‘The Brady Bunch’: The Inspiration Behind the Spin-Off Movie ‘A Very Brady Christmas’

by Josh Lanier

The Brady Bunch has a strange half-life. TV executives have canceled and resurrected the show in new forms more than half a dozen times. There are even movies with new actors playing the Brady characters.

But one of the more surprising entries in the pantheon of The Brady Bunch spin-offs is A Very Brady Christmas.

ABC canceled The Brady Bunch in 1974 after five seasons. Constant behind-the-scenes fighting between Robert Reed and creator Sherwood Schwartz was causing problems. And the cast was about to sit down with Paramount Studio officials to negotiate new contracts. So, executives axed the program to avoid having to deal with it.

But as the show entered syndication, The Brady Bunch found new fans. The show was on somewhere in the world at any time of day, The Brady Bunch Exposed documentary said. The newfound popularity led to some TV specials and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

But after an anemic The Brady Brides venture failed in 1981, it seemed the show was over. But in 1985, Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady, found herself in the midst of a career renaissance. She had her own talk show and was capitalizing on her former glory years as a Brady.

All the while, a new bunch of fans were finding the show via re-runs in syndication once again. And this led Sherwood Schwartz to come up with what he felt was a “can’t miss” opportunity: A Very Brady Christmas.

Sherwood Schwartz explained his idea to the American Archive of Television in 1997.

“First of all, you have not only The Brady Bunch, which everybody loves,” he said. “You have Christmas — you can’t discount Christmas. So, you put those two elements together, and you have yourself a very big rating.”

‘The Brady Bunch’ Was Back … Again

Studio executives wants to capitalize on this renewed popularity and ordered three more Brady movies. The first movie was to air in January 1990, but executives decided that they would change their plans — again.

This wouldn’t just be a Brady Bunch movie, it would serve as a pilot for a new show about the now-adult Brady children and their lives. But there was a twist. This wouldn’t be a comedy. The Bradys — as it was named — would be a one-hour drama. Even the iconic intro had a new, more adult theme to it. You can watch it here.

Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady, didn’t return for the show, and another actress replaced her in the series.

“With all apologies to those that created the show, I had a feeling that this format would not,” said Eve Plumb, who returned to play Jan Brady.

The cast openly mocked the show during interviews, and made fun of the over-the-top premises, the documentary shows.

Critics panned the show and old beefs resurfaced. Robert Reed and Sherwood Schwartz began having heated battles again behind the scenes again.

The show was cancelled a year later in 1991.