Sunday, January 12, 2014

That One Brady Bunch Where Everyone Gets Shot to Death

Were I to take an informal poll about favorite episodes of The Brady Bunch, I’d probably hear people suggest the one where Marcia takes a football to the nose or the one where we meet the new Jan Brady. I wouldn’t expect to be surprised by any of the answers, because I grew up on Brady Bunch reruns — 5 p.m. on weeknights and an hour-long block at noon on Saturdays, after cartoons ended — but I’d be thrown if I heard “the one where Jesse James executes the entire family.” “You’re drunk!” I’d say. “Or you’re remembering a rerun you saw when you were home sick with a fever, because that never happened.”

Only it did happen.

There’s a fourth-season episode titled “Bobby’s Hero” that’s all about Bobby’s brief fixation with Jesse James. In a fantasy sequence — maybe a result of Bobby Brady’s own fever — the whole family exists in wild west times. The Bradys are riding a cardboard make-believe train that gets boarded by Jesse James, who proceeds to rob them and shoot them in the head. He doesn’t fire. He just announces “bang” as he points the gun at them. But you do hear them scream and you see Mike, Carol, Alice, Greg and Jan slump down in their seats.

I can’t tell if it’s more disturbing to see this now as an adult, but you have to admit: That’s pretty disturbing, at least by Brady standards.

There seems to be some notion online that this episode was banned from syndication. I’m not sure if was, but I’m certain I never saw it when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure I saw all five seasons cycle through multiple times. (There’s some notion also that the one where Barry Williams is visibly stoned onscreen was banned, but I remember that one, even if I didn’t read anything into his clumsy grinning at the time.) I wonder if any other TV Land kids saw this one?

Bonus Brady trivia: Did you know that Robert Reed was written out of the show’s final episode because he thought the plot was too stupid? Because I didn’t.

Old TV, previously:

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