10 things you probably forgot about the '80s classic 'A Very Brady Christmas'

Everyone returned for this reunion — minus the original Cindy, the original Sam, and Bobby's original hair color.

Watch A Very Brady Christmas on MeTV this Sunday, November 28, at 12PM | 11C as part of A Very Merry MeTV!

In the 1980s, just as much as the Rubik's Cube, TV reunions were all the rage. Andy and Opie came home in Return to Mayberry. The Clampetts struck it rich again with The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. There was The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair in 1983, I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years Later in 1985, Perry Mason Returns in 1985, Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge in 1987, Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis and The Incredible Hulk Returns in 1988… and so on and so on.

But no television family reunions featured more nostalgia and Aqua Net than the Brady comebacks. Early in the decade, the Brady girls got hitched in The Brady Girls Get Married. Seven years later, the gang gathered once again for 1988's A Very Brady Christmas.

Of course, the Bradys never really went away. After the original 1969 sitcom ended in 1974, the beloved blended clan bounced back with a variety show, The Brady Bunch Hour, from 1976–77. There was also a Saturday morning cartoon, too, The Brady Kids.

But things felt far different when the Bradys reunited for the holidays. We were clearly deep, deep into the Eighties here. The special opens with Mike and Carol, both sporting perms, doing aerobics. It's big hair and big hearts all around from there on, as the adult Brady children come home to flashback clips and saxophone solos. It's a gem for anyone who adores the '80s while missing the '60s.

Let's dive deeper into A Very Brady Christmas

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1. There's a new Cindy Brady.


Susan Olsen was in Jamaica celebrating her honeymoon at the time. Enter Jennifer Runyon, whom some might remember as Gwendolyn on Charles in Charge or one of Bill Murray's students at the start of Ghostbusters. Cindy is just about to graduate college herself in this special.

2. But at least the original Jan was back!


Eve Plumb famously did not reprise her role of Jan on the successful 1970s variety show The Brady Bunch Hour, though she was not against the idea. She agreed to do an initial Brady Bunch Variety Hour special, but balked at the commitment to a full season. She was up for doing a few episodes, but when the network presented her with an all-or-nothing contract, she walked. Plumb had aspirations of being a more serious actress. A decade later, however, she was ready to sister up with Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, once again.

3. Bobby was suddenly blond.


Mike Lookinland is naturally blond. But when he was cast as a child star on the original series, producers dyed his hair brown to match the rest of the Brady men. It was a somewhat miserable experience for the young performer, as the hot studio lights would cause the dye to melt and run down his head in brown streaks. We can't blame him for passing on the makeover process for the reunion.

4. There was a new Sam the Butcher, too.


Poor Alice! We learn that Sam the Butcher has left her for another woman. Ouch, Sam. In the end, he turns up disguised as Santa and earns Alice's forgiveness. Even the white beard cannot disguise the fact that Sam is no longer played by Allan Melvin, who was still alive at the time. Instead, actor Lewis Arquette filled the role. Some might remember him from Waiting for Guffman.

5. Greg had a righteous mustache.


Speaking of hair changes, elder Greg has a bushy lip-tickler here. It's a 'stache that would even make Phil Packer jealous. You remember Phil Packer, right? Peter's fake-mustache-wearing alter ego in "Peter and the Wolf"?

6. Marcia's kids were Cubs fans.


Adult life is not a bunch of roses for the Brady girls. Jan is separating from her husband, while Marcia's spouse was recently laid off. Marcia's two kids, Jessica and Mickey Logan, represent their new hometown wearing Cubs gear and colors.

7. The iconic Brady house had a serious Eighties makeover.


Naturally, the film opens on an establishing exterior shot of the classic Brady house. It's a good thing they do, as the inside of the home is completely unrecognizable, aside from the familiar staircase. The orange Formica kitchen has been replaced with blond wood. The living room is a riot of pale pastels, floral patterns, and glass brick windows. It seems as if Carol hired the Golden Girls to redecorate.

