Before I even begin two points. Yeah I just did one of these with The Brady’s a few weeks ago, but the thing is that I have always wanted to discuss these episodes back to back so even though I just talked about The Brady Bunch, I really want to do this one. The other thing is regarding The Cosby Show. Without gettingÂ into a big thing, that show is and will always be loved by me no matter what the people on it did in their personal lives. So I see no harm in discussing the episode. Ok now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s begin!
Hello my friends, welcome back as I take two episodes of different series with the same plot and see which did it better. So what happens when a sweet family shows tries to tackle a tough subject? Chances are it will be a bit lukewarm, but two episodes managed to do it well and remain memorable. Those episodes were from:
I am comparing “Where There’s Smoke” from The Brady Bunch’s second season to “Theo and the Joint” from The Cosby Show’s first season. They both basically tackled the same issue, except that it wasn’t plain old cigarette’s Theo got caught with. But we’ll dicuss that as we go. So which show tackled this better?
ROUND 1:BASIC PREMISE
On Brady, Greg gets caught smoking by Jan and Cindy. After promising he will never do it again, a pack of cigarettes falls out of his jacket pocket. On Cosby, Claire accidentally knocks over Theo’s book and a joint falls out. Is it really his?
WINNER-Peer pressure makes more sense than how Theo gets stuck with the joint (more on that coming). Brady Bunch wins makes more sense.
ROUND 2:How Does the Plot Begin?
Brady:Greg runs into some friends in a band he wants to join, and when his friend Tommy offers a cigarette he ends up taking it to fit in with the group. As he coughs and coughs, Jan and Cindy catch him in the act. Not knowing what to do, they go to Marcia who is torn about whether to go Mike and Carol.
Cosby:Theo is running off to play freeze football, and while dashing off Cliff comes home with Vanessa and Rudy. As he tries to get the two out of their winter clothing, Claire appears saying she needs to talk to Cliff right away. Claire reveals how she found the joint after knocking over Theo’s book, and Cliff tells her not to jump to conclusions until they talk to Theo.
VERDICT-We feel Greg’s peer pressure here, and Marcia’s worrying about what to do is nicely handled. Thanks to Alice she goes to her parents. All we get in Cosby is Cliff and Claire panicking about what the joint means, and while she is a mother she’s also an attorney who can be logical and cool, that scene is a little hard to swallow.
Round 3:How does the complication occur?
Brady:After Marcia decides to tell her parents, they go discuss the matter with Greg. They decide to not punish him, instead insisting he never do it again and making telling him that smoking is bad and not worth it. After Mike and Carol leave, Carol decides to join an anti-smoking group (who is led by Tommy’s mother) while Marcia appears to tell Greg she was the one who snitched. He forgives her of course.
Cosby:Theo comes home after his football game fell apart.Â Cliff and Claire confront him, and Theo insists that it was not his joint. Cliff and Clair do not overreact, they merely reaffirm that he is not allowed to do drugs, ever. Theo says it wasn’t his, so Cliff and Claire decide that’s enough. However, Theo is upset and tells Denise that he feels like he is being punished anyway.
VERDICT-I’ll get into how uninformed these episodes are in a bit. The scene where Mike and Caol talk is very nice, honest and the two treat it seriously but don’t overreact. Same goes for Cliff and Claire, who are honest and tough but reasonable. They both believe their kids, and decide case closed. Why can’t real parents be like these two? And it;s ironic that after Greg talks to Marcia and Theo talks to Denise. It’s reallt like these episodes are a copy of each other. The winner? Tough call (I’ll say that a lot) I think Cliff and Claire are more firm and do a better job getting their point across. And while the scene between Greg and Marcia is really good, the scene between Denise and Theo is better. I liked the way Denise was a real big sister to him.
Round 4:How does the complication get more complicated?
Brady:Greg comes home and when he tosses his jacket, a pack of cigarette’s come out of the pocket. To make matters worst Tommy’s mother is there, and when Carol believes Greg when he says they’re not his cigarettes the mother decides Carol shouldn’t be in there group if she is so blind. Greg is unhappy, and decides he has to find out who left the cigarettes in his pocket. His attempts to come to a conclusion by discussing it with the other kids strike out (and is really just an excuse to give the other kids some lines).
Cosby:Theo decides he is going to go to school and find the guy who left the joint in his book. The next day, he tracks the guy down (which makes more sense in the uncut version, in the syndicated version Theo seems like he’s a mind reader. Also in the re-run Denise tells Theo that Cliff and Claire were asking about him, but the scene where they actually do that is cut making Denise look like a mind reader also). The guy, named Braxton, admits it though it was unintentional, and Theo says that he is going to tell his parents it was his. Braxton laughs and tells Theo there’s now way, and Theo threatens to fight him if necessary.
