The cast members, most of them either too old or too young to have caught the sitcom during its early Seventies network run, prepared for the roles by watching tapes of the old series.

"I wasn't really a Bradyite when it was first on the air," confesses Shelley Long, who nevertheless does an amazing job of capturing Florence Henderson's perky "Wessonality" on-screen. "I wasn't really watching any television then--I was trying to get my own career off the ground. But I heard about the Bradys, though. I knew they were doing their thing and America was talking about them."

Ditto Henriette Mantel, a standup comic who won the role of Alice by showing up for the audition with a hamperful of dirty laundry. "For me, the Seventies was marijuana and Watergate," says Mantel, who prepped for the tryout by watching 30 episodes in a week. "Up until the time I auditioned, I had never watched the sitcom, never ever. I still haven't watched The Partridge Family yet--and I'm not gonna."

Cast as the eternally moralizing breadwinner of the Bunch, former Midnight Caller star Gary Cole jokes that he got into Mike Brady's disco-permed head via a more circuitous route--by studying another unlikely pop-culture hero who hasn't done badly for himself.

"If you think about it, Forrest Gump and Mike Brady are never seen in the same room," says Cole. "If the other Bradys are oblivious to the world, he's oblivious to the world and his family. He could talk and they could all go have lunch and come back and he wouldn't know. This guy was aware of nothing." Director Thomas, meanwhile, is aware that if positive prerelease buzz is any indication, a Brady sequel is almost inevitable. That prospect triggers another comic outburst, and she grimaces wildly.

"You would think that after hours, days, weeks and months--ten months!--of watching the Bradys, I would want to die," she says. Simulating a dazed countenance, she adds, "Then I see them on the screen, and when I watch them, I find myself sitting there like this. These people are hypnotizing.

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