Greetings again readers, family and friends. Today we review “Welcome Aboard”. The episode first aired on January 25th, 1974. It took almost five seasons before the show underwent any major changes to the cast. There was no new recurring neighbor, friend or relative to the Bradys until this episode. Plenty were mentioned, passed through the house or appeared for a single episode. However, Cousin Oliver’s arrival changed all that. We all have our thoughts the character and I encourage you to share them in the comments section. Let’s begin reviewing “Welcome Aboard”!
As I have stated in previous blogs, I do not hate Cousin Oliver. Many fans bemoan his joining the show as its “Jump The Shark” moment or what ruined the show. I do not share these sentiments. The show was never a major hit when it first ran and its renewal was always in question. Aside from this episode, the character’s future appearances were limited to the likes of the other Brady kids. His arrival was not an attempt to revamp the series as “The Adventures of Cousin Oliver”, but just a failed attempt to generate some new life in to the series. Based on some other season five plot lines, the series needed all the help it could get.
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Oliver was played by Robbie Rist. He was seen fairly regularly on TV in the 1970s. I recall seeing him on What’s Happening! and CHiPs. However, he appeared on several other popular shows. The 1990s saw him voicing Michelangelo in the feature film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. He would voice the character in a sequel and continue to do voice work for several cartoon shows thereafter. IMDB lists acting credits as recent as 2018 with unreleased work for 2019. As far as a recurring role, the only acting gig I saw was Big John, Little John. After reading the plot for the series, it looks like it would have been a fun show to watch as a kid. The only occasion I know of Robbie Rist appearing with his Brady Bunch cast mates was the game show The Weakest Link. If any readers know of any others, please share.
Based on the kid’s popularity in the 70s, I wonder if Mason Reese was considered for the role of Cousin Oliver?
The story opens with Mike arriving home and Carol messing with his head. She shares there is going to be a new addition to the family. Mike immediately and understandably thinks that Carol is with child. This was kind of a crappy thing for Carol to do. Suppose this idea overjoyed Mike and only minutes later she would have to crush his happiness with the news that the new addition is eight years old? It reminds me of people who give those fake winning lottery tickets as gag gifts. It’s just wrong. Bobby and Cindy overhear Mike and Carol’s conversation and also believe the news to be that Carol is pregnant.
A few seconds later, Carol clears things up in confirming the new addition is her nephew Oliver, son to Jack and Pauline. I don’t remember Carol ever mentioning a sibling by either name before. Oliver’s father has a job in South America and is taking his wife along, but not his kid.
Upstairs, Bobby and Cindy share the news that a seventh sibling is on the way. Alice is in the girls’ room when Cindy shares the news and gets in on the misunderstanding. Greg and Peter are overjoyed at the news. Greg likes the idea so much that he rocks his guitar like a baby. Down in the kitchen, Alice and the family are extra accommodating and kind to Carol. Finally, Carol gets wind of the family’s false impression and clears things up. Alice goes to cancel the order to the diaper service. Good grief, Carol does not have as much as a baby bump showing and Alice all ready called a diaper service? Do any readers know of a diaper service still in operation?
With Oliver’s arrival only seconds away, Carol lectures the kids about the adjustment the boy will go through upon living with them. Bobby looks forward to having a younger person to push around. Seconds later, Oliver arrives to much fanfare by the other kids. He is pulled in different directions as Bobby and Cindy are anxious to spend time with him. Peter then shares the exciting news that on Saturday, the entire family is touring a movie studio. In a cute line, Oliver says if he knew living with the Bradys was going to be so much fun, he’d have come to live with them years ago.
The hoopla and excitement soon give way to bad vibes as a series of mishaps follows. The first mishap in the girls’ room must have been cut in syndication as I have no recollection of it. Jan is working on a painting of Cindy. Friends, I enjoy art and try to appreciate most any effort, but whatever Jan is working on would never hang on my wall. Why does she need Cindy to model for that travesty? Oliver tries to help Jan by retrieving more brushes and knocks the easel over, “ruining” the painting.
Next, Greg is making a sandwich Dagwood would envy. When the ketchup stubbornly refuses to exit the bottle, Oliver helps out with some whacks on it. This sends ketchup splattering all over Greg’s shirt. Next, as Oliver and Bobby play tug of war with a trash bag, Bobby goes barreling backward and breaks two flower pots. Of all the mishap scenes, this one is the weakest. The pulling effort Bobby was putting forth was nowhere near enough to send him falling backwards that far. A ripped bag that spilled Astro-turf clippings all over the yard would have been much more realistic and just as annoying to Bobby. Another bad mojo moment comes as Oliver goes to say goodnight to Mike and Carol. As he walks away, he unravels an afghan Carol has been knitting. Finally, Oliver’s snoring prompts the youngest Brady boys to attempt to roll him over in his sleep. In trying to do so, they fall from the bunk beds and break a lamp.
The next day, the kids hold a confab in the family room to discuss how their newly arrived cousin is a jinx. The previous mishaps are mentioned along with Marcia dropping some dishes. Greg and Marcia are dismissive of the jinx talk, but the four younger siblings are not. Jan even asks why he could not stay with another relative. As this conversation takes place, we see Oliver sitting outside the family room window hearing all that has been said. This scene has always made me feel sad for Oliver. Most any eight year old hearing this from his older cousins would be quite hurt. The look on Oliver’s face shows this. It was a well done scene for the new cast member.
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The next scene has Oliver exercising his miseries in the dog house. As the audience we know that dog house existed to cover a burned spot in the yard. However, why the Bradys still have a dog house after all this time without a dog is unknown. Carol has a heart to heart with Oliver and there is another talk with Mike. Mike assures the lad he is no jinx. Mike then addresses the four youngest kids about their making their newly arrived cousin feel so awful. In a very funny line, Cindy says if they’d known he was out there, they would have closed the window. Way to miss the point of Mike’s talk Cindy! I would categorize this as a clueless Cindy moment.