The squad leader of Richie’s ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps) group is fired for his inability to control the troops. Richie is appointed as the new leader. Ralph and Potsie think this is great news, until they realize Richie is serious about his new leadership role.
Richie consults his father who tells him the secret to good leadership is making your men love you. “All the great leaders had that quality: MacArthur – Nimitz – Bradley. “You know, I was a mess sergeant in the army. I used to put extra gravy on the men’s potatoes. They’d do anything for me”.
He also approaches the squad’s Captain, who tells him the secret of good leadership is the men ‘hating your guts.’ “If they fear you they’ll follow you,” he advises. “All the great leaders, their men hated them; MacArthur – Nimitz – Bradley.
Richie assumes command of the squad but everyone is still more interested in goofing off. Richie threatens to put everyone on report, meaning they will have to retake ROTC during summer school. Potsie, Ralph and the others do not take kindly to their friend’s no-nonsense approach.
The next day at Arnolds, Richie receives the cold shoulder treatment from Ralph and Potsie. Even Fonzie says he doesn’t want to talk to a ‘stoolie’, after hearing that Richie placed his friends on report.
Telling his father about his situation the next night, Richie says he feels like Humphrey Bogart in THE CAINE MUTINY.
After a dream that night, Richie wakes up the next morning with a clear head and his decision made. He will tear up the paperwork that placed his friends on report. Richie apologizes and promises he’s just going to be himself from now on. “If you want to follow that’d be nice. If you don’t, then there’s nothing I can do about it.”
He adds – “If you march good in the inspection today, I promise to quit as squad leader. Then we can be buddies again.” Apart from an unexpected detour through the path of a set of sprinklers, the march inspection goes well.
Howard congratulates Richie and tells him he supports his decision to quit as squad leader. “It’s not important to be a great leader. It’s just as important to be a good follower.”
There are over 20,000 ROTC cadets in 273 ROTC programs at major universities throughout the U.S today. As of 2022, more than 1700 U.S. high schools have Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs as well. Now you know.
Richie, Potsie and Ralph emerge from a movie theatre, having just seen a James Dean double feature. Richie spots Carol Lipton, a girl he is fond of, but cannot bring himself to ask her out. He consults Fonzie for advice.
FONZIE: You sprout feathers every time you try to talk to a new chick, Cunningham.
RICHIE: So what’s a guy supposed to do about that anyway?
FONZIE: You gotta ask me that after you have just seen two James Dean movies? You know how Dean gets chicks? I’ll tell ya how Dean gets chicks: ’cause he acts nutsy.
RICHIE: Acting nutsy gets chicks?
FONZIE: That’s right. Chicks go for troubled guys. That’s how Dean got Natalie Wood.
Fonzie follows with a demonstration. He acts ‘troubled’ inside Arnolds and, sure enough, in quick time a ‘chick’ comes running to console him.
Richie tries the same routine the next day with Carol Lipton but the plan backfires. She calls him ‘strange’ and hands Richie a study book she is holding, ABNORMAL PYSCHOLOGY, advising him to read it.
Richie soon becomes engrossed in the book and starts believing he is abnormal. “This book has illuminated the dark recesses of my mind and I see a lot of trouble in there.” he observes.
Ralph tries to convince Richie he is no crazier than anyone else. However, soon after Richie makes an appointment to see a psychiatrist (at the College Free Clinic).
Richie tries to convince the psychiatrist he is there as part of research he is doing for a project about problems faced by teenagers. It soon becomes clear that the problems with ‘shyness’ he is describing are his own.
Richie arrives home from seeing the psychiatrist. He announces to his parents that, as part of the whole-family model of treatment, they too have an appointment to see him. Howard comments, “The only thing bothering Richard is adolescence.”
Richie returns to Fonzie for fresh ideas. Fonzie advises him to ‘Be yourself’, admitting the ‘Act like Dean‘ advice was ‘dumb’. Fonzie advises Richie to face his fears. For Richie, this means going up to the first girl he sees and ”planting a kiss right on her lips”.
