|Ray Underwood and Erin Moran on Happy Days.|
For as long as there are movies and TV shows about high school, Hollywood will always need actors to play jocks, bullies, preppies, and snobs -- the guys who make life miserable for the nerd heroes. They walk around the school like they own it and treat everyone else with condescension if not outright hostility. Generally, these characters are destined to receive an embarrassing public comeuppance at the end of the story, perhaps even a punch in the (immaculately chiseled) jaw. We love to hate these characters, and it's so satisfying to see them get what's coming to them.
One of the great Hollywood screen bullies was Ray Underwood (1953-1993), a sandy-haired actor from Aspen, Colorado whose life ended much too soon. You could think of Ray as the James Spader of the 1970s, mixed with a little Billy Zabka. I first spotted him in Rene Daalder's darkly surreal cult classic, Massacre at Central High (1976), where he and his fascist pals rule the school and pay the ultimate price. Ray plays a rather similar character in "Sweet Sixteen," the Happy Days episode we're reviewing this week. As Joanie's womanizing boyfriend, a high school quarterback who won't take no for an answer, Ray Underwood projects the same arrogance and entitlement that he did in the Daalder film. He's great.
But is the episode worthy of him? Find out when my cohost and I review "Sweet Sixteen" on These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast.