Comedy Oddities: The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang

Back in 1980 Hanna Barbera created this Happy Days spin off, which saw a debonair space and time traveller going on crazy adventures with his friends. Now that concept may sound quite familiar but the creators have denied being influenced by Doctor Who, though it’s a struggle to believe such a thing given that the central idea is identical and that the interior bares a suspiciously similar look to the Tardis, complete with a central control unit and the fact that they’re rubbish at piloting it and it never goes where it’s supposed to.

I’ve genuinely no idea why Hanna Barbera thought the characters from Happy Days would work well in a sci-fi setting, but presumably they only had dollar signs in there eyes as the series was so popular at the time. Along with The Fonz, Richie and Ralph there’s also “a future chick name of Cupcake” who has the ability to walk through walls and various other unusual things due to her 25th century magic, and a dog version of The Fonz called Mr Cool who mimics The Fonz’s famous “Ehhhhhhh!” and has a fetish for sexy human women. Because who doesn’t enjoy our four legged friends lusting after busty blondes? Everyone? Phew, I was starting to worry it just me for a second then. They managed to get the original cast to provide the voices as well, presumably due to a huge pay cheque as it can’t have been down to the quality of the scripts. This might all sound a little harsh as the series does have some vague merit, partially as it’s great fun to mock, but Mr Cool the dog occasionally provides some bemusing slapstick moments and The Fonz’s unflappable nature even when being threatened by prehistoric beasts and various other villains generates the odd smile.

In the first episode the opening credits explain what’s going on, as apparently The Fonz and co were zapped in to the spaceship and are now desperately trying to get back to 1957. They then travel back to the time of dinosaurs and soon enough thanks to Mr Cool’s dickishness the time machine is lost in a swamp. Because the show is nothing but historically accurate there’s a bunch of Neanderthals hanging about who speak almost perfect English, who kidnap Richie and Ralph, and so The Fonz, Cupcake and Mr Cool have to save the day.

Whilst a lot of the episode is your standard Hanna Barbera fare there’s the odd amusing line, like Ralph’s “Please no, I’m allergic to lava, I break out”, and when The Fonz is grabbed by a cave woman she utters the words “Come, we make cave music”, heavily hinting that The Fonz is about to get laid, but the rest of it is a tad uninspired. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the characters featured it’s unfortunately a little sexist in places too with The Fonz making comments like “That future chick is good looking but she’ll never learn”, and every time Cupcake tries to save the day it of course goes wrong, with only The Fonz being allowed to be heroic.

The second episode is more of the same, though this time they’re in 2057 trying to stop the earth being destroyed by alien robots, with some of them looking similar to those in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Once again there’s the odd funny line or moment, with The Fonz having to escape the main big bad’s sexual attraction to him, whilst a robot cat fancies Mr Cool for some unknown reason, but the majority is standard slapstick nonsense with the dog doing stupid and annoying things whilst Cupcake’s attempts at magic fail to work with unhilarious results.

According to Wikipedia future episodes saw the gang ending up in 3817 where they had to help out the kelp farmers of Aquacity (which sounds thrilling, I know), visit ancient Iraq, tangle with pirates, hang out with Dracula (where Ralph gets turned in to a werewolf though alas the change isn’t permanent), travel to the centre of the Earth with Jules Verne and meet up with Sherlock Holmes to help him stop Moriarty stealing the crown jewels. And who knows, maybe the series became a masterpiece in later episodes, but based on the two episodes I’ve watched so far I’m guessing it didn’t, and as much as I love rubbish comedy on occasion there’s no way I’m going to subject myself to more of it. But if you’re a huge fan of Happy Days and are in a nostalgic and very forgiving mood you might enjoy the series a little more than I did.

Alex Finch.

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