The Randomizer is a collection of my thoughts on random pop culture things. I’m including a tease my first entry, centering on one of my favorite series here.
Ask people for a list of their favorite sit-coms of all time and you’re likely to get responses like Seinfeld, The Andy Griffith Show, Cheers or the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Rarely in that list will you get the response Happy Days, which was a huge hit for a long period of time in the late 70s and early 80s.
Of course, it’s easy to understand why people can look down their nose at Happy Days. It is the show, after all, that gave us the phrase “jump the shark” referring to that exact moment in a TV show’s history when the slow, inevitable decline began. I think adding that phrase to the pop culture vocabulary has worked against the show and the general public’s memories of it over the years.
A recent article in the Onion A.V. Club that asserts that Happy Days sold its soul to be a hit didn’t exactly help either.
And while the article has some interesting points about how Happy Days evolved from a single camera series to a multi-camera formula driven situation comedy, I feel that I should come out and make the radical statement that while I like the first two season of Happy Days, most of the time when I stumble across the show in syndicated repeats, I feel like these are the two seasons I have to plow through in order to get to “the good stuff.”
And by “the good stuff,” I mean the third and fourth seasons when the show’s emphasis moved away from a nostalgic piece of Americana to putting one Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzereilli front and center of the show. These are the only two season of the show I own on DVD and it’s likely those will be the only two I will ever own though that’s less about my opinion on later seasons’ quality and more based on the belief that future seasons won’t see the light of day on DVD due to the musical rights.
It’s because of this that when the Hallmark Channel began running the entire series through in large blocks, I sought out and recorded selected episodes not included in the two seasons I have on DVD.