Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Podcast Tuesday: "Must Be the Season of the Witch"

Fonzie, Mr. Cool, and a witch on The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.

In many ways, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969-1970) was a major breakthrough for Hanna Barbera. Not only was the show a ratings success and the beginning of a multimedia empire that is still going today, it reached a teenage audience beyond just the grade schoolers who normally watched Saturday morning TV. Little wonder, then, that HB attempted one Scooby clone after another in the 1970s and '80s, including Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, and Goober and the Ghost Chasers.

It took me a while to realize that The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang is essentially another Scooby wannabe, imitating the original show almost character for character. Instead of leader Fred, we have Fonzie (Henry Winkler). Instead of ditzy Daphne, we have Cupcake (Didi Conn). Instead of nerdy Velma, we have Richie (Ron Howard). Instead of cowardly Shaggy, we have Ralph Malph (Don Most). Naturally, we need a humanlike animal mascot. Instead of Scooby or Scrappy, we have Mr. Cool (Frank Welker). And the gang needs a flashy mode of transportation, so instead of the Mystery Machine, we get the time machine.

The episode that made me realize this was "You'll Never Get Witch," in which Fonzie and his pals travel to Salem in 1692 and get caught up in the witch trials. The only thing to distinguish it from Scooby-Doo is that it features the Happy Days kids. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Find out when you listen to the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast.