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The Brady Bunch - The Complete First Season


TITLE: THE BRADY BUNCH - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005 (Paramount Home Video)
Color
MSRP: $38.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 10 hours and 52 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; No Subtitles; Closed captioned
Special Features: 3 Audio Commentaries - 1 by Creator/Executive Producer Sherwood Schwartz on "The Honeymoon" pilot episode; Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Susan Olsen on "A-Camping We Will Go" and "The Hero"; "The Brady Bunch - Coming Together Under One Roof" Featurette


Introduction:

Here's the story... of America's grooviest TV sitcom family! It's the story of The Brady Bunch, and in this premiere DVD collection, The Brady Bunch: The Complete First Season, you'll see how one of television's best-loved comedy series made its popular debut in 1969. Architect Mike Brady (Robert Reed) is a widower with three sons - Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight) and Bobby (Mike Lookinland). He meets a similarly single parent, Carol Ann Tyler Martin (Florence Henderson), who has three daughters of her own: Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb) and Cindy (Susan Olsen). Mike and Carol decide to marry, and the combination of six kids, one dog (Tiger) and a housekeeper (Alice, played by Ann B. Davis) all gathered under one split-level suburban rooftop are guaranteed to lead to love, laughter - and a whole lot of chaos. From the pandemonium of Mike and Carol's wedding day to the instant sibling rivalries that sprout among the newly merged Brady boys and Brady girls, here are all 25 first-season (1969-70) episodes of this wildly popular and fondly remembered series. It's the way they all became The Brady Bunch!


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The Brady Bunch premiered on ABC on September 26, 1969 with the pilot episode "The Honeymoon." Other memorable episodes included "Dear Libby" in which Marcia reads a newspaper advice column where the anonymous author is unhappy over a merged-family situation similar to that of the Brady's. Jan comes down with a mysterious allergy and Carol and Alice try to determine just what is causing it in "Katchoo". Mike invites Carol and the girls on the family camping trip, to the disgust of the boys in "A-Camping We Will Go". When Mike and Carol decide to sell their home and buy a larger one that will better accommodate their family, the kids come up with a creative way to scare off any prospective buyers in "To Move or Not To Move." Notable 1st season guest stars included J. Pat O'Malley, Dabbs Greer, Brian Forster (the 2nd Chris Partridge on "The Partridge Family"), Hal Smith, Marion Ross, Herbert Anderson, Brian Nash (from "Please Don't Eat the Daisies"), Gordon Jump, and Desi Arnaz Jr. Allan Melvin makes his first appearance in the recurring role of Sam Franklin in "Sorry, Right Number."


Packaging:

This set has one of the most unique covers that I've seen for a tv show release. It has the well-known Brady Bunch checkerboard grid with a lenticular cover. When you turn it from side to side and you are in good light, you can see the cast's faces move in different directions as you saw on the show. The overall theme of the set is yellow and blue. The back of the box gives some details on the set and special features and has a photo of the cast on the stairs. There are 2 slimcases inside the box. The front of the cases feature 5 different photos on each, and the backs of the cases list the episode titles with some pretty detailed summaries and the original airdates. Two single sided discs can be found in each case. Inside the cases, there are a few quotes from the episodes with the often used photo of the cast standing on the stairs. Disc 1 pictures Carol and Mike and has episodes 1-7. Disc 2 has a photo of Marcia and Greg with episodes 8-13. Disc 3 shows Peter and Jan and includes episodes 14-19. Disc 4 has a shot of Cindy and Bobby and contains episodes 20-25 and the "Coming Together Under One Roof" featurette.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very colorful in pastels and feature various photos on each disc. The episodes are listed vertically in white text in 2 columns. I think it would have been nice if they included a snippet of the 1st season theme song which was performed by the Peppermint Trolley Company on the menus. There is an additional single photo on the sub-menus for the episodes which have audio commentaries. All discs have a Play All button and there is a Previews option for some other Paramount TV DVD releases (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and MacGyver) that run over 4 minutes on the 1st disc. There are chapter stops within the episodes, but there are no separate menus for scene selections.


