Question: I'm in a bind here. I seem to remember a cartoon version of Happy Days that had Richie, the Fonz and the gang time traveling in a boat. But no one else can recall such a thing. Am I going crazy or did this cartoon really exist?


Answer: I'm tempted to tell you that you are indeed touched in the head and are well on your way to imagining other delusion-spawned shows, like, say, an animated Brady Bunch where Greg, Marsha and the kids run around with two pandas and a magical bird. The thing is, as whacked as those shows sound, Brady Kids and Fonz and the Happy Days Gang really did exist, the latter running on ABC's Saturday-morning schedule from November 1980 to September 1982.

The setup was that Cupcake, a girl from the future, visited '50s-era Milwaukee, picked up Fonzie (Henry Winkler), Richie (Ron Howard) and Ralph Malph (Donny Most) and took them reeling through the years in her time machine (which was more of a flying saucer than a boat — you're on your own defending that part). Oh, and Fonzie's dog, Mr. Cool, came along for the ride. Don't remember Mr. Cool? That's because he didn't appear in the live-action Happy Days sitcom, but you can't do a Saturday-morning show without at least one cute animal sidekick. I can't be too hard on the Gang creators for throwing a dog who walked upright and was blessed with opposable thumbs into the mix, however. Is that really any dumber than writing a superpowered alien into the original?

Anyway, narrator Wolfman Jack set the tone for the show during the opening theme song when he said the Happy Days gang "do not dig where that machine is going, but they sure hope to get back to 1957 Milwaukee." They eventually did, but apparently only Fonzie and the mutt survived. Those two got worked into The Mork & Mindy/Laverne and Shirley/Fonz Hour, which launched in September 1982 but lasted only a year.