Sports On TV: The Brady Bunch’s 20 Greatest Sports Moments

“Here’s the story, of a lovely lady…”

‘The Brady Bunch’ is one of my favorite shows of all-time. Its reruns were my first real, sustained exposure to popular culture from before I was born, and something about a house full of lingo-spewing, disco-monster siblings appealed to an only child from the 80s. And hey, thankfully for me (and the Sports On TV column) the show is full of sports content, be it memorable (like Joe Namath showing up in a dream sequence to reveal he couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without a buck-toothed 8-year old) or the obscure (Wes Parker? Really?).

If you’ve never watched ‘The Brady Bunch’, flip through the column anyway. I’ve included applicable clips when possible, and at the very least you’ll want to see a Pony League game set to funk music. Show it to your parents or something.

And now, the 20 greatest sports moments from ‘The Brady Bunch’. Keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on clickin’ on through the post.

More Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell | Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Parks And Recreation | Married… With Children | 30 Rock | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee

Episode: “The Dropout” (season 2 episode 1)

What Happens: Architect Mike Brady gets the job of designing a house for Hall Of Fame Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Don Drysdale and introduces him to his children. Drysdale exchanges a few pleasantries with Greg, Bobby and Peter and compliments Greg on his Pony League slider. Because “a small amount of success” is the worst thing that can happen to a Brady kid, Greg gets egotistical about his pitching ability and vows to drop out of high school (and junior high, for that matter) to sign with the Dodgers in the big leagues. At his next Pony League game, Greg gives up 12 runs in the first inning.

Key line: “Are you kidding? You better believe it, my oldest, Greg, out there. He thinks you’re a combination of George Washington, Neil Armstrong and the guy who invented pizza.”

Once ‘The Brady Bunch’ became a success, every Los Angeles-based anybody came wandering into the Brady home. Monkees, astronauts, you name it … if they existed in 1970 and could drive to southern California, they showed up so a Brady kid could bug-eye at them, say their name and preface/follow it with a “wow”. You don’t give a shit about Desi Arnaz, Jr., Marcia, somebody paid you to be that impressed.

Anyway, CBS’s YouTube page has a great clip from the episode, highlighting its two best parts: Mike’s earnest, reasoned speech about how the things you love should only be a part of a balanced life, and the 30 seconds of Little League footage from 1968 or whatever with a hard funk soundtrack. I’m pretty sure everybody in this clip is my Uncle:

Recurring theme in this list: I wish my Dad was Mike Brady.

Episode: “Treasure of Sierra Avenue” (season 2 episode 7)

What Happens: While playing football in an abandoned lot in Los Angeles (because it was the late 1960s and they could just drive their bikes across L.A. and nobody abducted or murdered them), the Brady boys find a wallet filled with $1,100. They turn it in to the police, with the idea that if nobody claims it, they can keep it. This, of course, turns into a stressful clash of egos with every child in the house planning how to spend their share (and the girls claiming half, despite doing literally nothing). Eventually a forgetful old man claims the wallet and offers the boys a reward, but Mike sorta lords over them in the background until it gets as small as possible.

Key line: “Boys should learn at an early age that girls are gonna cost them money for the rest of their lives.”

It’s great to go back into old sitcoms and see how football was treated before it became AMERICA in capital letters. In season 2 of the Brady Bunch, they’ve got one helmet to share and Bobby’s role in the game is to “run after the ball”. If this show was on the air now the kids would either be aggressive about it, or be video game-obsessed brats with spiky hair who only wear football jerseys when the Super Bowl is on. In addition to liking this show because I never had brothers or sisters, I like a show about kids who are forced to play outside, because the only thing inside is framed pictures of clowns.

Fun fact: the guy who played Mr. Stoner (the old man who claims the wallet) was a character actor in films of the 30s and 40s until McCarthyism got him blacklisted in the 50s. By the time Hollywood blacklisting was over, he was stuck slumming it in guest roles on shows like this or playing “desk clerk” on an episode of ‘All In The Family’. So, uh, he probably really would’ve missed that 1100 dollars. Sorry you didn’t get a rowboat or whatever, Pete.