Richie tries it, with good results. Marion and Howard return home from the psychiatrist’s office and tell Richie the psychiatrist has diagnosed him as perfectly normal. “I know” replies Richie, back to his old self after the ‘kiss-a-stranger’ therapy technique has cleared his head.
This is another HAPPY DAYS episode that was cleverly named after the title of a popular song.
YOU GO TO MY HEAD (written and first recorded in 1938) has been recorded by many artists over the years, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Miles Davis, Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan.
The song has been featured in these three films as well…
Richie’s old girlfriend from three years ago – Arlene Nestrock – returns from New York. Richie recalls the only reason she agreed to go out with him back then was he had a television set.
Three years on and now Arlene is after something else from Richie – his ring. In 1950’s language that means ‘going steady’. However Richie believes ‘going steady‘ is ‘like being married but without all the fringe benefits’.
Richie can’t bring himself to break up with Arlene. He consults Fonzie for advice, mentioning he will be attending dinner the next night at Arlene’s house to meet her parents. Richie is advised to put on his best Fonzie impersonation.
At the dinner, Richie wears a leather jacket, slouches like a pro and talks about his dreams of owning a motorbike and taking Arlene cross-country. He sprinkles his speech with plenty of ‘Aaay’s‘ and masters the detached ‘vacant stare’.
Richie thinks the plan has worked when Arlene tells him the next day her father has instructed her never to have anything to do with him again. Things backfire however when Arlene’s attachment to Richie grows even stronger, Romeo and Juliet style.
Richie chooses a movie theatre to announce to Arlene he wants to break up. Arlene takes it hard, retreating to the women’s bathroom, where Richie follows her. Inside, she calls Richie “an insincere creep, like all boys” and returns his ring.
Richie returns home and confesses to Howard and Marion he thinks he has really hurt this girl. Howard consoles Richie, saying “Every break-up seems like the end of the world but you always manage to get over it.”
Things conclude with Marion saying – “I remember going with a fella once. For months, I tried to break up with him. He pleaded with me. He said he couldn’t live without me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake him”.
Riche: “What finally happened?”
Marion: “I married him. You learn to love a person who hangs in there.”
This episode took it’s name from a 1958 hit song sung by Connie Francis (now aged 84).
Connie Francis is widely recognized as the “First Lady of Rock & Roll,”. She is estimated to have sold more than 100 million records. She was also the first woman in history to reach No. 1 on the BILLBOARD HOT 100 chart.
The song features in last year’s 101 DALMATIONS off-shoot film, CRUELLA.
Richie finds it difficult saying goodnight to his date Gloria while his father waits in the car to drive him home. Richie pitches the advantages of owning a 2nd family car to Howard. Howard agrees and throws in $200 towards the purchase. He reminds Richie however it won’t be his but the family’s car.
Fonzie offers to sell Richie a car named LOVE BANDIT he won in a drag race. Richie says he doesn’t think it is what his father had in mind for a 2nd car, adding his Dad’s idea of cool is leaving the top button on his sports shirt open.
Fonzie shows Richie’s father the car but Howard is unimpressed. “This is not a car a grown man drives. It’s more like something a little kid peddles.” However after agreeing to paint the car a nice shade of ‘family blue’ and removing the hot-rod shiny extras, the sale goes ahead.
Richie soon learns the car is stolen. Fonzie paints over the number plate and the plan is for Richie to drive the car directly home from Fonzie’s garage, and leave it there until Fonzie can get in contact with the person he got the car from.
On the way home however he bumps into Gloria, who asks him for a lift. Richie drives them both straight to his garage, where he parks the car and then offers to walk Gloria home the rest of the way. Gloria thinks Richie is acting very strangely.
