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The Brady Bunch Hour is an ABC network variety TV series produced by Sid & Marty Krofft.
The show first began as a 61-minute special called "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" on November 28, 1976.
Due to its high ratings from the special, it led to 8 additional 60-minute episodes which aired sporadically under the title "The Brady Bunch Hour".
The original cast appeared on the show except for Eve Plumb (who was replaced by Geri Reischl).
After 9 episodes aired, "The Brady Bunch Hour" was canceled on May 25, 1977.
- Robert Reed as Mike Brady
- Florence Henderson as Carol Brady
- Ann B. Davis as Alice Nelson
- Barry Williams as Greg Brady
- Maureen McCormick as Marcia Brady
- Christopher Knight as Peter Brady
- Geri Reischl as Jan Brady
- Mike Lookinland as Bobby Brady
- Susan Olsen as Cindy Brady
- Rip Taylor as Jack Merrill
The Krofftettes and Water Follies
- Charkie Phillips
- Christine Cullen Wallace
- Susan Buckner
- Linda Hoxit
- Judy Susman
- Lynne Latham
- Dee Kaye
- Robyn Blythe
In 1976, ABC president Fred Silverman concocted the idea of reuniting the cast of "The Brady Bunch" on an episode of the "Donny & Marie" variety show.
Four cast members were booked and when the show aired on October 8, 1976 it was a ratings success, prompting Silverman to begin developing a variety show starring the Brady family.
Donny & Marie producers Sid & Marty Krofft agreed to helm the show, as their paths had crossed with the Brady Bunch stars on numerous occasions, but no one bothered to seek the approval or involvement of Paramount Pictures (the producers and then-property holders of The Brady Bunch) or Sherwood Schwartz (the series creator).
Both parties eventually gave their approval of the new series, mainly as a way to keep interest in the original series. The variety hour remains the only Brady project to not have Schwartz's involvement during production.
"The Brady Bunch Hour" was taped on Stage 2 at KTLA Studios in Los Angeles. The first episode was taped over three days beginning Monday, November 22, 1976, completing just days before its air date that Thanksgiving Sunday.
The 47,756 US gallons (180,780 l) 45 by 25 feet (13.7 m × 7.6 m), 68 inches (1.7 m) deep pool arrived in sections that were bolted together and made water-tight. The pool also included windows along the sides of the tank to ease filming underwater. When it was first filled, early taping tests were unsuccessful.
Assistant director Rick Locke commented that "it looked like milk." The pool was then filled with 50,000 US gallons (190,000 l; 42,000 imp gal) of Sparkletts bottled water, chlorinated and filter and pump facilities added outside the studio.
Both the swimmers and stage crew faced many challenges with the swimming pool during production.
Because the pool was located next door to the ice rink for "Donny & Marie" on Stage 1, the Krofftettes entered and exited the water in frigid air temperatures while rehearsing for the pilot episode which caused steam to rise out of the water. Attempts to equalize the temperature of both the water and air then turned the pool into a warm bath.
Unlike traditional synchronized swimming, the Krofftettes were expected to sit on the bottom of the pool floor in various formations. In order to accomplish this, the women had to completely exhale all of their breath so that they would sink in a state of hypoxia.
The ABC network would not allow the use of goggles and any unsightly air bubble escaping from a desperate nostril was absolutely forbidden.
Because the Krofftettes had double duty as dancers on stage with the Bradys during the day, swimming sequences were often relegated to late night hours which required the women to work more than 15 consecutive hours on days they were filming.
Other hazards with the swimming pool included props weighed to the bottom which presented unwelcome obstructions. In addition, the Kroffts decided in one production number to have gas canisters in the pool which they ignited during filming as a special effect.
The Krofftettes were also forced to smear Vaseline into their scalp so that everything would stay in place while they were under water and could only be removed with a recipe of Spic & Span along with Joy dishwashing liquid which turned everyone’s hair green. Turbans and other head pieces were then used for the remainder of the series.
The Krofftettes were the first water ballet troupe to be recorded on video tape, which presented its own set of challenges.
The Kroffts experimented with an underwater camera but relied more on large porthole windows in which cameras taped from outside of the pool itself.
Cast, crew, and visitors alike were known to visit the stage and observe the young women during rehearsals through these windows (which included Chevy Chase and Paul Shaffer, who were working at the studio on a television special).
According to Shaffer, Chase would cut production meetings short so that everyone could go watch the Krofftettes.
Although Robert Reed's dissatisfaction with other "Brady Bunch" incarnations has become legendary, he quickly signed on to star in the variety show.
