Forty years after their heyday, “The Brady Bunch” still gets plenty of press (and television airtime!). But what about some of television’s forgotten families? Do they really need a “Partridge Family” bus to get attention?
Family life has always been a part of our television horizon: from Ozzie and Harriet’s brood back in the 1950s to today’s more “Modern Family.” But somewhere in the shuffle, some families got lost (or at least gypped when it came to syndication!). Here’s a look back at five of television’s forgotten families.
The Apples (“Apples Way”). Okay, so maybe it was just a two-season wonder to some, but back in 1974 the television series “Apples Way” introduced viewers to the Apples, a family of relocated dreamers. The show had an impressive cast, with Ronny Cox as an architect dad who relocates his family from Los Angeles to Iowa. A “Tiger Beat” worthy Vincent Van Patten and pre-teen Kristy McNichol were also on tap but alas, this star studded cast just wasn’t enough to keep the Apples from falling from the network tree.
The Lawrences (“Family”). There’s something about….Kristy McNichol? She may have not thrived as an Apple, but two years later she was back on network TV with “Family.” This series centered on the Lawrence family and the topics were timely (McNichol’s character, Buddy, struggled with whether or not to have sex, even with teen dream Leif Garrett as the bait). Meredith Baxter played big sis Nancy on the show, just a couple years before she had a brood of her own on “Family Ties.”
The Monroes (“My World and Welcome To it”). In a show that was light years ahead of its time, William Windom starred as John Monroe, a writer and artist who closely resembled “New Yorker” cartoonist James Thurber, in the 1969 sitcom “My World and Welcome To It.” John’s wife and precocious daughter (Lisa Gerritsen) rounded out the Monroe family, but this smart show was axed after one season when the welcome mat was unceremoniously pulled from it.
The Lubbocks (“Just the Ten of Us”). Big families on TV are nothing new (the Brady’s, the Bradfords from “Eight is Enough”) but somehow this big family didn’t stay in viewers’ minds. A spinoff from the popular 1980s family sitcom, “Growing Pains,” “Just the Ten of Us” followed recurring character Coach Lubbock home to his huge family: a wife, seven kids and another baby on the way. The New York based family relocated to California, where Lubbock got a job as a gym teacher at an all-boys Catholic school while simultaneously trying to keep his wild teen daughters under control.
The Baxters (“Hazel”). In the 1960s June Cleaver may have been the most high profile TV mom, what with her immaculate house and incessant pearl-wearing. But on the TV series “Hazel” the Baxter family had a clean house too, even if it was kept clean by a bumbling housekeeper (Shirley Booth). What may have made this family fall into the “forgotten” category is that Hazel the maid often stole the Baxter family’s thunder. And by the later seasons the family’s only son, Harold, was shipped off to live with an uncle. Out of sight, out of mind!