was set in the 1950s in Milwaukee, the heart of middle-class America, and told the story of the Cunningham family. Mr. Cunningham (Tom Bosley) ran the local hardware store and Mrs. Cunningham (Marion Ross), like all good TV Moms, spent her time in the kitchen. Their son, Richie (Ron Howard), hung out at Arnold's Drive-In with his pals Ralph Malph (Donny Most) and Potsie (Anson Williams), trying to be as cool as the coolest greaser in town, the Fonz (Henry Winkler). Richie's sister, Joanie (Erin Moran), tagged along whenever she wasn't at her friend Jenny Piccolo's house.
Life in Milwaukee's Cunningham household and Arnold's Drive-In goes on as normal in Happy Days: The Fourth Season
. With one important exception: Richie (Ron Howard) and his pals Potsie (Anson Williams) and Ralph (Don Most) are heading toward high-school graduation and their collective future as young men. Thus, when each receives a notice from the draft board to appear for a physical, they go. When all of them fail a senior-year class, jeopardizing graduation requirements, they spend a long night studying so they can secure their freedom. When Richie gets tired of living in his family's home and wants some privacy with a girl, he arranges to borrow a friend's apartment for an evening. That friend, no surprise, is Fonzie (Henry Winkler). More than ever, Winkler is the star of Happy Days
(along with Howard), with every storyline deeply involving Fonzie and his playful arrogance. Most of the episodes in The Fourth Season
are built around Richie slowly moving into the adult world while Fonzie hovers nearby, providing his version of guidance and support. In "A Place of His Own," Richie begs Fonzie (who rents a room above the Cunninghams' garage) to let him use that space to impress a girl--an arrangement that goes haywire when Mr. Cunningham (Tom Bosley), Mrs. Cunningham (Marion Ross), and Joanie (Erin Moran) come home too soon and catch the Fonz sleeping in Richie's room (and in Richie's pajamas). "Richie Branches Out" finds the titular redhead falling for an attractive model on a poster, then going to great lengths to meet her under false pretences. Seeing the folly of Richie's ploy but understanding his temporary insanity, Fonzie gives Richie room to fail but then bucks him up like a pal. "Time Capsule" is a frenzied episode in which Richie, Potsie, Ralph and several girls get locked inside the vault at Mr. Cunningham's hardware store. Only Fonzie's manifest cool (whether real or projected) helps Richie save his sanity while the others fall apart. Certainly there are times when Richie helps Fonzie, too: when the latter can't stop picking fights in "A Mind of Their Own," Richie encourages him to see a shrink, with unexpected results. In "Fonzie's Old Lady," Richie has to break the news to his friend that the older woman he's seeing is, in fact, married. Other good episodes include "A Shot In the Dark," in which Richie wins a basketball game at school with a lucky shot that he can't replicate later. "Marion Rebels" finds Mrs. Cunningham frustrated with Howard's expectations of her, resulting in Mrs. C taking a job at Arnold's. This box set ends with a third anniversary episode, basically an obligatory clip show derived from past episodes. --Tom Keogh