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Recap / The Brady Bunch S 1 E 19 The Big Sprain

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Sam Franklin, the owner of the local butcher shop, was seen in only about eight episodes during the five-year run of The Brady Bunch, but was referenced in several more. It's about at this time that Sam had caught on with viewers enough that the producers apparently decided to make him a recurring character and become a confidant and someone Alice could count on when the chips were down.

Sam indeed shows his sensitive side when he foregoes a chance to go to the prestigious Meat Cutter's Ball (hosted by his union) after Alice badly sprains her ankle. Temporarily for Alice, her ankle is ... "The Big Sprain" ... but for her and Sam, it's a big step forward in their relationship.

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See, Alice was so looking forward to being Sam's date to the Meat Cutter's Ball. Even with Carol away tending to a sick aunt – indeed, Florence Henderson appears in one scene, at mid-show – for a week, Alice has had this date circled on her calendar for several weeks. So has Sam, and it was sure to be a grand time to celebrate with each other and with friends.

Then ... uh, oh!

Mike and Carol have a rule that the kids DO NOT leave their toys strewn about the floor. Bobby leaves his Chinese checkers game lying out, and one afternoon while doing the vacuuming, Alice falls. She lands wrong, and her ankle quickly suffers a small break. A sprain, as it were. Mike takes Alice to the emergency room to have it X-rayed and indeed, she's got a sprained ankle. The ankle is set in a cast and she has orders to stay off her feet for at least two weeks!

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Oh no, that means Alice won't be able to go to the Meat Cutter's Ball. She calls Sam and tearfully gives him the news. Sam understands and says he'll just go by himself, since he's expected there anyway to help roast the union boss, to which Alice (amazingly) agrees.

But then there is this other matter that affects everyone else.

Mike gathers the kids, explains Alice's injury and then – and this is most important – rhetorically asks who's going to do the cleaning, the cooking ... everything else that Alice usually does while she's recuperating. The older kids get the hint and it isn't long before Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy take on Alice's duties. At first, everything's an unmitigated disaster, but that's because they've worked as individuals and not together. Once they realize that cooperation is the key to running a smooth household, things get done, delicious meals are served, the laundry gets done and so does everything else. Mike – and Alice – are duly impressed.

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Meanwhile, Sam realizes that he just can't go to the Meat Cutter's Ball by himself. He owes it to Alice to keep her in good cheer ... and come the night of the big event, he tells his union representative that he's got other plans that have come up, and the two share a dance in Alice's room. The kids are all happy, and more importantly, so is our dear, sweet Alice.

Eventually, Alice's ankle heals and Carol's aunt gets well and she comes home. When Carol comes home, the kids excitedly run out to greet her, and so does Alice! Except she trips over her vacuum. Mike begins to scold the kids until he realizes that this time, Alice – uninjured this time, except for her pride – has only herself to blame.

Tropes present in this episode:

  • A Day in Her Apron: A mixed gender example for when the children start doing everything Alice and Carol do around the house.
  • Here We Go Again!: In the final act, when Alice has another living room accident, tripping ... over her own vacuum!
  • Lethal Chef: The girls cannot put together a decent meal. At all. (Well, Cindy does make a nice salad only to knock it over in her rush to talk to her mother on the phone) They get better, though...at least for the family meals. Jan's "famous peanut butter and pickle sandwiches", anyone?
  • Twisted Ankle: Literally, to Alice – which forms the basis of the plot.
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