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Old 10-18-2012, 10:32 PM   #1
bh7812
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Default My thoughs on the last 4 seasons of Happy Days...

The show I've really been wanting to write about my thoughts on this year is Happy Days. I want to give a general opnion on the show, but focus mostly on the last 4 seasons of that show. Back at the beginning of the year, I watched through all 255 episodes which took a WHILE. If you want to see all 11 seasons and 255 episodes that's a major time commitment. Anyway, it definitely earned it's legendary, iconic TV show status for sure. The big thing that helped that show last so long was the fact you WILL relate to, or have known someone JUST like those characters. Everyone's gone to school, grown up, gone to college, etc. I would say, easily, the first 7 full seasons are TV that people should make time for if they can. No questions asked. If you need to spread those out over time, do it but by all means it's definitely an essential TV experience. What I want to write about concerning that show though is something a lot of people have a hard time writing about due to it's huge place in TV--the final 4 seasons that come after season 7.

Many have told me the final 4 seasons of Happy Days are very disappointing and that they were severely disappointed in the 11th and final season. Here are my thoughts on the final 4 seasons, as concisely and as brief as I can keep it:

Season 8-As this season started, the show had lost Ron Howard and Danny Most so they could grow their careers more and have some directing opportunities, at least in Ron Howard's case. Their characters, Richie and Ralph, had left for the Army at the end of Season 7 so right there it left a big hole that they needed to fill and quickly. A lot of people feel the series should have ended with the end of Season 7 but the ratings were still there enough to go on and ABC chose to renew. In season 8 the decision was made to focus the show around Fonzie and his life. Also, this is the season where we finally actually see Joanie's friend Jenny Piccalo who had only been mentioned by name up to that point. The season deals largely with 3 things: Fonzie and his life and how it's affected when he becomes a teacher, which changed him. Secondly, it deals heavily with Jenny Piccalo since she's still in High School. Third, it deals of course with Joanie, Chachi and their relationship. Season 8 is where it started to deal a bit too much with that and there started to be a lot more drama surrounding that than was needed. Also, about midway through the season Richie's cousin Roger comes to stay with the Cunninghams..who is played by the actor many know from Married With Children. His character stayed through the rest of the series. So, a lot of changes happened that season and some were good and bad. I'd give that season a 7.

Season 9-It's actually a bit better of a season than 8 is, the few big changes that season were the addition of Joanie and Richie's cousin, KC and Roger's brother got added in too. Outside of that it shifts even more towards focusing on Fonzie and it ends up being a weird mish-mash of going back and forth between Fonzie, Roger and his brother, Joanie and Chachi and to a bit lesser extent Jenny Piccalo. This is where they started to make a lot of changes at once and some things panned out and worked ok, other things just didn't stick to the wall. This is the season Richie's son was born in and Fonzie literally helped deliver him. I'd give that overall season an 8.

Season 10-This was probably the hardest season to get through honestly. It centers a lot around Fonzie and how he finally gets into a steady relationship with a girl who has a daughter. That part was okay but the HUGE mistake they made that season was they had Fonzie deal with getting older and they almost never showed his bike on screen anymore. Also, there are a lot of points where he isn't wearing the leather jacket anymore. As far as Fonzie goes they made a LOT of poor choices there. Everyone gets older I understand that but a character like Fonzie it's not really necessary or smart to focus on his getting older. The stronger parts of the season dealt with Roger and his brother still. I'd give this season a 6 and that's being generous. It was easily the worst of the 11 seasons I felt.

The 11th and Final season-You know, all things considered it was a really well done season and I know that's gonna catch hell probably but here's why. The show stopped dealing with Fonzie getting older and just put him back into the character everyone knew. He became a dean at a school in a bad neighborhood and they did well with that. It showed him relating to those inner-city kids and the difference he made for them. Roger became the principal of that school, and Joanie ended up teaching at that school. That whole Joanie-Fonzie-Roger arc worked really well and surprised me. Due to the new school setting, they tried to add in a lot of new characters who they tried to have regularly (It seems like as the season started they were thinking it might get another year). Some of them worked well, others not so much but they tried. Joanie and Chachi got married. Also, Richie and Ralph came back for one final episode, which was surprisingly quite moving. The final scene with Richie and Fonzie summed up those 11 years and the whole thing behind the show perfectly.."You were my protector, the best friend a guy could ever ask for, my confidant, you helped me get married, deliver my son..how do you ever repay someone for all of that?" Fonzie's response? "I think you just did." and he walked out that door for the final time crying. By that point I was too. That scene was perfect and captured those two characters in one damn sentence. As for Fonzie? At the very end he got to adopt his own son which was just fitting..the kid came from a background not much different from his. As I said I think they were trying to get pieces to fit for a 12th year but at that point they knew they were done so they ended it as best they could. They did well. The last line of the show was great, from Tom Bosley: "Here's to Happy Days" as he looks at the camera like he's thanking the audience. Not Newhart brilliant but still very good. The final version of the theme song for the show used in the final season was GREAT, best version of the theme by far! I'd give that last season a 9, easily.

