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How Happy Days went from a good show to bad and became super popular


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#1 of 70 OFFLINE   Neil Brock

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Posted August 29 2012 - 04:57 PM

Really good article describing how the show dumbed itself down and became a huge hit. http://www.avclub.co...on-tv-by,84232/

#2 of 70 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted August 29 2012 - 06:34 PM

Regarding a side observation in the article. Norman Lear's sitcoms can be called many things but the notion they were "urbane and sophisticated" is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. Exactly what is "urbane and sophisticated" about the repetitive gag of going for laughs by the sound of a toilet flushing? (an overused device on many an AITF episode).

#3 of 70 OFFLINE   Regulus

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Posted August 30 2012 - 01:48 AM

I was one of the few who disliked Happy Day being "Dumbed Down" :(. The Differance was like night and day, and to this day I cannot fathom why people actually put up with this. I have season one of this show, and I have no plans to purchase any of the others.

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#4 of 70 OFFLINE   John Hermes

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Posted August 30 2012 - 05:13 AM

I can remember actually writing to ABC when I heard the show was going from one-camera to three-and-live-audience to tell them not to do it. So much for my influence.

#5 of 70 OFFLINE   FanCollector

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Posted August 30 2012 - 05:17 AM

In fairness to Garry Marshall, his earlier experience on The Odd Couple might well have led him to believe that the change would result in a more artistically successful show, as well as a potentially more popular one. In this case it didn't, but the decision may not have been as cynical as the article supposes.

#6 of 70 OFFLINE   smithb

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Posted August 30 2012 - 08:59 AM

Interesting article. I admit it, I was 13 when Happy Days came out and i was a fan for a good part of it. The later years were more difficult to watch, but hey we didn't have a lot of options back then either. As far as DVD's are concerned, i have the first three seasons, but I haven't watched them yet to know how well they stand up over time. I knew i wanted season 1, which is obviously much different then the rest. I stretched myself to season 3 while wanting to avoid the "Malchi Cruch" (or something like that?) and the jumping of the shark. As the article states mid-way through season 2 things really change, and season 3 is about as far as i figured I would go with the changes..

#7 of 70 OFFLINE   DaveHof

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Posted August 30 2012 - 04:54 PM

I was part of the problem, I'm afraid. I kinda noticed season one but really took to the show after the dumbing down. I was at the right age to think Fonzie was the coolest guy on TV, and I remember watching the Pinky Tuscadero trilogy with the same rapt attention I gave to the first Star Wars trilogy. However, watching those seasons again on DVD as a mature (though many would say still not mature enough) adult, I found them a chore to get through. One-note characters, labored humor, lazy reliance on the catchphrases and schtick. The cast was game, and every so often they'd get a script with a little more meat on it and would rise to the occasion, but I believe anyone who didn't grow up with it would wonder, watching those shows now, how it ever became so popular. I do still like the dance marathon show with Charlene Tilton, though. It's not a classic but Henry Winkler just kills in that final dance sequence.

#8 of 70 OFFLINE   Ethan Riley

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Posted August 30 2012 - 07:52 PM

I was part of the problem, I'm afraid. I kinda noticed season one but really took to the show after the dumbing down. I was at the right age to think Fonzie was the coolest guy on TV, and I remember watching the Pinky Tuscadero trilogy with the same rapt attention I gave to the first Star Wars trilogy. However, watching those seasons again on DVD as a mature (though many would say still not mature enough) adult, I found them a chore to get through. One-note characters, labored humor, lazy reliance on the catchphrases and schtick. The cast was game, and every so often they'd get a script with a little more meat on it and would rise to the occasion, but I believe anyone who didn't grow up with it would wonder, watching those shows now, how it ever became so popular. I do still like the dance marathon show with Charlene Tilton, though. It's not a classic but Henry Winkler just kills in that final dance sequence.

Well it was just one of those things, like Dancing With The Stars today. Everybody was watching it. You watched it, I watched it. I don't know if it was the greatest show ever, but everybody was watching it and talking about it. I think I left around the time Richie did, although I'd tune in once in a while after that. I don't think a whole lot of 1970s shows still hold up that well. I thought Fantasy Island was a little bit better than I'd remembered it. Other than that...???
 

 


#9 of 70 OFFLINE   BobO'Link

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Posted August 30 2012 - 09:48 PM

That's a interesting article.

I was one of the few who disliked Happy Day being "Dumbed Down" :(. The Differance was like night and day, and to this day I cannot fathom why people actually put up with this. I have season one of this show, and I have no plans to purchase any of the others.

I'm still on the fence about purchasing a copy of S1. I liked it when it first aired but once they changed the show dynamics and "The Fonz" tuned into a pop phenomena I lost interest.

