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Sharks, Desks, and Roadrunners

Earlier today, I reposted this tongue-in-cheek teaser for the fifth and final installment of my Poetry Mini Interview from April of 2021:

5: It’s the shocking season finale! To raise funds to save our gang’s favorite hang-out from foreclosure, I must perform a thrilling leap on water skis over a shark tank! (And in the episode’s audio commentary, I talk about what I’m currently working on.)

Now, let me be absolutely clear: Happy Days did not jump the shark when Fonzie jumped the shark.

This article offers several other moments when the show took its fatal turn toward moribund irrelevance, all of which have something to recommend themselves.

I have my own suggestion.

Fonzie was, as you may recall, a greaser. Likeable, sure, but still a hoodlum and always intimidating. You did not want to get on his bad side. If you did, he would snap, “Step into my office!” and direct you to the boys’ room at Arnold’s.

For me, the show began to die when they installed a desk and chair, so the bathroom looked like an actual office. This killed everything about the running joke of a bathroom being a bully’s “office.” That no one on the show either understood this or cared, demonstrated to me that the writers had lost their way.

I didn’t lose much sleep over this at the time, however. By then, I had moved on to much more serious fare, such as The Dukes of Hazzard — which, compared to Happy Days, was practically The Wire.

You come at the Dukes, you best not miss.

(The penny, by the way, only recently dropped for me that the Dukes were bootleggers. This seemingly crucial detail, which explains absolutely everything about the antagonism between the Dukes and the cops, was simply lost on me as a preteen. The show was essentially a live-action Roadrunner cartoon. Who cares why the Coyote is chasing the Roadrunner? We just want to watch him fail spectacularly as often as possible.)