Monday, November 26, 2007

HAPPY DAYS: The Third Season

Written by Hombre Divertido

Is it possible that the series that literally jumped the shark actually did so before the storyline played out? Since the series aired for eleven seasons from 1974 until 1984, it would be tough to say that the third season was the beginning of the end, but it certainly reflected a drastic change in the focus of the show.

Season Three is simply when it became Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) show. When Happy Days premiered in 1974 after having its pilot run on Love American Style, it was a coming-of-age show revolving around Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his exploits with pals Potsie (Anson Williams) and Ralph (Donny Most). Fonzie was relegated to a supporting character.

Ironically the title of the first episode of Season Three is “Fonzie Moves In,” and that is exactly what he does in more ways than one. Fonzie rents the apartment above the Cunningham’s garage, which allows for the character to be involved in more storylines. Though not the complete end of the original format of the show; the writing was clearly on the bathroom wall.

Though Season Three still has some fun episodes, there are more stories revolving around the Fonz, than in the two previous seasons combined. What makes this season work more than those yet to come on DVD is that Fonzie is still just the local tough guy and mentor to Richie, and not yet the all-powerful superhero that he would eventually evolve into.

With legendary television director Jerry Paris at the helm for all but three of this season’s episodes, they all have a solid pace and a nostalgic feel to them. Some of the episodes are a bit too contrived such as “Two Angry Men” which has Mr. Cunningham (Tom Bosley) and Fonzie squaring off in court over a collapsed roof, but there are some gems here. In “Richie Fights Back” we see some of the best comedy generated by Ron Howard in his seven seasons on the series, and in “A Date with Fonzie” we are introduced to Laverne and Shirley.

There are actually no extras in this set, though they are listing the “second anniversary” episode as a special feature. Unfortunately it is nothing more than a contrived thirty-minute episode that revolves around a surprise birthday party for the Fonz where the regulars sit at Arnold’s and reminisce while clips from the previous two seasons are shown.

Recommendation: Get it while it is still good. Some bonus features would have been nice, but this is a must-have for the true fan, because it’s pretty much downhill from here.


Written by Hombre Divertido

Though poorly marketed, Disney proved with Meet the Robinsons that they could still make a movie that would be enjoyable for children, and entertaining for adults.

Like a bright shiny new toy, Enchanted is sure to keep children busy for the one hour and forty-seven minutes it is on the screen, but adults will get bored with it quite quickly. At its core, Enchanted is nothing more than a poorly explored "fish out of water" concept. The story lacks depth and continuity and most of the performances are one-dimensional.

The Disney fairytale meets romantic comedy written by Bill Kelly and directed by Kevin Lima features Amy Adams and James Marsden as a Princess and Prince who find themselves transported from their perfect animated lives to the live action of New York City. Adams hits all right beats as Giselle, and though she is sure to join the Disney Princess club, it takes far too long for the character of Giselle to get where we all know she is going. Marsden manages to give the best performance and generates the most laughs.

The biggest disappointment has to be the performance of Patrick Dempsey as the divorce lawyer who comes to the aid of Giselle. Dempsey shows no range and the audience is left to count the amount of times his hairstyle changes within each scene.

Also in the cast is Susan Sarandon who is horribly underutilized as the evil queen. Though her motivation is muddled, her performance is fun, and the film needed more of her and less of Timothy Spall, who, though he looks the part of the queen’s flunky, gives a forced performance.

This film had a great opening weekend, and it will always play well to the young, but the plot will leave adults asking far too many questions, and fundamentally this new toy is not as bright and shiny as it should be. The animated sequences are not as vibrant as they should be, and the live action sequences are visually awkward and seem thrown together.

Disney created a fun movie for kids, but they could have easily filled out the story and utilized more opportunities presented by the concept, and created a more well-rounded film.

Recommendation: There are just too many unanswered questions and unexplored opportunities here. Take the kids and leave your brain in the car, or just wait for the DVD and head for the other room when the kids cue it up.