VERDICT-Yeah the amount of trust shown by Carol here is a little hard to swallow. I mean he was caught red handed, how can she just believe him so easily? Even Greg himself says he wouldn’t have believed him! The way Theo got stuck with the joint is dumb. The teacher walked in and Braxton stuck it in Theo’s book before the teacher could see. Why? He says he didn’t have a book, couldn’t he have shoved it in his pocket? I get the feeling the writers couldn’t come up with anything so just made it up. The way Greg gets stuck with the cigarette’s is more believable. However, that being said the real deciding factor is that Theo is much more active then Greg to find the culprit, he hunts the guy down and confronts him while Greg just sits around and thinks about it rather than do something like question his friends. Easy winner here.
Round 5:What about that B story?
Neither really have a B Story. Cosby has a few cute scenes regarding dressing kids in heavy winter clothing. Also a scene in Cliff’s office with a pregnant woman which is too long and has no purpose, but Cosby always had those in the early days (Iman is in this episode? COOL!) The closest Brady has to a B story is Marcia debating to tell her parents what Greg did, whis lasts about five minutes. However, Cosby wins this because there is a scene between Cliff and Vanessa which I adore. It’s one of my favorite scenes in any episode. She was a gossip in tehse early days and loved being nosy, so she is pumping hin for details on what happened to Theo. And Cliff, very adult like, is deflecting her questions. I couldn’t resist and did link that part of the episode. Check it out HERE, I love it.
Round 6:How is complication resolved?
Brady:Alice once again shows that she is smarter than everyone. After talking to Greg trying to recreate the scene of the crime, she hands him his jacket and realizes it has no stitching. She had sewn it up a month before. That means the jacket isn’t his…and neither are the cigarettes! Tommy and his mother arrive, Tommy figuring the jackets had been switched (he found a paper with Greg’s name on it, that he somehow didn’t miss having). Greg tells himÂ that his mom found the cigarettes, and tells Mike and Carol. He doesn’t want to tell his mother, but ends up doing just that. The mother apologizes to Greg and Carol and promises Tommy they will have a long discussion about this as they leave,
Cosby:Theo somehow (it happened off screen) convinces Braxton to come clean with his folks. When Braxton explains it was his joint, Cliff says that while not the kids father he does think he should talk to someone. Cliff asks Theo why he chased Braxton down when he was told it was cool. Theo explains it was important to clear his name. Cliff said it wasn’t necessary, they said they believed him and that should have been enough. It’s a small Cliff speech but enough. Braxton and Theo are then friends, and Theo invites him to play freeze football. As long as he isn’t high.
VERDICT-Ok, how did Greg not notice that it wasn’t his jacket? That being said,Â for what they are the scenes both work. In fact the scene where Greg has Tommy tell Mike and Carol is remarkably similar to when Theo makes Braxton confess to Cliff. Of course, being a doctor Cliff is a little more preachier telling Braxton that he has a problem andÂ should get some help while Mike and Carol just encourage the truth. In fact they are oddly quiet during the scene. But even so, I love the final scene in Brady. The way Tommy’s mother is made to look like a hypocrite is so well done. And there’s no preaching, no begging for forgiveness just telling the truth. And Carol handles things very nicely, simply saying that she will be at that next meeting. The Cliff and Theo talk is rushed, maybe if that scene in the office was shorter they could have had more time (Notice Brady had to have two incidents to fill the plot, it’s almost like two episodes in one, while Cosby didn’t because there was so much filler). And why isn’t Claire in the scene?
There is one problem with these episodes, we are told that cigarettes and drugs are bad but never why. Carol says they have “evidence”, of something. And Cliff and Claire never go beyond “not in my house you don’t!”. So as a PSA these episodes fail. They do work as regular episodes because both Greg and Theo act believably, and it doesn’t feel like they don’t care or it’s not a big deal. In both cases we want to know what happened and are invested, plus there are plenty of laughs to go around. One thing I notice is that these shows play things very safe with the characters. Both Greg and Theo were just stuck with the cigarette’s and joint, though Greg does smoke so there is that. Also the true perps were nice guys, Braxton tries to be tough be it doesn’t last. But if you want believable situations you don’t look to either of these shows.
Round 7:Final Scene
Brady:Greg comes back from the concert (that was part of the plot, Greg joining Tommy’s band and playing with them). Mike and Carol are amused by the hip lingo he uses. Typical Brady ending.
Cosby:Theo tries freeze football again, and Claire catches him playing without his hat and gloves. It’s an ok ending.
VERDICT-Cosby goes out on a bigger laugh, and ends a better episode.
And the final winner and better episode is from:
Final Conclusion:Cosby was more realistic (for Cosby anyway) and the fact the problem was drugs and not just cigarette’s makes a difference. Plus the involvement of the other characters is done better, in Brady the kids scenes feel forced. Both good episodes, but I think Cosby did it a bit better of course the episode aired ten years later so that only seems logical.