Growing up, one of my favorite shows to watch after school was The Brady Bunch.
And one of the classic episodes that even you younger whippersnappers in the theme park would probably remember is The Cincinnati Kids (although I bet many fewer of you have seen or even heard of the classic gambling movie that name is a play on–extra credit: recognize the actor at 3:09 in that clip talking to Steve McQueen from a Universal attraction?).
In The Cincinnati Kids, the Brady Bunch visits Kings Island, which at the time (1973) was one of the few top-level amusement parks in the country–and had the Racers, probably the number 1 roller coaster in the country at that time. The episode is awesome all the way through for its great shots of the early days of Kings Island to the classic clothes and hairstyles of the day.
But, I want to focus on one aspect of the episode, which is the Brady Bunch Relay through Kings Island at the end of the episode. First, a little background for you poor folks who have not seen the episode. Mike Brady brought design plans in a tube canister to deliver to some business prospects and in typically 70s farce fashion, a canister was misplaced and the Bradys had to search Kings Island trying to find the canister and plans before the business prospects had to leave.
A video of this part of the episode that I will reference in the rest of this article can be found here.
The first amazing thing you will notice is that Marsha and Jan are checking out the old timey cars to see if the canister was left in a car (0:17 of the video). But notice the lax security in 1973! Marsha and Jan are just walking next to the cars in the ride itself while the workers help people out of the vehicles. A similar issue is true with Alice on the spinning barrels at 0:41. Then we get a little look at the park, food and game options for Bobby, Cindy, Greg and Peter.
But then, Jan finds the canister in the long-defunct classic ride area of Kenton’s Cove Canoes and Shawnee Landing, and the relay begins!
Now this is where I really love this episode. You have 6 young kids, a housekeeper and a mom and it takes all of them to relay the canister from the “back” of the park to the front of the park because they get so exhausted running (granted many of them are running in twos).
First Marsha and Jan take off at around the 2:06 mark (the William Tell Overture is a nice touch) and they run until they can’t run any more; fortunately, right as they are about to pass out they see Alice, who grabs the plans at 2:50 (what was she doing at the trash can?) and takes off, then she runs remarkably well (nearly taking out a young patron at 3:10) but can’t make it any farther when she sees Bobby and Cindy at 3:21. Bobby and Cindy then take off and head toward the front (check out the crowds in the background watching Bobby and Cindy run at 3:38-3:41; this was an operating day at Kings Island and the crowds watched filming, so there was no real way to get them out of the shots in some cases). Then we get to the teenage boys Greg and Peter (we must be close to the front by now) at 3:56, and even they can’t make it to the front (although they are already at International Street!) as they have to stop and pass it off to Carol (Mom) at 4:38, who finishes the “Relay.”
Now, Kings Island is a big park, but I don’t think it is so big that it takes multiple relays from multiple young, athletic people to get from the back to the front of the park! Now, of course, this is all in fun, but it is funny to see how they can decide to write a show and action that makes no sense based on the park and related issues—which leads me to my favorite conceit of the whole show. So, let’s assume Kings Island is so big that the relay had to happen, and that was the only way they could get the plans to Mike in time. Carol shows up with the plans at 5:01–and at 5:20 in real time (19 seconds later for those of you with math issues), everyone shows up to see if the plans made it in time! So all of the handing off, resting, extra running, etc., allowed Carol to make up only 19 seconds on everyone else! I think Jan and Marsha should have just hauled it to the front themselves! I love 70s TV shows!
All kidding aside, it is neat to see Kings Island from the past (don’t miss the Racers at 5:41 (hey, is that Don Helbig on there!)) and a nostalgic episode Rex and the Beast highly recommend watching if you haven’t seen it before.
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