Episode: “Click” (season 3, episode 11)

What Happens: Greg wants to join Westdale High School’s football team, but Carol (having previously only raised girls, particularly girls who never do anything more athletic than riding a see-saw) is afraid he’ll get hurt. He joins the team anyway, and in true A Christmas Story-style karmic payoff, fractures a rib and gets booted from first-string. While taking obnoxious photos of his cheerleader girlfriend doing arbitrary cheers at the end of the game for no reason, Greg accidentally snaps an action shot of a receiver’s feet inbounds, giving the coach ammunition to fight the referee’s call and earn a new spot on the team: as team photographer.

Key line: “Coach, the ribs are nothing, it’s telling my mother that’s gonna be painful!”

By season 3, Greg is sliding headfirst into puberty, and goes from being a little kid impressed by Don Drysdale’s slider to being a weird man-child in purple pants who invites a cheerleader over to his house and makes her do routines silently while he takes thousands of pictures. Today, a simple unsolicited Facebook friend request would cut his work in half.

One of the best parts of the episode is that (we can only assume) Greg’s photo didn’t help his team at all. They mention in passing that it’s “hard to challenge a judgment call” and Mike is all “yeah w/e the coach was happy BUT WHO CARES GREG TELL YOUR MOTHER YOUR NEWS”. They build an entire episode around this twist and just throw the transitional squares up on screen and move on to an Alice cake recipe gag. The cheerleader never shows up again (probably because she found out those pictures were just to hang on a clothesline in Greg’s room) and Greg says nuts to photography and just rejoins the football team without incident a season later. W/e.

Episode: “The Teeter-Totter Caper” (season 3, episode 14)

What Happens: Feeling unimportant, Bobby and Cindy Brady set out to break the world’s record for longest time spent on a “teeter-totter” (what people in California call a seesaw … sorta like how they call a school a “skewl”). They fail, but they stay on the thing all day, causing enough interest to have a reporter visit the house and put the kids’ picture in the next morning’s newspaper.

Key line: “I hereby proclaim Cindy and Bobby Brady Junior Teeter-Totter Champions Of The World!” *facetious “yays”*

I don’t want to be that guy, but at one point in the episode Cindy gets Alice to sub in for her while she goes to the bathroom, so I’m pretty sure even the magical “Junior Teeter-Totter Champions Of The World” title Carol bestows upon them (like she’s got that power) is bogus. The only things Cindy actually accomplished in five seasons of this show was an elementary school jacks championship and getting Peter punched in the face by Buddy Hinton.

Every time I watch this episode I get the urge to go try to break a teeter-totter record of my own, then put way too much effort into finding a playground with a seesaw only to go “oh my god, this murders my crotch, this is not made for grown-ups” and meander back home like a chump to watch DVDs.

Episode: “The Big Bet” (season 3, episode 18)

What Happens: Bobby does five chin-ups at school and decides he’s hot shit. He challenges Greg to a chin-up-off, and ultimately a bet is made — If the much larger, much stronger Greg can do twice as many chin-ups as “shrimpo” Bobby, Bobby must be his slave for a week; if he can’t, Greg has to do everything Bobby says. Greg doesn’t think anything of it, but Bobby takes the contest deadly seriously and covers the spread, doing 11 chin-ups to Greg’s 19. Bob’s demands are simple (chores, bike maintenance, shoe shining), but it takes it too far when he tags along on a date to the drive-in.

Key line: “Well look, Greg, it may seem a little rough, but when you make a bet, you have to be prepared to pay it off. Okay, maybe next time you’ll remember: no bet is a sure thing.”

While it starts off as a sort of Tortoise and Hare thing, the Bobby/Greg bet escalates into one of those amazingly hilarious Mike Brady lessons where a classic code of ethics is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. A normal parent would go, “okay Bobby, don’t be weird, let Greg go on his date and when he gets back you can boss him around some more”. Extend the time of the bet or something. But no, Mike says Greg has made a bet and he must honor it to the letter. This coming from the guy who almost wouldn’t let his family into a detergent commercial because he wasn’t sure that detergent was really the best and DID NOT WANT TO LIE TO AMERICA.

If I was Greg, my solution to a 10-year old sitting in my backseat at a drive-in movie just to cockblock me with pizza requests would be to turn around and punch him in his face, because Bobby never said “don’t punch me in the face”. If he doesn’t say it immediately following the first punch, punch him again. It works with the bet, and Mike would have to respect it.

