The Brady Bunch premiered in 1969 and lasted for five seasons before being cancelled in 1974. A number of spin-offs were attempted both during the original series’ run and after it, but none of these spin-offs were nearly as successful as the original show. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at The Brady Bunch spin-offs that flopped.
The First Brady Spin-Off Was the Brady Kids
The very first failed spin-off of The Brady Bunch premiered to the public in 1972, and it was an animated series that was produced by Filmation. The series was called the Brady Kids. It revolved around the children of The Brady family, and it was also aimed at an audience of children. Because of this, the show didn’t receive quite the same level of attention as it’s parent series. Today, The Brady Kids is all but forgotten. The cartoon initially featured all six of the Brady kid actors voicing their respective characters, though several of them opted not to return once the show was renewed for a second season. That second season would prove The Brady Kids’ last, with only 22 episodes of the series being produced in total.
Once it was evident that The Brady Kids was a failure, The Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz went about trying to create another cash cow out of his successful series. The Brady Kids came to an end in 1974, and that was the same year that The Brady Bunch aired a backdoor pilot that was meant to lead to another spin-off series. The episode was called “Kelly’s Kids”, and it aired during the fifth and last season of The Brady Bunch. It was the 109th episode of the series overall, and it was certainly an outlier due to the fact that it involved so many random characters.
The episode introduced the characters of Ken and Kathy Kelly, who are the Bradys’ new neighbors. These two characters want to adopt a child, and they do so. However, the child they adopt ends up missing his friends from the orphanage. Because of this, the Kellys are then inspired to adopt the child’s friends, as well!
“Kelly’s Kids” Didn’t Lead to a Spin-off Series
The three children that the Kellys adopt are all different races, which is a fact that doesn’t sit well with another new neighbor that the Bradys suddenly have. Her name is Mrs. Payne, and she’s racist! Mrs. Payne harasses the new family, which cause the three multiracial children to flee to the Brady house seeking solace. The good people that they are, the Bradys quickly get to the heart of the matter.
Given that “Kelly’s Kids” was intended as a backdoor pilot, it’s one of only two episodes of The Brady Bunch to be scripted by series creator Sherwood Schwartz. The other one, of course, would be The Brady Bunch’s own pilot. Though Sherwood didn’t often pen scripts for The Brady Bunch, he exerted his influence a great deal.
Though “Kelly’s Kids” didn’t lead to a spin-off series, Sherwood Schwartz would later use a similar concept in the 1986 series Together We Stand. Following the airing of “Kelly’s Kid”, The Brady Bunch only lasted for around a dozen more episodes before being cancelled at the end of it’s fifth season. In fact, the very last episode of The Brady Bunch to play in the show’s original primetime slot was a rerun of “Kelly’s Kids”. The performers who played the Kellys in the episode were Ken Berry and Brooke Bundy. In real life, Ken Berry was married to the actress who portrayed the worker at the adoption home, and the couple actually had a few adopted children of their own.
The Brady Bunch Hour Lacked Sherwood Schwartz
A few years after The Brady Bunch’s cancellation, the show would be revived by way of The Brady Bunch Hour. The Brady Bunch Hour was a short-lived variety series that aired between 1976 and 1977. Though Sherwood Schwartz granted permission for his characters to be used for the variety show, he had no direct creative involvement in it. Because of this, The Brady Bunch Hour stands to this day as the only spin-off of The Brady Bunch that Sherwood Schwartz didn’t have direct creative control over.
Instead of Sherwood Schwartz, Sid and Marty Krofft produced The Brady Bunch Hour. Those who are familiar with Sid and Marty Krofft’s greater body of work will know that this meant that the variety series was going to have a very campy tone! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Mike Brady Was Keen on the New Variety Format
The Brady Bunch Hour featured all of the original main cast members with the exception of Eve Plumb. Eve, who played Jan Brady on the original series, wanted to return. However, she wasn’t willing to commit to as many episodes of the show as the network was asking her to. The show only ended up lasting for nine episodes, which Eve likely would’ve been perfectly willing to commit to.
