Cartoons

Cult Cartoon Essentials: The Brady Kids

The Brady Kids was an animated television series, produced by Filmation in association with Paramount Television and seen on ABC from 1972 to 1973. It was an animated based on ABC’s live action sitcom, The Brady Bunch and spun off another Filmation series, Mission: Magic!, starring rock star Rick Springfield.

The original show’s six children (Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, and Susan Olsen) voiced their animated counterparts in the first season; however, as the series’ name implies, the parents and Alice the housekeeper characters were omitted from the show. At the end of the first season, Filmation asked the kids to continue on their existing contracts for another five episodes in a second season. The kids’ original answer was no, prodded on by their agent Harvey Shotz. Filmation threatened to both sue the children over breach of contract, and to continue the show without their voices. Lookinland, Plumb, and Olsen agreed to the extended Filmation contract, while Williams, Knight, and McCormick did not. Williams’s and McCormick’s voices were replaced by the children of producer Lou Schiemer (Lane and Erika Scheimer, respectively), while Knight’s voice was replaced by David E. Smith.

The animated series also added some animal characters. Marlon (voiced by Larry Storch) was an intelligent, red, talking mynah bird and also a wizard who used his magic to help the kids out of jams. Marlon was also notable for his method of flight: he spun his tail feathers like a helicopter rotor rather than using his wings, which were instead used as hands, often for grand gestures as he cast spells.

The Bradys’ dog from the live-action series, Tiger, was replaced by a dog named Mop Top (also voiced by Storch). There were also twin panda cubs, Ping and Pong (voiced by Jane Webb), named after the game ping-pong. The pandas only spoke in a Chinese-like gibberish.

There were three human characters created for this show: Chuck White (Storch) was a boastful, self-absorbed teenager (about Greg’s age) who was not above cheating to get whatever he wanted, Fleetwood (Storch) was his easygoing sidekick and rounding out this trio was Babs (voiced by Webb), a cute redhead who was smitten with Greg. The three of them went to the same school as the Bradys, and Chuck was sometimes central to the plot as an antagonist.

An enormous amount of animation for this series was copied over from another popular Filmation series, The Archie Show. Walk cycles, profile pictures, and scenes where the Brady kids play in a band were all frame-by-frame replacements for looped frames originally seen of The Archies on The Archie Show. Many of Moptop’s poses were copied from the Archies’ character Hot Dog. Fleetwood’s poses and walk cycles were often copied from Rudy of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

A total of 22 episodes were produced and the opening sequence featured the fourth season “grid” familiar to The Brady Bunch viewers, without the center column that is normally occupied by the adults (Mike, Carol and Alice). Near the end of the theme song (featuring new lyrics set to the original Brady Bunch theme with a 70’s style beat), Marlon flies up and down the center, “magically” transforming the live-action children into their animated counterparts.

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