Episode: “Hawaii Bound” (season 4, episode 1)

What Happens: The Brady Bunch go to Hawaii, hoping to top their last vacation, a trip to the Grand Canyon that involved them being locked in a jail cell, almost losing Bobby and Cindy in the wilderness and being embarrassing in front of a bunch of Indians. Here, Greg enters a surfing contest and does great until it’s revealed that the tiki Bobby gave him to wear around his neck as a good luck charm is CURSED~. Greg wipes out and the Bradys act like he’s dead, because they’ve never seen somebody fall off of a surfboard before.

Key line: Tiki noise!

Brady Bunch vacation episodes are the worst. After nearly dying on two vacations in a row (seriously, Hawaii involved the boys being tied up in a cave and held at spear-point by Vincent Price), they go to the crummy Ohio version of King’s Dominion and even manage to screw THAT up. They should’ve just stayed at home. If they’d gotten another season, Cousin Oliver would’ve dragged them to the Snake Farm Zoo along I-35 and “accidentally” shoved them into the cobra pit.

There are two great things about the cursed tiki they find. Firstly, it doesn’t really do anything bad to them until they try to return it and break the curse. Seriously, if we blame the tiki for everything, this is what it does:

1. Makes a hanging decoration fall off a wall and almost hit Bobby, because Greg THREW A PILLOW AT THE HANGING DECORATION

2. Makes Alice throw her back out during a hula lesson, which could not have possibly happened without mysterious Hawaiian curses

3. Makes Jan’s hand almost touch a spider

4. Makes a spider crawl on Peter briefly without hurting him

That’s it. When they try to return it, they almost get stabbed to death by a crazy asshole with a spear. Oh, and second great thing about the cursed tiki: they have to return it to the TOMB OF THE KING or whatever like they’re in ‘Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare’, which we never see them do. They just walk onto the screen at the end and go OKAY WE RETURNED IT.

Episode: “The Subject Was Noses” (season 4, episode 18)

What Happens: Marcia makes a date with high school football star Doug Simpson, forgetting that she’s already agreed to go out with well-meaning, not-a-high-school-football-star Charley. Because she is horrible and vain, Marcia decides to lie to Charley using Greg’s patented “something suddenly came up” (used for an expertly-crafted boner joke in The Brady Bunch Movie). Karma comes back around to bite her in the ass when she gets within 100 feet of Peter Brady’s shitty throwing arm and takes a football to the nose. Guess which date still cares about her with a gnarly nose injury?

Key line: “Hey you guys, OHH MY NOSE!”

Now I’ll never be a teen model!

This is one of the most quoted, famous clips from the show (right behind “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”), but the thing to keep an eye on is what a terrible job of throwing Peter Brady does. Bobby runs straight and turns around. Peter throws the ball as hard as he can like 80 feet to Bobby’s right like he’s trying to launch it over their house. Was he just being a dick? It’s never mentioned in the episode, but the Brady’s have those big sliding glass doors all along the back of their house, and I think Peter saw Marcia coming and launched it at her face. This is the guy who once had a doppleganger (for real) and almost killed himself when he had to play Benedict Arnold in a school play. He had it in him.

At least he wasn’t playing ball in the house. That entry is later. Remember Peter’s football toss when you get there.

Episode: “Mail Order Hero” (season 5, episode 2)

What Happens: Bobby lies to his friends and says he knows legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, but they don’t believe him. To get Joe Namath to his house, Bobby pretends to be terminally ill and Cindy writes a bunch of Stan-esque letters to Broadway Joe about how Bobby’ll die if he doesn’t get an autographed picture and throw a few passes. Namath arrives, finds out Bobby’s faking it, and still just gives him an autograph and throws passes with him in front of his friends. Mike briefly mentions punishment for the kids (“penalized for illegal procedure”), but nothing comes of it, and the episode ends with Mike hooking up with Carol for no reason.

Key line: “I wanna kiss you. I couldn’t care less about the team struggalling.”

True story: I watched ‘The Brady Bunch’ a lot in re-runs as a kid, and this episode having no real moral payoff besides Bobby getting everything he wanted gave me the idea that if I ever met Pamela Anderson at a mall (I don’t know why it had to be a mall, I was like 11) I could convince her that I was dying and get her to make out with me. I do not have the serendipity of a Brady child.