Well it was just one of those things, like Dancing With The Stars today. Everybody was watching it. You watched it, I watched it. I don't know if it was the greatest show ever, but everybody was watching it and talking about it. I think I left around the time Richie did, although I'd tune in once in a while after that. I don't think a whole lot of 1970s shows still hold up that well. I thought Fantasy Island was a little bit better than I'd remembered it. Other than that...???

I remember spending the mid-later part of the 70s (and well into the 80s/90s/00s/etc) wishing and waiting for "good" TV programming (where there were so many good programs opposite each other you had no easy choice as to which was best) to return. The sad part is it never really did (which is why I now watch almost exclusively via DVD as there's *always* something "good" on). I rapidy went from most nights where there were so many good programs on I couldn't decide *which* network to watch to most nights where I couldn't decide which was the lesser of the evils I'd watch to kill time. Following the dumbing down, Happy Days was on that list of evils. Unfortunately for a couple of years of its run I worked the evening shift at an ABC affiliate and had no choice in the matter (and was also stuck with Laverne and Shirly and Mork and Mindy, the show that cemented my dislike of Robin Williams - two more Marshall efforts that were mostly dreck). At least I could busy myself with other tasks and just not watch most evenings these were on.

#10 of 70 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted August 31 2012 - 12:25 AM

Regarding a side observation in the article. Norman Lear's sitcoms can be called many things but the notion they were "urbane and sophisticated" is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. Exactly what is "urbane and sophisticated" about the repetitive gag of going for laughs by the sound of a toilet flushing? (an overused device on many an AITF episode).

The idea was to show that there were crude, loudmouthed, and obnoxious people in life, and that Archie Bunker was one of them. It also showed why Archie was the way he was, and besides, it was funny- a lot more funnier than the sitcoms of the 60's that people here love so much. And you can even do a countdown to it! Certainly, they were a lot more urbane, sophisticated and intelligent than whatever gags were done on Gilligan's Island.

#11 of 70 OFFLINE   John Hermes

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Posted August 31 2012 - 04:36 AM

The idea was to show that there were crude, loudmouthed, and obnoxious people in life, and that Archie Bunker was one of them It also showed why Archie was the way he was, and besides, it was funny- a lot more funnier than the sitcoms of the 60's that people here love so much. And you can even do a countdown to it! Certainly, they were a lot more urbane, sophisticated and intelligent than whatever gags were done on Gilligan's Island.

Different people like different things. I'll take the 1960s (and 1950s stuff).

#12 of 70 OFFLINE   DaveHof

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Posted August 31 2012 - 04:33 PM

Unfortunately for a couple of years of its run I worked the evening shift at an ABC affiliate and had no choice in the matter (and was also stuck with Laverne and Shirly and Mork and Mindy, the show that cemented my dislike of Robin Williams - two more Marshall efforts that were mostly dreck). At least I could busy myself with other tasks and just not watch most evenings these were on.

Surprisingly, for me Laverne & Shirley holds up much better than Happy Days. I think it's because, at least for the Milwaukee-based seasons, there was a relatable theme amidst the slapstick - two best friends and working girls who dreamed of a better life, either through finding a fulfilling career or meeting Mr. Right. The antics of Lenny and Squiggy have aged about as well as Ralph Malph's jokes, but Marshall and Williams were an excellent team, and not just in the physical comedy sequences.

#13 of 70 OFFLINE   Kevin L McCorry

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Posted August 31 2012 - 11:13 PM

The popularity of Happy Days was something that swept me up and into, and I must acknowledge it as being perhaps the one time in my childhood when I went with the flow, dumb though I felt in my gut the show to be. I saw very little of the first season, save for the episode where Richie moves in with his older brother (that may be Season 1 or may not be). But the wave of popularity was rushing in during the 1975-1976 TV season. That was when expressions and styles from the show were most in evidence at my elementary school. Today, I find Happy Days thoroughly unwatchable. I hated teen culture when I was growing up. I hated the prevailing attitude against the "brainy" ones that Happy Days so pejoratively branded as "uncool" and "nerds". Much of the teasing and bullying I experienced in junior high school was predicated on the example of the Fonz's contempt for learning, for staying on the teacher's good side, and for interests in things other than girls and fast automobiles. The preoccupation of the characters with sexual conquests I find so very off-putting. I could go on, but I think the point's been made. Laverne and Shirley, though my mother hated it with a passion (shrieking, hysterical women always put her off, big-time) was and still is a far more identifiable show because it was about friendship and the desire to get ahead in life. Mork and Mindy took a long time to warm to, but as a vehicle for making comment on human society and culture, it worked. This said, I wouldn't rate either show as being particularly desirable to revisit in a big way. All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, and other Lear shows were far more intelligent comedy. And low-brow as the comedy of Alice may be, I prefer that to any of the Marshall sit-coms.

