Happy Days: The Second Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Creator:
Garry Marshall

Cast:
Ron Howard….Richie Cunningham
Marion Ross….Marion Cunningham
Tom Bosley….Howard Cunningham
Erin Moran….Joanie Cunningham
Henry Winkler….Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli
Anson Williams….”Potsie” Weber
Don Most….Ralph Malph

Paramount Home Video presents Happy Days: The Second Season. Twenty three episodes on 4 DVDs. Season 2 aired from Sept. 10, 1974 to May 6 , 1975. DVD released April 17, 2007.

The Show

While this is the series that inspired the phrase “jump the shark,” the second season does not suffer from the sophomore slump. These 23 episodes cemented Happy Days as he hot sitcom of 1974. At this point, the show still focused on Richie Cunningham coming of age in the early days of rock ‘n roll when the American teenager was born. He deals with school, family and adulthood in a world of sock hops, drive-ins and hotrods. The show had yet to be completely reduced to The Adventures of The Fonz or Introducing Ted McGinley.

“Richie Moves Out” kicks off the set with a visit from Chuck, the mysterious elder brother. Richie needs to spread his wings since he can’t properly make-out with his date in the living room without his parents interrupting. He makes a deal to move into Chuck’s off-campus college apartment. He quickly discovers that everyone else has plans for his private lust den. “Richie’s Car” has the Fonz adjusting a hot rod so it can be street legal cruiser for his friend. Unfortunately the cops think the former hotrod was stolen before Fonz won it during a drag for pink slips.

“Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas” has the Cunninghams brighten the Fonz’s lonely holiday season. There’s even a case of true ’50s star power with “The Howdy Doody Show” bringing everyone’s favorite freckled stringed superstar onto the show. Richie sneaks a photo of Clarabell the clown without makeup and gets an offer from Life magazine. Buffalo Bob and his clown beg for Richie to destroy his scoop. “Haunted” has Ralph throwing his big halloween party in a haunted house. The action plays out like an AIP teenager flick with Richie getting scared out of his skeleton suit.

The first sign of dopey shows based on the Fonz is unveiled with “Not With My Sister, You Don’t.” Joanie goes out with Spike, Fonzie’s nephew. He sports a mini-leather jacket and bike. The story isn’t too absurd with Richie having to protect his sister from her “educated” date, but the Mini-Me nature of Spike annoys. He was a harbinger of the Chachi to come.

Season two was the last to be shot with a single camera and make use of exterior locations. The next season, they filmed the show in front of a live audience in a studio. No longer would there be a cinematic quality. It would become a normal three-camera sitcom with limited sets. No more lurking in Arnold’s parking lot with Richie and the gang except at the start of the third season when the Fonz jumped the garbage cans for You Wanted to See It. This was the glory season for many viewers.

The big warning on this set is that Paramount dumped the original soundtrack. You’ll notice the opening titles jukebox plays “Happy Days” instead of Bill Haley and The Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock.” This song change didn’t happen until the third season. As the episodes play, all the hits of the ’50s have been lifted for the mock rock cues that dominate the later episodes. It’s disappointing . Normally, this would be the part of the review where there’d be a five paragraph rant about how evil it is when studios swap out music. But the studios aren’t always the evil one. A few years back, there was a documentary about Bill Haley and the Comets in production. While the producers had full cooperation with the record label to use the original tracks, when they called up the publisher, they were quoted a price for “Rock Around the Clock” that equalled the music budget. The first season of Happy Days had all the original music. The licensing fees were outrageous. The set only had 16 episodes, but cost more than a full season of an hour long show. The high price tag led to disappointing sales. It’s been nearly three years since season 1 was released. It’s hard to say what’s right when it comes to TV shows, but it’s a dirty shame that folks with the music rights can’t be more cooperative. While Buddy Holly is slashed, we get to see Potsie sing “Splish Splash” in “Fonzie Joins the Band.”

If you have fond memories of watching the shows, odds are that you’re nostalgic for many of the episodes in the second season. This was a golden time for the show when the Cunningham family wasn’t merely a supporting cast for the Fonz. This was the happiest of the Happy Days.. If you’re not bothered by the lack of Johnny Mathis, Elvis and Fats Domino on the soundtrack, you’ll enjoy this boxset. You’ll remember why Inspiration Point was inspirational.

The Episodes

The episodes on the boxset include “Richie Moves Out,” “Richie’s Car,” “Who’s Sorry Now?,” “You Go to My Head,” “ROTC,” “Haunted,” “Wish Upon a Star,” “Not with My Sister, You Don’t,” “Big Money,” “A Star Is Bored,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas,” “Open House,” “Fonzie’s Getting Married,” “The Cunningham Caper,” “The Not Making of the President,” “Cruisin’,” “The Howdy Doody Show,” “Get a Job,” “Fonzie Joins the Band,” “Fish and the Fins,” “Richie’s Flip Side,” Kiss Me Sickly,” “Goin’ to Chicago.”

The DVD

VIDEO:
The picture is 1.33:1. Many of the episodes look rough. Besides being dirty with dust specks on the print, there was a continuous slight scratch that ran throughout “The Howdy Doody Show.” Did they store these elements in a janitor’s closet at Arnold’s? This is unusual for Paramount-CBS since two other TV DVD sets that are coming out at the same time (Untouchables and The Odd Couple) don’t suffer the same problems to this extent.

AUDIO:
The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital Mono. The sound mix is slightly off with the absence of the original golden oldies removed for the faux rock tracks. While there’s no subtitles, the episodes are closed captioned.

EXTRAS:
Nothing. While “Who’s Sorry Now” features clips from the Love American Style episode that introduced the Cunninghams to America, they didn’t sneak us the complete pilot. For such an amazing hit, it would have been nice to get a commentary track from creator Garry Marshall (something he did for The Odd Couple set).

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Happy Days: The Second Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

9
THE VIDEO

6
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

0
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
It’s hard to believe that this show lasted 11 seasons. Even after the infamous “jumping the shark” episode, Happy Days cranked out 120-plus episodes. For many kids, the show lost its cool. But this Second Season is why the show deserved to be popular. Even with the lack of bonus features, lack of music and rough transfers, the show sparkles.