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Top Stupid Things about the 'Happy Days' TV series (1974-1984)

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Panther, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. Panther

    Panther Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Tokyo, Japan
    Happy Days had a great cast and solid family-based premise and break-out character upon which to build its success. However, the moment it started becoming hugely successful (1975-76 season), it started getting silly and dumbing-down its stories, characters, plots. Remarkably, despite this -- and despite losing two of its core characters/actors in 1980 -- the series remained in the top-20 Nielsen ratings and lasted to 1984. In the end, 255 episodes over 10.5 seasons were produced.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Even if we accept that this series in its third season starting targeting 12-year-olds as its core audience, it still did a lot of dumb things that weren't good at the time and have aged very badly. So, what are your top stupid things this series did?

    I suggest:

    1. Turning The Fonz into a wimp -- I get that they wanted the break-out character to be non-threatening and rather warm & fuzzy to mainstream 70s' viewers, but this went WAY overboard from around the fourth season or so. So, we had The Fonz 'secretly' going to night school to graduate, The Fonz crying, The Fonz becoming a successful business man, The Fonz being baptized, The Fonz playing with little kiddies, The Fonz becoming a high school teacher (!), The Fonz delivering Richie's child in lieu of a doctor, The Fonz adopting an orphan.... Yuck!! Talk about destroying a character's own premise and purpose. In the final season, when nobody was watching, they tried to have a few episodes where The Fonz was a bad-ass again, but by then Henry Winkler was, like, 57 or something....

    2. Making the 50s/60s look like the 70s/80s -- The show had a fairly accurate 20-years-past historical look in its first two seasons, and even in season three (and somewhat season four), after it moved to a sound-stage with live audience and began targeting the kiddie audience, it still retained some veneer of a historically accurate look. But from around season five (which began with the infamous 'Jump The Shark' story-line), the Happy Days characters of roughly 1958 to 1965 looked like disco and early-MTV characters. Am I wrong that Joanie had a bubble-perm at one point?

    3. Replacing Ron Howard with Ted McGinley -- If they were going to carry on without Ron Howard (and Don Most), it made sense to shift the focus onto the Joanie-loves-Chachi angle, which they did by degrees. But why attempt to lamely replace the Ron Howard - Henry Winkler chemistry (which was superb, bad scripts aside) with a forced Ted McGinley - Henry Winkler aspect? Yuck.

    4. Forced fashion and catch-phrases -- "Yowza, yowza, yowza"! "Wah-wah-wah!" Etc. And who could forget Scott Baio wearing that bandanna or whatever it was around his upper leg? What the hell was that??

    5. The Fonz's, his gang friends' and enemies', and Laverne & Shirley's Booklyn accents -- Yeah, I know Garry Marshall (creator) and Penny Marshall (Laverne) were from Brooklyn. But we have a bunch of characters in the Happy Days series -- all, evidently, born and raised in the mid-west in the 1930s to 1950s -- speaking with strong Brooklyn accents. Because.... why?

    I could go on, but those general aspects came to mind. It's sort of a pity in a way, because this show (whose cast, apparently, all got on extremely well for the duration of the show and even today) had a lot going for it in terms of premise, cast, and crew, and it certainly left its mark on mainstream American TV. But I think the focus on juvenile story-lines and characters really damaged its historical brand. Much of the show is probably unwatchable to today's audience, and understandably so. Happy Days is sort of unique in that it started off with a broader, more mature audience, and then seemed to get stupider and more juvenile as it went on... for years.

