DVD Release Date: February 4, 2014 (CBS DVD/Paramount)
Packaging: Clear plastic Viva snap case
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 17
Running time: Approx. 6 hours, 50 minutes
Video: Full Screen 4:3
Audio Tracks: English Mono
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Special Features: None
It's a return to great family fun in this spinoff from the hit series Happy Days. Joanie Loves Chachi stars teen heartthrob Scott Baio as Chachi, a pop-singing superstar-in-waiting, who just happens to be the cousin of cool guy Fonzie, and whose true love is Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran). In a sitcom filled wtih music, laughs, and a whirlwind of emotions, this young couple finds that being in love and being in a band isn't always harmonious. Joanie Loves Chachi is a heartfelt comedy romp that will take you back to the happiest of days.
Joanie Loves Chachi was created by Garry Marshall, Lowell Ganz and Mark Rothman. The series also starred Al Molinaro as Al Delvecchio, Ellen Travolta as Louisa Arcola Delvecchio, Art Metrano as Uncle Rico, Robert Pierce as Bingo, Derrel Maury as Mario and Winifred Freedman as Annette. Erin Moran and Scott performed the theme song, "You Look at Me." It was written by Pamela Phillips and James P. Dunne.
The first season consisted of four episodes. It originally aired on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm on ABC between the powerhouse hits Happy Days and Three's Company. The series premiered on March 23, 1982, with the pilot episode, "Chicago," in which Joanie is upset about the attention Chachi gets from a group of gorgeous young women after he performs at Al and Louisa's newly opened Chicago restaurant. The couple's band scores an audition for a big-time record producer, but Chachi's attitude causes Joanie to head to Milwaukee and attend her nephew's birthday party instead of singing with the group in "The Performance." After Joanie sees a guy checking out Annette at Delvecchio's, she and Chachi agree to play matchmakers in "I Do, I Don't, I Do." Joanie and Chachi quarrel after she agrees to play at a college fraternity's party, hile he feels it would be a bad move to accept such a small-time booking in "College Days.
ABC moved the series to Thursday nights at 8:00pm for the second season. Eleven episodes aired in that timeslot before it was moved to Tuesdays at 8:30pm for the final two episodes. Auditioning for a guest spot in Twist Fever, the band learns that the show is looking for a family group - so Chachi and Joanie recruit the visiting Fonz to play dad and Louisa to play mom in "Fonzie's Visit." Joanie's life takes a complicated turn when Chachi's attempt to stay the night coincides with a midnight call from her dad - prompting a surprise visit from her parents in "Joanie's Roommate." When Chachi claims that men are superior to women when it comes to sports, Joanie recruits a female friend who stars on the college team to play her guy in a little one-on-one showdown in "One-on-One." Chachi gets jealous when Joanie goes out for coffee with her art teacher determined to check up on them, he tells the teacher he's a male model - only to learn he's been scheduled to pose nude in "No Nudes Is Good Nudes." When Louisa's high school friend Vanessa comes to town, it could be the break the band has been waiting for in "Everybody Loves Aunt Vanessa. Chachi and Annette can't believe their ears after Joanie claims to have seen Paul McCartney at the local hospital - so they race over to check out the Beatle sighting for themselves in "Beatlemania." Against Louisa's express wishes, Joanie and Chachi decide to take in an "exotic" French film but fear being found out when Al and Louisa turn up at the same scandalous movie in "Best Foot Forward."
Al fires Joanie, Chachi and the band for showing up late night after night in "Goodbye Delvecchios, Hello World." Snowed under by a heavy workload, Joanie asks Mario to type her 30-page term paper in "Term Paper." Joanie cooks for Chachi but isn't pleased with his less than rave reviews, so he enlists Louisa's help in the kitchen in "My Dinner with Chachi." Al's Christmas is ruined when Uncle Rico shows up with elaborate gifts and a surprise booking for the band on the "Christmas Radio Special" in "Christmas Show." When an old flame of Joanie's suddenly returns to town, Chachi is totally convinced that she still carries a torch for the guy and decides to do anything it takes to hold onto his first, last and only love in "First Love, Last Love." Inspired by Louisa's aunt's and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary, Joanie and Chachi decide to elope in "The Elopement."
