Remember The Brady Bunch Variety Hour? I just watched it for the millionth time and can't get enough of its campy goodness. It's somehow wonderfully delightful and horrifyingly strange at the same time. Nothing on TV has ever exhibited this level of badness and still been good, if you get my meaning.
I'll spare you the history (that's what Wikipedia is for), and cut right to the weirdness...
I've always heard that Robert Reed was constantly battling with Sherwood Schwartz in order to bring realism and intelligence to The Brady Bunch. Obviously, Reed lost most of those battles, but with the Variety Show he apparently just said "screw it, let's boogie".
In the picture above, Mr. and Mrs. Brady are actually singing "Love to Love You Baby"! This is one of the most sexual songs to ever hit the radio (recall that Donna Summer moans and groans orgasmically in the song)... the show is just getting started and already I'm in The Twilight Zone.
Mike Brady tells a joke that falls flat, so Jan says,"Why can't I be dead?" out of embarrassment. To which Marcia smiles maniacally and says, "Yeah! Why can't Jan be dead!?!" To which I said "WTF?!" Marcia was always Miss Popularity, but wishing diabolically for Jan's death seems over-the-top even for the Variety Hour.
(Ahem. Greg, I think you missed a button.) Apparently, flannel was the rage in 1977 and Bobby seems to have grown up to be a Monchichi.
Can you count the 70s pop culture images and icons in this next scene? Let's see: (1) Donnie & Marie Osmond ride into a (2) roller rink on an (3) Evil Knievel motorcycle and meet up with (4) the Brady Bunch; Donnie's jacket says (5) "Fonzie" on the back, and... well, you get the point.
Holy shit! That's actually the Bradys dressed up like clowns for no reason and swimming and splashing around like idiots. I remember when I first saw this on a friend's bootleg VHS back in '92 - it was kind of grainy, the sound was warped a little, and this scene seemed horrifically surreal. There was something kind of haunting about it. Now that I watch it on DVD, the grainy snuff film quality is gone, but it's still pretty friggin' strange.
Good Lord! As if Aquatic Brady Clowns wasn't weird enough, we get Tony Randall as a psychotic leprechaun! This may be the strangest moment in TV history - it simply has to be seen to be believed. I triple dare you to make this image your desktop wallpaper.
Then for the finale we have Greg kickin' it Tom Jones style, and then the whole family (including Alice) dance to "The Hustle" and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty"!
I don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing the show; I relish every lovin' second of it. You can just tell that everyone on the show was having a good time, and the carefree vibe is contagious - you'll find yourself enjoying it in spite of your modern day cynical attitude.
The show's deep and abiding strangeness obviously stems from it being produced by Sid & Marty Kroft. But perhaps the oddest thing about The Brady Bunch Variety Hour isn't the Aquatic Brady Clowns or the Tony Randall Leprechaun or even Ann B. Davis doing The Hustle. No, it is something far more subtle... Egad! What's happened to Jan!?!