8. It was directed by Peter Baldwin, who directed everything.


The name Peter Baldwin does not likely ring a bell. But you have undoubtedly seen much of his work. For half a century, Baldwin directed classic television. He helmed episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle: USMC, Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show, The Love Boat, Too Close for Comfort, ALF, Full House, The Wonder Years, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch… and more. Oh, and The Brady Bunch, of course.

9. Two popular L.A. disc jockeys made minor cameos.


The Mark & Brian Show, a pioneer of the "zoo crew" type of morning radio programming, kicked off in Los Angeles in 1987. Mark and Brian made quiet cameo appearances in A Very Brady Christmas, playing two onlookers at the collapsed building site in the last act.

10. It was a massive success.


When it aired, A Very Brady Christmas became the most-viewed TV movie of the year, raking in a whopping 25.1 Nielsen rating and 34 share. That means that more than a third of all people watching television that evening had the Bradys on their screen. You don't see numbers like that anymore.



Before there was Fake Cindy, there was Fake Jan. READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

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bradyguy 29 months ago
"Eve Plumb famously did not reprise her role of Jan on the successful 1970s variety show The Brady Bunch Hour"


The Brady Bunch Hour is widely considered one of the WORST shows in television history. It was certainly not "successful". And this from a guy who LOVE the Bradys. (Check the screenname...😀)
sierra127 30 months ago
Don’t listen to anyone I really like reading all those names It set me back Love Wally in Ozzie and Harriet
Besides No one told them they had to read your post I suppose if you have no life you complain about anything
Load previous comments
Anyone who doesn't like
Bag ZOMBROSKI:Neil J Schwartz
Probably has no sense of humor.
PS -
I also like Practical Jokers
Hawkeye (Alan Alfa)
Uncle Arthur(Paul Lynde)
And Eddie Haskell(Ken Osmond)
And Lumpy Rutherford (Frank Bank)
Ebenezer Scrooge
My favorite actors to play Scrooge were Reginald Owen
And Alastair Sim
No one cares ! GO AWAY !!!
Tons of TV Viewers like
Practical Jokers on Sitcoms. Just because you don't like Practical Jokers on Sitcoms like Uncle Arthur Paul Lynde on
Bewitched doesn't mean
Nobody else likes Practical Jokers on Sitcoms.
You should GO AWAY and
Get Lost!!!!!
bagandwallyfan52 30 months ago
I believe in the Afterlife (Heaven)
And when I arrive in Heaven
Guided by Angels I hope to
See my Favorite TV and Movie
Robert Reed (Mike Brady)
Allan Melvin(Sam and Sgt Hacker)
Ann B Davis(Alice)
Gavan O Herlihy Chuck Cunningham
Tom Bosley Howard Cunningham
Erin Moran Joanie Cunningham
Al Molinaro Al Delvechio
Roy Stuart(Corporal Boyle)
Dawn Wells Mary Ann Summers
Russell Johnson the Professor
Bob Denver Gilligan
Jim Nabors Gomer Pyle
Frank Sutton Sgt Carter
Forrest Compton Colonel Gray
Movie Actor Eddie Cantor
Movie Actor Joe Penner
The 3 Stooges
Spanky McFarland
Darla Hood
Alfalfa Switzer
Oliver Hardy
Stan Laurel
Alastair Sim (Scrooge)
Reginald Owen (Scrooge)
Jim Varney(Ernest P Worrell)
Howard Morris(Ernest T Bass)
Don Knotts (Barney and Ralph )
Jack Dodson Howard Sprague
George Lindsey (Goober Pyle)
Cheerio Meredith Emma Brand
Joanna Moore Peggy MacMillan
Aneta Corsaut Helen Crump
Julie Adams(Mary Simpson)
Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha )
Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger)
Jay Silverheels (Tonto)
George Reeves (Superman)
Adam West (Batman)
Kirby Grant(Sky King)
Eddie Albert (Oliver Douglas)
Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell)
Frank Bank Lumpy Rutherford
Skip Young (Wally Plumstead)
Charlene Salerno (Ginger)
Rick Nelson
David Nelson
Ozzie Nelson
Harriet Nelson
David Hodges
Dorothy Engelman Campbell
Eva Haynes.
Frank Haynes
Don Adams(Maxwell Smart)
Bob Keeshan Captain Kangaroo
Lumpy Brannan (Mr Green Jeans)
Kay Kuter(Newt Kiley)
Don Grady (Robbie Douglas)
Mike Minor(Steve Elliot)
Jack Benny
Bob Hope
Barbara Stuart (Bunny )
Cheryl Holdridge (Julie Foster)
Will Wright(Ben Weaver)
Charles Lane (Homer Bedloe)
ED Peck (Officer Kirk)
Larry Hagman(Tony Nelson)
Hayden Rourke(Dr Bellows)
Barton MacLane (General Peterson)
Phillips TEAD(Professor Peppwrwinkle)
Frank Morgan (Wizard of Oz)
Alan Hale Jr The Skipper
Jim Backus Thurston Howell 3rd
Natalie Schaefer Mrs Howell
Tommy Leonetti Corporal Nick Cuccinelli
Jack Larson Jimmy Olsen
Hugh Beaumont Ward Cleaver.
Barbara Billingsley June Cleaver
RIP To ALL of These Wonderful
Actors and Actresses During
Christmas And Beyond)