Notable guest stars included Tom Bosley (2 episodes), Marion Ross (2 episodes), Henry Winkler (who also made his directorial debut with the "Best Foot Forward" episode), Grant Heslov, Nancy Lieberman, Jessica Walter, Mitch Weissman and Bill Kirchenbauer.
Most of the episodes have running times of around 24 minutes or more. The packaging has a disclaimer which reads: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Muisc has been changed for this home entertainment version." Many of the band's (they had no name) songs they performed were written specifically for the show. It appears all of those original performances are included. The band also performed some cover songs by popular artists. Some of these songs, such as "My Girl, "He's So fine," and "Love Me Tender," are included. Others have been completely edited out. These details are based on my original notes for the episodes. There are a few episodes I'm unsure about. I will try and dig up my original broadcast VHS tapes to confirm any other edits/music substitutions.
"College Days" - Chachi and the band (minus Joanie) spontaneously sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the kitchen above the restaurant. This short scene was removed.
"Everybody Loves Aunt Vanessa" - There is possibly a song subsituted with a generic instrumental on the record player when Chachi and Vanessa (Jessica Walter) dance.
"Beatlemania" - The scene of Marvin O. Pizika, the Paul McCartney look-a-like (played by Mitch Weissman), and the band singing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" has been removed.
"Best Foot Forward" - The band performing "The Locomotion" has been removed.
"My Dinner with Chachi" - The band performing "Another Saturday Night" has been removed.
If you notice any other edits or music substitutions, please post on our message board.
Here is the episodes breakdown by disc, including the runtimes.
Disc 1 - Season 1
"Chicago" (3/23/82) (24:36)
"The Performance" (3/30/82) (24:10)
"I Do, I Don't, I Do" (4/06/82) (24:59)
"College Days" (4/13/82) (23:52)
Disc 2 - Season 2
"Fonzie's Visit" (9/30/82) (24:10)
"Joanie's Roommate" (10/14/82) (24:15)
"One-on-One" (10/21/82) (24:37)
"No Nudes Is Good Nudes" (10/28/82) (24:33)
"Everybody Loves Aunt Vanessa" (11/04/82) (24:35)
"Beatlemania" (11/11/82) (22:29)
"Best Foot Forward" (11/18/82) (22:44)
Disc 3 - Season 2
"Goodbye Delvecchio's, Hello World" (11/25/82) (24:35)
"Term Paper" (12/02/82) (24:35)
"My Dinner with Chachi" (12/09/82) (23:45)
"Christmas Show" (12/16/82) (24:03)
"First Love, Last Love" (5/17/83) (24:34)
"The Elopement" (5/24/83) (24:34)
The 3-disc set contains all 17 episodes from the first (1982) and second (1982-83) seasons. It comes in a clear plastic Viva snap case. The cover art features a photo of a smiling Scott Baio and Erin Moran. There is a red and white tablecloth and wood table background. The show logo is in gold and blue and some lipstick from a kiss is used on a napkin below the photo. The back cover has a photo of Marion Ross and Tom Bosley with Moran and Baio. A short synopsis of the set and the DVD specs are provided. Inside the case, there are two headshots of Baio and Moran and two screenshots (including one for the ladies) from the episodes. The episode titles, original airdates and short summaries sorted by disc number are printed on a napkin on the right panel. The same red and white tablecloth and wood table background is used. The text is printed in a very small font, which makes it more difficult to read. Discs 1 and 2 and are held back-to-back in a somewhat flimsy plastic holder in the center of the case. This will rather easily become separated from the hinges. Disc 3 is an embedded holder in the back of the case. The discs are just plain looking with a light gray background. They have the show logo and episode titles printed on them. The lettering has a holographic type effect to it. Disc 1 contains the 4 episodes from the first season. Disc 2 contains the first 7 episodes broadcast in the second season. Disc 3 rounds out the set with the final 6 episodes of the series.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very simple and easy to navigate. The main menus feature a different pink-tinted photo inside a large heart-shaped box in the center of the screen. Disc 1 features a photo of Baio holding a guitar with Moran by his side. Discs 2 and 3 features solo headshots of Moran and Baio. The menus have a lavender background. The episodes are listed in white text vertically in two columns. A Play All option is also available. There is a red heart icon next to the option or episode you highlight that turns white upon your selection. The subtitles menu has a photo of Baio and Moran embracing. A previews option for some other CBS DVD/Paramount TV releases is available at the start of the first disc. They give you the option of going directly to the main menu. There are some very old promos (2:21) from 2007 for the third seasons of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy. Other promos are for various classic television series on DVD and the final season of Cheers. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places within the episodes. There are no scene selection menus.
