6 reasons why The Brady Kids remains an important part of cartoon history

You can thank the Bradys for both Wonder Woman and Rick Springfield.

Image: The Everett Collection

The Brady Bunch have been a big part of our pop culture since 1969. Over the past half-century, the beloved blended clan has entertained us with a sitcom, a variety show and a movie trilogy that introduced the characters to a new generation. Today, the Bradys remain as relevant as ever, as we quote "Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!" and turn "Oh, my nose!" into memes.

Overlooked in the heap of Brady products, buried beneath all those lunch boxes and albums, is The Brady Kids. This 1972–73 animated series aired as The Brady Bunch entered its fourth season, meaning children could go to bed after watching the live-action family on Friday night and wake up with the cartoon Kids on Saturday morning. What a time to be alive!

Crafted by Filmation, the company behind both Fat Albert and He-Man, The Brady Kids was certainly not high art. It replaced Mike, Carol and Alice with two pandas and a magic bird. Even poor Tiger was replaced with a pooch called Mop Top. But this series holds an important place in entertainment history for at least a few reasons. Let's take a deeper look.

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1. All six original actors voiced the Brady kids in the first season.

Cartoon adaptations back then had a surprisingly high retention rate with their original actors. The New Adventures of Gilligan, another Filmation product, featured most of the original castaways. Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and Don Most lent their voices to The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. Likewise, the "real" Marcia, Jan, Cindy, Greg, Peter and Bobby can be heard on The Brady Kids. Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Susan Olsen, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Mike Lookinland all worked on the first season (17 of 22 total episodes). That's better than The Brady Bunch Hour can claim.

2. The first time Wonder Woman appeared on screens was on The Brady Kids.

Before Lynda Carter spun her way into our hearts, Wonder Woman appeared for the first time — in any form — on screens here, on The Brady Kids. Believe it or not, despite entering the DC Comics pages in 1941, the Amazonian superhero would have to wait more than three decades to come to life via animation. 

Image: Filmation / Paramount

3. Superman made an appearance, too.

Wonder Woman was not the only hero of DC Comics' "Trinity" to pop up with the Bradys. Superman flew in to help the kids foil a band of robbers, who were trying to pull a heist with invisible paint. (Don't ask.) Filmation owned the rights to DC Comics characters at the time. After The Brady Kids ended, the rights jumped to Hanna-Barbera, who swiftly created Super Friends — the show that would replace The Brady Kids on the Saturday morning schedule in 1973.

Image: Filmation / Paramount

4. There was a spin-off starring Rick Springfield.

Yes, technically, the "Jessie's Girl" rocker technically exists in The Brady Bunch cinematic universe. The Australian heartthrob earned his own cartoon in 1973. Dubbed Mission: Magic, the animated series spun off from The Brady Kids via the character Miss Tickle, a chirpy teacher with a flair for magic. Springfield was drawn to look like he did on the back cover of his 1973 record Comic Book Heroes.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. The animators traced over The Archie Show.

Filmation took shortcuts. If you grew up watching The Archie Show in 1968–69, perhaps some of the Brady Kids scenes felt like déjà vu. For good reason. In many cases, animators simply recycled and drew over old Archie Show cels and segments. The dog Mop Top was a copy of Hot Dog from the Riverdale gang. 

Image: The Everett Collection

6. The pandas had the same voice as Ginger and Mary Ann.

The bulk of the other characters on the show were voiced by Larry Storch, star of F Troop, and Janet Webb, a veteran voice actor. Storch brought to life Marlon the wizard bird, as well as Mop Top and rival teens Chuck White and Fleetwood. Webb gave voices to Ping and Pong, the two panda cubs. She would go on to voice both Mary Ann and Ginger for Filmation on The New Adventures of Gilligan's Island.

Image: Filmation / Paramount

 
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ScarlettKaiju 2 days ago
On item #6, the actress is Jane Webb, sometime billed as Joanne Louise or Jane Edwards. She was essentially Filmation's equivalent of June Foray and Bea Benaderet. On most of their non-licensed properties (MISSION: MAGIC!, which you referenced above, being one of the notable exceptions), she would do every single female voice, i.e. in the ARCHIE cartoons, she was Betty, Veronica, Big Ethel, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Aunt Hilda, Aunt Zelda and Miss Grundy, as well as other female and/or child characters that wander in, which understandably taxed her abilities and led to some unintentionally awful readings in an effort to make each performance different. But when the producers had realistic expectations, she was a dependable player.
RedSamRackham 18 months ago
Silliest theme song lyric ~> Our sister Jan is really groovy! ☺
I felt sorry for three of the kids. While opining on Jan's alledged groove, Marcia's "sparkling blue eyes" and Greg's (somewhat questionable, based on the finished product) leadership skills, the remaining kids are introduced as "There's another boy by the name of Peter/The youngest one is Bob." The youngest rounds out the roster as "And sister Cindy too."
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