Yesterday in class we were discussing how a single act by a character can ruin a reader's understanding or perspective on the text.
As an aside, I said, "It's like when the Bradys went to Hawaii. I just felt like I didn't understand that show or any of the people in it after that."
"Who are the Bradys?" one student said.
"Brady Bunch," I said. "From TV. Greg, Marcia, you know, the Brady Bunch?"
"What channel is it on?" asked another.
Of course I know the show's been off for decades, and most of my freshmen were born in 1993 or 1994. Of course they don't readily know the episode I'm talking about...but, the Brady Bunch? Who doesn't fucking know the Brady Bunch?
(I won't even go into the argument I had many years ago with an adult student who swore Rock Hudson played Bob Reed's role.)
Anyway, I was so blue that when I went home I recorded my version of that lovely, aching theme song.
OMG. I'm weeping!ReplyDelete
How can this generation NOT know that this is the episode of this show that started the trend that led to the now-ubiquitous phrase "jump the shark"?ReplyDelete
Cal, your version is so poignant! I say the four of us switch our attention from maintaining illusions around here and get on over to youtube for a day or two to take this sucker VIRAL! Who's in?
Wait. I thought it was Happy Days that coined "jump the shark"...?Delete
At any rate, I'll gladly shed a tear for the death of televisual monoculture.
It was; I'm claiming the Bradys' trip to Hawaii started the trend of sit com families and their apostates taking the exotic trip that resulted in the Happy Days' clan jumping the shark even before Fonzie got anywhere near a surfboard.Delete
Yeah, I know Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel took a road trip and then a train trip and then a plane trip (the avalanche epi! the stomping grapes epi!), but there was absolutely NOTHING even tinged metaphorically with shark stench in those earlier trips.
The Partridge Family, the Bradys and the gang over at Happy Days had a fishy smell from the beginning. IMHO, of course.
I, too, thought it was the Fonz who jumped the shark, but I could be wrong; TV history is not my specialty.Delete
Actually, "jump the shark" comes from the Happy Days episode in which Fonzi does a waterskiing stunt.ReplyDelete
They should know the Brady Bunch, they're just not paying attention. There are references to it everywhere. ("Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!). The tv show Scrubs did a whole-episode parody of the Brady's Hawaii trip.
I think the people writing tv shows must be around my age (forties). Ever watch Family Guy? There are so many deep references to 1970s tv and culture that there's no way a teenager today could get them all. I asked my students about this, and they admitted that they just gloss over the stuff they don't get. For example, the song parody of a late-seventies/early eighties chamber of commerce song from an ad about the "Spirit of Massachusetts," which was absolutely ubiquitous on tv when I was young.
OK! I'm not crazy. (should've read farther down...whoops!)Delete
That makes two of us.Delete
"I asked my students about this, and they admitted that they just gloss over the stuff they don't get."Delete
Says it all, No?
I show the scene from "2001" in which the ape throws the bone into the air and it turns into the spacecraft. One reason is that almost none of my students have ever seen it, or even heard of it. But then, have you noticed that they were pre-pubescent during the real 2001?ReplyDelete
It gets worse. I also show the stateroom scene from "A Night at the Opera." One reason is that almost none of them have ever heard of the Marx brothers.
Now *that* is a genuine tragedy.Delete
And I mean that--it's not snark.
Unfortunately, baby boomer culture will be around forever. We may never recover.ReplyDelete
Hear hear. It's worst at Christmas, when all of the "idealistic" songs are all 1950s and 60s era music. The boomers want us all to enjoy their childhoods as though they were ours.Delete
AM, I hear you. And I'm late Boomer. But my favorite pop Christmas songs are from the 90s and beyond, particularly from Roy Zimmerman and Elvis Costello's "St. Stephen's Day Murders." If you're sick of the Motown girl groups' "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," check out those other musicians.Delete
May I add to your fine list, Proffie? The Pogues New York Fairytale and John Prine, Christmas in Prison. Two of my all time favs, with the Costello you've listed.Delete
If hubby ever leaves me, I'm marrying Cal.ReplyDelete
I am in love.ReplyDelete
That was pretty fucking awesome! :)ReplyDelete
This is weird. I watched a LOT of Brady Bunch and I remember specific episodes. But I don't remember Hawaii. I remember the Grand Canyon, but not Hawaii.ReplyDelete
Awesome vid, by the way.
The brief scene in the vid where the adults are looking at the camera and Alice comes sliding in from the side - today's students would say, "Hey, they're playing wii!"
I know that Cal is "out" on the page, but is that the first picture of him there in the end credits?ReplyDelete
Fabulous version of that song. Who knew it was so poignant! The show was a BIT before my time, but hasn't it been in reruns ever since on TVLand or somesuch.
I, too, bemoan the cultural differences between us and our students, and I always swore NOT to let the times get away from me. But today's culture seems, so, well, stupid. Maybe I shouldn't worry.
