A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that What Was Carol Brady Thinking? updates the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch with graphic overlays that purport to share Carol Brady's humorous and occasionally mocking thoughts with the viewer, in the style of VH1's Pop Up Video. The content of the original show has virtually nothing that will worry parents, cheerfully mild as the old comedy is. The update, however, may occasionally offend or add a slightly more ribald touch, like when the thought "What's that guy doing on screen?" pops up over an image of an older woman with short hair, or when the pop up claims "I know that look -- Jan has to go to the bathroom" as Jan appears onscreen, biting her lip. Carol's "thoughts" add an jocular touch to the show that parents and tweens/teens may appreciate, but younger kids may not understand (or be able to read by the time the pop up has disappeared).
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What's the story?
WHAT WAS CAROL BRADY THINKING? adds a new twist to the vintage sitcom The Brady Bunch, a 1970s show that featured a blended family with six kids: three boys and three girls. The Bradys made their home in Southern California, where dad Mike Brady (Robert Reed) was an architect, mom Carol (Florence Henderson) was a homemaker. Oldest kids Greg (Barry Williams) and Marcia (Maureen McCormick) were popular hotties. Peter (Christopher Knight) and Jan (Eve Plumb) were the conflicted middle kids, and Bobby (Mike Lookinland) and Cindy (Susan Olsen) were the cute comic relief. Alice (Ann B. Davis) was the housekeeper, who wore a blue and white uniform and dealt in wisecracks. On What Was Carol Brady Thinking? classic episodes of the series roll, images of mom Carol Brady silently pop up onscreen to add ironic commentary and joke about the goings on in the show.
Is it any good?
Brady Bunch reruns still air more than 40 years after they were made for a reason: The show itself caught some kind of lightning in a bottle that still resonates all these years later. The Bradys are so sincere and so darned sweet that they appeal to small kids in particular, who love the portrait of a family always there for each other, and suffering the mildest of setbacks. Adults and teens tend to enjoy the show ironically, giggling over classic silly lines like Jan's jealous "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" or snickering at the goofy '70s fashions. So one would think that giving the show the Pop-Up Video treatment would add more mocking fun.
However, the joke writers on What Was Carol Brady Thinking? are pretty weak and sometimes rather sexist. "Who's that guy on the right?" asks the pop up as an older woman with short hair appears onscreen. "Marcia lost her camp's ugliest girl award by a landslide," they say when Marcia flounces into her bedroom, wearing a skirt that's approximately one inch longer than her underwear. While the pop ups do occasionally add an interesting mocking touch (as when they point out "If only there were a machine to shred paper!" as we see Alice cutting up piles of paper with scissors), they're neither interesting nor funny enough to make anyone who's seen the old shows a hundred times watch them again. The What Was Carol Brady Thinking? concept is intriguing, but behind-the-scenes production notes from the real Florence Henderson would be a million times better than lame jokes about hi-fis and Mr. Brady's hair.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the format of this show. Do the pop ups add something to the show, or detract from the innocent vibe? Who are the producers of What Was Carol Brady Thinking? trying to appeal to?
The Brady Bunch was one of the first onscreen portrayals of a blended family, which was considered very unusual and controversial at the time. Can you think of other television shows that feature blended families? Are they similar to the Bradys or dissimilar?
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