If there were a "Sitcom Hall Of Fame",the television series,"Happy Days" would surely have a cherished spot as one of the most wholesome family-situation comedy oriented series of the 1970's. The series ran on ABC-TV from its premiere episode on January 15,1974 to the show's final episode on July 12,1984. The show survived until mid-1984 by the way--with an astonishing ten and a half year run on the air. The show was produced by the team of Garry Marshall(who was the show's creator and executive producer)along with some of the best producer,writers to ever be assembled for a series.
"Happy Days",was set in the 1950's Milwaukee,Wisconsin,the heart of middle-class America and it basically told the story of the Cunningham family. Mr. Cunningham(Tom Bosley)ran the local hardware store while Mrs. Cunningham(Marion Ross),was a stay-at-home mom who spent time in the kitchen. Their son,Richie(Ron Howard),hung out at Arnold's Drive-In with his pals Ralph Malph(Donny Most),and Potsie Webber(Anson Williams),who try to be as cool as the coolest greaser in town,Arthur Fonzarelli,better known as "The Fonz"(Henry Winkler). Richie's sister,Joanie(Erin Moran),tagged along whenever she wasn't at her friend's house. The Cunninghams also had an older son Chuck,who mysteriously disappeared after the show's first season. When the series started in 1974(the first season),Richie and his pals were struggling to find dates,and clear up acne,and mostly to fit in with the hip crowd. By the time the show ended,their teenage problems had given way to decidedly adult topics like marriage and having children.
For those who wanted to know that "Happy Days" started out as a pilot in 1971 called "New Family In Town",that was produced by Garry Marshall for ABC. It had the same characters,with the exception of the role of Mr. Cunningham(played in the pilot by Harold Gould). However it was used in a segment episode of the another Garry Marshall produced series,"Love American Style",which was on the same network. By 1973,ABC programmers were looking to cash in on the wave of 1950's nostalgia,which was generated by the hit film "American Graffiti",which was directed by George Lucas and starred Ron Howard. Fortunately,the network executives at ABC did not have to look very far since they remembered Garry Marshall's rejected pilot. ABC called up Marshall and asked him to make some changes to his original concept. He complied,and thus a legend was born when it hit the airwaves in 1974.
"Happy Days" also brought to life the creation of a classic TV character who would become one of the greatest icons of our time. Within its first season,the show climbed into the top ten of the Nielsens. With the character of Arthur Fonzarelli becoming into view, it was Henry Winkler that made him a television icon not to mention a part of the culture of 1970's shows too. Even the catchphrases that were used became national and from there made their way into the hearts of viewers. The phrases were: "Sit On It!" and "Ayyyi!". It was here that the show "Happy Days" went straight to Number One for the first three seasons(1974-76) that it was on the air,and basically gave the network ABC,a domineering force in the ratings competition.
After the success of the first season,Marshall was tinkering with the show,and with public response the audience demanded more and from there Marshall answered the call with three "Happy Days" spin off. First,Marshall created "Laverne and Shirley". Fonzie's friends Laverne DeFazio(Penny Marshall)and Shirley Feeney(Cindy Williams)first appeared in a 1975 episode. In 1976,they were given their own show,"Laverne and Shirley",which ran on the network for seven years (1976-1984)and was a ratings winner as well. Then Garry Marshall used "Happy Days" as a launching pad for Robin Williams' space alien character,Mork. In the fall of 1978,Williams was starring in the second spin off,"Mork and Mindy",which ran on the network for four seasons(1978-1981),and also was a launching pad for Pam Dawber as well. After the success of the these shows,ABC also launched the characters of "The Fonz","Laverne and Shirley",and "Mork" into their own Saturday Morning cartoon shows which were very good.
By the 1980's,the show suffered a decline as well with Ron Howard and Donny Most leaving the show and that would follow with the magic that was once brilliant,but viewers found themselves losing interest with the show and by the last four seasons of the series,it was slipping into a downhill spiral within the ratings and from there Marshall again made several changes. To add new life to the sitcom,the writers added new life to The Cunninghams world as a new rebel move into town,Fonzie's cousin Chachi Arcola(Scott Baio)who had the hots for the Cunninghams daughter Joanie. From there the third and final spin-off of "Happy Days" intitled "Joanie Loves Chachi" was made into a weekly series,which lasted one season. In some of the episodes,most of magic that made this series great was gone by the start of 1983-1984 season. In 1980,the Smithsonian Museum of American History honored the series' role in America's pop-culture history by placing Fonz's leather jacket on display. After an astounding 255 episodes,the final episode of "Happy Days" came on July 12,1984,with the marriage of Joanie and Chachi tying the knot and also in the series final episode was the return of Richie(Ron Howard)and Ralph Malph(Donny Most).
4 out of 5 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.