Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Book Review: The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!

We interrupt our regular weekly Saturday Blog DVD Review to bring you a special Book Review. Today we take a look at The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years! by author Mike Pingel. The book includes new interviews with actors, Ann B. Davis, Susan Olsen, Robbie Rist, Geri Reischl and producers, Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz, plus so much more. See my Blog Book Review of The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!:

The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!

The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years! (BearManor Media, $19.95)

It was 40 years ago when The Brady Bunch family hit the airwaves and is still being shown all around the world today. The Brady Bunch was the story of a widow with three girls who married a widower with three boys, who lived under one roof and solved life's problems within 24 minutes! Author Mike Pingel's new book shares the history, fun facts, full episode guide and interviews with actors, Ann B. Davis, Susan Olsen, Robbie Rist, Geri Reischl and producers, Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz, plus so much more. Brady Bunch fan Charlene Tilton (Dallas) has penned the foreword.

The book opens with A Very Brady History Lesson. This chapter provides information on how Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea of the show, how the show was cast, highlights from various seasons and the release of the Brady Kids albums, filming at the Paramount Studios lot, the friendships between the cast members, and the end of the show and later spin-off series and reunion specials. There's a good general history of the show, but I've seen more detailed information in previous Brady Bunch books. Various "groovy tips" are sprinkled throughout the book where we learn which Brady kid was the only one to have brown eyes, that First Lady Michele Obama is an avid fan of the show and the Brady kids and Liberace did the limbo on The Mike Douglas Show on June 13, 1973. Groovy indeed!

Next up is a Brady Chat with creator Sherwood Schwartz. He talks about casting Florence Henderson and Robert Reed, about the fights he had with Reed and how Reed had no sense of humor and how the Brady kids were cast. We also learn how Tiger the dog was killed and why Robert Reed refused to act in the final episode of the show. He then shares his favorite episode and memory of the show.

Chapter Two deals with The Brady Actors and includes interviews with some of the cast and crew. This section provides brief bios of the cast members and some of their recent projects. Again, the information isn't incredibly detailed and you won't find a listing of all their credits. Links are provided to the cast member's official websites where you can find more information on them.

Susan Olsen is interviewed talks about many different subjects, including her hairstyles on the show, her relationship with Mike Lookinland, her favorite outfit and favorite/most hated episode, her favorite guest star, working with Robert and Florence and the Schwartz family, why she didn't return for A Very Brady Christmas and her current/future projects.

Ann B. Davis is the next cast member to be be interviewed. She discusses how she was cast in the show, her favorite episode and crazy kid moments, meeting Henry Kissinger, working with Allan Melvin (Sam), working on The Bradys and The Bob Cummings Show and what she most remembers about the show.

The next member of the Schwartz family to be interviewed is Lloyd Schwartz. This is the most comprehensive interview in the book with some detailed responses. He talks about the origins of the show, the typical film week, working with his family, what was behind the Robert Reed fights, his favorite guest star/episode, the Brady Musical, the kids dating and his future projects. I'm surprised how critical the Schwartz family is of Robert Reed, but I guess they are entitled to their opinion.

A short section provides some information on books that were written by the cast, including Growing Up Brady (Barry Williams), Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice (Maureen McCormick), Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (Susan Olsen) and Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook (Ann B. Davis).

Chapter four is titled Brady's Reincarnated. "Fake Jan", Geri Reischl, is interviewed. She talks about how she was cast in The Brady Bunch Hour, her favorite episode, working with the cast, the "Fake Jan" phenomenon, the typical filming day, her favorite guest star and memory, and funny stories from the set. It's cool how she is proud of being called "Fake Jan."

The spin-offs, tv reunion movies/specials and feature films are covered with some short summaries and original airdates. Zach Bostrom, who played Kevin Brady in A Very Brady Christmas, is the next person interviewed. He discusses his favorite memory, working with Barry, funny incidents on the set and why he didn't return on The Bradys.

Hope Juber, daughter of Sherwood Schwartz, is next to chat. She appeared in several episodes as various characters. She talks about working on the show, filming The Slumber Caper episode, working on A Very Brady Musical and her favorite incarnation of the Bradys.

The Brady Effects details some of the references in pop culture and on other shows. This includes the Day by Day episode, Brady Bunch vs. Partridge Family Saturday Night Live skit and references on Family Guy and The Simpsons. It seemed a little unnecessary to mention some adult movies, but I guess this book could be rated PG or PG-13 for some of the content.

Chapter Five is Why We Love The Bradys. This section talks about the opening theme, the hair & clothing, the family cars, the Brady Home and links to some groovy websites. Wendy Winans, creator of the excellent Brady World, is interviewed. She is asked about the the number one question fans write in about the show, how she became a fan of the show and created her website, and her favorite episode.