To sum it up, Happy Days is an absolutely essential viewing experience. If you're short on time, definitely see the first 7 seasons however you need to. If you have more time the last 4 seasons are worth it just to see the changes they tried to make and the direction they went in. Overall though "Here's to Happy Days" indeed. There hasn't been and never will be another show like that ever ever again.
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Old 10-22-2012, 06:16 PM   #2
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I found it weird to see The Fonz without his leather jacket in the later episode too. He no longer wore his motorcycle boots any longer, and why did they start ironing a crease in his jeans?

Even with his leather jacket, the creased jeans and no motorcycle boots, he just didn't look right?

HAPPY DAYS - 'And the Winner Is' which aired on December 30, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) HENRY WINKLER
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:11 PM   #3
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there was wayy to much joanie and chaci during them years that got annoying any case it was all right
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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Just want to say that is a very well-thought-out post. Once I finally saw it, I've always said season 11 is probably my favorite of them all. From the new theme song to the return, albeit brief, of Richie, to the much better writing, to the discontinuation of extraneous characters, it's like the show had new life. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep it from cancellation.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anglemark10
Just want to say that is a very well-thought-out post. Once I finally saw it, I've always said season 11 is probably my favorite of them all. From the new theme song to the return, albeit brief, of Richie, to the much better writing, to the discontinuation of extraneous characters, it's like the show had new life. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep it from cancellation.

Thank you for the compliment on my post! That post is something I'd been kicking around in my head all year and wanted to post it somewhere like here, where there are true fans of the show who could appreciate it and understand exactly where it's coming from. Wanted to comment quickly on what you wrote:

Final Season Theme Song: I see people bashing it all the time, saying how they hate it but it really was the best version of that theme song in the whole series. The lead singer's voice lends it better to the theme. His voice sounds very much like the kind of singing voice you'd expect to find in a bona-fide 50's song of that kind. Good back up singers too. The sax solo in the middle of the song really conveys the "Happy Days indeed" aspect of the show. To anyone who hasn't heard it yet, check it out-it's on Youtube, several uploads of it in varying qualiy.

The show having gotten new life: I totally agree-compared to the difficult to get through Season 10 before it, that final season really got the jolt of energy it needed. The writing was actually excellent most of the way through the season. Do I think there was enough there for a Season 12? Yes, provided all the writers and creative people had stayed. I think the obvious direction to go in would have been to focus on Fonzie and his newly-adopted son, and also on the school he was now a dean at along with Roger and Joanie-they could have made it New Jefferson High or at least the next generation of that. But, by the time Season 11 came around the show had lost a LOT of it's audience-kind of gradually-over those last 4 years and that last year there was a HUGE drop off I think that's due to how disappointed people were in the direction the show went. I do hope those people do get to see those last 4 years at some point and can take away positives from it like you and I did because it was well worth the time to watch those last 4 years.

The thing is though, once a show reaches the age Happy Days was at the end, you've pretty much gone in every direction creatively you can-at that point you're starting to re-make whole episodes because that's all there is left you can do. So, the only other option is to end the series as best you can-which they did a really outstanding job of here-and hope the series-long fans will tune in for at least the finale. Thankfully the timing of the cancellation and decision not to do a 12th year worked out in it's favor since the audience had dropped off. It saved them the probably very difficult job of trying to piece another halfway decent year together-saving it from the re-making/re-treading of episodes I mentioned. Tom Bosley did say quite a few times he and Marion Ross were all too happy to do the show forever if they could.

