Mike Brady's angry Shakespearean critique of the Brady Bunch scripts

Robert Reed, who played Mike "Dad" Brady on The Brady Bunch was a frustrated, classically trained Shakespearean actor who sent stroppy memos the show's writers explaining How Drama Works to them in minute, enraged detail. They are a treasure. Here is one of them:
Once again, we are infused with the slapstick. The oldest boy's hair turns bright orange in a twinkling of the writer's eye, having been doused with a non-FDA-approved hair tonic. (Why any boy of Bobby's age, or any age, would be investing in something as outmoded and unidentifiable as "hair tonic" remains to be explained. As any kid on the show could tell the writer, the old hair-tonic routine is right out of "Our Gang." Let's face it, we're long since past the "little dab'll do ya" era.)

Without belaboring the inequities of the script, which are varied and numerous, the major point to all this is: Once an actor has geared himself to play a given style with its prescribed level of belief, he cannot react to or accept within the same confines of the piece, a different style.

When the kid's hair turns red, it is Batman in the operating room.

I can't play it.

Link, Link 2 (via Dispatches From the Culture Wars)

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  1. The best thing is the link is citing one of those Brady Bunch memos in a rant about some upcoming Zelda game (posted in 2001 so maybe Wind Waker). I love the internet.

  2. Looks like the full memo used to be on that page but isn’t anymore. You can find the rest of it here. This page has some more priceless Reed anecdotes (about how strawberries don’t have a smell, eggs aren’t slippery, and pay phones aren’t legal to install in private residences) and this site details the multiple times Mike Brady was almost killed so Sherwood Schwartz wouldn’t have to deal with Reed.

  3. In retrospect, The Wind Waker DID manage to evoke an epic atmosphere within its cartoon style, and that does not go against the grain of what Robert Reed says; visual style does not necessarily dictate storytelling style. Miyazaki’s films demonstrate this with great potency.

  4. I have to say, the full version of that memo would make a pretty great chapter in a pretty great drama textbook. It was clear, cogent, and authoritative. If Reed just dashed that off, he missed his calling (and I’ve seen what he did with the calling he chose).

  5. Interesting, but I disagree somewhat with his conclusion. Perhaps the world has seen advances in film since Reed’s memo, but some of my favorite films have been ones to successfully combine blistering satire, light-hearted comic relief and wrenching tragedy into one piece. Even these Shakespeare pieces that Reed cites do the same, presenting serious philosophy and drama while overblown with fart jokes for the toothless farmers in the front row.

    I think that Reed confuses genres with a “world”. We would get confused if the Addams Family visited Oz, not because of differing styles but because both worlds are intended to be isolated, independent spheres. So – don’t even get me started on the “Batman Meets Superman” story arcs. Blah.

  6. …Jeez, if he was so unsatisfied with the scripts, why the hell didn’t he quit the show after the first season, much less the *pilot*? The quality of the Brady Brats never *increased* from the beginning, so what the fuck was he expecting? Hallmark Hall Of Fame or Masterpiece Theater?

    Robert Reed was one of those closeted poof actors who gave actors *and* gays a bad name with his spoiled brat actions, natch.

  7. >>some of my favorite films have been ones to successfully combine blistering satire, light-hearted comic relief and wrenching tragedy into one piece

    Which films are these, curiously? Sounds like a pretty tall order, especially to be done well.

  8. Once an actor has geared himself to play a given style with its prescribed level of belief, he cannot react to or accept within the same confines of the piece, a different style.

    This pretty much sums up why I hated Little Miss Sunshine.

  9. “…it is Batman in the operating room.”

    WTF does that even mean? I’m going to have to work that into a sentence today.

  10. This Robert Reed business reminds me of Alan Rickman’s character in “Galaxy Quest”. He whined about being a Shakespearean actor, too, who was reduced to being remembered for wearing a woochie on his head.

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