Also a true story: Drunk Joe Namath “struggalling” to get through an interview is about as well-spoken as Joe Namath trying to deliver Sherwood Schwartz lines. When he wishes everyone goodbye, he just kinda drifts away through their backyard instead of going through the house like a normal person or via the driveway. Sadly we don’t get any shots of him trying to hop their fence.

Episode: “Quarterback Sneak” (season 5, episode 9)

What Happens: Marcia becomes romantically involved with Jerry Rogers, star quarterback of the rival Fairview High School football team, and refuses to believe it when Bobby sees Jerry try to steal Greg’s Westdale High playbook. They set it up to give Jerry another chance to steal the book (a phony version, filled with all the wrong plays), and he takes the bait. When Mike hears about this, the SWORD OF MORALITY comes down and Greg calls Jerry to let him know the book he stole was a fake. Jerry doesn’t believe it and blows the game for Fairview, but he’s got some sweet 1974 Colts and Raiders posters, so he’s got that going for him.

Key line: “Get ready to apologize!” “You mean you better get ready to find another creep to go out with!” “Oh yeah? It takes one to know one!” “Well then you two should be really happy together!” “AUHHH”

The football stock footage used in this episode (and in the image for this entry) is the exact same footage used for the game in ‘Click’ (the “football photography” entry), and I’d go off on a big rant about Paramount Pictures being cheapskates who can’t organize a scrimmage football game with uniforms and film it, but hell, ‘Saved By The Bell’ used Ohio State footage for their high school football shots so this is still pretty high on the spectrum of quality.

I think in the five years this show was on, Marcia dated every regional football player. If Peter had held onto a football long enough he probably could’ve nailed his own stepsister.

Episode: “The Hustler” (season 5, episode 21)

What Happens: Thurston Howell III from ‘Gilligan’s Island’ buys the Brady Bunch a pool table, and Bobby quickly discovers his aptitude for billiards dominance despite the dissenting voices of his siblings and the Scrappy-Doo-like quippy bullshittery of Cousin Oliver. He fantasizes about becoming a pool champion and obsessively starts betting in matches against everyone, including the guy who bought the pool table. In an interesting turn for ‘The Brady Bunch’, Bobby handles his skill well, simply defeats everyone he plays and ends up the episode up 256 packs of chewing gum with no ethical Sword of Damocles hanging over his head.

Key line: “Don’t worry, he’ll miss.” “Yeah but I might not be until tomorrow!”

Two shames:

1. ‘The Brady Bunch’ got kinda canceled out of nowhere, so it doesn’t have a series finale. This filler episode about Bobby getting a pool table is the second-to-last episode ever, followed by an episode where Greg accidentally dyes his hair. That’s it. No real resolution to “the story of a lovely lady”, unless you count the crummy 80s shows and TV movies (which I don’t) or 1995’s The Brady Bunch Movie’s idea that the Bradys just stopped aging after 1974 (which I totally do).

2. It’s been said a lot, but Cousin Oliver is really the worst. This little John Denver-looking motherf**ker showed up like the Black Racer and brought the death of ‘The Brady Bunch’, becoming a trope and a syndrome all his own. The actor who played him, Robbie Rist, seems cool enough (he voiced Michaelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, after all), but Oliver is just television’s anus … a weird, time-displaced Angus T. Jones, artificially quipping his ass off on shows that don’t require it. If the show had ended with Oliver being shot out of a cannon into a brick wall, it wouldn’t have been satisfying enough.

Episode: “Fistful Of Reasons” (season 2, episode 8)

What Happens: Perpetual lisper Cindy Brady gets taunted and mocked for her speech impediment by school bully Buddy Hinton. Peter sticks up for her, but his reluctance to fight gets him the same treatment (“Hey chicken! Hey Peter Chicken!”). After a pair of failed attempts by Mike and Carol to reason with Buddy’s parents (who are total, total assholes) and a black eye, it becomes clear — Peter must knock Buddy Hinton the f**k out the next time he tries to start some shit.

