Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Jane Webb – Ping,
Pong, Babs, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman
Fresh off the success
of his series Gilligan’s Island, Sherwood Schwartz was working on
his next show idea. After reading an article about people with children from
previous marriages, Schwartz created a pilot script for a show he called Mine and Yours. The pilot centered on a widower
marrying a divorcee, and the three children each one brought from their
previous marriages. Schwartz shopped the script around to all three networks
and, while they all liked it, they wanted changes made before committing to the
script. Schwartz eventually shelved the project.
In 1968, United Artists released
the film Yours, Mine and Oursstarring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball,
which centered on their characters, Frank Beardsley and Helen North, falling in
love and getting married with a combined total of 18 children from their
previous marriages (Beardsley had 10, North had 8). The film was a box office
success, earning over ten times its production budget. Based on that success,
and the similar premise, ABC decided to go
forward with Schwartz’s series and made a thirteen-week commitment..
The Bradys: Cindy, Bobby, Jan, Peter, Marcia, Greg, Alice, Carol and Mike.
The Brady Bunch kicked off with widowed architect Mike Brady (Robert Reed) meeting and falling
in love with Carol Martin (Florence
Henderson). The fate of Carol’s previous marriage was left intentionally
ambiguous in a compromise with Schwartz after the network had objections to her
being divorced. The catch-all was that each of them brought three children to
the mix: Mike had his boys Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight)
and Bobby (Mike Lookinland), while Carol had her girls Marcia (Maureen
McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb) and Cindy (Susan Olsen). Adding to the chaos was
Mike’s live-in housekeeper, Alice Nelson (Ann B. Davis). Situations arose
from the new large family getting used to each other as well as dealing with
the everyday problems life threw at them.
The most notable
aspect of the show was its innovative opening sequence. Making use of the new
multi-dynamic image technique created by Canadian filmmaker Christopher
Chapman, each of the series’ main cast appeared in a box on a three-by-three
grid. As the show’s theme song by Peppermint
Trolley Company (for season 1, the kids the remainder of the series) played
and laid out the story of the Bradys to the viewers, the cast members seemed as
if they were looking at each other between their boxes. The attention this effect
gained because of the show led to it becoming known as “The Brady Bunch Effect”.
"What?! I ruined my hair and now you tell me we're cancelled?!"
The Brady Bunch debuted on September 26, 1969 and became the first
television series produced by Paramount
Studios, which had been exclusively a movie studio until then. The show
only achieved modest ratings during its run and the network would only renew it
for 13 episodes at a time. At the conclusion of the fifth season (the only
season or receive a full episode order), the show had reached enough episodes
for a syndication package and was finally cancelled.
The Brady kids: Cindy, Greg, Bobby, Marcia, Peter and Jan.
When the show was about
to enter its fourth season, Schwartz approached Filmation about adapting the
sitcom to animation in order to bring the Bradys to a younger audience that may
be missing it in its prime time timeslot. Filmation chose to make a show
centered solely on the Brady children, omitting Mike, Carol and Alice
altogether. Additional focus was given to the band the children formed on the
live show in an attempt to further perpetuate the success Filmation had earlier
Archie Showand its fictitious band.
The Bradys, Moptop, Ping and Pong staring at Marlon's latest goof up.
The Bradys had several new pet sidekicks for their
adventures: a dog named Mop Top (replacing Tiger from the live series, voiced
by Larry Storch); a talking mynah bird named Marlon (Storch), who flew by
spinning his tail and was actually a wizard that frequently employed his magic
to get the kids out of jams; and two panda cubs named Ping and Pong (Jane Webb)
who only spoke in Chinese-like gibberish. Other new characters include
classmates to the Bradys: primary antagonist Chuck White (Storch) who had no
problems with cheating to win; his easygoing sidekick Fleetwood (also Storch);
and Babs (Webb), who had a crush on Greg.
Superman: super babysitter.
Initially, Schwartz planned to hand over full control
to producers Lou Scheimer and
Norm Prescott. However, he
took an active role in the show’s production; overseeing scripts and giving
creative input. To save on both time and budget (Filmation’s trademark) an
extensive amount of animation was reused from Filmation’s earlier teenaged band
hit The Archie Show, as well bits and
pieces from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The show featured an introduction
mimicking the sitcom’s, showing the real Brady kids transforming into their
animated counterparts. The theme was composed by Frank DeVol and was similar to
the live show’s with a greater touch of 70s style. Ray Ellis handled the rest of
the series’ music.
Wonder Woman in her first television role.
The Brady Kids debuted
on ABC on September 9, 1972 as an installment of The
ABC Saturday Superstar Movie called “The Brady Kids on Mysterious
Island”. The 1-hour pilot movie was later split into the series’ first two
episodes, “Jungle Bungle”, and began airing the following week. Filmation took
some liberties and had characters from other properties interact with the
Bradys, such as the wizard Merlin
from Arthurian legend and Silver
from The Lone Ranger(a character Filmation would produce
adventures for a few years later).Filmation also featured crossovers with DC
(Keith Sutherland) and Lois
Lane, as well as Wonder
Woman (both Webb) in her first appearance outside of the comics (a
television show was attempted in 1967 by Greenway
Productions, but only resulted in a short unaired pilot).
The inclusion of Superman and Wonder Woman was Filmation’s attempt to see if
action programs could be welcomed back on the air after the hoopla
over violence of the late 1960s, as well as if they could sell a “woman’s
show” in order to get a strong, female character out there (they later would
Secrets of Isis and She-Ra). The
entire series was written by Marc Richards.
Ad for ABC's new Saturday programs.
The first season ran for the contracted 17 episodes, but Filmation wanted
to produce five more to bring the episode number up to the required syndication
amount. Harvey Shotz, agent for the kids, persuaded them to reject Filmation’s
request to extend their contracts. Filmation threatened to sue the kids as well
as replace them if need be. Ultimately, the three older kids held firm while
the younger ones agreed to the extension. Replacing the departing actors were
Scheimer’s children Lane and Erika as Greg and Marcia, respectively, and Sutherland
(credited as David E. Smith) as Peter. The abbreviated 5-epsiode season came
and went in 1973, but the show stayed on the air in reruns until August of 1974
when ABC’s new fall schedule was set to begin. A character introduced during
the second season, magically-powered teacher Miss Tickle (a play on “mystical”,
voiced by Lola Fisher), was
spun-off into her own series called Mission:
Magic!that aired the same year. Interestingly enough, the show’s
timeslot ended up being taken over by Super Friends, which was produced by rival studio Hanna-Barbera after they
acquired the DC Comics license.
While the live Bradys continued to get airplay in
syndication and several revival attempts were made, the animated Bradys all but
disappeared--at least until 1996. In 1995, Paramount Pictures produced a
theatrical movie picking up from the conclusion of the fifth season called The Brady Bunch Movie. The
movie featured a new, younger cast in the same roles and followed the principal
joke that while the rest of the world had gone on to the 1990s the Bradys were
obliviously stuck perpetually in the 70s. A Very Brady Sequel, which
hit theaters the following year, featured the return of the characters from The Brady Kids in a dream sequence
brought on when Alice (Henriette
Mantel) unknowingly gave a man posing as Carol’s (Shelley Long) ex-husband, Roy (Tim Matheson), psychedelic
mushrooms in his spaghetti. The only difference was that the animated Jan
didn’t wear glasses as she did on the cartoon, and had darker hair and braces.
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