So after reading my breakdown of Fonzie’s shark jump, someone dared me to offer the same treatment to the episode where Richie almost dies. Well, I certainly remember that nightmarish day. But when you’re 10 and watching a TV show and unaware how normal human emotions and reactions work, well, you stare at the screen and buy the drama. So, having last watched the episode, oh, 15 years ago, I only recalled it being terribly sad.
Then I watched it again moments ago.
In a word: Glub …
:07—OK, Lori Beth comes running into the garage screaming, “Help! Somebody, help!” Here’s the thing—her boyfriend/future husband is lying in the street, presumably bloodied and near-death. And this is the best the actress can pull out? “Help! Somebody, help!” And how the fuck is her scarf so neatly tied, considering she just fell off a motorcycle? Also, watch Big Al wait for his cue as Lori Beth speaks with Potsie. Brando, it ain’t …
:28—Wacka, wacka … is that Scott Baio making his move on Lori Beth while her boyfriend/future husband is lying in the street, presumably near-death?
:38—”Your son is in critical condition. If he comes out of the coma soon and regains consciousness, he should be alright.” Translation—Never go to the ER in Milwaukee. Ever.
1:04—”It’s a good thing he was wearing his helmet. It could have been worse.” OK, two points: 1. This is a transparent ‘Oh shit, we better put in a pro-helmet line so people don’t write angry letters’ maneuver. 2. Just so I get this straight: “Your son is in a coma, and he might never get out of it. So just be grateful he was wearing a helmet, because it could have been worse.” Uh … what?
1:39—Enter: The Fonz. A side thought—that jacket must smell really bad. I mean, brotha never takes it off. Ever.
2:07—Mr. C, America’s greatest dad, says, “C’mon, let’s go home” and they all leave. What!? Your son is in a coma, you just found out he’s pretty much fucked—and you don’t stay the night?
2:31—This is where things get really bad.
2:42—Who doesn’t fit in at the Cunningham household? We’ve got Mr. and Mrs. C, Joanie, Lori Beth, Chachi, Ralph, Potsie, Big Al … and Leather Tuscadero?
3:18—I don’t quite know what to say here. Mr. C gives his heartwarming speech about Richie being OK, and then Leather Tuscadero sits at the piano and begins singing. Someone please explain.
3:26—Jesus, this is bad.
3:41—Clearly Lori Beth wants to ask her to stop, but doesn’t have the heart.
3:49—Oh, no—flashbacks (aka: The episode’s running about two minutes short. What can we do, Fred?)
4:07—Can I get this song on iTunes?
4:11—Please, Leather, stop.
5:04—Leather doesn’t quite know what to do now. She’s at the piano, clearly embarrassed that she felt compelled to show off her musical skills when the host family’s son is just about dead.
5:15—Nurse did a very nice job, I thought.
5:26—The Fonz has returned. And this begins the worst portion of the worst episode in Happy Days history.
5:55—Remember the scene in Rocky III when Rock sits there talking to a dead Mick? I now realize that was a direct ripoff of Happy Days.
6:43—The Fonz is about to cry. First time in Happy Days history. This is where the show actually jumps the shark, because he’s no longer even remotely cool.
7:11—Oh, no. Fonz, don’t talk to God.
7:30—Leather, where are you?
7:37—Quivering voice alert. This might be the worst singular moment of acting since Mork and Mindy: Episode 12.
8:25—”Hi, we decided to stop back in and check on our near-death son.”
8:57—”Seriously, Fonzie, we don’t want you here!”
9:08—Ah! The ol’ 80s sitcom device … he’s-talking-to-us-but-we-don’t-get-it.
9:35—This doctor amazes me.
Doctor: “How do you feel?”
Richie: “I’m hungry.”
Doctor: “That’s a good sign!”