The next morning Richie wakes to the sound of the 2nd family car being driven out the driveway by Howard and the rest of the family, all packed for a vacation. Richie runs out to stop them, and eventually the truth about the car being stolen comes out.
Fonzie then brings Rocky Baruffy, the person he won the original LOVE BANDIT from in a drag race, with him down to the police station. Together they explain the idea of the car being stolen is actually just a large misunderstanding.
The actor who played the detective down at the local police station was Karl Swenson (1908 – 1978). Among a great many film and television roles, he appeared in these four movies –
Richie has a home nighttime study date with Gloria. They are alone sitting on the living room couch together and just about to kiss when suddenly Marion appears. She announces she “heard noises and so had to come down to check”.
Richie and Gloria attempt to regather their tender moment when next Howard pops down from the upstairs bedroom to search for his reading glasses. Becoming frustrated at the series of ‘interruptions’, Richie finally gives up on the idea of romance happening that night at his home.
Next morning at the breakfast table, Richie complains to older brother Chuck, who has popped in for a visit, that he has no life of his own: “I eat when the family eats – not when I want to. I watch their tv shows – not the ones I like. I can’t even listen to Fats Domino after 10 ‘o clock.”
Chuck suggests Richie move in with him, as his old roommate just moved out. Marion is worried but Howard reassures her, “It’ll be fine Marion. You know, there’s an old saying that when a baby bird leaves its nest with just its pin feathers on, it always comes flying home before it molts”.
Richie moves in to his older brother’s apartment but is immediately struck by the clutter. “Is this the garage or the apartment?” he quips. Chuck responds with an offer. He asks Richie if he will clean-up the place a little each week in return for a cut to his share of the rent. Richie agrees.
To earn money to pay his own rent, Richie begins waiting on tables at Arnolds. The next night he arrives home, bone tired after his shift, only to fall asleep to the sound of his older brother bouncing a basketball – “59 with each hand” – in the living room.
Word spreads quickly that Richie now has his own ‘pad’. Potsie, Ralph and Fonzie all make approaches to Richie about using his apartment as a place to take their dates. Later they all have keys made to the apartment.
Richie brings Gloria back to the apartment however the mood is broken with a series of interruptions. First Potsie and his date arrive, expecting they will be alone. Next Ralph and his date turn up, followed soon by Fonzie with his. The final straw is when Chuck and the entire basketball team roll in as well.
Richie becomes enraged and orders everyone, including Fonzie, his own brother and the basketball team to leave. Gloria is impressed with Richie’s conviction and ‘take charge’ self-belief. “Oh wow Richie! That was really something else. I mean, that was better than Spencer Tracey in ‘BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK‘. I was ready to leave too!”
Soon after, as predicted by his father, Richie moves back home. “It was really lousy having my own apartment this time,” he observes. “The place was always a mess. There was never any food in the house. I had to work all the time just to pay the rent. All I got out of that place (referring to having to sleep on the couch) was a bad back”.
Howard has the final word – “Someday you’ll have a place of your own and it’ll be different. You’ll probably be married by then. But until that time, I think it’s a good idea you let me have the key to Chuck’s apartment”.
In this episode, Richie cites one of the reasons he wants to move out of home as being the fact he can’t listen to Fats Domino after 10pm. American pianist and singer-songwriter Fats Domino (1928 – 2017), real name Antoine Domino Jr. sold over 65 million albums in his career.
His 1956 hit BLUEBERRY HILL was a song Richie would often sing to himself when he was feeling happy, in particular on dates.
Howard calls a family meeting to announce they will be installing a bomb shelter in the backyard. He reasons that at the height of the ‘Cold War’ tensions could boil over any time. The rest of the family is not so sure.
Word spreads quickly amongst Richie’s friends of the bomb shelter. It is believed the site will make a great ‘make-out’ spot. A girl named Carol who has never shown interest in Richie suddenly wants to go out with him because he now has a bomb shelter.
