"The Brady Bunch" premiered on ABC-TV September 26, 1969. The sitcom was created by Sherwood Schwartz, a Hollywood veteran also famous for "Gilligan's Island." It ran on ABC Friday nights until August 30, 1974. It was a fairly successful show, never a smash hit, but consistently in the Nielson Top 20. However, the real story is the Bradys' longevity. "The Brady Bunch" has aired in syndication since 1973, including national exposure on TBS from October 1986 through April 1998, then on Nick at Nite since June 1998, and currently on TV Land.
The "Brady Bunch" begat "The Brady Kids" cartoon, "The Brady Bunch Hour," "The Brady Girls Get Married," "The Brady Brides," "A Very Brady Christmas," "The Bradys," "Bradymania," "Brady Bunch Home Movies,"and "The Brady Bunch Goes To the White House," on television, plus the films "The Brady Bunch Movie," and "A Very Brady Sequel," as well as the play "Real Live Brady Bunch."
"The Brady Kids" ran on ABC from September 9, 1972 - August 31, 1974. The 22 episodes followed the adventures of the kids and their talking dog, Moptop, Marlon the magical mynah bird, and the pandas Ping and Pong. The original actors provided the voices, and at the end of each show there was a musical number, similar to "Josie and the Pussycats."
"The Brady Bunch Hour" featured the unholy alliance of the Brady Bunch and producers Sid and Marty Krofft. It ran on ABC from January to May 1977 and brought the world the "Water Follies." It was just like "Donny and Marie" except not as good (if that's possible). Watch the Bradys sing disco medleys. See Peter get thrown into the pool every week. Witness guest stars like Milton Berle and Lee and Farrah Fawcett Majors trade one-liners with Mike Lookinland. And why isn't anyone wondering where the hell the real Jan is (Eve Plumb wisely passed on this show and was replaced by Geri Reischl). This show was so bad, it made the "bad TV Hall of Fame."
We went through a four year Brady draught which was just enough time to recover from "'The Brady Bunch Hour" to "The Brady Girls Get Married." This time, NBC became the next network to adopt America's favorite TV family. We found out what happened to everybody: Jan was an architect and was engaged to Phillip Covington III, a professor. Marcia was a clothing designer and after a whirlwind romance became engaged to Tyler Toys salesman Wally Logan. Greg became a doctor (Dr. Johnny Bravo?) Peter was in the Air Force, and Bobby and Cindy were in college. Alice married Sam, and Carol became a real estate agent. Mike was still an architect, of course. After the double wedding of Marcia and Wally and Jan and Phillip, "The Brady Brides" became a short lived series that lasted only nine episodes.
The 80's were difficult. We went through a seven year dry spell, but the Bradys came back with a vengeance. On December 18, 1988, CBS became the third network to become home of the Bradys with "A Very Brady Christmas." The television movie featuring the original cast except Susan Olsen and Allan Melvin (Sam) scored huge ratings. Susan was in Jamaica on her honeymoon during taping of the movie (since divorced). The climatic ending where the family sings "Oh Come O Ye Faithful" to lead Mike out of a collapsed building (don't ask) helped make it the third highest rated TV movie of the year. Here is a hilarious synopsis of the movie.
This inspired CBS to order the dramatic series, "The Bradys." This time Maureen McCormick passed on the project and was replaced by Leah Ayres. And Marcia knew best. This show was horrible. This time Marcia wasn't crying over braces. She was an alcoholic! Bobby wasn't a safety monitor...he was paralyzed. Cindy barely managed to overcome her lisp and was a radio disc jockey (a job Susan Olsen would have for real in Los Angeles years later.) And how did Goldstein from "The White Shadow" become her boss? Even though "The Bradys" was back in its old Friday night timeslot, the series lasted four episodes after the two hour movie. It ran from February 9 - March 9, 1990.
That means there was a "Brady Bunch" series in four decades: the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's, on three networks in three formats--sitcom, variety, and drama!
In 1991, Chicago's Annoyance Theatre came up with the inspired idea of staging "Brady Bunch" episodes verbatim and Real Live Brady Bunch began. It moved to the Village Gate Theatre in New York City and had a successful run in Los Angeles. Famous alumni of "Real Live Brady Bunch" include Melanie Hutsell who played Jan and went on to do Jan on "Saturday Night Live," eventually becoming a regular for a couple of years; and Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter who played Mike. This was the precursor to "The Rerun Show," which aired a few weeks during the summer of 2002 on NBC.
"The Brady Bunch Movie" opened February 17, 1995. Starring Shelley Long and Gary Cole, the movie was a perfect spoof of the 70's characters living in Los Angeles in the 1990's. It earned 14 million dollars its opening weekend and became a moneymaking film. Christine Taylor (Marcia) and Jennifer Elise Cox (Jan) were especially good. "Nick at Nite" got into the act with "Buncha Brady Week" February 12th through 16th, 1995.
August 23, 1996, "A Very Brady Sequel" opened nationwide. In this movie, the family went to Hawaii and Carol's first husband (Tim Matheson) returned. This movie also did well at the box office and there are plans for a third "Brady Bunch" movie.
Since then, Eve Plumb played the mom on the childrens' 1995 ABC Saturday morning series "Fudge." Maureen McCormick played a mom on the 1997 ABC Friday night show "Teen Angel", and played the title role in the TV movie "Get To The Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story"on CBS. She also appeared on VH1's week of the 70's in 1997.
In the 2000's, many of the Bradys have taken advantage of reality television. Florence Henderson appeared on VH1's "The Surreal Life." Barry Williams fought Danny Bonaduce in "Celebrity Boxing" in 2002. Christopher Knight not only appeared on "Surreal Life" in 2004, he met and married castmate Adrianne Curry in the spin-off series "My Fair Brady" in 2005 and 2006. Maureen McCormick will appear on "Celebrity Fit Club" in April of 2007.