Friday, September 4, 2009

Love to Love You Bradys

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Love to Love You Bradys (ECW, 2009).

How odd! I was just talking about Sid & Marty Krofft in my LiveJournal yesterday, as I tend to sometimes, and here I stumble upon this brand-new gigantic book about one of their best-remembered variety shows: the astonishing, appalling Brady Bunch Variety Hour. It's something else; this book is more than three hundred pages long. If you still have questions about the Kroffts' Brady variety show after this, even I am going to say that you've got too much time on your hands.

So I found this and immediately sat down to absorb all three hundred of its pages, and I cannot think of a pebble left undisturbed in the authors' quest for understanding just how one of television's biggest flops became such a flop. The book was written by Brady expert Ted Nichelson, along with actress Susan Olsen and Lisa Sutton, and they had on-the-record cooperation from pretty much everybody still living except Ann B. Davis, who really wanted nothing more to do with it.

What all's in this book? Every avenue that good television reference books pave is followed, from the show's origins to network interference to behind-the-scenes photos of every stage of its production. There are twenty pages about the troupe of synchronized swimmers, reproductions of the costume designs and discussions of the program's parodies on The Simpsons and That 70s Show. Even the pre-titles sequence of a third season Gilmore Girls, in which Lorelai and Rory are watching an episode, is transcribed and discussed. The only thing it doesn't have is a sampling of Rip Taylor's confetti falling out from the pages as you try to read it.

Despite its detailed, specialist nature, the book is a breezy, anecdotal read, full of showbiz dirt and gossip, but done very professionally. It's a lavishly designed collection, full of color photos and a million miles removed from the cheapo cash-ins that used to litter the "Film & TV" shelves at Borders. It's right up to date, too. Farrah Fawcett had guest-starred in one episode, and her death, just nine weeks ago, is referenced in the text.

I used to be incredibly interested in the production minutiae of television, and have shelves full of TV reference books. Offhand, I can think of about six that are about as good as this one. If you've got any interest in the Kroffts or the Bradys or TV production or 1970s pop culture, this is a must-have.


Elliott said...

I have the book, but have not read it yet. I am eager, to say the least. I also have copies of all of the Variety episodes. The one with Redd Foxx is astounding.

Anonymous said...

My Brother Ted has been gathering research on the Brady Bunch for several years and has reflected this well in his new book "Love to Love you Bradys" Entertaining reading even for those who did not watch their programs - recommended reading. David Nichelson