Television

We'll miss you, Sherwood Schwartz

Florence Henerson (Carol Brady), left, and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) give Sherwood Schwartz a kiss. (Associated Press)

As a child of the ’70s, I grew up on a steady diet of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” reruns after school.

So it was with a bit more sadness than I would have expected that I processed the news that Sherwood Schwartz, the shows’ creator, died today.

I joked with my co-workers that I thought it should be our main story on the front page Wednesday with a big spread inside. I joked that I may develop Alzheimer’s as I grow older, but I’ll still be singing those theme songs.

But inside, it isn’t really a joke. I may not be able to mention every episode title or guest star, but those shows are indelibly impressed on my psyche.

True story: I got into journalism because of “The Brady Bunch.” And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

When my friends and I graduated to junior high, we wanted to be on the debate team like Jan in that episode where she got nervous and Mike advised her to picture everyone in their underwear.

My junior high didn’t have a debate team, so we joined the school newspaper instead. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I learned all sorts of important life lessons from “The Brady Bunch.” Don’t jump to conclusions (Jan wasn’t allergic to Tiger, after all, it was his flea powder). Stay away from footballs (“Oh, my nose!”). And always take a briefcase to court (so you can drop it and fake out the guy in the fake neck brace).

I probably absorbed some life lessons from “Gilligan’s Island,” too, but I mostly remember that one for the laughs. And even when you’re 7, you wonder how the Professor could build all those wonderful contraptions but couldn’t patch a boat.

I followed both series through various TV movies, cartoons (thanks, Filmation!) and spin-off series. I couldn’t get enough of them. When I was an intern

Those shows stick with us because, buried beneath the canned laughs and the canned sentiment are some universal truths about love and family — the one you’re born with and the one you create. You bicker, you fight, you may even pull a punch, but, in an ideal world, you always make up in the end.

That’s what we all want, that sense of comfort from the ones we love. And since we don’t always get it, it’s nice to turn on the TV (and maybe pop in a DVD these days), and you’re taken to a place where others do.

And you can smile. And sing along. And Alice or Mary Ann will be there with a pork chop or a pie and a quip that will make it all better.

Sorry, I couldn’t find a decent, embeddable version of “Gilligan’s Island.”

http://youtu.be/Ou-FeOoKDq4

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.