Happy Days: The Complete First Season
Film Length: 443 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Standard (4:3)
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Retail Price: $39.95
Nostalgia for the 1950’s became a big target in the 1970’s thanks to films like American Graffiti, which was a huge hit and clearly influenced this show, which debuted on January 15th, 1974. Happy Days told the story of Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his family, which included his father Howard (Tom Bosley), mother (Marion Ross) and a brother who would be off the show within two years. The family was a close one who ate together, watched television together and could have simple, family meetings to solve all their problems.
This was all good for the young Richie who was trying to discover himself but the real discoveries occurred at Arnold’s, a local hangout. His best friends were a worldly smart Potsie (Anson Williams), the jokester Ralph Mouth (Donny Most) and a high school dropout known as The Fonz (Henry Winkler). Together, Richie, Potsie and Ralph tracked through their teen lives trying to find girls and often times seeking the advice as the wiser Fonzie. On August 17th, 2004 Paramount Home Video brings the first complete season of Happy Days to DVD in a three-disc set.
All The Way---(Air Date: 1/15/74) In this first episode Potsie sets up his buddy Richie with a girl who just happens to have a bad reputation. Although Richie likes the girl he can’t help but worry about this reputation, which includes a sailor.
The Lemon---(Air Date: 1/22/74) After Ralph picks up a couple girls with his convertible Richie and Potsie decide to buy a car so that they can take girls home after school. They put their money together and buy a car they think will attract the girls but all it attracts is flies when it turns out to be a lemon.
Richie’s Cup Runneth Over---(Air Date: 1/29/74) Richie gets invited to a wild bachelor party where he and Potsie end up drinking to much in a game of Sloppy Sixty.
Guess Who’s Coming to Visit---(Air Date: 2/5/74) Ralph shows up in his dragster only to be challenged to a race by a local tough guy. Ralph, letting his mouth get the best of him agree to the race but it’s Fonzie who ends up driving.
Hardware Jungle---(Air Date: 2/12/74) Howard Cunningham has to have his tonsils taken out so it’s up to Richie to watch the hardware store. However a rock ‘n roll show is in town and Richie wants to take a girl but the show is already sold out.
The Deadly Dares---(Air Date: 2/19/74) The coolest gang in town are The Demons and since they get the girls Richie and Potsie decide to join. In order to receive their jackets the two must perform six dares including prank calls and pulling off a toupee.
Fonzie Dopes In---(Air Date: 2/26/74) Fonzie, a high school dropout decides to re-enroll after he sees Potsie’s history exam. Fonzie goes back to school but realizes that he still doesn’t like doing homework so that’s where Richie comes in.
The Skin Game---(Air Date: 3/5/74) After Ralph gets into a strip club with a fake I.D., Richie and Potsie decide to get their own I.D. so they can join the exotic club.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do---(Air Date: 3/12/74) After he’s late showing up, Richie and his girlfriend have a fight and eventually break up. She’s gives his ring back to him but then they realize that it’s too late to line up new dates for the prom.
Give the Band a Hand---(Air Date: 3/26/74) Richie is now working at Arnold’s but he needs more cash than that so he decides to form a band along with Ralph and Potsie. They get their first big gig but the money they earn gets them in a fixed poker game.
Because She’s There---(Air Date: 4/2/74) Potsie decides to hook Richie up with a girl but the only catch is that it has to be a blind date. Richie shows up to meet the girl and is shocked when he sees how much taller she is than he.
In the Name of Love---(Air Date: 4/9/74) A beautiful new girl shows up at school and has Richie, Potsie and Ralph drooling all over her. All three guys think she’s interested in them but what she’s really wanting is a tutor.
Great Expectations---(Air Date: 4/16/74) Richie meets a female beatnik named Diedre while at the movies and soon becomes fascinated with her life.
The Best Man---(Air Date: 4/23/74) An old buddy comes to visit Howard and asks for him to be his best man at his upcoming wedding. They decide to have the wedding at the Cunningham’s house but this doesn’t sit well with the neighbors because Howard’s friend is black.
Knock Around the Block---(Air Date: 4/30/74) Richie decides to join another cool gang known as The Dukes but he soon realizes this is the same game who stole Potsie’s bike.
Be The First on Your Block---(Air Date: 5/7/74) Howard calls a family meeting to let the wife and kids know that he’s going to buy a bomb shelter but doesn’t want anyone to know. Of course, word leaks out and soon everyone is wanting to see this new shelter.
VIDEO---The television series is shown in its Standard (4:3) format, which is the correct ratio. I’m not sure if this show was ever released on VHS or LD so I can only compare the video quality here to what I’ve seen on television. If you’re expecting this show to look like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simple Life or any other recent television show then you are certainly going to be disappointed but I’m sure most buying this set know this is a series from 1974 and aren’t going to expect something looking new because this show is not new. Why some people expect these older shows to look like new ones is beyond me but anyways….
If you’ve ever seen this television show then I’m pretty certain you are going to be very pleased with the transfers here. I’ve watched this show throughout the years and I’ve never seen it looking this good or full of wonderful colors. I always thought the picture was watered down and faded and for a while I thought that’s how this was supposed to look but seeing this DVD left me with a big surprise. From the opening scenes of the record player you are going to notice how many colors were missing from television airings, which were really faded and didn’t really give the series any type of certain look. I went through all the episodes and the color balance is very well detailed and packs a nice little punch. Flesh tones also look remarkably well and they perfectly show off those rose-colored cheeks of Ron Howard.
There are a few minor problems scattered throughout the episodes and most of these are minor speckles that pop up every once in a while. This certainly never became distracting and it didn’t take my mind off of what I was watching. It also appears that Paramount didn’t clean up the opening of the show, which appears to have quite a bit of dirt on it. Again, the colors of this opening sequence looks very detailed but the dirt is still noticeable but goes away when the episodes start. Outside the speckles and dirt during the opening scenes I was very impressed with the work done by Paramount. Again, hopefully people aren’t expecting this thirty-year-old show to look like it was made last year. Just compare this transfer to the horrid All in the Family: Season 3 release from Columbia.
AUDIO---The Dolby Digital Mono track sounds like a Mono track from 1974. There’s really nothing special here and I really couldn’t tell that much of a difference from this to what I heard on television. The dialogue is clear throughout without any sorts of hiss, pops or scratches. There was some minor distortion during a few of the laugh tracks but that’s it. The opening seems to have been cleaned up because I don’t remember the “Rock Around the Clock” sounding any better. Of course there’s no range to this but the song still sounds very good and the cracks and pops of the hand going on the record also sound more noticeable.
EXTRAS---No extras are included on the set. However, I will mention that the packaging is very nice and I wish more studios would start using the slim cases, which Paramount also used on their The Honeymooners set.
OVERALL---The show took some big changes after the second season and many feel this first season is how the show was supposed to be until it became popular with “The Fonzie Show”. I personally prefer the later seasons but I really enjoyed this first one for its innocent charms. Paramount has delivered the episodes looking very good and I don’t expect fans to be disappointed.
Release Date: August 17th, 2004