In 2016, Netflix will bring back Full House after a 21-year absence, something we think is a terrible idea. A lot is being made about the recent slew of “rebooted” television series from the ‘90s – which, yes, includes Fuller House, more X-Files and another season of Twin Peaks. (I use “reboot” loosely because these are more continuations of an established story than a true reboot.) It’s a new phenomenon! Even though it’s really not. Still, I wanted to find an example a television show from the ‘90s that brought back an entity from two decades earlier – preferably a comedy, something that truly parallels Full House. This led me to a show that used to air at the same time as the original Full House — The Bradys.
The Bradys was a 1990 CBS continuation of The Brady Bunch, though this new series decided to ditch the concept of a half-hour comedy and, instead, transform the series into an hour-long drama. First, could you imagine the Internet uproar if something like this show were released today? Not only the (justified) claims about nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia, but the fact that it was an honest to goodness drama? This really would be like if Fuller House took itself completely seriously and we, the audience, were expected to just accept all of this as normal. They even took the original Brady Bunch theme song and made it more… serious?
The strangest thing about comparing The Bradys and Fuller House is that when The Bradys premiered, it really did seem like it had been a lifetime since The Brady Bunch had gone off the air, and everyone in the cast who had been in the original series looked significantly older. But The Brady Bunch ended its run in 1974, meaning that its return as The Bradys was five years less than the gap between Full House and Fuller House — and not to mention that John Stamos doesn’t even look like he’s aged that much, if at all. (When Robert Reed played Mike Brady in The Bradys, he was 57 years old; John Stamos is only five years younger.) Yet, it really doesn’t seem all that long ago that Full House was on the air.
(The Bradys was actually the seventh separate Brady entity: Following the original series, there was The Brady Kids cartoon, The Brady Bunch Hour variety show, The Brady Girls Get Married television movie, The Brady Brides series that lasted 10 episodes, and the A Very Brady Christmas television movie. And yet, it was still a very odd thing for The Bradys to ever exist, even though maybe it shouldn’t have been.)
Watching these episodes now, the new, serious tone of The Bradys is set in the first episode when Bobby Brady (Mike Lookinland) is paralyzed from the waist down after a racing accident. (Reading that sentence again, I still feel like there’s no way that can be true.) Remember, The Brady Bunch was a television show with plots featuring the pressing concerns about a swollen nose, or how puberty can cause a voice to crack, or meeting Davy Jones. Now, all of a sudden, Bobby Brady is a paraplegic. (It’s not too surprising that The Bradys would only last six episodes. Or that, five years later, a parody movie would be made that would win its debut weekend.)
In the third episode, “A Moving Experience,” the Bradys are informed that the Department of Transportation wants to build a new freeway off-ramp through the location that their house currently sits. Mike then organizes a neighborhood protest, which leads Mike to a new political career, running for city councilman – a position Mike balks at initially because, “Men with mustaches don’t run for office.” He may be right. (Oh yeah, in the end, they just decide to move the house, which at first I thought was a joke until I remembered this show is now a drama.)