The Brady Bunch Hour started out as a one-off special, but the special was so successful that it resulted in a series order. In total, only eight more episodes of the series were produced. The show wasn’t just a simple variety series, but it actually continued The Brady Bunch’s story. In the show, the Brady family itself decides to move to California and perform in an in-universe variety series. However, no subsequent spin-offs would ever reference this fact.
It wasn’t all that difficult to talk most of the cast members into reprising their roles from The Brady Bunch for the new variety series. Robert Reed had memorably expressed disdain about how bored he was with The Brady Bunch by it’s final season, but he ended up agreeing to perform on The Brady Bunch Hour because he liked the change of pace. It wasn’t hard for Florence Henderson to be talked into coming back, as she was the most experienced of the cast members when it came to singing and dancing.
Barry Williams Was Coming From Broadway
Barry Williams was actually working on Broadway at the time that he was asked to reprise the role of Greg Brady. Because of this, Sid and Marty Krofft promised the actor that he was going to get some increased screen time on the variety series. Christopher Knight was the most nervous of the original Brady Bunch cast members when it came time for him to reprise his role, as he had the most limited experience when it came to signing and dancing.
Mike Lookinland was another actor who didn’t want to come back to reprise his Brady Bunch role for The Brady Bunch Hour. He tried to get off the hook passively by asking for twice the salary that he had initially been offered. To the actor’s shock, this resulted in salaries being raised for all returning cast members! Mike ended up reprising the role of Bobby Brady, though he often had to be pepped up by on-screen mother Florence Henderson.
The last returning cast member that was secured for The Brady Bunch Hour was Ann B. Davis, who played the Bradys’ maid. Ann B. Davis had become a born-again Christian since The Brady Bunch, abandoning Hollywood to work in a Colorado church. She reprised her role on The Brady Bunch Hour with the stipulation that she could return to her church work for several days out of every week.
How Geri Reischl Became the “Fake Jan”
When Eve Plumb refused to commit the way the network wanted her to, a performer by the name of Geri Reischl was cast to portray Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch Hour instead. The show wasn’t a major flop, but it is commonly derided nowadays due to it’s campy tone. After nine episodes, The Brady Bunch Hour was over and done with.
There Were Two More Failed Brady Continuations
A few years after The Brady Bunch Hour’s end, a new continuation of The Brady Bunch came into being. This time, the spin-off once again had Sherwood Schwartz involvement. The new spin-off premiered in 1981, and it was called The Brady Brides. It’s pilot was actually a made-for-television film called The Brady Girls Get Married. Though the pilot film featured all of the main cast members from The Brady Bunch returning to reprise their roles, the main series only featured Marcia, Jan, and their husbands. This time, Eve Plumb came back to play the role of Jan. However, the show only lasted for ten episodes before being cancelled.
Despite The Brady Brides not being well received, The Brady Girls Get Married would continue to be aired on television over the course of the 80s and 90s. In 1990, Sherwood Schwartz came up with an idea for another spin-off of The Brady Bunch. This time, the spin-off was a one-hour-long melodramatic series. Sadly, this change of tone didn’t do much to garner new interest in the family.
The Bradys featured all of the main cast members from The Brady Bunch returning to reprise their roles, with the exception of Maureen McCormick. Instead, Leah Ayres was cast in the role of Marcia Brady. Maureen opted out of returning because she had recently given birth to her daughter, whose name is Natalie. The Bradys was even less successful than The Brady Brides, with the show being cancelled after only six episodes. Most blame the demise of the series on the fact that it was airing in the same timeslot as Full House and Family Matters.
Though The Brady Bunch still holds it’s place in the public’s heart, a successful spin-off of the classic show was never meant to be. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that The Brady Bunch Hour was the only spin-off of The Brady Bunch that didn’t have creator Sherwood Schwartz direct involvement, and that the Bradys were given their own one-hour melodrama in 1990? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!