Brady Bunch: Season 2
By this time there are several generations that are familiar with the seventies iconic television series, The Brady Bunch. Few shows ever have had the impact on the collective consciousness of the world wide audience like this simple series. When the latest generation of viewers watches reruns on Nick at Night, they most likely can’t image just how this series was received in the dawning years of the seventies. For one thing the blended family, common now, was almost unheard of back then. The typical television family had a father, mother and usually three children. For a series to show the parents remarrying, bring two different sets of kids together was unheard of. In the first season this blending was the major focus of the story lines. By the second season, presented in this new DVD set, the novelty had waned for the most part and the concentration was on the kids with little reference to the ‘us versus them’ attributes of the household. While the first season usually pitted the girls (one family) against the boys (the other family), in season two the battle lines where drawn more by the three age groups represented. Sure, there was still some mini battle of the sexes but for the most part the new siblings tended to draw closer to the one closest in age. Marcia (Maureen McCormick) and Greg (Barry Williams) now are entering the same high school with friends and experiences in common. The middle two Jan (Eve Plumb) and Peter (Christopher Knight) share the plight of the middle child while the youngest two, Bobby (Mike Lookinland) and Cindy (Susan Olsen) perform the function of all youngest children on a sitcom, make mischief, snitch on the older kids and stand around looking cute.
This difference in the story lines is also reflected in the parents. Mike (Robert Reed) and Carol (Florence Henderson) became almost peripheral to the kids as the series progressed. In one episode Mike and Carol decide to let Greg and Marcia baby-sit the brood while they are away. Naturally, chaos ensues since the younger kids really don’t respect they slightly older pair. In another show Marcia is told she can have a slumber party and the boys plot what they will do to disrupt the event. The stories are far from heavy duty, not even opting for the ‘special episode’ that so many seventies sit com snuck in for social relevance. The closest to a drug episode here is when Greg is found smoking, tobacco that is. There was an episode that almost made a point about greed and responsibility when the boys find a wallet with $1,100 in it. The girls find out and want a cut of the take. There was a very natural reason for the ultra light plots, the show aired during very turbulent times, the Viet Nam war was on the evening news, protesters where in the streets and the generation gap divided families. People needed to see a family that got along, where the children respected the parents and never got into real trouble. Idealized, yes, but it filled a need, pure escapism. Perhaps one reason this series has remained so popular through the decades is we also want that dream like world where kids only argue about giving the family dog a bath.
This is one cast that will be remembered forever, much to their chagrin. Most of the young stars where have the Brady Bunch follow them though out their careers. Robert Reed was already well known to the American public when he first became Poppa Brady. He was a star in the ground breaking court drama The Defenders, a series that demonstrated is dramatic abilities. Florence Henderson was one of the definitive television moms, always dressed to the ‘tee’, even tempered and a woman who lives to serve her family. Of course there was the other adult in the series; Ann B. Davis has the live in housekeeper and center square, Alice. Every sitcom, no matter no light, needed a goofy adult, and Davis was fantastic in this respect. She had a long resume of television side kick role and always gave a laugh with her performance. What really helped this series along in the second season was the fact that the two oldest children where just entering their teens in real life. Barry Williams started to appear on every teen oriented magazine from Teen Beat to Tiger. He was quickly becoming the younger set’s heart throb of the day. Maureen McCormick was most likely one of the defining images in the imaginations of boys all over the country. With their clean cut good looks parents didn’t seem to mind the scores of crushes these two young actors generated. Eve Plumb and Christopher Knight where too young for such ‘tweeny’ star status but they gave middle children all over someone to identify with. In a way they had the toughest part, caught in the middle, always second fiddle to the older pair. Then there were the youngest. Mike Lookinland) and Susan Olsen, hired for their amazing ‘cute’ quotient. Olsen had such a pronounced lisp that the writers used it as a central point in an episode. It seemed that if you had to have the girl speak make use of it. Actually, Susan Olsen required surgery later on to correct it. Lookinland seemed to exist to look adorable and run off screen. Together this cast had a little something for everyone, there was bound to be someone for every member of the family to identify with. They did have a natural chemistry together which did in one second season episode make for one of the classic bloopers. In the show that deals with Peter’s fear of heights Mrs. Brady yells "Go get 'em, Chris!" while Greg turns to Jan and shouts "Why don't you give it a try, Eve?"
Paramount has done it again with this second season DVD release. While there are some little glitches in the full screen video they presentation is much better than the over used source material used for syndication on Nick at Night. The audio is basic, Dolby mono that is slightly lacking on the low end but is overall clear. This is such a classic series for the whole family it is almost required for anyone that owns a television.