Happy Days (1970– )

TV Series  -   -  Comedy | History | Music
7.2
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This summer replacement comedy/variety show, not to be confused with the long-running sitcom, was a simultaneous parody of/homage to the 1930's. In addition to its regular cast of comedians... See full summary »

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Title: Happy Days (1970– )

Happy Days (1970– ) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Episodes

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1  
1976   1970  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Jack Burns ...
 Himself / ... (3 episodes, 1970)
Fred Allen ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 1970-1976)
Louis Nye ...
 Himself - Host (2 episodes, 1970)
...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
Bob Elliott ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
Ray Goulding ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
...
 Harry James (2 episodes, 1970)
Helen Forrest ...
 Helen Forrest / ... (2 episodes, 1970)
Buddy Rich ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
Helen O'Connell ...
 Herself (2 episodes, 1970)
Ray Eberle ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970-1976)
Helen Kane ...
 Betty Boop (2 episodes, 1970-1976)
(2 episodes, 1970)
...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1970)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (2 episodes, 1970)
Laara Lacey ...
 Herself / ... (2 episodes, 1970)
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Storyline

This summer replacement comedy/variety show, not to be confused with the long-running sitcom, was a simultaneous parody of/homage to the 1930's. In addition to its regular cast of comedians, each week's program featured appearances by one of the top big bands of the era (Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Buddy Rich all appeared on the program). Written by Bob Sorrentino

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

band | 1930s | musician | See All (3) »

Genres:

Comedy | History | Music

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Release Date:

25 June 1970 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Fred and Ginger wear each other's outfits
12 December 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The hour-long variety series 'Happy Days' (no relation to the Samuel Beckett play or the Fonzie sitcom) was a 1970 summer replacement show on CBS that was never meant to run more than 13 weeks. This nostalgia series made a creditable attempt to replicate the experience of old-time radio shows and movies from the 1930s and '40s, and there were occasional guest performers from that era, such as big-band vocalists Bob Eberle and 'Red Hot' Helen O'Connell.

Regulars on this series included Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding, doing basically the same material they'd done throughout their careers. (No complaint here.) Also on hand were actors impersonating W.C. Fields and Laurel & Hardy, doing new material in the style of those great performers. This material was verbal only (no sight gags, no slapstick), but it was well-written and showed some genuine knowledge of the original sources. For instance, in one episode of 'Happy Days', "Laurel" and "Hardy" did a comedy routine in which they discussed how they were going to sneak off to a convention in Chicago while telling their wives they were going to Hawaii for their health. This isn't a repeat of an old Stan and Ollie routine: this is new material, written especially for 'Happy Days', but the scriptwriters were obviously inspired by a situation in the (real) Laurel & Hardy movie 'Fraternally Yours'. I kept hoping that 'Happy Days' would eventually put all three impersonators into a single comedy routine -- Laurel and Hardy meet W.C. Fields! -- but this was a missed opportunity. The W.C. Fields impersonator was Bill Oberlin; I don't recall who played Stan & Ollie.

At one point in each episode, the camera would show a static shot of an old-fashioned Atwater Kent 'cathedral' radio, while we hear a (very) brief sound clip from an authentic old-time radio comedy turn, such as Fred Allen or Bergen & McCarthy.

One weekly spot featured a reporter allegedly interviewing an old-time movie star, who appeared on screen in clips from one of his or her movies ... the dialogue of the 'interview' always being tailored to suit the available clips. For instance, one week the reporter would claim to be interviewing James Cagney (who was still alive at the time) about a minor-league baseball team which Cagney was supposedly managing ... at which point the show cut to an uncredited clip from the movie '13 Rue Madeleine' with Cagney saying: 'So far, we're batting zero-zero-zero.' Another 'interview' featured Charles Laughton (who was already dead at this point) in the banquet scene from 'The Private Life of Henry the Eighth.'

Certain features which didn't work at all were nonetheless recycled every week, such as a spot with Jack Burns impersonating bandleader Ben Bernie ('Yowsa, yowsa!') presiding over a marathon dance. Is anyone out there actually nostalgic for marathon dances? Another weekly spot featured a dance team billing themselves as 'Fred and Ginger' (actually Clive Clerk and Laara Lacey, a very pale imitation of Astaire and Rogers) doing a limp dance routine to the same tune every week: 'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails', always with the same high kicks at the same point in the routine, in every episode. This routine was so boring that the scriptwriters were finally forced to jazz it up one week by having Fred and Ginger swap costumes!

Many sequences on 'Happy Days' were tributes to specific performers from the 1930s and '40s. Considering the tremendous contributions that black performers made to American popular culture during those decades, it's disappointing that 'Happy Days' had an all-white cast and never honoured any black performers from the past. Also, this series constantly evoked the war years without ever mentioning the World War nor any of the home-front phenomena from that period (such as ration stamps or scrap-metal drives). No mention of the Depression, either.

Every episode ended with the song 'Dream When You're Feeling Blue', sung in a ballroom filled with revolving mirrored balls. This was quite pleasant, even though it never varied from one week to the next. I'll rate this series 7 points out of 10: six points on its merits plus one point for addressing a period in American culture which most other TV shows actively reject as old-fashioned and 'corny'. Some video company should release a compilation of the best parts of 'Happy Days', but they would have to change the title to avoid confusion with that Fonzie show.


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