Written by Hombre Divertido
Is it possible that the series that literally jumped the shark actually did so before the storyline played out? Since the series aired for eleven seasons from 1974 until 1984, it would be tough to say that the third season was the beginning of the end, but it certainly reflected a drastic change in the focus of the show.
Season Three is simply when it became Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) show. When Happy Days premiered in 1974 after having its pilot run on Love American Style, it was a coming-of-age show revolving around Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his exploits with pals Potsie (Anson Williams) and Ralph (Donny Most). Fonzie was relegated to a supporting character.
Ironically the title of the first episode of Season Three is “Fonzie Moves In,” and that is exactly what he does in more ways than one. Fonzie rents the apartment above the Cunningham’s garage, which allows for the character to be involved in more storylines. Though not the complete end of the original format of the show; the writing was clearly on the bathroom wall.
Though Season Three still has some fun episodes, there are more stories revolving around the Fonz, than in the two previous seasons combined. What makes this season work more than those yet to come on DVD is that Fonzie is still just the local tough guy and mentor to Richie, and not yet the all-powerful superhero that he would eventually evolve into.
With legendary television director Jerry Paris at the helm for all but three of this season’s episodes, they all have a solid pace and a nostalgic feel to them. Some of the episodes are a bit too contrived such as “Two Angry Men” which has Mr. Cunningham (Tom Bosley) and Fonzie squaring off in court over a collapsed roof, but there are some gems here. In “Richie Fights Back” we see some of the best comedy generated by Ron Howard in his seven seasons on the series, and in “A Date with Fonzie” we are introduced to Laverne and Shirley.
There are actually no extras in this set, though they are listing the “second anniversary” episode as a special feature. Unfortunately it is nothing more than a contrived thirty-minute episode that revolves around a surprise birthday party for the Fonz where the regulars sit at Arnold’s and reminisce while clips from the previous two seasons are shown.
Recommendation: Get it while it is still good. Some bonus features would have been nice, but this is a must-have for the true fan, because it’s pretty much downhill from here.