I saw something beautiful
Written on the back of a
Car :I'll hold you in my heart until I can hold you
In Heaven.
That's for all the persons
Who have lost their relatives and friends because those persons they knew on earth have
Passed Away. Merry Christmas to Dorothy
Engleman and David Hodges in Heaven.
Some Day I will join you
In Heaven where there is
No more death and no
More old age and believers
Will live Forever in Heaven.
bagandwallyfan52 31 months ago
Skip Young (Wally Plumstead
On The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Neil J Schwartz (Bag
Zombroski on HAPPY Days )
Roy Stuart(Cpl. Boyle on
Gomer Pyle USMC) and
Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers
On Gilligan's Island) :
I wish that Skip Young
Neil J Schwartz
Roy Stuart and Dawn Wells
Had all hosted a Variety Show
Together because those 4
Performers were great comedy
Load previous comments
bagandwallyfan52 albundy 31 months ago
I do not unreadable and
annoying posts and I do
NOT post nonscence.
You need to quit criticizing
me and other METV Comment Line Persons .
If you are going to say mean things about METV
Comment Line Users and
if you are going to insult
persons you should remember the old saying:
If you can't say something
Nice about persons then
Don't say anything.
The METV Comment Line
Is for METV Comment Line
Users (METV.Viewers) to say
that they like or don't like
Shows on METV and to suggest new TV Shows for
METV.to consider adding to
METVs Schedule NOT TO
INSULT other METV Comment Line Users and
Not to insult other METV
Viewers . How would you
like it if other METV Comment Line Users INSULTED other METV
Comment Line Users and
Viewers. WISEGUY and You
Are Doing The Same Thing
:Insulting METV Comment
Line Users and.both of you.like to make fun of persons which is wrong
and not right.
bagandwallyfan52 albundy 30 months ago
I wish that you would go out the EXIT DOOR.
Are you related to WISEGUY??
bradyguy bagandwallyfan52 17 months ago
Your spelling and punctuation are nonsence. Are you trying to write Haiku???
AllisonF75 31 months ago
Bobby and Cindy must have been getting master’s degrees since they were in college in Brady Brides and still in college in this movie. I believe Brady Brides was 1981 and this movie was I think either Christmas 87 or 88
bradyguy AllisonF75 29 months ago
Ha. Yes...and no. Bobby dropped out of grad school to become a race-car driver...but Cindy was still an undergrad...at 25 or 26 years old...that was part of the story - she'd rather go skiing than be in college... Okay...in fairness, I got my B.A. at 24...so.... And yes, AVBC was Christmas, 1988.
AarHandy3 31 months ago
It also meant The Bradies' sojourn on a third network: CBS. The Bunch had already been previously seen on ABC (the original 1969-74 series, Filmation's animated 1972-4 spinoff The Brady Kids and the 1976-7 Brady Bunch Hour variety show) and NBC (the 1981 TV movie The Brady Girls Get Married and the short-lived Brady Brides).
bradyguy AarHandy3 29 months ago
Bradys'....not Bradies'. But yes...they are one of, if NOT the only, TV franchise to appear on all three major networks. Somebody might eventually do it with Fox, CW, etc....but I doubt it.
Nala92129 31 months ago
I was startled, (not in a good way) by the perms, facial foliage, but my girls & I loved the Bradys. I never understood the hostility toward the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. We loved it!
rockinsuzy 31 months ago
I loved it. I watch it every year like I do The Christmas Story, Scrooge, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, along with all the other Christmas shows.
MichaelVegas 31 months ago
For me at least, it is nice to see what they are supposedly up to after all this time but a lot of the time, I feel disappointed, I do not want to know the young Jan that I remember being so innocent is divorced and has kids and had a bad life, or Greg lost his dream of being a star, or Alice lost the love of her life to another woman, these are things in my life I want to get away from and the reason why the show was so nice to watch, the innocent, fun of it, your problems could drift away not slam you in the face
Rick 31 months ago
Allan Melvin may have been *alive*, but he was exclusively doing voice-over work after 1983, and I suspect his health wouldn't have permitted him to be in the movie.
manofawholebunchofvoices 31 months ago
The 64 thousand dollar question remains. If Robert Reed thought so many of the scripts were too silly and got into so many arguments with Sherwood Schwartz, then how on earth did he agree to do the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour?"
".....then how on earth did he agree to do the "Brady Bunch Variety Hour?" "

