PS: To my dismay, the editors got rid of a bunch of references to the great show. Not sure why. Here’s the original:
Tom Bosley died yesterday, which got me to thinking about the athletic innocence of the greatest television show of all time.
On Happy Days, nobody took steroids or bet on games or talked trash. Nobody was illegally recruited or banned for poor behavior. In one of my favorite episodes, Richie Cunningham, a benchwarmer for the Jefferson High boys basketball team, is inserted into a playoff game against Oshkosh High when the star is hurt. “Don’t shoot the ball,” Cunningham is told by the coach—and, of course, he shoots the ball and scores the winning basket (Inexplicably, the game’s announcers are Al and Potsie. But that’s another column).
In the ensuing days, Richie becomes the requisite BMOC (Big Man on Campus). A hottie named Colette wants to take him to Inspiration Point, little kids ask for his autograph, Jefferson fans beg for his attention. His head grows to the size of a large melon. Then, in the follow-up game against Fillmore High, “Luscious Legs Cunningham” (as Colette calls him) misses a free throw with one second remaining. Jefferson High loses, Colette’s eyes wander elsewhere and Richie is transformed into the Steve Bartman of his day.
Afterward, when the gym empties, Richie’s dad (played by the wonderful Bosley) lifts his son’s spirits with the everything-is-OK talk that always—always—works on TV. He hands him a red Life Saver, and the world keeps spinning.