Each Happy Days spinoff seemed to get weaker and weaker as they mounted in number and this one is no exception. The premise of this show is that the two Milwaukee lovebirds move south to the big city of Chicago to chase their musical dreams. Chachi legally changes his name to Chachicago! (complete with exclamation point) in a rather daft attempt to create a unique identity and the group Chachicago! and The Joanies is born. Being outsiders and damn near penniless, they initially have a tough time breaking into the “pay to play” live music scene. But Joanie will do anything for her man and using her feminine wiles she soon manages to secure gigs all over town for them. Unfortunately, public interest in these shenanigans was low and the series was cancelled before the storyline progressed even as far as them landing a record deal, but they do manage to have a few memorable musical moments along the way. Their live version of “Beer Barrel Polka” in Episode 6 is delivered with sudsy Wisconsin brio.
The one notable thing about this show was the desire of the producers to film on location as much as possible—and the milieu in this case was early 80’s Chicago Indie Rock. So fans of this era will see a lot of famous musical faces seamlessly integrated into the action. In fact, the episode where Joanie attempts suicide three times after accidently overhearing Chachicago! exchanging graphic “groupie stories” with notorious Windy City musical studs Steve Bjorklund of Strike Under and Jeff Pezzatti of Naked Raygun is just about worth the price of the entire box set. Another memorable episode is when Chachicago! beats the shit out of scrawny rock journalist Steve Albini after the latter gives Chachicago! and the Joanies a scathing review in the Daily Northwestern student newspaper. He uses a hammer to administer this—Albini would later cop the idea for the title and cover of an album released by his own group, the infamous Big Black.
Brilliant! I can’t wait to see your recollections of the 80s penultimate showman Richard Simmons!