Casual fans of the series might find it too “insidery” at points, but die-hards should find it thoroughly entertaining. The book is an easy read that is very informative. If you’ve read it, or pick it up, let me know what you think of it!