My Ten Favorite The Brady Bunch episodes, in order.
- “The Liberation of Marcia Brady.” Season 2, Episode 19.
Marcia tries to join the Frontier Scouts. In retaliation, Peter tries to join the Sunflower Girls. Marcia demonstrates over the course of the series that she’s a modern woman with a sense of fairness, often expressed in defense of others after correcting errors in her own judgment. You can say whatever you want about the Bradys, but one thing they were consistent about was that fairness is worth stiving for, even if sometimes it can’t be achieved.
- “The Voice of Christmas.” Season 1, Episode 12.
Carol comes down with laryngitis right before she’s supposed to sing in the Christmas service. I really, really don’t like Cindy episodes, and this one’s remembered for Cindy’s asking Santa to restore Carol’s voice. But I forgive the cutesiness because of two moments: the scene where Mike admonishes Santa for promising something he can’t deliver, and the one near the end when Mike is awakened by the sound of Carol humming in her sleep. “Sing!” he urges her when she wakes up. She sings “O Come All Ye Faithful” and it’s a thing of beauty. I never realized how pretty Florence Henderson was until much, much later, when I was in college, but now when I see this scene, it’s all I can think about.
- “Vote for Brady.” Season 1, Episode 11.
Greg and Marcia square off in an election for class president, which dosen’t make sense because Marcia’s younger and not even in high school yet, as we learn later in the series when she enters ninth grade. Not a very strong episode, but I love Marcia’s determination, and there’s a kind of dark undercurrent when Greg’s campaign manager suggests spreading rumors about Marcia. I like that.
- “The Not-So-Rose-Colored Glasses.” Season 3, Episode 13.
Jan gets glasses. The rest of the plot isn’t great, but I got my first pair of glasses in fourth grade, and there were things here I really related to. More importantly, Jan Brady was my first TV crush when I was a kid (years before my fourth-grade year), and I loved her in glasses. It always made me happy to see this episode.
- “Juliet is the Sun.” Season 3, Episode 7.
Another one where Marcia is uncool and then makes amends when her sense of rightness clicks in. When I was a kid, I never thought Marcia was very pretty (I was a Jan guy), but years later, even though Jan would always be my favorite Brady, I started to favor episodes where Marcia’s prettiness and her conflicts between ambition and kindness are critical plot elements, as this list probably illustrates.
- “Her Sister’s Shadow.” Season 3, Episode 10.
The famous “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” episode. Jan continues to have identity issues. I love Jan.
- “Dough Re Mi.” Season 3, Episode 16.
Greg wants to cut a record, but he needs some money, so he recruits his siblings in a new singing group in order to raise the funds. Peter’s voice begins to change, ruining the recordings until Greg writes a new song, “Time to Change,” featuring a voice-cracking solo by Peter. Nowadays, I hate sitcoms where the central characters find some reason to sing together, but in the 70s I loved it. This episode’s other song, “We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter,” is also entertaining.
- “Marcia Gets Creamed.” Season 5, Episode 7.
Yeah, that’s the actual title of the episode. I figure they can get away with this stuff since the titles of episodes were never really public when the show aired. Marcia gets a job in an ice cream parlor. She gets Peter a job there too, but Peter’s a goof-off, so Marcia fires him and hires Jan. Jan’s actually better at it than Marcia, so when the manager has to cut staff, he cuts Marcia and keeps Jan. A favorite because I like the Marcia-Jan dynamic.
- “Confessions, Confessions.” Season 2, Episode 12.
Not really that great an episode, but “Mom always said, ‘Don’t play ball in the house!'” is from this one, and it’s one of those irritating lines of dialogue you can never get out of your brain. I’m fond of it only for this reason.
- “Jan’s Aunt Jenny.” Season 3, Episode 17.
Jan finds a photo of her aunt Jenny as a kid, and she looks just like Jan. Carol invites her over, and at first Jan is horrified because she thinks Jenny (Imogene Coca) is ugly, and that Jan will grow up to look like her. But Jenny turns out to be a lovely person, and Jan realizes she would be blessed to grow up like her ebullient aunt. I like Jan-centric episodes.