When it's time to change, you have to rearrange the floorplan
If Larry Dittmeyer had gotten his way 24 years ago, none of this would have happened.
Dittmeyer, an unscrupulous Southern California real estate shark, was putting together a land deal that would had razed his entire neighborhood to make way for a shopping mall complex.
It would have succeeded, had it not been for the pesky, perky family next door — which won the needed $20,000 to pay off back taxes by performing a teeth-stinging musical number in a talent contest judged by three Monkees ... and thereby thwarted the no-goognik’s nefarious neighborhood land grab.
And that’s the way it became the Brady Bunch house.
Dittmeyer, portrayed by one-time Ashland resident Michael McKean, was the villain in 1995’s “The Brady Bunch Movie” and had he succeeded, the Brady’s iconic home at 4222 Clinton Avenue in Hollywoodland would have been torn down — which would seriously screw with the alt-reality of having HGTV “restore” the home for its current series called (what else?) “A Very Brady Renovation.”
The cable network purchased the house (at 11222 Dilling Street in reality) for $3.5 million (outbidding former boy band stalwart Lance Bass in the process) and set about recreating it to exacting 1970s detail — with the help, of course, of the actors who portrayed the Brady children ... even the oft-reluctant Eve Plumb (Jan), who wisely in the past has stayed away from such questionable projects as “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.”
“A Very Brady Renovation,” however, is of a different species than “The Brady Girls Get Married,” “The Brady Brides,” “The Bradys” (that’s the one where Marcia was an alcoholic and Bobby was paralyzed in a crash at the dirt track), “The Brady Kids,” “A Very Brady Christmas,” (you wouldn’t believe the ones I’m leaving out) “The Brady Bunch 35th Anniversary Reunion Special: Still Brady After All These Years,” the stage show of the original series, and the meta-spoof films, which ended with 2002’s “The Brady Bunch in the White House” ... the last of which found Mike and Carol as President and Vice President.
... of the United States.
Overall, though, it was the HGTV “stars” who were more geeked out and stressed out over the renovation project than the actors — who were shown participating in such standard home show tropes as helping remove a kitchen countertop.
And that, even if the geeking and the stressing were scripted, is how things should be in the Bradyverse.
For it’s the idea of The Brady Bunch, what the idyllic blended family represents, that has been held in the memory banks of those who have fallen under its spell that attracts such attention 50 years after the original series premiered.
Raise you hand if you’ve either heard or uttered the phrase regarding your or a friend’s family, “We weren’t the Brady Brunch.’ Now, raise both hands if you’ve either heard or uttered the phrase “We were like the Brady Bunch ... on acid.”
(The column will resume as soon as I tell myself to put my hands down.)
“Renovation” starts with the premise that television viewers (especially those in the Baby Boomer sweet spot who were the same age as the TV kids when the original series ran) would have such fond memories of the entire Brady ethos that they’d tune in to see the restoration of a “home” that never existed.
And, judging by the record ratings for Monday’s premiere episode, HGTV was right.
“We could be sitting on a gold mine,” network executive Kathleen Finch told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that future TV specials and corporate events could be held in the location.
No wonder the Property Brothers & Co. were stressed ... they’re restoring a gold mine.
OK, OK ... of course I watched. When I was a kid, I suppose the notion of being a Brady had crossed my mind (I did love pork chops and applesauce), but being in a two-hands-raised blended family, I also knew the difference between TV and reality.
Seeing the six actors in “A Very Brady Renovation,” I connected to them even more. We’re all about the same age yet, to some people, we’ll always be who we were as preteens. The HGTV stars kept referring to these 60-something adults as “the Brady kids” — which, even though they signed up for this gig, seemed a tad demeaning.
As for the show itself, there were two points of Brady-level high drama in the premiere.
One involved the home’s unforgettable staircase. ... Specifically whether (because of structural issues involving turning a split level house into a two-story Brady home) it was more important to keep the proper dozen steps, or the same angle that the original staircase was set.
This naturally involved having Maureen McCormick and HGTV’s Property Brothers consider a mock-up of both options. Before you could say “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” the call was made that the angle was worth losing that 12th step. (I’d say they picked her for this task as a sly commentary on what happens to “Marcia” in “The Bradys” ... but that might be too meta even for this series.)
Meanwhile, Christopher Knight and HGTV’s Jasmine Roth were sent on a quest to find the proper color to paint the exterior. If I were Peter Brady, I’d be a tad miffed that I was stuck with paint duty. But Knight is an old pro at the reality genre — having participated in (deep breath here) “Celebrity Bowling,” “The Weakest Link,” “Discovery Health Celebrity Body Challenge,” “The Surreal Life,” “Celebrity Paranormal Project,” (you wouldn’t believe the ones I’m leaving out) “Chris & Adrianne Do Russia,” “My Fair Brady,” “Celebrity Circus,” “Hollywood Uncensored,” and “Celebrity Food Fight” — so he was fully involved in Operation Brady Beige.
Of course, Knight is probably relieved that he wasn’t put in charge of that greatest of all Brady house mysteries: If HGTV truly is going to renovate the house in exacting detail, will they finally put a toilet in the bathroom that connected the boys and girls bedrooms?
Maybe they’re saving that job for Cousin Oliver.
If reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin will neither confirm nor deny once having a Johnny Bravo hairstyle.