Maureen McCormick recalled, "We joked that it was the first time any of us could remember him wanting to do something Brady-related."
"The Brady Bunch Hour was incredibly bad," Barry Williams once wrote, "but even more incredible was the fact that Robert Reed (who you'd expect would be foaming at the mouth about this mess) really enjoyed being on it.
When Williams asked him why, Reed stated, "I've studied voice and dancing. I'm terrible at both, and it proved to be true, but when Sid and Marty met with me, they described the whole thing in very positive terms and I thought, 'What fun! This'll be a hoot!"
McCormick said, "He sang and danced without caring that he was lousy and the show itself was worse. His inner Dorothy had found her calling."
Florence Henderson, the only cast member with real experience singing and dancing, was leery of the project but also agreed to appear, so the producers then set their sights on reuniting the Brady kids.
Barry Williams was working on Broadway when he got a call from Marty Krofft, who pitched the show as "The Barry Williams Variety Hour with The Brady Bunch," promising him featured solos and elaborate dance routines.
Maureen McCormick was excited at the prospect of singing and working with the Krofft brothers; and Susan Olsen loved the idea of doing "Saturday Night Live"-type skits.
Christopher Knight had turned his back on the entertainment industry and was aware of his own singing/dancing limitations, but agreed to do the show when he was promised that his work would be limited to the opening and closing numbers and comedy sketches.
Knight later said, "It didn't work out that way and I learned one of life's lessons—always get it in writing!"
Mike Lookinland was uncomfortable dancing and had no desire to do the show, so he demanded twice the salary he was offered in hopes that the producers would be forced to recast his role. To his surprise, this resulted in an increased salary for each cast member.
Even then, he didn't want to do the show and often skipped the rehearsals, until one day Florence Henderson found him in the parking lot and reminded him that they were all doing their job and "if his heart wasn't in it, neither should he be".
Ann B. Davis had left Hollywood in 1974 and she was working as a volunteer in a clergy house in Denver, Colorado when the series was hurried into production.
Originally, no one thought to include Davis, but at the last minute the crew decided to offer her a guest-starring role, which she retained throughout all nine episodes of the series.
The producers made a deal which allowed Davis to be on the set only a few days a week so she could commute to Denver and fulfill her responsibilities to the church.
Contrary to popular belief, Eve Plumb was originally slated to appear in the variety hour. "I wanted to do the show, but there was a built-in option for thirteen more shows and possibly five years," Plumb stated in a 1976 interview.
Plumb agreed to appear in five of the 13 planned episodes, but when the network demanded that it was all-or-nothing, she backed out of the project.
In late October 1976, producers scrambled to find a replacement and met with over 1500 hopefuls, eventually settling on Geri Reischl to fill the void. Reischl (who had extensive singing experience) auditioned several times and landed the role only one day before rehearsals began.
Reischl's costars made her feel at home (she even developed a lasting friendship with Susan Olsen), but because of the recasting, Reischl was later dubbed "Fake Jan" (a moniker which she has openly embraced).
After the pilot was shot, producers decided that they needed a regular comedian on the show, so Rip Taylor was brought aboard to portray the Bradys' realtor, moving man, next-door-neighbor, general Jack-of-all-trades and Alice's boyfriend, Mr. Merrill.
Like Reischl, Taylor felt welcomed by the cast with the exception of Ann B. Davis, who barely spoke to him except when they were doing scenes.
"Rip Taylor is a salty guy," commented series writer Mike Kagan, "he's got a dirty sense of humor and Ann B. Davis is a born-again Christian."
The Krofftettes were a dance troupe, who also performed water ballet created by Sid and Marty Krofft as a spin-off of The Ice Vanities, which performed skating routines on their other variety endeavor, "Donny & Marie."
When ABC programming executive Michael Eisner asked the Kroffts to create a new show for The Brady Bunch, Sid decided that the next best thing to ice would be a gigantic swimming pool, inspired by Esther Williams movies of the 1940s and 50s.
On October 25, 1976, the Kroffts held auditions for the group with choreographer Joe Cassini in the ABC headquarters at 1313 N. Vine in Hollywood, California.
There they met Charkie Phillips, a classically trained dancer from Florida and competitive swimmer with an extensive background in synchronised swimming. Phillips was selected to help Cassini choose dancers who could also handle the rigors of synchronised swimming.
"The Brady Bunch Hour" was supposed to air every fifth week in the same slot as "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries", but was scheduled sporadically throughout the season, leading to inconsistent ratings.
A promo was often shown with Robert Reed and Florence Henderson stating, "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour won't be seen this week, but we will back again soon."