You know someone is doing something right when your inner child squeals in delight.
That's what happened when Lifetime announced Blending Christmas, starring Haylie Duff, Aaron O'Connell, and members of The Brady Bunch!
We had a chance to chat with Peter Brady himself, Christopher Knight, who shared his thoughts on the enduring love for the iconic show and working again with Barry Williams, Susan Olsen, and Mike Lookinland.
Hi, Christopher. How are you?
I'm very well, thank you. How are you?
I'm doing just great. When I was a kid, I would've never imagined I'd have a chance to talk with Peter Brady.
[laughs] You didn't think you'd still be alive. Well, it's the holiday season. Dreams do come true, no matter how small they might have been.
Exactly. Blending Christmas is such a fun concept to get all of you guys back together. How was it presented to you?
Well, like most things, it dawned on me slowly. It was like, "What?" It was a concept first. Did we get a script originally? Because this thing was initially pitched in early 2020. And of course, then it disappeared, thinking like most things did during the first round of COVID. And then I was very pleased and surprised that it came back to life.
Though I had at that point not worked at all, not traveled at all, sort of hunkered down and was rather surprised that, in fact, productions were actually gearing up or getting back to work. And was concerned or more concerned about how that worked because that was new than the actual project itself.
But nonetheless, the whole idea of the blending, I was thinking, "Why are they getting the four of us back together and not playing our ... " We call it stunt casting. I said, "What kind of movie?" I should have just known, but sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.
So here I am looking at it too closely; not recognizing the blend part makes all the sense in the world. Once we start working together and take a step back and look at it from a little higher altitude, it makes all the sense in the world. And this obviously is what the production had in mind from the very beginning because we are really the epitome of a blend.
We remind everybody of what a healthy, functioning blended family can be. And though it might not have been something that had been represented much at the time we did the show, it is probably as prevalent as homogeneous, single, nonblended families are today.
So, it constitutes a great deal of the realities in people's lives. And we are that model, and we are the model that functions, brings warmth and resolution happily, from respect to one another and never saying, "You're not my real mom."
So in that part, we're the very model of a Christmas blended family. We can get over the obstacle, given a half-hour. You give us an hour and a half, and we can create more obstacles that we can get over.
Brady Bunch episodes are similar to Christmas movies in that regard, without the Christmas component, except that you start with a small problem that blows out of proportion that the family comes together to help resolve.
And in this case, it's a bigger family, and problems are all resolved in the end. I hope I'm not giving anything away. If somebody else wants that, it's a warm cuddle. It's a hug. And that's what we want at Christmastime. So, very happy to be part of Lifetime's It's a Wonderful Lifetime lineup this holiday season.
I was scratching my head as to why we haven't done more Christmas movies up to this point because Brady is Christmas. The Brady wholesomeness and goodness is sort of what we all look for around Christmastime. Maybe we should look for it beyond Christmastime.
What did it feel like playing relatives but not the Brady brothers?
We're all brothers. We are uncles of Haylie Duff's characters. And Susan is the aunt of Aaron O'Connell's character Liam. So yes, we're uncles, their aunt coming together.
And let's just say that if Eve or Maureen would've been able to do the project, there would've been more aunts on Liam's side of the family. One of the aunts was represented by a tablet. You know?
The fact is that, and Barry doesn't agree, this is a great opportunity not to play Greg or play a Brady. I'm thinking, "But what Brady's are is ... " Peter represents the middle brother, Greg represents the older brother. Bobby represents the younger brother. And it doesn't matter what the name is.
To me, that is what we were in the original show and what we play in this. So to me, the name is different, but though we're not playing Brady's in, we're still playing or representing that position, in my case, the middle brother. So it all felt natural and well-honed, well-worn shoes, I guess.
When I talked to Aaron O'Connell, he said the camaraderie between all of you was just off the charts, and it made the whole set comfortable right off the bat. So you have carried that kind of love apparently through the decades, which is pretty unique.