Video and Audio Quality:

I was impressed with the overall video and audio quality of the episodes. The episodes have likely been digitally remastered like some of the other Paramount releases. There is a little bit of dirt and debris in some scenes, but the color looks good and the picture is sharp. The episodes are well spread out over 4 discs, so there are no compression problems. All episodes appear to be unedited, running over 25 and a half minutes in length with the pilot episode under 25 minutes. Syndicated episodes typically run about 22 minutes, so there is a lot of "new" footage that hasn't been seen in a number of years. It seems like Paramount used a variety of prints, so some scenes that were cut out of syndication and re-inserted onto the dvd sets can sometimes have a less sharp picture, be a little more faded, and have some other minor video problems. As an extra surprise, the original bumpers "The Brady Bunch - In Color" are shown at the start of the episodes. The bumpers featured a still photo of the cast on the stairs with about 7 seconds of music playing in the background. These haven't been shown in syndication in a number of years. I noticed atleast 2 different versions of the bumper - one of a long shot of the cast and the other appears closer up and possibly cropped. For the closing logo enthusiasts, there is the red, white, and blue closing Paramount logo that was used at the time. The audio track is standard Digital 2.0 Mono. There are no issues with the audio as everything is at a good volume and easy to hear. Closed captioning is available on all episodes. The episodes are presented in their original airdate order.


Special Features:

A good amount of special features are included on this set. There are 3 episode audio commentaries and a featurette featuring new interviews with the cast and crew. Creator and executive producer provides a commentary on the pilot episode "The Honeymoon." He discusses how he devised the checkerboard opening to introduce the cast and he wrote the theme song lyrics. He says the kids were delightful to work with, but Robert Reed was a bit of a problem at times. He comments on the scene between Robert Reed and Mike Lookinland in which Bobby hides the photo of his mother. One of the most asked questions for Brady Bunch fans is who is the woman in that photo. I've never seen a definitive answer, and unfortunately he doesn't mention it. Other aspects of shooting the pilot are also discussed including the scenes with the cat and dog. Dogs are apparently much easier to direct. His commentary is not non stop throughout the episode, but he does offer some interesting info and insights on the pilot and the series in general. Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Susan Olsen provide the commentary for the 2 episodes: "A-Camping We Will Go" and "The Hero" which Chris apparently selected. They genuinely seemed to enjoy being together and laughed a lot during the commentaries. They make a lot of observations as they watch the episodes. Of course, it doesn't take long for Barry to mention how hot he thought Florence Henderson was who he dated a season or two later. The commentaries were quite fun to listen to, and I wouldn't have minded if they had included a few more. It would have been nice if they were able to get the other 3 kids to do commentaries, but perhaps it will only be the 3 that do commentaries for all 5 seasons. It's likely they recorded all of the commentaries in one day.

The Brady Bunch - Coming Together Under One Roof is a 17 and a half minute featurette found on the 4th disc. Interviews include Sherwood Swartz, Barry Williams, LLoyd Schwartz (Sherwood's son who worked on the show in various capacities including dialogue coach), Susan Olsen, Mike Lookinland, Christopher Knight,, and Lauren Johnson (author of "The Brady Bunch Files"). There is probably not any new information that the die-hard Brady Bunch fan who has read all the books or watched all the tv specials didn't already know. Sherwood Schwartz tells how he got the idea of the series and then talks about how everyone was cast. He said they needed 2 sets of kids depending on the hair color of the parents. 1,100 kids were auditioned. Mike Lookinland mentions that he was the last to be cast. This was a nice feature that gives a good general history of the show.


Final Comments:

Overall, this is a very nice first release by Paramount. I am a bit disappointed that they didn't give the same treatment as far as special features with their earlier releases of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy. I've been a Brady Bunch fan for years and have watched the show in syndication in many times, but I've never seen the complete, unedited episodes. It is fun to see whole scenes and little snippets that I had never seen before. This set is a good value with 25 episodes and some nice extras and a clever cover box. This will be a popular release, and fans will be excited to know that atleast 3 more seasons are rumored to be released in 2005. Look for season 2 in early June, season 3 in late August, and season 4 in mid-to-late November according to tvshowsondvd.com . Groovy!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4.4/5
Audio Quality: 4.3/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.7/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 02/28/2005.

To order the DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0006Z2L4W/ref=nosim/happydaysonline


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