Video and Audio Quality:
These episodes are now over thirty years old. The video quality seems to vary from episode to episode. The pilot episode, "Chicago," is the poorest looking of the bunch. It has quite a bit of dirt and debris. The picture is a little grainy and there are some occasional white flashes at the top of the screen. Thankfully the other three episodes from the first season look a bit better. The second season episodes generally look fine. Since the series was shot on film, there is some dirt, debris, film splices and other digital artifacts. I don't know if the episodes received any remastering for this release. The show has rarely been shown in syndication, so it seems unlikely they received any kind of deluxe restoration. The episodes are presented in their original broadcast order, which differed somewhat from the production order (the order in which they were made) for the second season. There are no vintage closing logos. They have only the CBS Television Distribution logo.
The audio is a standard English Mono track. I didn't notice any major problems. The volume is at a good level. The dialogue is easy to understand. "You Look at Me" was a great theme song. You don't see 90+ second opening credits these days. I liked how they sometimes used the theme in the score. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are available on all of the episodes.
Unfortunately, there are no special features are included. Some original network promos or a gag reel would have been nice. All of the cast members are still living, so it would have been great to have some interviews. Since Happy Days has been stalled on DVD, a few bonus episodes would have been welcomed. They could have included "Broadway It's Not" from the eighth season. That episode featured Baio and Moran performing a full-length version of "You Look at Me." Another episode they could have included from the ninth season is "Love and Marriage," in which Al and Louisa marry. That episode aired right before Joanie Loves Chachi premiered.
The announcement of Joanie Loves Chachi being released on DVD was a big surprise. I always thought they would get to the tenth season of Happy Days on DVD before even considering the spinoff series. Unfortunately, they haven't even released the fifth season yet (although it is coming May 20), which introduced the Chachi Arcola character.
Some people may think of Joanie Loves Chachi as a flop because it ran for only parts of 2 seasons and 17 episodes, but it was a big ratings hit when it premiered. They aired between the big hits Happy Days and Three's Company. Unfortunately, ABC decided to move it to another night where it was expected to anchor their schedule. It went up against Magnum, P.I., which was a top 3 show, and struggled in the ratings and finished in 60th place (which was better than Cheers). I always thought the show would have had more success if it had aired after Happy Days ended. A post-Happy Days spinoff with Joanie, Chachi and Fonzie may have been more successful. The Joanie and Chachi characters were very popular, but The Fonz was always the king. It also weakened Happy Days in its tenth season, which saw its ratings drop considerably. Fortunately, Joanie and Chachi were welcomed back in the final season to give the series some closure.
This was a much better show than what critics have said about it. Although Baio and Moran were no longer dating in real life during the production of the series, they still had great chemistry together as a TV couple. The show had a nice mix of comedy, romance and musical numbers. The supporting cast was solid. I didn't really like the mean-spirited Uncle Rico character, but the spaced-out drummer Bingo was always fun to see. The surfer dude character may have seemed out of place for a show set in Chicago in the 1960s, but remember this show was broadcast in the early 1980s during the Fast Times at Ridgemont High era. It also had one of the most memorable theme songs and opening credits. It's just a beautiful and romantic theme that many people have never heard before. I've had many requests for it over the years from people who were looking to use it at their wedding.
Since the show had quite a few musical performances, I always wondered how it would be presented on DVD. A number of songs were apparently written specifically for the show. All of those original songs seem to be included. The band also performed covers of other songs. Unfortunately, some of those performances have been edited out for this DVD release. It was especially disappointing to see "I Want to Hold Your Hand" removed from the "Beatlemania" episode. The episode just isn't the same without that performance. It's a bit puzzling when some covers are included and others are missing. I'm sure fans would be willing to pay more to cover the music licensing for the complete and unedited episodes. Despite the edits and music substitutions in several episodes, this is still an enjoyable series. If you are a fan of the Joanie and Chachi characters, it's worth checking out this rarely seen short-lived series. It was also fun to see Marion Ross, Tom Bosley and Henry Winkler make appearances in a few episodes. The Fonz even directed an episode. Coolamundo!