He was just outstanding. He's a wonderfully warm individual himself.
It was a great cast, a great warm, accommodating, loving. It was the movie.
And I don't know how much we contribute to that. But it seems that whatever the Brady thing was when it's realized, it's infectious. And it surrounds us like a blanket. So maybe that's what you see when you watch it. Hopefully, you're comforted in the same way we were in doing it.
Why do you think that people still look to the Bradys and your role in it as significantly as they do all these years later? I mean, it's still a cultural zeitgeist, even people who may have never seen the original show. What's that magic? Why has it remained?
Because it's relatable, I mean, there is not a person alive who either doesn't have a family or yearn for one. And we are aspirational in that regard. And it's amazing to us and that years of listening to fans chatter back to us about what it meant to them growing up. And again, kids.
Your memories from childhood are much more present throughout life than the varied memories we have of all the other years they're following. And that's perhaps because as those memories are being laid down, they're new.
When you're ten years old, every year is one 10th of your life at that point. As you grow older, it becomes less and less the percentage of our life. So those first memories were sort of welded to us, and that first place that we find our sense of self is home. And that's what the Bradys were about.
I mean, it was about the culture of home. And when everybody has a desire for that place to be a good place to be. And we, for some became a good place; they joined us in that place. They do not have it personally for themselves.
Others having a very similar large family thought it paralleled theirs. And in both cases, the show worked.
And as we grow older and become adults, we're thrust into a world that's not as comfortable as family. It's not as simple as family, and we yearn for it, especially as times get difficult and times get confusing, and times get unsure. We become unsure of the times.
Then we earn for more surety. And that's certainly what you get when you watch a Brady episode, and you watch a holiday Christmas movie is the surety that you're going to be comforted and have a happy ending.
And we want happy endings around Christmas.
I just wish that we work towards them all year long, more diligent, because it is as much a choice. And that feeling at Christmas, though maybe it's a special seasonal feeling, what's in your heart doesn't have to be just open around the holiday. We should work on opening it the other 10, 11 months of the year.
What did you enjoy about filming Blended Christmas?
The fact is, it wasn't a full Brady thing. Your comment about what Aaron said, it's sort of a moment to take stock of that. Though it wasn't all of us, it was four of us. We come in with a gravity that has the ability to affect those people around us.
Not necessarily that present with that, that is happening, because we just interact with each other as though we've known each other for the 52 years that we've known each other. So there's a lot of familiarity there that brings comfort.
And that it spills over and infects others and makes them more comfortable is certainly a good thing. Not something that I was that aware of, but certainly should have been because, of course, that's going to happen.
And so, what we have personally seems to end up on screen. I know that our fans and others that may not even be fans, but just curious, are very comforted, knowing that we're all friends.
It's important that we're all friends. I mean, and that came screaming through when we did the HGTV renovation project. And the fans and the viewership and all and questions that we get, "Are you friends?"
And then that we say, "Yes." They got to see how in that particular case, our personalities, not a scripted individual playing as though they're friends.
We're really there as ourselves being friends.
And of course, then you see it when there's a project like Blending Christmas, just come out because look, other than my own brother and sister, there's no one on this planet that I have known as long as Barry Williams and Michael Lookinland, Susan Olsen, Eve Plumb, and Maureen McCormick. So they are family members.
They're family. What would you say to people if they're not sure if they want to tune in to Blending Christmas? What's your pitch?
Oh, well, my pitch is to sit back, grab yourself some comfy food, put on some slippers and some sweats and a blanket, turn up the fire and just turn on Blending Christmas and see how we can all get along and how we can screw it up, and then we can fix it because there's a happy ending if we care to look for it.
That's perfect. Thank you so much for talking with me today, Christopher.
You're very, very welcome. Thank you. Happy holidays.
People Presents: Blending Christmas airs on Lifetime on Sunday, December 12 at 8/7c
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.