Howard conducts his first practice drill in the backyard in the area roped off for the installation. Assorted people and their dates turns up, including Fonzie on his motorcycle. Howard orders them all to leave and go home. This causes friction with other members of the family.
The next day at Arnolds, everyone ignores Richie. Marion also suffers some backlash. Another meeting is called at home, in which contrary opinions are aired –
RICHIE: Dad, the way I figure it is if they drop the bomb, then I won’t have any friends. And if they DON’T drop the bomb, the way things are, I won’t have any friends. So what good is the bomb shelter?
MARION: That’s an interesting question Howard. What’s your answer?
HOWARD: I’ll tell you what good it is… If you sit in it you have peace of mind.
RICHIE: While all your friends are pounding at the door?
HOWARD: Oh look, the discussion is over. We’re gonna take a vote.
The family vote against having the shelter being installed but, as ‘head of the house‘, Howard overrides the decision. Slowly, however, he begins to question whether all the negative reaction is worth it, eventually siding with the rest of the family in choosing not to install a bomb shelter in their backyard.
HOWARD: Richard, what do you think about a man who got so carried away by his own fears he forgot about people?
RICHIE: I’d say he’s human.
The actress who played the girl who would only go out with Richie because she thought he had a bomb shelter was Christina Hart (born 1949). She would go on to become a successful playwright, and direct over 50 plays. Amongst many film and television appearances, she played a member of the Manson gang in the 1976 movie HELTER SKELTER.
And finally, from the people who brought you this…
ROLLING STONE Magazine have come up with a list they consider to be the 100 Greatest Television Series of all time.(HERE) These types of lists are always good for a giggle and a quibble.
HAPPY DAYS came in at #65. Naturally, I believed a much-loved show that ran for 11 seasons warranted a higher position. TOP TEN springs to mind. TOP FIVE would have been deserving. But not my list, right?
I was mentally coercing myself into a state of something resembling partial, ok… VERY partial acceptance of that lowly placing (amidst dealing with the hurt of HR PUFNSTUF being left out altogether!) – believing I should probably be thankful the hipster millennials compiling the list thought to include it at all – when further scrolling revealed THE MUPPETT SHOW rated a full 11 places higher, coming in at #54.
That was zero hour for me. Time to shut the gate. Sorry ROLLING STONE – who I used to so love when I was 15 – but after seeing that and consequently never being able to UNSEE that – the jig with your list was most definitely up for me. But no hard feelings.
Are you ready for a little SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK in your life? If the answer’s ‘Yes’ (or even a firm ‘maybe’) go ahead and click
HERE to enter. No need to knock.
Ralph, Richie and Potsie are relaxing at Arnolds when they are confronted by tough-talking members of THE DUKES. Their leader, Frankie Molinar, thanks Richie for helping his kid sister who he says was getting picked on one day after school. Frankie promises to owe Richie a favour.
The next day THE DUKES steal Potsie’s bicycle. Richie, remembering Frankie’s gratitude for his good deed, goes down to the pool hall to ask for it back. He is unsuccessful and returns to ask for Fonzie’s assistance. However Fonzie says he will not go to war over a mere bicycle.
Potsie volunteers that he is friends with the football team and says they would make formidable opponents to intimidate THE DUKES. He promises to be at the poolhall at 7pm with the entire team.
Potsie, Ralph and Richie arrive at the pool hall shortly before 7pm. The only person who turns up to support them from the football team however is the duck-costume-wearing mascot. THE DUKES arrive and are about to launch into demolition mode when Fonzie and a group of tough looking mates arrive.
Richie, Ralph and Potsie go to thank Fonzie but he says his friends didn’t come to rumble. He says he told them he knew some guys who wanted to shout them to free drinks and pool. Potsie is elected as the one who will pay them.