But, thanks again for the compliment-always good to see your thoughts on stuff like this get read and noticed
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL
there was wayy to much joanie and chaci during them years that got annoying any case it was all right

Indeed..Between the whole "waaaaah we're broken up!" "No no we're back together!" "Yay we're getting married!" "No, we're not!" "Yes we are!", especially during the final season it got to "enough is enough is enough already" That's really the only truly glaring fault I can find with those last 4 years. Yes, I was very unhappy they spent 1 of those 4 years focusing on Fonzie aging but the Joanie-Chachi nonsense was worse in some ways I think. They piled that on just way too thick I think.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antman67

I found it weird to see The Fonz without his leather jacket in the later episode too. He no longer wore his motorcycle boots any longer, and why did they start ironing a crease in his jeans?

Yeah, that was WAY too weird to see him without the leather jacket too. When he didn't have that leather jacket on it seemed like it was an almost entirely different character. It showed in Henry Winkler too, he just seemed to play a bit different of a character during those times. That decision creatively-no leather jacket, no boots, no bike anymore-was the absolute worst possible thing they could have done and did. You can't have Fonzie without his trademark things. Which is why I think they quickly changed their minds and brought most of it back for the last year. Good choice. I can still see the episodes in my head where he's wearing SWEATERS and even some FLANNEL SHIRTS and it was just too jarring and weird to see them go that way creatively with the character.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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The change from season 7 to season 8 was a bit jarring with Richie and Ralph gone as well as the new characters Roger and Jenny, but overall it was a good season as well as most of what followed (especially the last one which IMHO was one of the best of the series).
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #9
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I thought that the eighth season was very transitional since it left a huge hole with Ron Howard and Donny Most gone. The focus shifted more to Joanie and Chachi and we got to finally see Jenny Piccolo. It also marked the debut of Ted McGinley as Roger Phillips. Though Anson Williams was still on the show, I thought the Potsie character was no longer needed because there was no Richie or Ralph.

It also showed Fonzie maturing as he became a teacher at Jefferson High School. As the show began to wind down, he had his first serious relationship with Ashley Pfister, a single mom who had a daughter played by Poltergeist's Heather O'Rourke.

But my favorite moments from the post Ron Howard/Donny Most era were the episode where folk music became popular and Fonzie was upset about the loss of rock and roll and Joanie and Chachi's wedding. There are some memorable moments from that era but not a lot from the earlier Happy Days.
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Old 10-28-2012, 04:10 PM   #10
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Seems like the writers were out of ideas and were basically just throwing anything at the wall and see what would stick. There were some good episodes after Richie and Ralph, but I have to agree, that whole Chiachi and Joanie back and forth nonsense. Oh, let it go! PLEASE@#! The thing I found most annoying was how the 1950s hair styles and clothing completely vanished? It was llike they weren't even trying to fool us any longer and just didn't care. Do they think we are that stupid not to notice?

What were they doing with fonzies hair too?


And when in the 1950s or early 1960s did this Chachi Arcola haircut become popular in Milwaukee?

Or Flip and his stupid cut off t-shirt? Or jenny piccolos shiny skin tight disco jeans? Seriously?
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:26 PM   #11
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I couldn't get into the last 4 seasons because it seemed like roger character was a replacement for Richie
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVFactFan
I couldn't get into the last 4 seasons because it seemed like roger character was a replacement for Richie
That's True. The void of Richie just could not be filled no match what they tried. It was just too much of a whole without him.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antman67
That's True. The void of Richie just could not be filled no match what they tried. It was just too much of a whole without him.


That's the main reason why I can't watch the last 4 seasons because I never liked REPLACEMENT CHARACTERS.

You add around missing characters not replace someone who left
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bh7812
Indeed..Between the whole "waaaaah we're broken up!" "No no we're back together!" "Yay we're getting married!" "No, we're not!" "Yes we are!", especially during the final season it got to "enough is enough is enough already" That's really the only truly glaring fault I can find with those last 4 years. Yes, I was very unhappy they spent 1 of those 4 years focusing on Fonzie aging but the Joanie-Chachi nonsense was worse in some ways I think. They piled that on just way too thick I think.

true it became unbearable to watch .ever single time i turn it on there they are i barley saw fonzie cause they was hogging the air time.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:31 PM   #15
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Richie and Ralph did not leave to join the army at the end of season seven. It happened off-camera before season 8.

And I beg to differ about the last season's version of the theme song: I hated it. The vocalist was annoying and the fact that they changed the sequence as well I didn't like either. It doesn't match with the other seasons.

Happy Days became a different show once season 8 began. It wasn't the same show that many of us had grown up with. It lacked the spark of the Richie/Fonz relationship and the replacement characters were poor substitutes.

I wish they had graduated at the end of season seven and that was the end of it. HD really went downhill (IMO) from season eight onward.
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