The Brady Bunch Variety Hour

Do you remember The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, the Brady series that came AFTER The Brady Bunch, after The Brady Kids cartoon but before The Brady Girls Get Married.  Of course you do!!!

The Brady Bunch Variety Hour was a 1977 short-lived series that attempted to revive The Brady Bunch in an hour-long format. Airing as a series of nine specials between Nov. 28, 1976, and May 25, 1977, it had an insane premise that the entire cast of The Brady Bunch were the hosts of their own variety show, but in character. Total classic camp.  

It came to fruition after Florence Henderson, Maureen McCormick, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen guest appeared on a highly-rated episode of Donny & Marie(season 2 episode 3 to be exact).

ABC decided the Brady's equal ratings and that they needed their own variety series. So they rushed a pilot into production, skipping phone calls to Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz and rights-holder Paramount until after the show was scheduled to go on the air.  It is said that Sherwood Schwartz learned of the show when his son noticed it listed in TV Guide.

Apparently, Paramount execs didn't want to jeopardize their then healthy relationship with ABC, so they and Schwartz signed off at the zero hour and were compensated with a very small royalty check. Schwartz was highly critical of the whole production and frequently made it clear he had absolutely no involvement with it.

The format...a hybrid of sit-com and variety, with more "variety" (ala The Sonny And Cher Show, and Donny& Marie) than situation comedy. The premise...father Mike had given up his career as an architect so that the family could star in their own TV variety show. Very logical. We were in an era of The Partridge Family and Donny & Marie, so yes, this all seemed possible.  The sit-com part played out more like a reality show, except the Brady's are not a real family, they are actors.

The original cast returned intact except for Eve Plumb, who was replaced by Geri Reischl as Jan and would be further referred to by everyone watching as "Fake Jan."

The setting changed, to a new beachfront home in California, and each show opened with a glorious water show in a real pool that was on the stage at KCLA Studios on Sunset Blvd where they filmed. Donny & Marie had ice skates, The Bradys had swimming.

No word of what happened to the original Brady Family Home, and no real explanation of why they would have moved out of the glorious house Mike built for them. In fact, their original home was MUCH closer to the studio where they shot then the beach house where they moved, so really this made NO SENSE. OK, I might be overthinking things here but they also didn't take ANY of their furniture except for the infamous horse statue that was now painted white with a brown bridle and saddle. So confusing.

What began as a 60-minute special titled The Brady Bunch Variety Hour on November 28, 1976, led to eight additional 60-minute episodes which were produced and aired sporadically under the shorter title The Brady Bunch Hour from January to May 1977.

Each episode featured the obligatory variety show song-and-dance numbers and sketches, as well as a show-within-a-show behind-the-scenes story which took place in the Brady's home. if the original home sets were gone, and it cost too much to duplicate them for this series, why have The Brady's in a house at all?  Couldn't all the sit-com/"reality" part have happened behind the scenes or in dressing rooms or green room like The Muppet Show? Wouldn't that have made more sense?

After the pilot was shot, producers decided that they needed a regular comedian on the show, so Rip Taylor was brought aboard to portray the Bradys' realtor, moving man, next-door-neighbor, general Jack-of-all-trades and Alice's boyfriend, Mr. Merrill.  Told you it was CAMP.  Poor Sam the butcher never had a fighting chance.

Apparently, Taylor felt welcomed by the cast—with the exception of Ann B. Davis, who barely spoke to him except when they were doing scenes. Ann B. Davis was a born-again Christian and didn't like Rip Taylor's dirty sense of humor...but she was totally cool with Mrs. Brady and stepson Greg going on a date in real life. 😉

As for Fake Jan?  According to Eve Plumb, "I wanted to do the show but there was a built-in option for thirteen more shows and possibly five years," she stated in a 1976 interview. Plumb agreed to appear in five of the thirteen planned episodes, but when the network demanded that it was all-or-nothing, she backed out of the project and producers scrambled to find a replacement and met with over 1500 hopefuls, eventually settling on Geri Reischl to fill the void.

So if you were ever confused about what "camp" is, just check out this clip of the show where the cast is dressed in Wizard Of Oz costumes singing the song "Car Wash."

If you have never seen The Brady Bunch Variety Hour, it is so bad that it's great. Check it out on YouTube. It only lasted 9 episodes and each one is as campy as the next.

For more fun, check out the Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour from authors Ted Nichelson, Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady herself!), and Lisa Sutton

We ❤️ The Brady's in everything they do...including THIS. Classic Hollywood, classic TV. xoxo

The Brady Bunch Variety Hour The Brady Bunch Variety Hour Reviewed by #IheartHollywood on June 15, 2019 Rating: 5

1 comment

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