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Case Number 27358: Small Claims Court

Buy Happy Days: The Fifth Season at Amazon

Happy Days: The Fifth Season

Paramount // 1977 // 387 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 21st, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson sat on it.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Happy Days: The First Season (published September 22nd, 2004), Happy Days: The Sixth Season (published March 8th, 2015), and Happy Days: The Third Season (published January 9th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Shark jumped.

The Case

This is it. This is the season. The glorious time in our pop culture history where one of the most popular TV characters of all time was made to look like a complete fool. Truth be told, I couldn't remember ever having watching the "Jump the Shark" episode, even during the heyday of its popularity as an Internet meme.

Now, at last, I am part of the initiated—and this moment really is as terrible as its reputation claims. In fact, as I reacquainted myself with the entire show of Happy Days—a series I had marginally pleasant memories about from my pre-adolescence—it dawned on me: this blows.

I suppose I can just chalk it up to the series being a relic of a bygone era—though there was plenty of legit TV that hasn't aged as poorly. No, no, I'm not going to take that cop-out. Happy Days, at least the fifth iteration, is just a brutal viewing experience.

Here's why:

The studio audience needs to calm the heck down.
I have no idea what odorless gas they were pumping into the studio at the time, but these people are hopped up in a big way, exploding with boisterous laughter at even the lamest Potsy one-liner.

Everyone gets a standing ovation and the hack writers are eager to enable.
There are few things that are more cringeworthy in sitcom-world than the character-entry-cue-clapping scenario. In the Happy Days writer's room, it must have been an ongoing bet to who could conjure the most in their respective scripts. My "favorite" is the Halloween episode, where every character marches out in their dopey costumes to raucous applause. Seriously, this crap takes like 10 minutes.

Chachi is terrible.
A young, squirrelly Scott Baio gets regular exposure this season and his exuberance and playful horniness is enough to make me want to solder my face to the hot water heater.

Mork should be captured by NASA and vivisected.
The episode that gave us Patch Adams. A fresh-faced Robin Williams is brought in to guest star as Mork, a goofy alien who has a space magic fight with Fonzie (?!) and eventually leaves to star in his own TV show. Once again—to no one's surprise—the studio audience lapped up Mork's squeaky voice and forced slapstick and baffling non sequiturs like emaciated Basset hounds, guffawing as if they'd never seen such a display of physical comedy.

Fonzie is overrated.
I know he charts routinely in the top ten of all-time favorite TV characters, but speedballing his shtick in concentrated doses has led to a hot and burning distaste for the Fonzie experience. Why the superpowers? What makes him impervious to alien mind control technology? Why are strange women unable to resist the charms of a middle-aged man? And why again did he ski-jump that shark when his rival dropped out and he didn't have to?! We'll likely never have the answers to these questions.

The Verdict

Crappy Days.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 387 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Family
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Anniversary Special


• IMDb

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