Oh, and I cracked up at "She was always the one I liked best..." I'm betting that wasn't in the original.Delete
Also "there's nothing wrong with that" in reference to "they were four men living all together."Delete
If I might beg to differ: getting further and further away from TV like that is one of the advantages to getting old.ReplyDelete
If Darla's hubby ever leaves her, then I'll marry him and ask Cal to sing at the wedding.ReplyDelete
Coffee spew award.Delete
Bourbon spew: in honor of Bubba!Delete
Well, you could go all sociological on them and point out that it was one of the first shows that managed to portray a blended family and at least some of its complications, though without getting into the messy details of what happened to the first set of spouses, or the lingering effects of those events on both kids and parents. Both of the Brady parents were widowed, correct? But that didn't get mentioned much, as far as I recall. Actually, there were a lot of widowed fathers -- and/or never-married single father figures who somehow acquired children, usually orphans -- on TV in the '70s, which was odd for me as the child of a widowed father, since I knew our situation wasn't really all that common. It seemed to be a way of talking about divorce and the effects thereof without quite directly doing so (and without acknowledging that the vast majority of full-time single parents were, and are, women).ReplyDelete
Then again, I was teaching a text from the '80s a few weeks ago that seemed to me to be dealing with some of the same themes (divorce, broken and re-made families, etc.), and the students didn't seem to be all that taken by my historicizing. While they're ready to think of the '70s and '80s as "retro" on a superficial/nostalgic level, it seems to be a past that has too immediate bearing on shaping their current reality (and, perhaps, too much similarity to that reality) for them to feel comfortable analyzing it as "past." They can do that with the '50s (with no apparent awareness that there was a past before that that differed in complicated ways -- much as denizens of the 20th century tended to treat the Victorian era), but the '70s/'80s seem hard to historicize in most ways (there are some exceptions, such as the availability of technology, and the understanding/experience of AIDS).
Nice voice, Cal!ReplyDelete
Love it, Cal! Definitely deserves to go viral.ReplyDelete
Being a skeptic, I Googled "Brady Bunch Unplugged" to see if Cal had downloaded the song. Sorry to mistrust you.
But I did find this: http://liveandacoustic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jamie-foxxs-rendition-of-brady-bunch.html
Cal's the real deal. He played out in rock bands for something like ten years. I don't think he plays much in public anymore, but I do have 2 of his band's CDs from the 1990s.Delete
Pity he's semi-anonymous. I like his style!Delete
I use the Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver as historical documents. I then follow it a few weeks later with That 70s Show as a way to show them how our views of historical moments change over time.ReplyDelete
Most of them have never heard of the Bradys or of the Cleavers before I show them.
I've seen all Brady episodes myself. I have no idea what Cal is talking about above. Why did visiting Pearl Harbor make you stop "knowing" the Brady characters?
The high drama of Bobby and Peter almost dying seemed to me out of place with the feel of the show. I'll buy Greg's surfing accident, but everything else seemed silly to me.Delete
Sillier than Marcia's absurdly huge nose injury? Maybe it's just a different context -- I didn't see the Bradys as they were released, so the full catalog felt complete rather than overstaying its welcome.Delete
Did I think it was more silly that Peter and Bobby almost died in Hawaii than Marcia's nose swelling up after a football hit it?Delete
Yes, I'm going to go with yes on that one.
Jan's wig. That was good.
1. Joe Namath was out of place. He was a real person mixed in with fictional characters. That screwed with my head. I couldn't get a grasp on whether they were all in Hollywood or New York or some strange little Milwaukee-ish place inside the TV.Delete
2. I hope F&T (aka The Artist Formerly Known as Marcia Brady) knows she's missed.
3. I am building one hell of a Compound Cal bootleg mp3 playlist on my iPhone... and I cannot stop smiling as I listen to it.
Compound Cal actually gives that song an poignancy it never originally had.ReplyDelete
Thanks to digital broadcast television, most channels now have subchannels and one of the national networks is "Antenna TV", which only runs ancient programming, including the Brady Bunch. BTW, Robert Reed thought the show was ridiculous even when they were making it, and would write long memos to Sherwood Schwartz on why certain episodes made no sense. Here are a few lines from a memo on episode 116 (The One With the Orange Hair Tonic):
"...The most generic problem to date in “The Brady Bunch” has been this almost constant scripted inner transposition of styles.
1. A pie-throwing sequence tacked unceremoniously onto the end of a weak script.
2. The youngest daughter in a matter of a few unexplained hours managing to look and dance like Shirley Temple.
3. The middle boy happening to run into a look-alike in the halls of his school, with so exact a resemblance he fools his parents.
And the list goes on.
Once again, we are infused with the slapstick. The oldest boy’s hair turns bright orange in a twinkling of the writer’s eye, having been doused with a non-FDA-approved hair tonic. (Why any boy of Bobby’s age, or any age, would be investing in something as outmoded and unidentifiable as “hair tonic” remains to be explained. As any kid on the show could tell the writer, the old hair-tonic routine is right out of “Our Gang.” Let’s face it, we’re long since past the “little dab’ll do ya” era.)"
And now to clash with everything else, here is Brad Carter making prank calls to the Brady House.
I didn't grow up in the US and move to the US when many of my students were being born... so if I know who the Brady Bunch is, they have NO excuse.ReplyDelete
LOVE the bluesy rendition, Cal! Why'd you quit your day job singing?