Or rather, it existed the way most houses on sitcoms do, in your mind’s eye. It was a collection of separate sets on a soundstage, edited with exterior footage to synthesize the illusion of a warm, groovy midcentury home. Mike Brady may have been an architect, but TV supplied the home’s modular parts, and your brain completed the assembly.
So like Disney Imagineers or Las Vegas casino designers, HGTV set out to build something realer than real. They would rip up the house’s actual, disappointingly conventional interior, enlarge it (by 2000 square feet, they say) and make a physical manifestation of something that never existed.
“A Very Brady Renovation” feels like the logical progression of, and the perfect metaphor for, the reboot and revival craze that has brought us “Fuller House” and “Twin Peaks: The Return,” that exhumed “Veronica Mars” and “Murphy Brown.” The vast mechanism of TV and streaming has become a “Star Trek” replicator of pop culture. If I want to see Jean-Luc Picard on my TV again: Make it so!
“The Brady Bunch” is the perfect show to reboot this way, because it has made a posthumous art of reproducing itself. Long before “Friends” liberated $100 million from Netflix’s pockets, it was the Patient Zero of TV nostalgia, extending its five-season life through reruns, spinoffs, TV movies, theatrical movies, cartoons, a variety show, memes (“Sure, Jan”) and not a few tell-alls and documentaries. Its memory surpassed its actual existence.
And memory is what HGTV is selling here — well, memory and its own brand. “A Very Brady Renovation” casts the hosts of no less than five of the network’s shows: “Good Bones,” “Restored by the Fords,” “Flea Market Flip,” “Hidden Potential” and, of course, “Property Brothers,” whose charismatic and ubiquitous Jonathan and Drew Scott anchor the 90-minute first episode.