Shame, Shock, and Satisfaction
May 14, 2022
Recently did a run through of Happy Days, Seasons 1-4. These season were a staple of my childhood along with Fruity Pebbles, bike jumps, and bangs covering my eyes.
Happy Days knowledge was a badge you wore proudly on the playground. After a Tuesday night airing, anyone in their right mind came to school the next morning armed with plot details, character observations and oft-repeated catch phrases. If you didn’t see the episode (though really what could’ve more pressing than a new Happy Days episode) and had nothing to offer regarding what mistake Richie made, what cool thing the Fonz did, or how stupid Ralph and Potsie would be, then what good were you? I think in contemporary life as a child it would be comparable to having or not have a mobile phone. It rendered you a bystander on the periphery, just observing. An extra.
That’s why my internal clock counted down to 7pm with the preciseness of NASA. Nothing was more precious and could wrest me from that wonderful glowing box of transmission signals that brought me enlightening necessary information, especially the signals coming from ABC in the 70’s. Like a bug attracted to light, I was front and center for the magnificent lit sets and brilliant color schemes chosen for the actors’ costumes and clothing. It had to be a directive from upper management. While CBS & NBC were bringing the mundane dull staid colors of The Waltons, Columbo and McMillan & Wife, ABC was holding a Starburst puke jubilee with The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family and Three’s Company! Kudos to the ABC execs for exploiting our squishy minds with such alluring polychromatic shows. Though to be fair, as we would find out in later years, these shows cost each of us devote followers at least double-digits on our college entrance exams.
And, unfortunately, that leads us back to the recent Happy Days marathon. Seasons 1 & 2 were just as I had remembered them. An average boy, a member of a middle-class family, going through growing pains all of us could
relate to. Hold up very well. Though, after some research I found out Happy Days was on the cusp of being cancelled. It was 48th in ratings that 2nd year. In my mind it was MUST SEE TV.
The executives had some ideas to improve the ratings if Happy Days were to come back for a 3rd season. One idea was the focus would be not Richie, but Fonzie and his powers. Another was catch phrases like “Sit on it”, which was not uttered in the first two seasons but was spit out three times in the first 10 minutes of the first episode of Season 3. The decline to the lowest common denominator had begun.
At nine years old, I didn’t recognize it. The humor and direction of show was right in my zone. Before long, I had a Fonzie poster on my bedroom wall. Being manipulated was a blast. Now at 55 though, I found it to be the “crap” my father had long told it was all those years ago. I choked down Season 3 and felt nauseous after. Still, I had to keep going. I hadn’t witnessed the highlight of my Happy Days viewing career. The world-renowned double-cliffhanger, season opening three-episode arc of Pinky Tuscadero.
This storyline has been romanticized in my mind to Shakespearean heights. And the tragedy of their eventual breakup crushed me in the Fall of 1977, just a few weeks before the Royals choke job against the Yankees sent me into a tailspin through Christmas, well, at least until Thanksgiving.
Anyway, I’m sorry to admit I had to fast forward through some of the banality of the storyline, the script and acting. Actually watching it in its entirety might’ve had me tossing out anything I owned from 1977 and before as I wouldn’t have been able to trust any more memories from that time period.
I fast forwarded through the whole season. It just consisted of more ridiculous Fonzie episodes and the complete dumbing down of everyone in Milwaukee, especially Ralph & Potsie AND Mr. & Mrs. C.
Au revoir, Happy Days! Before this viewing, if you had told me it would’ve been better to have been cancelled after two seasons, I would’ve put my dukes up. Now, I think it would’ve been a blessing.
Shock waves were sent through the house recently when Abby, umm, she relieved herself in the house during the late evening/early morning. We marked it as a senior moment as we were not at our house and she may have been confused and half asleep. In addition to my wife and I being demoralized, Lydia and Matilda had shell-shocked eyes like when a soldier sees his best friend get gunned down. The next morning had a very somber funereal-like atmosphere, especially as Abby was taking it the hardest. She had the same look as the hungover co-worker being told what he did at the Christmas Party the night before. While all of us were moving on, she was stuck in stage three of grief- depression.
I’m pleased to report we haven’t seen anymore of that behavior so maybe it was an anomaly, very similar to events that happened to old drinking pals who had mistaken the floor or bed for a toilet. Only difference is that Abby only did it once…someone I knew was close to double-digits, as far as I knew.
Chip Star, similar to Pringles with less oil, and Meiji’s Chocolate Covered Almonds eaten together can turn anyone’s day around. Perfect ratio- Two Chip Stars + One Chocolate Covered Almond
Update on Strat-o-matic 1977 Season
Week 2 completed
AL East 4-2 Baltimore, Milwaukee, New York
AL West 4-2 Chicago, Texas
NL East 6-0 Chicago
NL West 5-1 Cincinnati
Batting Wynegar .474 Schmidt .520
HR Singleton, Gamble, Soderholm 3 Hebner 4
RBI Kuiper 11 Bench 13
Songs Listening To
You Are Everything
Stop, Look, Listen
Betcha By Golly, Wwo
Things We Do For Love