Created by Garry Marshall
Starring Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Erin Moran, Anson Williams, Don Most, Gavan O’Herlihy, and Randolph Roberts
- All sixteen first season episodes
Released by: Paramount Home Video
Rating: NR (suitable for all ages)
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent it, but be ready to buy the special edition. Let’s just hope there is one.
Richie Cunningham (Howard) is just trying to survive high school. Luckily, he’s got a great (albeit very nuclear) family in Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham (Bosley and Ross, respectively), sister Jonie (Moran) and older brother Chuck (O’Herlihy and later replaced by Roberts). He’s also got some great friends in Potsie (Williams) and Ralph (Most). Perhaps most importantly, he’s got a guru/mentor/sexual therapist/social motivator in high-school dropout Fonzie (Winkler). Every week, Richie is faced with a new high school challenge to overcome; typically it deals with girls–how to get them and what to do with them once you do get them.
Well, you don’t need me to tell you how incredibly popular this show was during its time. You also don’t need me to tell you how much of a pop-culture icon this show and its cast have become (I think little Richie has gone on to make a movie or two here and there…). This show is still a kind of time capsule for a piece of Americana that will never come again. What you have to understand is that this show looks at life in the 1950s through the eyes of a 1970s American culture. America got to watch Ron Howard grow up on television on The Andy Griffith Show, now they were getting to watch him grow into a man with this show. They just had to get used to him actually having a mother and Tom Bosley playing his dad. After all, this was not Opie who was going to high school all of a sudden. It is funny to see the oldest Cunningham child change from one actor to another half way through the season with no recognition from the rest of the cast at all. Granted, he didn’t play that big a role in the show, but it was obvious when he was a completely new person! Maybe he was a distant relative of Darrin Stephens.
The DVD set is just abysmal, I’m sorry to say. There are no special features at all. None. Which is a freaking shame, since we’re talking about one of the most important and popular televisions shows in American history for the 30th anniversary of its debut! I’m not sure if it was just budgetary concerns, but I’m sure you could have snagged some folks for a commentary, seeing as how Bosley and Ross are doing insurance commercials together for crying out loud! You’d think they could have at least gotten the cast together for a retrospective look at the show.
So, my suggestion is to rent this set and then buy the one they’ll hopefully put out later that sports some bonus bits.