Key line: ♪ “Baby talk, baby talk, it’s a wonder you can walk!” ♪

Peter’s training regiment is great. He jumps rope with Marcia, learns “the ol’ buzzsaw defense” from Alice and spars with Greg in the backyard while his dad eggs him on. With Bobby there it’s one video camera away from being Boyfights, but the training pays off when Buddy goes too far and Pete goes all Sonny Corleone on him. A left hook knocks Buddy’s tooth loose and gives him a speech impediment, the ultimate comeuppance. The only thing that would’ve made it better would’ve been Peter stomping his knee and adding a cool, “it’s a wonder you can walk”.

Weird aside to this story, you’d think that’d be the end of the Pete/Buddy Hinton beef, but Peter shows up several episodes later with a black eye and just sorta mentions in passing that he’d gotten “into another fight with Buddy Hinton”, but it’s never explained, and is just a thing to make Carol look like a bad mom in front of the people from Tomorrow’s Woman Magazine. Still, I wish I knew the entire saga. TO THE FAN FICTION!

Episode: “The Drummer Boy” (season 2, episode 16)

What Happens: In an episode that is mostly about Bobby getting a drum kit, Peter Brady gives 5-year old Ryan Murphy the idea for ‘Glee’ when he makes the school choir and gets taunted for being a sissy by his friends on the football team. Ryan Murphy gets his ideas for constant ‘Glee’ guest stars by watching Hall Of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones show up randomly to tell kids not to call singers sissy, because football guys sing. He gets his ideas for the rest of the show by putting his head up his ass.

Key line: “If singing was sissy stuff, we’d be missing a lot of good men in sports.”

This is another great example of how between 1969-1974, anybody living in/from/playing for/stopping by Los Angeles would and could be encountered by a Brady kid. There’s really no reason for Deacon Jones to show up at Peter Brady’s junior high school football practice (especially when he should be at RAMS practice, as he mentions), but he does, and thankfully he sings with some other guys from the team and can solve Peter’s immediate problem. 1960s kid taunting is hilarious. “Peter’s a songbird! Sing us a song, songbird! SONGBIRD!”

Deacon’s examples of other athletes who sing include former Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Rosey Grier, Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion boxer Joe Frazier, and Bobby Brady’s quarterback friend Joe Namath. Not mentioned: the 1985 Chicago Bears, whose awesomeness should’ve transcended time and space.

Episode: “54-40 And Fight” (season 1, episode 15)

What Happens: A trading stamp company announces it’s going out of business, leaving the Bradys with 94 books of stamps they have to turn in or lose. The boys want a rowboat. The girls want a sewing machine. HEADS ARE ABOUT TO ROLL until the family settles the dispute the only way they know how: a house-of-cards-building competition. Yep. I think they should’ve made them potato sack race for it.

Key line: “Me first!” “Why you?” “‘Cause I’m a lady!” “Aaaawwhhhh” “I am a lady, if you say I’m not, I’ll bop you!”

Trading stamps were sorta like loyalty cards before loyalty cards were a thing. Imagine a Subway Sub Club card for “stuff”. You’d spend money at certain stores and earn stamps, and when you’d collected enough of them you could turn them in for premiums, i.e. rowboats and sewing machines. This is probably the most dated thing the Brady Bunch does in five seasons, which is saying something for a family that spent 1971-1974 wearing purple hip-huggers and butterfly collars.

The house of cards competition goes down to the wire, but ultimately the disappearing/suddenly reappearing family dog Tiger rushes in and rams the thing, giving the girls an unfair and undeserved victory. Because they probably realize this, they forego the sewing machine in favor of something the whole family can enjoy (because only girls can enjoy a sewing machine): a color television. The TV brings them Jesse James movies, news reports about women’s liberation and episodes of the Cartoon King for the remainder of the show.

Episode: “The Undergraduate” (season 1, episode 17)

What Happens: Greg’s grades begin to suffer when he won’t stop day-dreaming about “Linda”, a mystery girl who turns out to be his teacher, Ms. (Linda) O’Hara. Nobody’s really sure what to do about the situation until it’s discovered that Linda’s boyfriend is 6-time Gold Glove winner and otherwise not-that-great Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker. Parker promises Greg two tickets to Dodgers Opening Day if he scores an “A” on the next test, and because he’s 12 or whatever he goes with it.

Key line: “Wow … a real live Dodger!”

