Monday, October 12, 2015

Cultureshark Book Club: Brady, Brady, Brady by Sherwood Schwartz and Lloyd Schwartz

Bootm line is this is a fun read for "Brady Bunch" fans. That's what I was expecting and what I received when I got this one from the local liberry. It's an anecdotal telling of the Brady saga from creator Sherwood Schwartz and his son Lloyd. Now, I'm a longtime viewer of the series (please don't think any less of me) and I am now introducing it to my own children (please don't think any less of me as a father), but I am no fanatic.  So after finishing the book, I went online to see what the hardcores thought.

There are apparently some problems with certain details from Lloyd, and there is a strong belief that Sherwood's son may have overinflated his importance to the series. I will say I was surprised when Sherwood's section ended and then the book was turned over to the son, who covered most of what went on in the actual run of the program. That's a bit disappointing, and I can understand the incredulity of some fans who think Lloyd, who went from dialogue coach for the kids to an associate producer and directed an episode, makes his own role in the show larger than it was.

Nevertheless, Lloyd tells a pretty good story, and even if you need to take some of it with a grain of salt, it's amusing. He implies there are inaccuracies in some of the OTHER Brady books, including Barry Williams' memoirs. It seems to me that more Brady fans lean towards Williams' accounts being more accurate, but like I said, I'm no expert.

I do think Lloyd comes off better than some of his critics indicate. He takes credit for some big Brady moments and concepts, but he also tells many stories that make himself look foolish.  I'll tell you who does not come off very well: Robert Reed. We all know the stories about how Reed squabbled with Schwartz and complained constantly, and the authors definitely get some payback. Lloyd in particular seems to still have it  in for Reed for making his dad's life more difficult (Sherwood seems to be more at peace with the whole thing). It is clear, though, that Reed was always good with the kids and didn't cause problems when they were around.

Many of the incidents in the book will be familiar to viewers, but I enjoyed reading about the cast's encounter with Ronald Regan at "The Merv Griffin Show," Lloyd throwing the actual football pass that hit Marcia's nose, and the time the Bradys put on a presentation of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

According to Lloyd's account, the show sought permission from the Walt Disney Company to use the names of the dwarfs, and it became a "thing." Lloyd tells the story with great build and color, but the gist is that it culminates in a big corporate boardroom as a bunch of lawyers debate whether or not to let "The Brady Bunch" do this.  From the book:

 Finally the head attorney looked at everyone and gave his most sage opinion: "You know something? I don't give a s--- about this." We took that as an okay and did the show."

"Brady, Brady, Brady" is full of stories like that. Told in short, breezy chapters, it's a fun, undemanding read. It's not a comprehensive history of the series, but it is an entertaining look at the iconic sitcom, one casual fans will enjoy and that hardcore fans may contest but will want to read nevertheless.

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