Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Podcast Tuesday: "An Episode You Can't Refuse"

Al Molinaro on Happy Days.

Happy Days is theoretically about the 1950s and early '60s, but the show's writers couldn't help but occasionally reference the popular culture of the 1970s. The Season 3 two-parter "Fearless Fonzarelli," for example, was clearly inspired by the motorcycle-jumping stunts of daredevil Evel Knievel. The "Hollywood" three-parter from Season 5, in which Fonzie (Henry Winkler) infamously water skis over a shark, probably wouldn't have happened without the success of Jaws (1975). Later that same season, the episode "My Favorite Orkan" cashed in on the popularity of Star Wars (1977). The next season, the episode "The Evil Eye" featured an exorcism seemingly derived from William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973).

Then there's the episode we're reviewing on These Days Are Ours this week: "The Claw Meets the Fonz" aka "The Godfonzer." That alternate title should tell you exactly which pop culture juggernaut Happy Days is referencing. Thanks largely to Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 mob epic The Godfather and its 1974 sequel -- both of which won Oscars for Best Picture and dominated the box office -- America was mafia-crazy back then. It's only natural that Happy Days should do its own take on organized crime. The plot of "The Godfonzer" has jovial gangster Dutch Holloway (Phillip Pine) trying to buy Arnold's away from Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro) and turn the beloved hamburger stand into a "bookie joint." Al is reluctant to say the least, but Dutch's secret weapon is The Claw (Arthur Batanides), a thug with a claw hand!

Does all this make for a good episode? Listen to our latest show and find out for yourself!