Florence Henderson died last week. Not a shock, exactly, but still a moment to remember where I am in my own timeline. There was a time when the TV shows I watched defined me. If I was at home watching Fantasy Island or Love Boat, something had gone horribly wrong with my Saturday night. These were the late seventies and early eighties so if I were glued to my set watching Doc and Gopher and Mister Roarke, it meant that my social life had hit the equivalent of an iceberg. The thought of slowly sinking into the freezing waters of high school nerd was too frightening. The same could not be said for my fascination with the Brady Bunch. The story of a lovely lady and her three golden haired offspring entering into a blended family situation with man with three boys of his own was must-see TV for me. When I was seven years old, the idea that my parents would go out to dinner and leave us home to fend for our frozen dinners and ourselves didn't bother me as long as I had my spot in front of the tube staked out when the Bradys came on.
It was comfort food. It was ridiculously wholesome, and the fact that there was no problem so big or so complicated that it couldn't be dealt with in thirty minutes was a huge comfort to me. Even those two-part episodes that took them to exotic locales like Hawaii or the Grand Canyon never gave me too much need for concern. Carol and Mike would have their brood all settled down before the credits rolled.
But what about those moments before they got together? What sort of convenient accident brought these recently single lovebirds into each other's lives? The fact that I cannot recall any of the girls once exclaiming, "You're not my real dad!" makes me wonder now just what kind of nefarious scheme they cooked up to make such a smooth transition. Were the kids in on it? The thought of Bobby and Cindy being complicit in their respective parents' untimely demise is perhaps too much for us all to bear, but I can't help but wonder. In the first episode, Bobby looks longingly at a photo of his departed mom, but by the end of the episode it's a mess of a wedding cake that is the real concern. Sorry about those psychic scars, kids - say, anyone want to have a sack race in the back yard?
Maybe I shouldn't ask for so much from my pop culture past. I know that Opie missed his old housekeeper and wasn't looking forward to having Aunt Bea coming to stay with him and his dad the Sheriff, but what exactly happened to open up that spot in the household? Could this explain why Andy Taylor never carried a gun. Not since...The Accident...
Aloha, Carol Brady. Aloha Florence Henderson. Thanks for stomping so mightily on my TV Terra way back when.