The Fourth Wall: A real Mission: Impossible ... escaping ‘The Brady Bunch’
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OK, if you started humming, bobbing your head, picturing yourself as a tic-tac-toe square, or singing aloud (hopefully not at work) the theme song to a certain iconic television series, the good news is that you’re probably not alone in doing so.
The bad news is what is wrong with us?
Seriously. “The Brady Bunch” went off the air in 1974 and yet we still know that the girls all had hair of gold, like their mother, and the boys and their dad, despite being four men living all together well, they were all alone.
Sure, it’s been 44 years since the end of the original series and 42 since the end of “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour” and 37 since the end of “The Brady Brides” and 27 since the end of “The Bradys” not to mention (even though I will) two Brady TV-movies, two parody films, sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll memoirs from Greg and Marcia, two recorded albums, and a long-running play of staged episode readings but, still, THEY JUST WON’T LEAVE US ALONE!
Well, “The Brady Bunch” is back in the news — don’t worry, even in the current TV revival craze, no one’s going that far — because the perfect blended family’s home is the subject of a bidding war.
Asking price around $2 million, and rising.
Sure, that’s nowhere near the $1 billion being sought for a Beverly Hills moola-hill called “The Mountain” once owned by talk show host Merv Griffin; but it is twice what a London auction house is seeking for a jacket worn by Han Solo in ‘The Empire Strikes Back.”
And if you should want to buy the home in which Alice did all the cooking — which inspired “Alice’s Brady Bunch Cookbook” (no sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll included) — you’ll find yourself in a financial battle with NSYNC singer Lance Bass and “Hannah Montana” star turned provocateur Miley Cyrus neither of whom was alive when the original Brady series went off the air.
Some of those who are interested in buying the Brady house want to come in like a wrecking ball and tear it down to build something more contemporary than a 1959 split-level home that (in theory) has paneled walls and a staircase suitable for lining up the kids for a family photo.
If, on the other hand, it makes you ill just thinking about destroying the home, you can own it and bask in the nostalgia — and perhaps greet the nearly 50 people a day who drive out to the Los Angeles neighborhood to see what, exactly?
In this case, the façade is really a façade: The interior of the house was not used to film the series. Everything from Mike’s architect studio to the backyard where Marcia’s nose was broken by an errant football was shot in a studio. The allure seems to be in what polyester, man-permed tranquility sightseers seem to think exists within those walls.
Then again, Hollywood loves to throw money at nostalgia because the industry knows that the safe and familiar tug at the strings of our hearts and purses.
Look no further than the box office for the Top 10 movies of this past weekend.
“Mission Impossible: Fallout” sequel. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” sequel. “The Equalizer 2,” “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” “Incredibles 2,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” sequel, sequel, sequel, sequel and sequel.
The only three that, technically, aren’t sequels are “The First Purge” (which is a prequel to an earlier series of films), “Teen Titans Go! To The Movies” (based on the animated television series) and “Skyscraper” — which, while not from the same source materials, is a blended family of “Die Hard” and “The Towering Inferno.”
Heck, while not in the Top 10 for the weekend, there was even a record set for the highest-grossing “bio-doc” (biography documentary) by “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and if the life story of Mister Rogers doesn’t exemplify the crying need to visit a nostalgic happy place, nothing does.
It would be easy here to cite Yogi Berra — or Simone Signoret or Peter DeVries, depending on your point of cultural reference — and offer a reminder that even nostalgia isn’t what it used to be but that, like the Brady house façade, barely scratches the surface.
The present is scary and the future is filled with threats on the horizon that won’t be diverted by sending Bruce Willis into space to blow up an asteroid.
So, there’s no real harm in buying a house that a fake TV family never stepped foot in, or going to see a movie with a “2” or “3” in its title — especially when facing something new is so unsettling.
It has always been thus, no matter how absurd the circumstances. Consider the play “The Madness of George III,” which in 1994 was made into an Oscar-winning film called “The Madness of King George.”
Legend has it that the play’s title was changed for movie audiences — particularly those in the United States — because “The Madness of George III” would activate the sequel-chip in our brains and keep people from seeing it on the theory they’d be uneasy since they hadn’t seen “The Madness of George” and “The Madness of George II: Electric Boogaloo.”
The story sounds too good to be true, but when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. It’s a very Brady thing to do.
While Mail Tribune senior designer Robert Galvin awaits next month’s release of the sixth “Sharknado” movie, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.