It's not very Brady-like to make a promise and then go back on it. But, again, I promise I'll be back blogging Brady style very shortly. Thanks for your patience.
Sunflower girl's honor.
More so than the Greg vs. Marcia student election, more so than the trading stamps or the lost wallet, even more so than the attic bedroom debate, the disappearance of Kitty Karryall (#7) brought a plague upon the Brady house.
Bobby initially expresses a strong dislike for Cindy's creepy doll, which has been possessed by an evil she-spirit intent on drawing blood. Because Kitty disappears, Cindy blames Bobby. Then Marcia and Jan blame Bobby. And then Greg and Peter blame Bobby. Even Special Guest Star Heather Locklear blames Bobby.
Ultimately we learn that Tiger confiscated Kitty, along with Bobby's kazoo, Marcia's sneaker, and Fluffy the cat. But before Bobby is vindicated, the household is shaken thanks to the demonic doll.
How else could you explain the ease with which Bobby is fingered even though there is not a single shred of evidence suggesting he trashed Kitty? And does it take a mere doll for Greg and Peter to turn on their own flesh and blood? And what really caused Alice to burn her roast?
Kitty, my friends. How else could you explain such feuding over a doll dressed like a patch-work hobo (who, with her evenly measured pony tails, bears an eerie resemblance to first season Marcia)? Tiger was simply trying to protect the family he loved by stashing Kitty in his doghouse.
And I believe that is why she ultimately disposed of him.
With the exception of Jan, Bobby is the Brady with the most nagging insecurities and self-worth issues. His neuroses begin in the first season when he becomes convinced that step-mothers are unable to love their step-children (#10). From that point on, young Bob was a powder keg of self-doubt, and no season of the show saw Bobby's rise-and-fall detailed more prolifically than season two. But each time Bobby had to try try again, he persevered gracefully with all the determination of a seasoned chin-up champ.
Initially, Bobby is left with a crippling fear of heights after a treehouse climb gone awry (#36). But when it's up to him to save his precious pet bird, he climbs said treehouse without flinching.
Bobby is then looked over for the school's glee club in favor of Peter, Jan and Cindy (#41). As they carouse about, practicing "Loch Lomond" and reveling in their vocal abilities, Bobby's sense of worthlessness strikes again. To appease his fragile ego, Mike and Carol encourage Bobby to take up the drums. This leads the way for even more disaster until Bobby settles on the batton. And then household objects begin to break.
Perhaps no episode in the Brady canon explores Bobby's issues like #46, "The Winner." Marcia has all those trophies (apparently a sore point for both Jan and Bobby), Greg is unstoppable, and even Cindy has a trophy for playing jacks, a game of unparalleled skill. Bobby strikes out at everything, including magazine sales. So when Kartoon King makes a call for the best ice cream eater in the world, Bobby rises to the challenge. And fails. But not before the kids rally about to present him with a cheap trophy for Best Loser (and a huge bowl of ice cream as a consolation prize).
The latter years of the show would see Bobby succeed, especially against his siblings. The aforementioned chin-up skills set a precedent for excellence (#67), as did his talents as a safety monitor (#86), kisser (#99) and pool shark (#116).
The second season was a time of deep ponderance and exploration for Bobby. His maturation and confidence came only after giving his Brady all and accepting that failure was not an option. And that's real groovy.
You'd think Marcia would have learned her lesson about pride after losing the part of Juliet because of her ego (#56). But no. Once the eldest, blondest Brady babe entered high school, she turned on the power of her feminine wiles, and every male within a 20-foot radius had no choice but to respond.
Enter Charlie, a card-carrying member of the Westdale High School Dork Club who summoned the courage to ask out Marcia. She agreed, but immediately changed her tune when Doug Simpson (heretofore referred to as "BMOC," or "Big Man on Campus") asked her out for the same night.
Marcia sought the advice of Greg, who advised her that "Something suddenly came up" was the most plausible excuse for breaking a date. Without batting an eyelash or running a brush through those golden locks, Marcia fed the fib to Charlie and set off to devour BMOC in the back of his '72 Chevy.
