Tuesday nights in the Hunt household circa late-1970-something were sacred. Not for my folks, who undoubtedly would have preferred a game of Yahtzee or having their normal grown-up friends over for Parchese and bridge mix and gin martinis. No, Tuesday nights were my night, my friends.
I have no idea why two TV shows set in 1950s Milwaukee and based off a George Lucas movie I never even saw at the time resonated so much with a kid whose closest connection with rock 'n' roll culture was watching Sha Na Na's variety show, but they sure as hell did. I know your first response is "well, it's the Fonz, right? Everybody loved the Fonz." But I was probably the only kid in America who didn't*. I was all about Potsie, who, in the initial seasons of the show, was set up to be the breakout star. Potsie was a smart-ass -- the ladies loved him despite his obvious wussiness, mostly 'cause he knew his way around a wisecrack. Richie was hapless, Ralph Malph was just cuddly, but Potsie was cool. Occasionally naive, frequently stupid, but cool -- and all without ever being remotely tough.
Oh, and god, did I love this girl:
Suzi Quattro as Leather Tuscadero. I mean, duh!
I actually dug "Laverne and Shirley" more, and I have even less idea why. I wasn't Italian or Jewish, I didn't live in Milwaukee, my parents weren't remotely working class, and I wasn't, as far as I know, a single woman of "a certain age." Mostly, I think, I had a little crush on Laverne. Not Shirley -- Laverne. She wasn't sexy, really, but she was so damn dry. She could kill someone from 50 feet with a well-placed piece of snark. And there was something about those buck teeth that just slayed me. I still like buck-toothed girls. And redheads. And fake redheads. And girls with initials on their sweaters.
I watched those two damn shows until they were run into the ground -- I weathered the original shark-jump, the departure of Richie Cunningham, the departure of Shirley (kinda rendering that show obsolete, no?), the arrival of Mork from Ork, and -- gahhh! -- the addition of Ted McGinley to the cast. Once they were cancelled, it was never the same. Oh, sure, like every kid in the 70s and 80s I watched "Mork and Mindy." But it wasn't sacred. I didn't care if I was interrupted during Jonathan Winters' hatching from the giant egg. Didn't bother me in the slightest. And every other "must see" night since then has absolutely paled in comparison.
*I mean, not that the Fonz wasn't awesome. Henry Winkler was the best Jew-playing-an-Italian in TV history. It was more like, less love.