Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brady Fanaticism

Fans of ephemeral 70s pop culture should know that there’s a new book out that takes Brady Bunch fanaticism to a new level… a 340 page book about the 9 episode flop known as The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Amazingly this book contains hundreds of never before seen photos and artwork (which remarkably escaped the furnace) and interviews with what seems to be nearly every living person who ever worked on the program. Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour is veritable encyclopedia of lost Brady knowledge. It catalogs, in all it’s glittery, sequin-laced, gory detail the fiasco that what would one day be called by many the worst show in television history (TV Guide was extremely kind by awarding it a noble “4th worst show ever” award).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the BBVH, think of the Brady’s… uh, think of Donny & Marie… uh, think of disco… aw, forget it, there really isn’t a fair comparison. The premise is Mike and Carol pack up the kids and Alice and move to California to start their own variety television show, which will not only feature their inability to sing and dance, but highlight their total lack of basic sketch comedy. Sounds like a ratings winner to me. Quick, get me Sid and Marty Krofft!

Guest stars are paraded across the program with reckless abandon… pop star Tina Turner, aging Milton Berle, Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, Donny & Marie, Farah Fawcett, Lee Majors, the Kids from What’s Happening, Tony Randall and HR Pufnstuf just to name a few. Love to Love You Bradys coincides with (and perhaps even undermines) the 40th anniversary of the debut of the original Brady Bunch show, by highlighting the seldom seen, dirty little secret hiding in their collective closet. The authors of LOVE TO LOVE YOU BRADYS are Susan Olsen (Cindy Brady) the youngest cast member, and pop culture historians Ted Nichelson and Lisa Sutton. While there is no shortage of content for even the most avid fan, I was struck by the eye-popping background artwork that really brings each page alive. Kudos for producing a book that caters to both the casual as well as the die-hard fan.

LOVE TO LOVE YOU BRADYS is a fascinating study in how a television show goes from vision to production and onto the air. Right down to its glittery-textured cover, it’s also a lesson in how to avoid a disaster, as Susan Olsen laments in the forward, “The memory should be kept alive to assure that this will never happen again.”

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