Ahh, but there was thunder on Mt. Olymus, for the gods were not pleased. Just as the sun smiled on Marcia Brady, the clouds rolled in and the forces of destruction found their way to the Brady backyard. As we all know, undying pride is the biggest sin in the eyes of the gods. Not even the sunshine way of Marcia Brady is safe from learning a lesson about ego. Be warned.
What the world needs now is not a Democrat or Republican agenda. We don't need wars in the Middle East or airports depriving passengers of toothpaste in London. We need the level-headed peacemaker that is Mike Brady.
When Peter falls prey to unspeakable acts of violence after standing up to the evil Buddy Hinton on behalf of Cindy (#33), the Brady men are shaken to their very core.
Greg and Bobby advise Peter to beat Buddy into a bloody pulp, rip out his eyes and make him sniff his way around. Peter is torn between his pacifist nature and his brooding masculinity. Enter Mike, who informs the Brady boys that all problems with an enemy can be solved with "Calm, cool reasoning."
If Mike Brady were alive today (and, moreover, if he were a real person), I'd fight tooth and nail to put him into office. President Brady would end these seemingly ceaseless conflicts over land, oil and Mel Gibson. He'd be loving yet stern, strict but pleasant. And after Sadaam and George shared a hug and some of Alice's cookies, President Brady would design a groovy house for the world to live in together.
Calm, cool reasoning people. Calm, cool reasoning.
Note: when push came to shove, Mike advised Peter to make Buddy unrecognizable to his own mother. This was, of course, after Mike's painstaking efforts to beseech Mr. and Mrs. Hinton for an end to war. Fighting was a solution Mike chose only after fruitlessly exhausting every possible avenue toward peace and harmony.
When the elusive Checker Trading Stamp Company announced its impending close, the boys and girls battled it out to see who'd inherit the Brady family fortune of stamps (#15). Logically enough, these stamps could be redeemed for sewing machines (what the girls wanted), row boats (for the boys), or color television sets (what the family settled on). This place was so popular, and so inexplicably lucrative, that it even had its own store (We must remember that the Bradys never enjoyed Amazon.com).
To determine the winner of these bountiful documents, the Sensational Six engage in a nail-biting game of Russian roulette. No, wait, wrong episode. They build a house of cards. Whoever is responsible for the physical destruction of this house is to blame for the symbolic destruction of the team. He or she will be sent off to live with the Kellys or Dittmeyers next door.
Ultimately, after losing a round of When Tiger Attacks, Johnny Bravo is to blame for the girl's victory. They race off to the store, which is about to close forever.
The girls are momentarily distracted by a beauty parlor set, but Carol reminds them they came for a sewing machine and not even the Second Coming will deter them. And besides, as Marcia points out, "We can make some groovy dresses!"
A debate as to which sewing machine ultimately gives way to the harmonious decision to redeem the stamps for a color television set. No more black and white reruns of Hazel for this happy family. Shirley Booth will be in color!
Thus we have the beginning of the Brady give-and-take. Whether it was admitting to breaking mom's favorite vase (#37) or a similar act of selflessness, the Bradys knew how to compromise for the greater sake of the family. Even after an intense battle such as the house-of-cards, they all came back to one another.
Thus, the trading stamps weren't the only thing redeemed in this episode.
How Peter became fixated on Bogart is a fascinating character study. Why not a modern day movie hero, like Steve McQueen or Robert Redford? Or even someone completely illogical, like Jesse James (#89)? Or how about his oldest brother, a notorious lothario and instant success at parties?
Not that Bogart wasn't worthy of Peter's imitation. Long before Peter and his brothers discovered the lost wallet on Sierra Avenue (#32), Humphrey Bogart had mastered the seas to discover The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. And can McQueen, Redford, Jesse James or even Johnny Bravo himself lay claim to as iconic a performance as Rick in Casablanca?
Perhaps Peter was drawn to Bogart's inimitable loner quality. After playing second fiddle to Greg and babysitter to Bobby, I'm sure he idealized the lifestyle set forth by one of Hollywood's leading men. Bogart needed no one, and he sure as Hell wouldn't have let Cindy tattle on him.
Though Peter ultimately became content with Peter (thank God, two more years would have been a little too much "porkchops and applesauce"), I can't help but think even more of him for respecting the great Bogie.
Peter wasn't confused about his identity. He was cool.