Wes Parker has got to be one of the most random television guest stars of all-time. Imagine if journeyman catcher Brad Ausmus suddenly showed up on an episode of ‘New Girl’. Now imagine that thirty years have passed since that guest appearance. Pretty weird, right?

The Graduate was a big deal around this time, so every TV show from X until now had an episode playing on it. Both ‘The Brady Bunch’ and its Go-Bots, ‘The Partridge Family’, had episodes called ‘The Undergraduate’. So did ‘Married … With Children’, ‘Dream On’, ‘Charles In Charge’ and ‘Life With Louie’. Not that good of a play on words, guys.

Ugh, now I’m going to spend the next 15 minutes searching for episodes called ‘The Unnatural’.

Episode: “The Grass Is Always Greener” (season 1, episode 24)

What Happens: In a revolutionary plot twist that has never been done on television again, Mike and Carol decide the other sex’s job is easier and switch roles to prove their point. Mike has to help Marcia cook a meal to earn a cooking merit badge, and Carol has to help Greg, Peter and Bobby with their baseball practice. That stance you see in the picture is Carol teaching them how to bunt. No, seriously. By the end of the day, both parents are too beaten up to care.

Key line: “Always remember that too many onions and too much garlic…” “Will keep the shortstop away from the third baseman.”

I’ll let this clip speak for itself. It’s like watching Tom Emanski win back-to-back-to-back championships.

Episode: “Confessions Confessions” (season 2, episode 12)

What Happens: Greg tries to shoot free-throws into a wastebasket despite his mother “always saying” not to play ball in the house. Peter intercepts the shot, turns and makes a shot of his own … but in another example of Pete’s demon arm taking over and deliberately causing chaos (see also: “The Subject Was Noses”), he just hurls the ball into the f**king hallway where it bounces around and breaks their mom’s favorite vase. Look at the trajectory of that thing. There is no way he was trying to throw that into the basket at his feet. SHE ALWAYS WARNED YOU ABOUT THIS, PETER.

Key line: “Awww no!” “Mom’s favorite vase.” “She always said, don’t play ball in the house!”

This is one of the best-ever episodes of ‘The Brady Bunch’. Peter breaks the vase. His parents KNOW he broke the vase, despite all the other kids covering for him, but he doesn’t want to fess up because it’ll ruin his camping trip. They let him stew in it and trust him to come forward with the truth, which he does when he’s on the porch, about to leave for the camping trip. It’s an example of parents raising a child to be a good person, then letting him BE good without aggressively demanding it. I wish that happened more often. My parents never gave me the benefit of the doubt for anything.

Also, this episode reminds me of one of my favorite Nick At Nite promos, where ‘Brady Bunch’ footage astutely proves that in 117 episodes, Carol never actually says the phrase she “always says”.

I miss you, Nick At Nite. Stop playing things made by George Lopez.

Episode: “Getting Greg’s Goat” (season 5, episode 6)

What Happens: Because he didn’t learn a goddamn thing from that episode about stealing another high school’s playbook, Greg is instrumental in stealing and housing “Raquel”, the goat mascot from local rival Coolidge High School. He tries to clandestinely care for the goat with trays of fruit and guitar music, but eventually she gets loose and ruins an emergency PTA meeting in the Brady living room. Because that’s the kind of thing that happens to real families in real life.

Key line: “That’s Coolidge High School’s mascot. Greg must’ve been one of the guys to lift it off.” “Wow, Greg’s gonna be famous.” “You mean ‘expelled’.”

Greg’s punishment for stealing a goat is a 5,000 word essay on the evils of mascot stealing (“in conclusion, mascot stealing can be compared and contrasted”) and gets the ass eaten out of his best pair of jeans. Poor Carol and Alice are stuck spraying down the house, because a f**king goat ran around in it.

It’s pretty telling that I’ve only done nine Sports On TV columns and four of them involve high school mascot theft. In addition to this goat caper, Carlton gets stolen and put in a bird cage on ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’, Screech gets kidnapped and replaced by an impostor before The Big Cheerleading Competition on ‘Saved By The Bell’ and Bobby Hill nabs Mr. Crackers The Armadillo on ‘King Of The Hill’. I had no idea that was such a sitcom staple, and I’m sad ‘The Wire’ never shot a mascot to death and hid him in a vacant, or whatever.

