Goodbye Sherwood Schwartz, Thanks For The Memories

If you have watched American television in the past 40 years you have no doubt seen at least some of the work created by Sherwood Schwartz. Schwartz, who died this week at the age of 94, was responsible for creating "The Brady Bunch" and "Gilligan's Island."
But Schwartz was much more than a two-hit wonder. In fact, he was a prolific screenwriter who produced scripts for an assortment of early television programs including the Bob Hope Show. He was nominated for two Emmy Awards for his first job, writing for "The Red Skelton Hour" and he actually won one of them.
By far his greatest contribution to American pop culture, however, was his creative work on "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch."
"Gilligan's Island" started in 1964 and aired on CBS for 98 episodes. It was panned by the critics and never really caught on with audiences in its day so it was relegated to the re-run bin. The same was true of his other creation, "The Brady Bunch" which aired on ABC from 1969-1974.
These shows were considered to be sub-par creations and no one gave them much thought beyond using them as filler on their television schedule. Over the next 10 years both these shows aired repeatedly, during morning hours and early afternoon, where many young television viewers were able to watch and, as a result, learned to love the characters. An entire generation of late-stage Baby Boomers became fans of both shows, adopting the characters and their friends, their families and their favorite stars.
Because of the wild success of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" studios began looking at their re-runs in a whole different way. Shows began finding new life in syndication, where they could be aired to new audiences. If a show wasn't a hit when it ran, it might eventually end up a hit with a different generation of audience. This changed the way studios made television programs and it changed the way we all watched television.
For his part, Schwartz embraced the love of the schlock he created. He made repeated reunion shows for both "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch' including episodes where the Castaways were rescued and one with the Harlem Globe Trotters as guest stars. For "The Brady Bunch" Schwartz brought the cast back together for "A Very Brady Christmas" and at least one wedding episode.
These were characters so many of us grew to love. They were flawed, yes, but they were endearing. These were innocent shows with characters who seemed good hearted and decent folks. We wanted them to succeed. We didn't sneer at their simplicity, we embraced it. We wanted the castaways to be rescued and we wanted the Brady kids to stay in that groovy bubble they seemed to be living in. We didn't care that the stories were simplistic and the characters one dimensional. All we cared about were the stories--the coconut telephones and Marsha's broken nose are now a part of the collective childhood memories for many of us.
Goodbye to Sherwood Schwartz, and thanks for all the memories.

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