Cue up ABBA's "Money, Money, Money" for the simple answer.
Robert Reed loved performing on Broadway, and the variety format enabled him to sing, dance, tell jokes, and break away from the "Dad" role that he had grown to hate.
Also...Sherwood, surprisingly, wasn't involved at all with TBBVH...
Pacificsun sabres4jeff 29 months ago
What was he in on Broadway?
bradyguy Pacificsun 17 months ago
Reed was in four different shows on Broadway. The two you may have heard of are "Barefoot In The Park" and "Deathtrap".
TonyDStrong 31 months ago
The Variety Shows were horrid. I remember wondering when they would get back to doing the Brady Bunch the way it was.
Barry22 31 months ago
I would hardly call The Brady's Variety show successful
bradyguy Barry22 29 months ago
LOL. Nobody would. But some of us still loved them!!
KJExpress 31 months ago
"Bobby was suddenly blond." I seem to remember Mike Lookinland's hair got lighter in the original series, after the first season or so when they stopped dyeing it. It was also lighter in that variety show they did. Guess they were grasping at straws for something to say here.
MrsPhilHarris 31 months ago
Maybe it’s just me but I Robert Reed’s smile looks pretty phoney.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 31 months ago
Now that you mention it, it does look rather strained, like he'd rather be somewhere else.
cperrynaples 31 months ago
Actually, most of remember Lewis Arquette as either the son of Charlie Weaver or the father of Alexis, Roseanna, Patricia, and David Arquette!
Michael cperrynaples 31 months ago
I thought hewas best known for playing J.D. Pickett, Erin's boss on The Waltons.
cperrynaples Michael 31 months ago
Well, maybe that too!
RobertDubs 43 months ago
I remember reading that all four Brady men (Robert, Barry, Chris, and Mike) had mustaches at the start of taping. Sherwood Schwartz insisted that two of them shave, or else he joked they'd have to rename the special "A Very Brady Mustache" So Mike and Chris shaved their mustaches and filmed the special clean shaven, while Robert and Barry kept their mustaches.
daDoctah 55 months ago
I thought there was a Mandela effect happening when this article claimed that Lewis Arquette was in the Santa suit as Sam the butcher. Was sure I remembered it being Hal Smith. Then, while poking around the other articles on the website I found a pic of Smith as Santa from the same movie. Seems I remembered him in the costume all right, but he wasn't Sam.
KathyMcKinny daDoctah 43 months ago
Hal Smith WAS in the Santa suit in the original series, he was the Santa that Cindy asked to give her Mommy back her voice for Christmas, when Carol had laryngitis before she was to sing in church for Christmas.
cubman 55 months ago
I think Marcia is still popable as long as there are no bright lights.
Utzaake 55 months ago
6. That's no way to raise children!
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