Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Man Who Gave Us The Brady Bunch & Gilligan's Island

If you see the name Sherwood Schwartz you probably think,  how do I know him?  His name was embedded in my brain from watching the  closing  credits of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.  He was the creator of the two iconic 60's/70's shows. 

Sherwood passed away yesterday at age 94.

He started writing for Bob Hope's radio show and continued to write for radio until he moved to television.   According to the LA Times, He made his move to television in 1952, spending two years writing for Joan Davis' situation comedy "I Married Joan." In addition to "The Red Skelton Show," Schwartz also wrote for the sitcom "My Favorite Martian" in the early 1960s.

In 1965 Schwartz read that 1/3 of American households included at least one child from a previous marriage.  This was the inspiration for The Brady Bunch, which took him more than three years to sell.
I remember being excited every Friday night to watch new episodes of The Brady Bunch followed by The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, Room 222 and Love, American Style.  If I got punished, I was not allowed to watch the Brady Bunch. This was before VCRs, DVRs and On Demand.  This was torture. 

Both The Bradys and Gilligan's Island were about family at their core.  Here were different people being thrown together in a created situation.  The Bradys were a combination of Carol and Mike's kids combined by a marriage.  The castaways were expecting to be with each other for three hours.  Why Thurston Howell III didn't have his own boat is a bit of a mystery as well as how Ginger was able to take all those clothes changes with her on a three hour tour.  Needless to say, these groups had their differences (as needed in all good sitcoms), but they truly cared for each other and looked out for one another.

In a classic Gilligan reference, the Happy Days gang is sitting around the TV (Happy Days was a spin off from Love American Style) and Mrs Cunningham declares (I'm paraphrasing) "If the professor can build a movie studio, why can't he get them off the island?"  Good question. As many times as I've seen Gilligan's Island originally and in reruns, I don't recall ever seeing an episode where they got rescued.  I have a strange feeling years later there was a TV movie that handled this.

Sherwood wrote the lyrics to the themes to both those shows.  Back then all you had to do was watch the opening and listen to the theme song to get the premise of the show.  It was brilliant TV and I thank Sherwood for it.

Of note: Depending on what year the show was broadcast, the Professor and Maryann might be dissed in the theme song. They were at one point referred to as "and the rest."

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