|This bull makes a memorable guest appearance on Happy Days.|
One of the usual knocks against Happy Days is that it abandoned the more intimate, realistic stories of its early days in favor of over-the-top, cartoonish adventures. Let me offer a few responses to that common complaint. First of all, while it's true that the show did its share of wild, implausible stories that would appeal to a young audience, Happy Days never completely gave up on telling smaller, more relatable stories. Just because Fonzie jumped a shark at the beginning of Season 5, that doesn't mean he jumps sharks every week. The Cunninghams, too, continued to experience the same little triumphs and tragedies as any middle class American family until the series ended in 1984.
Secondly, those occasional over-the-top adventure episodes can be a lot of fun if you're in the right mood for them. "Westward Ho (Part 3)" from Season 6 is a great example. The absurd plot has Fonzie (Henry Winkler) riding an untamable bull named Diablo to save the Bar A ranch from the greedy H.R. Buchanan (Jason Evers). Meanwhile, Richie (Ron Howard) saves Joanie (Erin Moran) from a runaway hay cart. What does any of this have to do with 1950s nostalgia? Nothing. Could any of this actually happen? Never in a million years. How does this even relate to the rest of the series? It doesn't, but I ultimately didn't care about that.
This week on These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast, we talk all about "Westward Ho (Part 3)" and what makes it such a fun half hour of television. We hope you'll join us.