The actor who played the pool hall attendant was Herbie Faye (1899 – 1980). Among a great many television and film credits, he appeared in three of my all-time favorite Jerry Lewis movies –
Howard invites an old army buddy, Fred Washington, over for dinner. His friend is in town to get married. Fred asks Howard to be his ‘Best Man‘ but warns him that he and Marion may be the only white couple at the wedding. Howard gratefully accepts.
A neighbor of the Cunninghams, Mrs Finley, asks to use their phone. When she sees Fred in the living room however she makes an excuse to leave quickly, not bothering to make the call.
Later, Howard tells Marion he gets the feeling she doesn’t want them to go to Fred’s wedding. He accuses Marion of being prejudiced. Marion takes exception but admits at some unconscious level, and against her better judgement, that may be true. Marion admits she’s never met a ‘Negro’ before.
The next day Howard accompanies his friend to Fred’s father-in-law’s office to discuss plans for the wedding. The Father-in-law, Mr Davis, tells Fred that Howard can’t be his best man because he’s the wrong colour.
Fred explodes, telling Mr Davis his services will no longer be required and that he himself will be taking over the wedding planning. He soon discovers however all the alternative hosting venues are either ‘out of his price-range or out of his race-range’.
Marion then offers the Cunningham house as the wedding venue. Howard wonders ‘whether the neighborhood is ready for this’ but plans begin in earnest. It soon becomes clear the wedding has become the talk of the town and not all of it is positive.
Joanie comes home from school and says Sarah Johnson’s mother won’t let her play with her any more. Marion confesses Mrs O’Good from the Church told her “under the circumstance it was best if she handed in her bingo card.”
Despite the backlash, the wedding goes ahead and is a joyous occasion. Citing the racial prejudice, Richie tells his father, “I wouldn’t mind if Fred moved in next to me”. Howard replies, “Richie, by the time you get married, maybe he can.”
The actor who played Howard’s army buddy Fred was Robert DoQui (1934 – 2008). Among many film and television credits, he played the role of Sgt. Warren Reed in ROBOCOP (1987) – ROBOCOP 2 (1990) – and ROBOCOP 3 (1993).
Richie befriends a beatnik girl named Deidra he meets in a movie theatre. She says she was leaving town after breaking up with her boyfriend but her car broke down. Richie asks Fonzie to fix Deidra’s car. Fonzie says the car will need to be in the workshop for several days.
Richie invites Deidra to his house for dinner. She arrives sprouting hippie sayings – “I’d like to wash the world’s impurity and insincerity from my hands” (translation: Can I use the bathroom?) and professes its against her principles to eat murdered animals.
Howard is not a fan. “I don’t want any of that beatnik stuff during dinner” he confides to Marion. After dinner, Richie shows Deidra some poetry he has written. Unexpectedly she faints. Later it is revealed she is pregnant.
Richie goes looking for Deidra’s boyfriend at a Beatnik joint called THE PURPLE EGO to tell him the news. He locates ‘Lawrence’ and then brings him back to the Cunningham house to reunite with Deidra. This sparks an argument with Howard who tells Richie, “When are you going to learn you can’t bring home every stray you meet.”
Deidra and Lawrence try to convince Richie to come with them and go “on the road” in search of adventure and self-discovery. Richie says he’ll think it over. The next morning, still reeling from the clash with his Father, Richie leaves a note saying he is leaving to “find himself”.
He arrives at Fonzie’s garage the next morning with a packed suitcase. There are assorted other beatniks gathered around helping to pack a yellow bus. Lawrence and Deidra however inform Richie the trip is off because they are getting married.
In this episode, Ralph mentions that he has read ON THE ROAD. This was a 1957 novel by American writer JACK KEROUAC (1922 – 1969) based on his travels across the United States. It is considered a defining work of the post-WW2 Beat generation.
The novel was chosen by TIME MAGAZINE as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. THE NEW YORK TIMES hailed the book’s appearance as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.”
The book was made into a movie 10 years ago, starring Amy Adams, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Dunst, and one of my favorite actors, Viggo Mortensen.