The 5th season of the television classic Happy Days arrives on DVD today. The monumental season arrives on store shelves and gives the world the opportunity to relive a classic moment in television history. A moment that many do not even realize that they refer to still today.
Happy Days was an American classic. A show centered around the Cunningham family and the group of young people they interacted with, it quickly became a staple on ABC for more than 10 years. The sitcom ran for 11 seasons and produced multiple spin-off shows in the process, including Laverne & Shirley.
A show running for 11 seasons does not usually set a groundbreaking moment in season five. This moment, however, did not just happen in season five, it lead off the season.
Henry Winkler made a name for himself on Happy Days. Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli became a staple of the show and of American culture. The leather jacket wearing Fonzie would steal the show frequently and became a center point of focus for the writers before long.
Season five would open up with a three-part episode. In part one, a talent agent discovers Fonzie and believes he has stumbled upon the next James Dean. Because sitcoms are based so closely to reality, this meant the entire crew was headed to Hollywood with Fonzie as he got his big break.
By the second episode, wholesome Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, does the unthinkable and steals the spotlight from Fonzie. The studio ends up giving Richie the contract and Fonzie is left out in the cold.
Never one to stand idle, Fonzie takes on a dare for a dangerous stunt in the third episode of the season. The stunt takes him off his familiar motorcycle and puts him on water-skis where he successfully jumps a shark.
The show moves on from there but many critics felt that that moment was the pinnacle of Happy Days, leading to a slow decrease in popularity and quality over the final seasons. It was a moment in time that the television show began to come apart. The writers had simply tried to hard to captivate the audience and had done just the opposite.
You got it, on September 20, 1977 in the third episode of season five, Happy Days “jumped the shark”.
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It is the origin of the phrase, as a matter of fact. It is this episode that people are referring to when they say a television show has “jumped the shark”. The term is now used to describe most anything that has hit a pinnacle to define the moment that the popularity of that item began to decline.
Of course, Henry Winkler was more than happy to revisit his iconic moment years later during a scene on Arrested Development.
It is not often that life makes it so easy to own a moment that inspired an iconic idiom. Happy Days season five is on shelves today.