Episode: “The Elopement” (season 5, episode 12)

What Happens: Jan and Marcia eavesdrop on a conversation about elopement between Alice and long-time boyfriend Sam The Butcher, so they jump to the conclusion that Sam and Alice are eloping and tell everyone they’ve ever met. Alice and Sam go bowling (they really “take the starch outta that laundry team”), and when they return home the series of misunderstandings has reached critical mass a la Three’s Company and the Brady’s have set up their entire living room for a CONGRATS ON HOW YOU JUST ELOPED AND GOT MARRIED party. Sam’s cool with it, because they have booze.

Key line: “Now Alice, you take all the time you need.” “Oh, thanks, but Sam can never stay awake very long after we’ve been bowling.”

Sam The Butcher is one of the great television characters of this era because he never really GETS a character … he’s just a guy who works at the butcher shop, dates a 50-year old housekeeper and cares more about cutting meat and hanging out with his friends than starting a family. This is the most alien concept ever to serial, psychotic monogamists Mike and Carol Brady who reproduced with their first spouses non-stop until their deaths, then immediately moved on to each other and brainwashed their families into thinking they were all blood relations.

Alice and Sam actually get engaged at the end of the episode, but the show gets canceled 10 episodes and one Cousin Oliver later, so nothing comes of it. I think Sam would’ve liked it that way.

Episode: “Greg’s Triangle” (season 4, episode 11)

What Happens: Greg backs out of a father/son golf game for a date with a gold-digging cheerleading hopeful named Jennifer, so Carol goes into intensive golf training to be Mike’s new back-up partner. It’s the spiritual successor to the “Carol teaching the boys to bunt” episode, as Carol shows no athletic aptitude or ability to follow basic directions despite mentioning earlier in the show’s run that she used to play golf all the time. Also in the episode, Peter and Bobby argue over who had the better passing average, Joe Namath or Roman Gabriel, and Marcia tries out for Head Cheerleader, a position she loses to “Pat”, played by a young Rita Wilson, aka Mrs. Tom Hanks, aka the mother of CHET HAZE.

Key line: “Guess we’d better try that again, huh Alice?” “Next time holler FORE, would ya?”

I don’t know what happened to the actress who played Jennifer, Tannis G. Montgomery (aside from her defecting to ‘The Partridge Family’ a year later), but Tannis, if you’re out there googling your name, ‘sup.

One of the better parts of the episode is that the golf is very low key … they aren’t practicing for the BIG ANNUAL FATHER/SON TOURNAMENT FOR ALL THE MARBLES OF ARCHITECTURE or whatever, it’s just a game between one of Mike’s friends and that guy’s “overgrown son”. When Greg bails for a date, Mike just goes “ehh okay whatever” and plays without him. Even Carol’s training goes nowhere, she’s just practicing in case Mike needs her again in the future. Which he won’t, because he’s a putting master who knows Shakespeare and can math you to death on the course.

Episode: “Jan The Only Child” (season 4, episode 8)

What Happens: Jan is sick of having siblings, so in typical emo Jan fashion, she demands to be treated as an only child. Her brothers and sisters become “invisible” to her, and while it seems fun at first, the alienation becomes too much to handle and drives Jan into an even deeper depression. The final straw: she cannot just stand by and watch people POTATO SACK RACE without joining in.

Key line: “On your mark! Get set! GO!” *potato sack excitement shouting*

Thank God for a well-timed potato sack race, or else Jan wouldn’t have gotten over her awkward stage and joined the Brady family for the annual HO-DOWN. That’s the best part of this, you think the episode is over when they f**king potato sack race, but one commercial break later they’re walking into the kitchen wearing cowboy outfits. I would give anything to be a part of a family this big, loving and impossibly lame.

I’m sad Jan didn’t have more sports moments, though. I didn’t get to write about her glasses making her look positively goofy, I only got to write in passing about Marcia Marcia Marcia and I won’t have an opportunity to follow-up on Jan getting SMOKING HOT ALL OF A SUDDEN by the end of season 5. Ah well, there’s always a Sports On TV: 20 More Great Sports Moment From The Brady Bunch, where I’ll have to stretch it and make “going to amusement parks” a sport.