The Very Brady Characters are profiled in Chapter Six. This section provides details on the characters pulled from the episodes. Honorary Bradys Alan Melvin (Sam the Butcher) and Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver Martin) are listed as well. The replacement Brady Girls and extended Brady tree are noted. Robbie Rist is interviewed and chats about how he landed the gig on the show, the "Cousin Oliver Syndrome", working with the cast and fun stories from the set, and what he is doing today.

Chapter Seven is titled The Brady Stories. This is an episode guide and is the largest section of the book. Episode titles, writing/directing credits, original airdates and short summaries are provided. While the summaries aren't as detailed as some of the previous Brady Bunch books, there are some cool tips, tidbits of trivia about the episodes, and notes on the cast and guest stars included. This would be a pretty good reference for answering trivia questions. There is also a section on various Brady Bunch toys and records and a very short interview with Steve Sandberg who produced new Brady dolls for .

Final Comments: Overall, I liked the book and it would be a worthy addition to your Brady Bunch library. It's organized nicely and researched well. There are about 15 or so black and white photos scattered throughout the book. It wasn't as detailed as some of the previous books published over the years on the series. Other books have provided more detailed information on the history of the show and behind-the-scenes details on the cast, but this book has a nice mix of all things Brady. The most interesting sections were the interviews with the cast and crew. Some unique questions were asked and it was interesting reading their responses. The book probably could have benefited from even more interviews with the cast. The author is pictured with other cast members who weren't interviewed, so it's a bit surprising they weren't asked any questions. As a fan of The Brady Bunch for over 30 years, I can never have enough information on the show and cast and I recommend you pick up this groovy book for the 40th anniversary of the show.

Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(3.5/5 stars)

To purchase this book, click below and help support

Related links:
The Official Mike Pingel Website
Brady World
Love to Love You Bradys: the bizarre story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, October 27

The Big Bang Theory - "The Fetal Kick Catalyst" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Penny is surprised to learn she has fans of her performance in “Serial Ape-ist” when she attends Van Nuys Comic Con with Leonard. Also, Amy hosts a Sheldon-style brunch at Penny’s apartment, and Wolowitz makes an impulsive purchase when he starts stressing out about the baby on the way.

The Great Indoors - "Pilot" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Joel McHale stars as Jack, a renowned adventure reporter for an outdoor magazine who must adapt to the times when he becomes the new desk-bound boss to a group of millennials in the digital department of the publication.

Mom - "High-Tops and Brown Jacket" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie and Adam’s relationship is tested when he moves in with her and Christy for a few weeks. Also, Christy learns the hard way that it may be a mistake to try and meet men with Jill.

Life in Pieces - "Annulled Roommate Pill Shower" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Heather and Tim enlist Clementine’s unusual parents, Mary-Lynn (Megan Mullally) and Spencer (Nick Offerman), to help convince Clementine and Tyler to annul their unexpected marriage. Also, Tommy moves in with Colleen, to the chagrin of her roommate, Dougie (Fortune Feimster); John and Joan run into “complications” after John takes the wrong dose of his daily pill; and Jen and Greg keep a secret from the family.

Superstore - "Halloween Theft" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Dina (Lauren Ash) throws a wrench in everyone's Halloween plans when something goes missing from the store and declares that no employee can leave until someone confesses to stealing. Amy (America Ferrera) is determined to find out who is responsible because she doesn't want to miss trick-or-treating with her daughter and Mateo (Nico Santos) prepares for his secret date with Jeff (recurring guest star Michael Bunin). Meanwhile, Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom) struggle to bond until they discover they have more in common than they thought. Garrett (Colton Dunn) has a difficult time defending himself during the store-wide investigation.

The Good Place - "Most Improved Player" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Michael (Ted Danson) has a private meeting with Eleanor (Kristen Bell). Meanwhile, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), who has been harboring a secret, contemplates what to do.

Better Things - "Scary Fun" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam makes a point.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Thursday, October 27

  • Martin Short (Mulaney/The Martin Short Show) - Catch Martin on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) - Mary-Louise visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • January Jones (The Last Man on Earth) - January appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lauren Lapkus (Clipped/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Lauren is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on Chelsea on Netflix. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
  • Nathan Lane (Modern Family/Charlie Lawrence/Encore! Encore!), John Goodman (Roseanne/Normal, Ohio) and John Slattery (Maggie) - They talk about Broadway's The Front Page on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Joel McHale (The Great Indoors/Community) - Joel guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) - Miley is a guest on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Eva Longoria (Telenovela) - Eva appears on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Angelique Cabral (Life in Pieces/Enlisted) - Angelique talks about Life in Pieces on the AOL Build Show at 11am.