What's Happening Now (1976-1979)
What's Happening Now!! (1985-1988)
Type: Spin Off
What's Happening!! was sort of the black answer to Happy Days. Happy Days was, incorrectly, viewed as sort of a TV version of the film American Graffiti. What's Happening!! was a sort of TV version of the film Cooley High. Both shows centered on a group of High School buddies. Roger, or Rog, was similar to Ritchie Cunningham. He was the center of the group and sort of geeky and smart. He had two goofy buddies (Ralph and Potsie anyone). Dwayne was the shy one. His signature line went something like this:
"Dwayne, let's do X bonehead thing so we can get enough money to buy Rog a birthday present."
"Oh come on Dwayne. You like Rog, right?"
"You want him to be happy on his birthday, right?"
"Then lets go do the dangerous stupid thing!"
The audience goes crazy.
Rog's other friend was Rerun. Rerun was fat and a dancing fool. He was the show's breakout character and as close as What's Happening!! got to Fonzie. Rerun wasn't actually super cool though. He was funny and could dance but could also be an incredible ass. Fonzie would never get himself in deep credit card debt okay?
And like Ritchie, Rog had a smart-mouthed little sister. Dee had a more wicked attitude than Joanie could have hoped for though. Her comments were so cutting jagged flying glass did less damage.
Also like the Happy Days gang, the What's Happening!! crew also had a restaurant hangout. Instead of Al's they hung out at Rob's. Shirley was the heavy set and smart mouthed waitress who worked there (how many smart mouthed characters is a show allowed?). Once Rog's mom was written off the show, Shirley moved into Rog and Dee's house so she was not limited to just being in the restaurant.
After a three year run, What's Happening!! ceased happening in 1979. In 1985 the show resurfaced in a new syndicated form called "What's Happening Now!!" Since the end of the original series, Rog and company had grown and there lives had changed. Dee was in college and seen only once in awhile. Rog and Shirley now ran Rob's together. Rog was, as in the original series, still trying to make it as a writer. Rog was now married to Nadine, played by the beautiful Anne-Marie Johnson.
Rerun and Dwayne were also back. Well, Rerun was back for awhile. Fred Berry who played Rerun became convinced he was the driving force of the show. Rerun was the breakout character; the one people thought of when they though of What's Happening!! He decided he should make a lot more money. What could they do? He WAS Rerun! What the producers could and did do was reject his raise hike and boot him off the show.
As an odd footnote, I recently heard Fred Berry on a radio show bemoaning the fact that the studio that owns What's Happening!! will not let him use the name Rerun. He had thought he had had them over a barrel when the show was on the air, pushed too hard and in the end found out he was the one they had over a barrel. His big and only claim to fame was being Rerun and for the trouble he caused them, the studio has blocked him from fully exploiting it. Just desserts or injustice. You decide.
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