By 1973, the Brady Bunch Kids was an actual, viable singing group ... actually made up of the actors and actresses who played the kids on The Brady Bunch which at this point was five juvenile actors and one adult (Barry Williams had just turned 18 in the fall of 1972, when this episode was filmed). Already, they had released an album, Meet the Brady Bunch, which famously had the first-ever cover of Don McLean's "American Pie," and a second album, The Kids from the Brady Bunch, was in the works.
How much talent the Brady Kids had is left to debate, although Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick and Mike Lookinland (especially the latter one) were excellent vocalists, and also good at playing instruments. Still, the kids sold out their fair share of shows, and according to Williams in his various autobiographies once co-headlined with such contemporary acts of the early-to-mid 1970s as the 5th Dimension and Tony Orlando and Dawn, and also headlined their own shows at various county and state fairs (on the "family friendly" night, as opposed to rock nights that featured acts such as Three Dog Night and the like).
Included in their output was probably what could be considered their biggest "hit" "It's a Sunshine Day," a recording that incidentally does not include any solo vocals from Barry Williams. Indeed, four different Bradys have solo parts: McCormick, Mike Lookinland (twice), Susan Olsen and Eve Plumb. They're actually quite good, and while the single did get a little bit of airplay on top 40 and MOR stations of the era, it wasn't enough to break them into the Billboard magazine's Hot 100, and because of the format of oldies and classic hits stations the song is a rarely heard chestnut today.
Except if you are a regular Brady viewer ... and you happen to catch the Brady Kids on ... "Amateur Night."
"It's a Sunshine Day" is actually the Bradys audition song, as the kids are hoping for a spot on "The Pete Sterne Amateur Hour," a locally produced talent show. What led them to this point? Well, it's Mike and Carol's anniversary, and the kids want to buy their folks a new silver platter as a gift. Jan had gone shopping earlier and announces to her brothers and sisters she had found a real bargain a platter with engraving at just 85 cents! The kids decide that's the gift they'll buy.
When Jan goes to the department store to pick up the tray, the clerk hands her a bill ... for $56.23! Jan is shocked and says, in essence, "Hey, that's not the price we agreed upon." Before she has a chance to file a bait-and-switch complaint, the clerk reminds her he indeed did very carefully, at that explain the pricing ... it was 85 cents per letter (for 63 engraved letters), not 85 cents total, and then you've got to add in California's state sales tax of 5 percent. Jan, who admits she didn't pay attention, explains the situation to Greg, and that prompts a bunch of brainstorming.
Eventually, Greg sees a TV commercial advertising "The Pete Sterne Amateur Hour," calling for amateur acts, and an announced grand prize of $100, which is more than enough to cover the cost of the platter. The kids name themselves the Silver Platters (after their intended gift) and they attempt to rehearse their act in secret, giving hasty explanations whenever spotted by their parents or Alice.
"It's a Sunshine Day" comes into play when the kids perform their audition. Sterne is impressed enough and invites them to perform on the television show, to be broadcast live.
During the live broadcast, the competitive portion of the show, the "Silver Platters" perform an uptempo ditty called "Keep On." Shortly before the Bradys take the stage, Alice turns on the TV and is about to leave the room ... when she sees the beginning of the Bradys' live performance. She recognizes the performers and excitedly calls Mike and Carol into the room. They hear Greg explain the siblings' plans, and Mike and Carol are touched.
In the end, the Silver Platters place third, with a dog act called Patty's Prancing Poodles winning the competition (the second place prize is never revealed). Mike later reveals he paid the remaining cost of the platter.
The Brady Bunch Kids would continue to tour and record new albums through 1974, when The Brady Bunch was cancelled. Although, there were plans for the younger half - Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen to form a new musical group, called "The Brady Bunch Three" next year, the ailing Paramount Records devision pulled the plug on it, even though publicity photos of the three kids had already gone into circulation and even costumes had been made. Perhaps this was the setup to The Brady Bunch Hour, but sometimes it's good to indulge in a little bubblegum teen pop of the 1970s, and this episode was a prime example.
And by the way, select tracks from the Brady Kids' albums were included in a CD (and downloadable from iTunes as well) called appropriately enough It's a Sunshine Day: The Best of the Brady Bunch, and it's been fairly successful; both "It's a Sunshine Day" and "Keep On" are on the album, as are solo tracks from Williams, McCormick and Florence Henderson, and a duet with McCormick and Chris Knight. Not bad for a group of kids who weren't really a full-time musical act and never once charted on the Billboard Hot 100 or Top 200 albums chart.
Tropes present in this episode:
- Anniversary: Mike and Carol have been married four years at this point. It is established sometime after the first episode aired that Mr. Brady and the former Carol Martin were married in what is implied to be sometime in late 1968, as in the third-season episode "The Not So Rose-Colored Glasses" (aired in December 1971) they had been married three years.
- However, since this episode aired in January 1973, a firm wedding anniversary date for Mike and Carol Brady had not been established, although the later A Very Brady Christmas from 1988 (aired in December 1988) established the couple as having been married 20 years, and perhaps pinning the date down further as being sometime in either late November or early December.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: It was apparent in the episode who were the untalented half of the Brady kids. Chris Knight and Susan Olsen were totally not into the whole thing - Chris, who by his own admission is a terrible singer, was likely not even singing in either of the songs. Susan also had no rhythm in either song, and both of them had trouble remembering the choreography. Eve Plumb was slightly better, though it looked like she was in pain towards the end of "Keep On".
- Meanwhile, the other three were the enthusiastic half. Though it is odd that although Barry Williams is very talented singer - while he was good, he didn't stand out or give himself a solo in either song. Maureen was also very decent, but Mike Lookinland, who was the most musical of all six of them, was the real star of both performances with his groovy solo in "Sunshine Day" and quite far-out dancing for an amateur talent show, though in the Brady Bunch Hour, it became apparent he was not a good dancer.
- Idiot Ball: Brought up by Marcia when Jan admits her error. This is why you always read the fine print before ordering anything, kids.
- Talent Show: The fictional "Pete Sterne Amateur Hour," one of a slew of locally produced shows talent shows included from the Brady universe.
- Teen Pop: How the Brady Kids were marketed, and what most of their material is, including both songs from this show "Keep On" and "It's a Sunshine Day." Very much in line with similar acts of the era, including Bobby Sherman, the Jackson 5 (and a solo Michael Jackson), The Partridge Family (and a solo David Cassidy), the Osmonds (and a solo Donny Osmond) and the pre-disco Bee Gees.