by Amy K. Bredemeyer
The Fonz entertained the world for eleven seasons (1974-1984), and was VERY MUCH an idealized decade (to have taken place in the 50s and 60s). My favorite part of Happy Days are the various catchphrases that came out of the show. And no, I'm not referring to "Aaaaaaay" but instead to things like "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" and "Jump the Shark." The former comes from the fact that Richie and Joanie originally had an older brother (Chuck), but he disappeared without an explanation in the second season (think Judy from Family Matters as well). The latter stems from an episode in which Fonzie waterskis over a shark, and now it refers to any television show that has taken on a drastic move to try and save their audience.
I don't know of another television show that spawned so many spin-offs. Of course there was Joanie Loves Chachi and Laverne and Shirley and The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, but there was also Mork and Mindy, Blanksy's Beauties, and the problematic Out of the Blue which some classify as more of a crossover than a spin-off. In itself, Happy Days stemmed from Love, America Style, and was lucky to make it, since that show became known as the place where "sitcom pilots went to die." Oh, and then you can look at Arnold's character, who leaves the show to do Mr. T and Tina, which was a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter.
Let's review the stereotypes in the show. Dad owned a business and sat around reading a newspaper in his favorite chair. Mom was a homemaker... and that's it. Richie was a naive schoolboy who joined the army. Joanie was boy-crazy. Fonzie could make anything cool, although he did play that bad-boy, high school dropout, leather-clad teen. The show took place in Wisconsin (which makes me giggle when you consider other shows form this locale... That 70s Show and Step by Step). While clothing and storylines pretty much fit the 1950s, hairstyles didn't, mostly those of the male characters. Oh, and digital watches shouldn't be in the show, shame on the director for that.
I actually can't stand the show, and therefore have only seen like ten episodes. MAYBE. But what always bothers me when it runs on TVLand or Nick at Nite is the two-theme-song thing. They use both "Rock Around the Clock" and the "Monday, Tuesday, Happy Days" song. I know they're for early and late seasons, but it's really annoying. Here are the two different theme songs.