TITLE: FAN FAVORITES: THE BEST OF HAPPY DAYS
Release Date: March 6, 2012 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Packaging: Amaray Case
Number of Discs: 1
Number of Episodes: 8
Running Time: 201 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: English subtitles
Special Features: None
The fans have spoken! Here come eight great Happy Days episodes, selected by fans in a Facebook poll. Visit the 1950s Milwaukee neighborhood that rocks around the clock and join the Cunningham family and their friends for their best-loved laughs. Remember how it all began in the pilot episode as awkward teen Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) lands a date that's too hot to handle. Get in gear as ultra-cool Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) tracks down the villain who trashed his beloved motorcycle. And share a hilariously touching Christmas as Fonzie spends the holiday with Richie's dad Howard (Tom Bosley), his mother Marion (Marion Ross) and precocious little sister Joanie (Erin Moran). All these plus five more laugh-out-loud episodes are featured in this collection.
The release includes two episodes from season one, three episodes from season two and three episodes from season three. It all begins with "All the Way," in which Richie has a date arranged by Potsie, with Mary Lou Milligan, a girl known around town to have a reputation.
Fonzie, a high school droput, decides to re-enroll - but expects Richie to help him make the grade on his schoolwork by whatever means necessary in "Fonzie Drops In." Richie fights his fears over attending a Halloween party at a haunted house where he believes he saw a headless ghost in "Hauned." The Cunningham family plans a quiet, old-fashioned family Christmas until Richie discovers Fonzie faces a lonely holiday in "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas." Richie gets his own radio show as a teenager disc jockey and irritates his friends with his new rock 'n' roll image in "Richie's Flip Side." The Cunninghams decide to rent the room above the garage for extra cash, but they're surprised by Richie's idea of the perfect tenant - Fonzie - in "Fonzie Moves In." Richie and Potsie try to hide the truth about a hit-and-run after Ralph accidentally demolishes Fonzie's one and only love - his motorcycle - in "The Motorcycle." Joanie falls head-over-heels for Potsie when he sings a love ballad at band rehearsal in "They Call It Potsie Love."
All episodes on the DVD are presented as they were in their original season set releases, which includes a disclaimer that episodes may be edited from their original network versions and music has been changed for this home entertainment version. I believe the first and third seasons contained all of the original music. There were no problems there. Unfortunately, the second season was a complete disaster. They replaced "Rock Around the Clock" with the third season theme song. Nearly all of the original songs were replaced with instrumentals. Runtimes are as follows:
"All the Way" (1/15/74) (25:42)
"Fonzie Drops In" (2/26/74) (25:24)
"Haunted" (10/29/74) (25:07)
"Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" (12/17/74) (24:42)
"Richie's Flip Side" (3/18/75) (24:22)
"Fonzie Moves In" (9/9/75) (25:34)
"The Motorcylce" (9/16/75) (25:06)
"They Call It Potsie Love" (12/2/75) (25:35)
The packaging for this release is a standard clear plastic case. The cover art has a photo of Potsie, Richie, Ralph and Fonzie drinking beverages in a booth at Arnold's. Fonzie originally appeared in a gray windbreaker in this photo, but they have photoshopped it black to look more like his trademark leather jacket. The neon pink and blue Happy Days logo is above them. On the back, there is a brief synopsis of the set, a listing of the episodes and the DVD specs. Four episode snapshots of the cast are near the bottom. The episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are listed inside the case. There is a wood panel background and a generic jukebox in the center. The episode titles and original airdates are in red text, which makes it difficult to read with the wood panel background. The disc has a gray background, with the series logo and a listing of the episodes printed on it.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is colorful and easy to navigate. It features a photo of Fonzie holding his hands out and a family photo of Richie, Joanie, Marion and Howard in the background. A photo of the entire cast, including Potsie and Ralph, would have been better. The Happy Days logo is in the top left and the episode titles are below it. There is a yellow square next to the episode you highlight that turns gold upon your selection. You can turn on the English for the deaf and hard of hearing subtitles from that menu, which uses the same cast photo as the main menu. There is no Play All option on the menu. When you first insert the disc, there is a series of previews (2:43) that you can play or skip. There are promos for Cheers - The Final Season, Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley/Mork & Mindy - The Third Seasons and The Odd Couple - The Final Season. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The first season episodes look beautifully remastered, just like they did on the original DVD release. There is very little dirt, debris or grain. The second season took a big step backwards in the video quality department. The episodes just didn't look as clean and didn't receive the same type of remastering treatment. Season three was a noticeable improvement over the season two episodes. The first season episodes include the original Paramount logos, while the second and third seasons do not. The audio is an English mono track. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. Subtitles are available for the deaf and hard of hearing on all of the episodes.
Unfortunately, there are no special features included on any of these Fan Favorites DVD releases. This is a no-frills edition with just the episodes. None of the first four seasons of Happy Days have included any special features.
It's been a very long wait for Happy Days fans for the fifth season. The Fourth Season was released way back on December 9, 2008. I really thought that we would have received more seasons by now. I think it's a good sign that Laverne & Shirley - The Fifth Season is being released on April 10. We desperately need more seasons of Happy Days and the final season of Mork & Mindy.
If you already purchased the first three seasons of Happy Days, then there is no incentive to purchase this Fan Favorites release. The episodes look to be exactly the same as those individual season releases. The two season one and three season three episodes appear to be unedited. Unfortunately, the three season two episodes lack the original "Rock Around the Clock" theme and have nearly all of the original songs replaced. If they had gone back and reinserted the original theme and music and improved the video quality, I would have recommended picking up this "best of" release as a partial upgrade. If you are a new or casual fan of the show, this would make a nice starter set, although the complete first or third seasons would be a better value. I do agree with the selection of episodes included. There are really no weak episodes here. You get the pilot, two holiday episodes (Halloween and Christmas) and five other classics from the first three seasons. Let's just hope that the fifth season is announced sometime this year. It would be great to have at least the first seven seasons available on DVD.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 03/03/12
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