Thinking of becoming an architect when you grow up? Having trouble finding real life architects who will give you a good idea of what that life will be like? Never fear for, once again, television comes to your rescue. Architects prominently populate the landscape of TV occupations. In fact, some of the most iconic figures in TV history were charged with designing buildings and even their own homes. Sadly, in at least one of the most famous cases, the final result of construction leads one to seriously question the architectural ability if not the entire intellectual state of mind at work.
Mike Brady: The Brady Bunch
Mike Brady is almost certainly the most famous fictional architect to ever be the leading character on a TV show. This puts Mike Brady right up there alongside Howard Roarke in the pantheon of fictional architects. And if anyone out there thinks that “The Brady Bunch” has no place alongside the writings of Ayn Rand, you are absolutely right. “The Brady Bunch” provides more intellectual insight in one episode than you can get reading the entirety of Ayn Rand’s prodigious output of philosophical diarrhea. Even the architectural abilities of Mike Brady and Howard Roarke are on the same level. I mean, seriously, what kind of architect designs a house where six kids (three of them girls) are forced to share one bathroom?
Paul Gardner: Ellery Queen
Ellery Queen arrives at the home of Spencer Lockridge to find all the other guests dressed up in full costume as members of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Lockridge, still attired as the Hatter, disappears during the night and only Ellery Queen can figure out what happened. Naturally, Lockridge has been murdered, but which of the guests did it? One of those guests is architect Paul Gardner, portrayed by Larry Hagman during that phase of his career between enormous popularity as good guy Maj. Tony Nelson and spectacular fame as bad guy J.R. Ewing. So, is fictional TV architect Paul Garder one of Hagman’s final gasps as a good guy or the sneak preview of his talent for playing a villain?
George Apple: Apple’s Way
Interestingly enough, Ronny Cox gained a reputation for playing nice guys at least in part on the basis of playing architect George Apple on this family drama that was a sort of contemporary updating of “The Waltons.” Tired of big city life, George Apple moved his family to a small town. The coolest thing about the show and it’s primary tie to George’s career as an architect was the old grist mill which was transformed into the house in which the Apple family lived. Most definitely one of the coolest houses in TV history. Like Larry Hagman, Ronny Cox would later find greater success as an actor playing particularly smarmy bad guys.
Peter Farrell: I Married Dora
Neither Peter Farrell nor “I Married Dora” are particularly memorable to most people or as an vital element in the history of TV. Those viewers lucky enough to catch the final episode of “I Married Dora” saw a bit of postmodern comedy that ranks very highly in the canon of TV history, however. The concept of the show was about a marriage of convenience between Peter the architect and illegal alien Dora. The show’s 13th episode featured one of those typical plot devices that build up phony suspense. Peter was offered a job designing a new building in Bahrain that was expected to last two years, requiring him to leave Dora and his kids from a previous marriage behind. Since the whole premise was built around the daily complications of the sham marriage and its impact on their lives, the idea that Peter would actually take the job overseas could only end in disappointment. Sure enough, after saying his goodbyes to his frenzied family, Peter comes back, waving his airline ticket and announcing that it’s been canceled. Dora asks if he means the flight. At which point Peter throws the ticket into the air and says, “No, our series” as the cast turns to face the screen, waving goodbye as the camera pulls back to reveal studio beyond the set. Not even Frank Lloyd Wright could have designed something that shockingly unexpected.
And, of course, what would any overview of fictional architects on TV be without including the most memorable fictional fictional architect in TV history? George Constanza always wanted pretend to be an architect and whenever the situation called for it, he would adopt the persona of Art Vandelay, architect. Probably still a better architect than Mike Brady.