For seemingly any popular entertainer in the 70s who could sing and dance a little, perhaps even pull off some sketch comedy, their fate was clear – variety show! Tony Orlando, Sonny and Cher, Donny and Marie, Andy Williams: they all had them. And if they could do it, so could those lovable moppets, the Brady Bunch, stars of their very own variety series, The Brady Bunch Hour.
Thanks to a well-received special produced by The Krofft brothers (Sid and Marty, that is), The Brady Bunch Hour was given the go ahead and made its debut in 1977. The entire groovy gang was there with the exception of Eve Plumb, who played Jan on the series. She said “thanks, but no thanks” and was summarily replaced by actress Geri Reischl. The Brady family still had Alice and also introduced a new next-door neighbor on the show, Mr. Merrill, played by the inimitable Rip Taylor.
The premise of the series was simple. The Brady family, with their immeasurable talent, was chosen to star in their very-own television variety show and this newfound stardom allowed the clan to buy a brand new beachside home in Malibu. Besides the on-stage performing moments, the show featured backstage glimpses into the Brady lives as well as family scenes shot from their new home.
But lest one forget, this was primarily a variety show, and that meant plenty of guest stars, such as Vincent Price and Farrah Fawcett, to spice things up. Musical numbers, most featuring the entire Brady family, were a regular feature. And if that wasn’t enough entertainment to pack in one hour, their secret weapon was the Kroffette Dancers and Water Follies – because it is common knowledge that nobody can resist the allure of synchronized swimming.
Well, apparently some people could. The show only lasted a mere eight episodes, one less episode than there were Brady members (if you include Alice, and why wouldn’t you?). Such a short run can only be chalked up to one thing – The Brady family must have just been a little too entertaining, a little too ahead of their time. Before the rest of the world could catch up, their stardom dimmed considerably. Donny and Marie would just have to fill their shoes.
Still, there must be some of you who remember this short-lived series. If you have recollections (fond or otherwise) of curling up to the TV to watch The Brady Bunch Hour, we’d love to hear them in our comments section, as we take a moment to remember some unforgettable performances by this lovable clan.