#14 of 70 OFFLINE   rmw650

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Posted September 01 2012 - 10:35 AM

I was more of a fan of the middle seasons of the show myself, but when Ted McGinley and a few others entered into the scene, it just started becoming flat and when Ron Howard left, that's when it truly jumped the shark. Seasons 10-11 contained some of the worst episodes of the series.

#15 of 70 OFFLINE   LeoA

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Posted September 03 2012 - 10:28 AM

I liked the first two seasons of Happy Days. As the kids started to grow up, characters left the show and new ones appeared, the new restaurant, the 50's theme starting to become secondary, existing characters changing personalities almost completely (Ralph turning into a chicken, Potsy turning into a dimwit that seems unlikely to be unable to even find his way home, Fonzie gaining magical powers almost and then becoming a teacher of all things, etc.), I just lost interest. The show was at its best when it was about a motorcycle hood that deep down is a decent guy that almost isn't quite willing to accept that thought and is still more than willing to do things like drag race in the middle of the night (And a character that isn't front and center like he would eventually become), a focus on three teenage boys in high school, a young girl that wishes she was a teenager, and two parents kept busy raising their two kids and taking pride in seeing them grow and mature. Barely an episode afterwards that I even wish was in these couple sets. These two seasons, the Milwaukee years for Laverne & Shirley (And even then, season 5 saw a significant drop off in quality from the first 4), and the first two for Mork are all that I like (Watching season 3 now for the first time I think and it's amazing how they managed to screw it up so badly... it was never great tv but there was still lots of laughs and I enjoyed S1 and 2). The less said of the other spinoffs, the better.

#16 of 70 OFFLINE   Richard V

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Posted September 04 2012 - 03:49 AM

I collected the first two seasons, and then abandoned it, as the writers (IMHO) seemed to abandon the original premise (1950's teens coming of age, with their semi-deliquent buddy) and it degenerated into shark jumping and an endless stream of "I Lost My Freedom", "AYYYYYYYYYYY", and "Sit on It"s.
See you at the pah-ty, Richter.

#17 of 70 OFFLINE   Sky Captain

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Posted September 04 2012 - 09:49 AM

I liked the first two seasons of Happy Days. As the kids started to grow up, characters left the show and new ones appeared, the new restaurant, the 50's theme starting to become secondary, existing characters changing personalities almost completely (Ralph turning into a chicken, Potsy turning into a dimwit that seems unlikely to be unable to even find his way home, Fonzie gaining magical powers almost and then becoming a teacher of all things, etc.), I just lost interest. The show was at its best when it was about a motorcycle hood that deep down is a decent guy that almost isn't quite willing to accept that thought and is still more than willing to do things like drag race in the middle of the night (And a character that isn't front and center like he would eventually become), a focus on three teenage boys in high school, a young girl that wishes she was a teenager, and two parents kept busy raising their two kids and taking pride in seeing them grow and mature. Barely an episode afterwards that I even wish was in these couple sets. These two seasons, the Milwaukee years for Laverne & Shirley (And even then, season 5 saw a significant drop off in quality from the first 4), and the first two for Mork are all that I like (Watching season 3 now for the first time I think and it's amazing how they managed to screw it up so badly... it was never great tv but there was still lots of laughs and I enjoyed S1 and 2). The less said of the other spinoffs, the better.

The spin-offs aren't as bad as the Saturday morning cartoons based on them and Happy Days.

I was more of a fan of the middle seasons of the show myself, but when Ted McGinley and a few others entered into the scene, it just started becoming flat and when Ron Howard left, that's when it truly jumped the shark. Seasons 10-11 contained some of the worst episodes of the series.

Ted McGinley had nothing to do with the show sucking; it sucked because it sucked from a certain point. I think that he should have sued the Jump The Shark website for insinuating that.

Today, I find Happy Days thoroughly unwatchable. I hated teen culture when I was growing up. I hated the prevailing attitude against the "brainy" ones that Happy Days so pejoratively branded as "uncool" and "nerds". Much of the teasing and bullying I experienced in junior high school was predicated on the example of the Fonz's contempt for learning, for staying on the teacher's good side, and for interests in things other than girls and fast automobiles. The preoccupation of the characters with sexual conquests I find so very off-putting. I could go on, but I think the point's been made.

And, mostly thanks to that culture, things got so bad that events like Columbine happened, due to the 'cool' and 'uncool' and 'nerd' and 'geek'. Along with the increse in suicide. Maybe and perhaps that's why, in a later season, the producers and writers came up with the story in which Fonzie admitted he had a library card?

