Joanie Loves Chachi

“I don’t know what’s come over me, you got me hypnotized…when yooooou look at me.”

In the (late 70s and) early 80s Happy Days was riding high. It had already spawned two successful spin-offs (Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy), so of course it made sense to try another one. And who better to be its subject than America’s favorite teenage lovebirds, Joanie Cunningham and Chachi Arcola?

The show centered on the couple (played, of course, by Erin Moran and Scott Baio) as they made a new life for themselves in Chicago, hoping to strike it big on the music scene. They were backed by what may still be sitcom-land’s best-ever back-up band (featuring loony-tune Bingo on drums, “fat cousin” Annette on bass, and other-cousin Mario on keys), and they were joined by familiar faces from Happy Days, including Al Delvecchio and Chachi’s mom Louisa. Even the Fonz himself stopped by for an episode.

ABC, of course, must have thought they were golden. Joanie Loves Chachi was created by Happy Days‘ own Garry Marshall and developed by Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett (the pair who not only produced Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley but would later go on to produce 80s classics like Perfect Strangers and Full House)…so what went SO drastically wrong that TV Guide later named Joanie Loves Chachi the 17th worst blunder in U.S. television history? (Here’s the proof.)

Sure enough Joanie Loves Chachi started strong, with a four-episode debut in March 1982 on Tuesday nights at 8:30, immediately after Happy Days. It did so well that ABC decided to give it a full run later that fall…but on a different night, far away from the Fonz, Potsie, Richie, and the gang.

Big mistake. Huge.

Marooned by itself on Thursday nights, competing against the juggernaut that was Magnum P.I., and without the original creative team (who got the J♥C ball rolling only to abandon it and return to the greener pastures of Happy Days), the saga of Joanie and Chachi’s new life in the Windy City withered and died.

17 episodes was all we got, and even though Joanie and Chachi (and Big Al and Chachi’s mom) packed their bags and returned to Happy Days‘ Milwaukee the following season, we still kinda got a soft spot for this short-lived bit of 80s happiness. People might not have loved Joanie Loves Chachi as much as Joanie loved Chachi, but we’re Best of the 80s, and as long as it happened in our favorite decade, it’s okay by us. So, yeah…

We ♥ Joanie Loves Chachi.


~ by weheart80s on April 24, 2017.

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