I finally had a chance to watch last week's ABC special, The Happy Days of Garry Marshall. It's a pleasant, sentimental way to spend a couple hours. It's tempting to make a comparison to the movies of a certain director.producer, but that's too easy. So I won't.
For classic TV fans, it's maybe a little disappointing that half the special is devoted to the feature films. Let's face it, Marshall's TV work will never be as esteemed as Norman Lear's, but he had a distinguished record of creating hits, and the special had to tear through the TV portion of the resume. Worse to my eyes, it blew right past The Odd Couple and only focused on three sitcoms: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. I'm not saying I expect 10 minutes on Blansky's Beauties--OK, part of me hoped for that--but more on Odd Couple, or at least more detail on the process of Marshall the producer, would have been nice.
Of course, there is one grim factor surely influencing the decision to focus on the shows the special focuses on: People aren't around from The Odd Couple anymore. The 3 shows that are spotlighted have representatives who can talk on camera (it's still jarring to realize Robin Williams isn't here, though).
The special glosses over unpleasant issues like the notorious discord on Laverne and Shirley, and it feels very shallow, but it's a nice way to relive childhood memories if you grew up on Marshall sitcoms. The movies, to me, don't get the benefit of nostalgia, and so I'm not as interested. Credit, though, to the production for getting the likes of Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, and Richard Gere to share memories and appreciations. For that matter, there aren't too many of the performers on the TV side who aren't represented. It's a well-made look at the prolific writer/director/producer, and at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I'd rather see clips and bloopers from 40-year-old series than most of what ABC is showing nowadays, so I approve. I would prefer to see clips from something like this (even if Marshall didn't have a whole lot to do with it)...
than the same old stories about Happy Days, but I realize I'm in the minority.