The Brady Bunch never scored high ratings during its five year run, but this friendly family comedy has remained in reruns ever since, while bigger hits have slipped into oblivion. Pretty much everyone who grew up in the 1970s or '80s knows the show inside and out: a vision of suburban family life so utopian it's as fantastical as Neverland or Santa's workshop. And just like these imaginary realms, it casts a spell over every kid who wished all problems could be resolved with a few wise words, a good-natured shrug, or a winsome smile. The Brady Bunch: The Complete Second Season is indistinguishable from every other season but the reassuring formula is crucial to the show's appeal. Eldest brother Greg (Barry Williams) may decide he's all grown up and wants a groovy bachelor pad, or eldest sister Marcia (Maureen McCormick) may get all riled up about women's lib and decide to join the Frontier Scouts, or super-maid Alice (Ann B. Davis, whose persona is hilariously similar to Ellen DeGeneres) may fantasize about running off with an old flame but by the end of the show you know everything will return to a zen-like domestic harmony.
It's all pretty bizarre when you realize that both halves of the family have suffered the death of a parent! The most angst to be found is the relentless identity crisis of middle sister Jan (Eve Plumb), who tries to remove her freckles with lemon juice and buys a curly brunette wig to forge a new self-image. Nowadays Jan would be a prime candidate for bulimia but in the Brady world such psychodrama is unthinkable. This even emotional keel could have been creepy and antiseptic but due to the charm of the kids and the smooth yet earthy presence of Robert Reed and Florence Henderson as parents Mike and Carol Brady, The Brady Bunch just seemed nice. You wanted that to be your family. If you watched the show in your childhood, watching The Brady Bunch: The Complete Second Season as an adult will lull you into a sweet, blissful dream. --Bret Fetzer