    What are your choices?
  2. LeifFan

    LeifFan Forum Resident

    Potsy Webber should have been killed off in the first episode.
  3. Slackhurst Broadcasting

    Slackhurst Broadcasting Forum Resident

    No show ever jumped the shark more completely.
  4. pig bodine

    pig bodine God’s Consolation Prize

    Syracuse, NY USA
    Allowing Potsie to sing

    As much as I love Can the Can, the show didn't need Suzi Quatro in a glam rock outfit and 70's hairstyle. I'm surprised Alvin Stardust didn't make an appearance.
    Jayce, Ignominious, hi_watt and 18 others like this.
  5. Etienne Hanratty

    Etienne Hanratty Forum Resident

    The time I last watched it in the mid-1990s, I remember thinking the Eugene character in Fonz’ shop class had become an offensive stereotype. I haven’t seen it since, so I’m not sure what I’d think.
  6. Joseph LeVie

    Joseph LeVie Forum Resident

    South Florida
    It was such a popular show during my childhood, but, it doesn’t seem to be doing too good in syndication compared to most of the sixties sitcoms.
    EdgardV and Aftermath like this.
  7. four sticks

    four sticks Senior Member

    The first season or two were very well done, after that not so much. The introduction of the Chachi character was the main nail in the coffin for me.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  8. averica

    averica infinite rider on the big dogma

    then we wouldnt have been able to enjoy his singing lol
  9. averica

    averica infinite rider on the big dogma

    didnt she sing some sad piano song that episode when Richie was in the hospital?
    clhboa and Hall Cat like this.
  10. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    Ottawa, Canada
    They should have ended the series much sooner. Those last 5 years where just lame!
  11. team2

    team2 Forum Resident

    TN (By Way of NY)
    Here's a classic article from The Onion:

  12. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    I never watched it after Fonzie's coup d'etat, so I can't really comment on the live audience episodes.

    My favorite thing about Happy Days is that there was a Weezer music video in the '90s that was nostalgic about it. And when you realize there was a HD episode set in the Roaring Twenties, this means:

    There was a music video in the '90s

    That was nostalgic about a sitcom in the '70s

    About people in the '50s

    Being nostalgic for the '20s

    I keep hoping something/someone will pay homage to the Weezer video and keep the cycle of nostalgia going...
  13. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident


    I remember it on reruns in the 80's a lot - maybe the 60's sitcoms are cheaper? I rarely see Mork nd Mindy, Laverne, Happy Days nowadays
  14. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Last time I remember watching Happy Days, it must have been in the late 70's or something, and I distinctly remember Potsie walking on to the set to thunderous, screaming applause, like he was the Beatles or something, and like they hadn't seen him in years, and he was wearing Jordache jeans. I turned it off at that moment and never watched it again! :laugh:
  15. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    I wanna know what the news doesn't tell me about the CIA!!
    Scott57, hi_watt, fr in sc and 22 others like this.
  16. parman

    parman Brit Invasion

    Didn't Mork visit the show ?? :wtf:
  17. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    When I was in middle school in the mid-70's I used to watch Happy Days reruns in the afternoon, which is interesting in retrospect because it was a hit series in primetime.
    hi_watt, Steve Litos and musicfan37 like this.
  18. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Mork was introduced on Happy Days in 1978.
  19. GLENN

    GLENN Forum Resident

    Kingsport,TN, USA
    The end of MASH and the self-destruction of shows like Happy Days are both reasons that I watched almost no TV in the 1980's.
    Scott57 and bpmd1962 like this.
  20. DaveySR

    DaveySR Forum Resident

    Yeah, once the actors had to start screaming over the audience I was slowly bowing out. I think I was out by '76. I remember checking in on one of the very late seasons and thinking: why?
    Scowl and SteveRes like this.
  21. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    Even as a young teenager I realized the show was getting dumber by the episode . . . I remember stumbling on to a new episode years and years later and being surprised it was still airing, albeit with no recognizable characters except The Fonz.
    luckybaer likes this.
  22. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    happy days probably didn't age that well but its hard to describe how big it was - 0nly a true juggernaut could continue for another 4 season when the lead (ron) leaves and is replaced with a loaf of bread (sorry ted) they even promoted jenny piccolo to a main cast member towards the end. i agree the biggest crime was Fonz becoming the soft cuddly fatherly figure....

    clhboa likes this.
  23. unclefred

    unclefred Coastie with the Moastie

    Oregon Coast
    Tread carefully!

    hi_watt, NaturalD, fr in sc and 10 others like this.
  24. Avenging Robot

    Avenging Robot Senior Member

    Don't forget Chuck's rotting corpse upstairs all those years...

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