No matter how much success Barry Williams may or may not have on a stage distantly removed from the plaid bell-bottoms of his “Brady Bunch” years, he continually finds himself facing down that question of questions: Did Greg ever get down with Marcia? Williams, unlike other adults who want to reinvent their teen years, gets the bonus of being able to semi-fictionalize his youth for TV in a story that has none of the “Brady Bunch” components in place. The Bunch’s top banana, Robert Reed, may have railed against the Bradys not being worthy of his Shakespearean skills, but “Growing Up” isn’t even worthy of Sherwood Schwartz.
Charmless acting, by-the-numbers directing and a seemingly dashed-together script make for a thoroughly un-”Brady” experience. “The Brady Bunch’s” appeal has endured though generations almost inexplicably — as much as it seems rooted in a removed-from-reality 1970s milieu, it continues to attract young viewers due to its resolution-heavy look at the repaired nuclear family.
But those viewers will be changing the channel just as quickly as older ones looking for the “truth” behind Maureen McCormick and Williams.
NBC has been using a clip of Marsha (Kaley Cuoco) slowly stepping into a pool to seduce Williams (Adam Brody), a story told from a distinctly different perspective in Williams’ book of the same name. Cuoco plays McCormick with a pouty sexuality that’s just plain unbelievable. Director Richard A. Colla amplifies the heat between the two Brady kids almost out of desperation — scenes featuring a stumbling drunk Reed (Daniel Hugh Kelly) and the attraction between “mother” (Rebecca Bush as Florence Henderson) and “son” (Brody) go nowhere.
Brody has some of the goofball charm of Greg’s early years, but by having the real thing, Williams himself, on camera, it’s pretty clear that replicating any Brady role without tongue in cheek is nigh impossible. Michael Tucker is admirable as an understated Schwartz.
With behind-the-scenes docus seemingly filling about four cable networks, audiences have too many — and vastly better — ways to gain insight into TV shows. “Growing Up Brady” may set some of the record straight regarding contract negotiations, the Eve Plumb-Chris Knight attraction and even what brought on the singing Brady Kids. But the presentation is as technically dull as the on-camera work is stale.