|Warren Berlinger (at right) bullies the Happy Days gang in "The Physical."
Appropriately enough, since Memorial Day was yesterday, our new episode of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast deals with a military-themed episode of the sitcom. Specifically, "The Physical" from February 22, 1977 has Richie, Fonzie, Ralph, and Potsie all reporting to an Army induction center for their physicals. Happy Days mostly plays these events for goofball comedy, with character actor Warren Berlinger appearing as the buffoonish Sgt. Betchler. (Watch how you pronounce his name!) But there's a serious side, too, as Richie's mother Marion worries about her boy being sent to die overseas in a war. Fortunately for the Happy Days gang, America was kind of between wars at the time.
Eventually on Happy Days, both Richie and Ralph would join the Army. (It was a convenient reason to write actors Ron Howard and Donny Most out of the show.) Fonz did, too, but only in one of the show's animated spinoffs, and I think the military let him keep his trademark pompadour and leather jacket. Only Potsie -- simple-minded, useless Potsie -- would forever remain a civilian.
I never got anywhere near the military, which is probably best for both me and the military. My dad served a few years in the Navy in the 1960s, but he enlisted because otherwise he'd have been drafted. The draft had been eliminated by the time I came along. I registered for Selective Service when I turned 18, naturally, but I never got closer than that. Sometimes I wonder, though, how my life would have been different. Maybe I would have been fragged.
Anyway, here's our newest show. Hope you enjoy!