Laverne and Shirley, though my mother hated it with a passion (shrieking, hysterical women always put her off, big-time) was and still is a far more identifiable show because it was about friendship and the desire to get ahead in life. Mork and Mindy took a long time to warm to, but as a vehicle for making comment on human society and culture, it worked. This said, I wouldn't rate either show as being particularly desirable to revisit in a big way. All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, and other Lear shows were far more intelligent comedy. And low-brow as the comedy of Alice may be, I prefer that to any of the Marshall sit-coms.

Surprisingly, for me Laverne & Shirley holds up much better than Happy Days. I think it's because, at least for the Milwaukee-based seasons, there was a relatable theme amidst the slapstick - two best friends and working girls who dreamed of a better life, either through finding a fulfilling career or meeting Mr. Right. The antics of Lenny and Squiggy have aged about as well as Ralph Malph's jokes, but Marshall and Williams were an excellent team, and not just in the physical comedy sequences.

THESE. Plus, Laverne and Shirley do make it, in a manner of speaking, and at least was about two adult girls trying to better themselves, as opposed to the silly shit going on on Happy Days that took away from the premise (Fonzie jumping a shark, stopping gangsters from taking over Arnold's place, etc.)

I collected the first two seasons, and then abandoned it, as the writers (IMHO) seemed to abandon the original premise (1950's teens coming of age, with their semi-deliquent buddy) and it degenerated into shark jumping and an endless stream of "I Lost My Freedom", "AYYYYYYYYYYY", and "Sit on It"s.

No arguments from me there. What I want to know is why certain people want to see this show on Blu-Ray DVD when they know that it has a snowball's chance in hell of ever happening?

#18 of 70 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted September 04 2012 - 10:24 AM

Originally Posted by Sky Captain 


The spin-offs aren't as bad as the Saturday morning cartoons based on them and Happy Days.
 

Have the happy days cartoons hit DVD? I loved them, along with the weird Brady Bunch one with the two pandas. I'm sure it existed...



#19 of 70 OFFLINE   rmw650

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Posted September 04 2012 - 10:34 AM

[quote name="Sky Captain" url="/t/323373/how-happy-days-went-from-a-good-show-to-bad-and-became-super-popular#post_3970448"] The spin-offs aren't as bad as the Saturday morning cartoons based on them and Happy Days. Ted McGinley had nothing to do with the show sucking; it sucked because it sucked from a certain point. I think that he should have sued the Jump The Shark website for insinuating that. And, mostly thanks to that culture, things got so bad that events like Columbine happened, due to the 'cool' and 'uncool' and 'nerd' and 'geek'. Along with the increse in suicide. Maybe and perhaps that's why, in a later season, the producers and writers came up with the story in which Fonzie admitted he had a library card? Laverne and Shirley, though my mother hated it with a passion (shrieking, hysterical women always put her off, big-time) was and still is a far more identifiable show because it was about friendship and the desire to get ahead in life. Mork and Mindy took a long time to warm to, but as a vehicle for making comment on human society and culture, it worked. This said, I wouldn't rate either show as being particularly desirable to revisit in a big way. All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, and other Lear shows were far more intelligent comedy. And low-brow as the comedy of Alice may be, I prefer that to any of the Marshall sit-coms.[/quote] THESE. Plus, Laverne and Shirley do make it, in a manner of speaking, and at least was about two adult girls trying to better themselves, as opposed to the silly shit going on on Happy Days that took away from the premise (Fonzie jumping a shark, stopping gangsters from taking over Arnold's place, etc.) No arguments from me there. What I want to know is why certain people want to see this show on Blu-Ray DVD when they know that it has a snowball's chance in hell of ever happening?[/quote] "Ted McGinley had nothing to do with the show sucking; it sucked because it sucked from a certain point. I think that he should have sued the Jump The Shark website for insinuating that." Sue them for what? On what grounds?

#20 of 70 ONLINE   Jack P

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Posted September 04 2012 - 01:12 PM

The idea was to show that there were crude, loudmouthed, and obnoxious people in life,.

That may be the dumbest thing I have ever read in my life if your point is that the sound of a toilet flushing somehow makes this profound point about an "obnoxious person in life" whereas I suppose the Meathead was so pure and immaculate that that's why a normal bodily function on his part (that the last time I checked was a trait shared by the entire human race regardless of political beliefs) was not worthy of the same laugh-getting treatment. That's not being "urbane and sophisticated" that's just the writer demonstrating his own brand of obnoxiousnes by going for a cheap laugh in the guise of something allegedly more profound. For a legitimate "urbane and sophisticated" sitcom of the 70s, I'll say emphatically yes to Mary Tyler Moore, the Odd Couple and Bob Newhart but the Norman Lear sitcoms were anything but.




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