MSRP: $59.95
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 1612 min

The Pitch

A couple of buddies try to keep Shirley Hemphill from eating them.

The Humans

Fred Berry, Ernest Thomas, Haywood Nelson, Danielle Spencer, Shirley Hemphill, Mabel King and The Doobie Brothers

Dwayne is so 70s, that he eats Disco and shits gas shortages.

The Nutshell

Raj (Ernest Thomas), Dwayne (Haywood Nelson), Rerun (Fred Berry), Shirley
(Shirley Hemphill), Dee (Danielle Spencer) and Mama (Mabel King) are here to make the ghetto a little funnier. Loosely based on the 1975 film Cooley High, the show was created as an African-American answer to the success of Happy Days.

That’s when I told Yaphet Kotto, you can’t let that alien make you his bitch. The Xenomorph  is a metaphor for white conquest into darker lands. When that facehugger throat fucks you and leaves a little alien baby in your stomach, think about that.  Oh shit, someone’s coming…time to dance.

The Lowdown

A group of kids hang out and do wacky stuff. It’s the basic tenet of the 1970s sitcom. Sure, they have to learn something by the end of the episode, but it’s all about squeezing out the catchphrase or funny situation. The show would evolve over the next three seasons into a spotlight for Raj and Rerun. But, it was quickly ended when the show’s biggest stars demanded a pay raise. Needless to say, ABC told them to fuck themselves and cancelled the series.

Michael McDonald is my Lord now.

What’s Happening had a good run, but nowhere near as good as series creator Eric Monte’s other successes. A lot of that had to do with the fact that not a great deal ever changed on the show. Rerun would dance and crack jokes, Dwayne was the young average guy and Raj was the brain that always had a plan. You’ve seen before many other times and no amount of revamping could get the dead horse going again. Hell, take a look below at what many consider to be the show’s biggest stunt to keep the series alive.

The show lived and died by its ability to make the young kids smile, while not being to threatening to the adults. No one was ever mean to the fat kids and little sister Dee never got beat up for tattling on her older brother. The show didn’t have an agenda, but it’s to be admired for being one of the first sitcoms to reject the idea of a central father figure. Hell, Good Times kept James around longer than Raj’s deadbeat dad ever appeared on What’s Happening. There’s more heart than bite on display, so don’t expect anything to make you think.

It’s not strange that I open my portable dialysis unit and let the piss splash in Raj’s mouth. No, Dwayne…it’s not strange at all.

The collected series doesn’t really do a lot to impress. But, it’s a cheap way to gather every episode together in one collection. If you don’t mind Mono sound and no special features, then you’ll be in for a treat. I would’ve liked to see a collectible Re-Run Beret, but I’m a sucker for stupid trinkets. Hopefully, you’re not.

Doobie Brothers unite! Form of poorly shot concert footage.

The Package

What’s Happening – The Complete Series arrives on DVD in the worst packaging that I’ve seen in my life. Who in the hell thought it would be sensible to throw nine discs on a spindle and then hope a piece of cardboard holds them in place? I’ve known potheads that could bundle DVD-Rs better than what Sony has done with the packaging. Sure, the idea of these Complete Series sets are to keep costs down on cult shows. But, what the hell?

Yacht Rock for Life!

The A/V Quality is pretty weak. A lot of that goes backs to the show’s cheap shoots on 70s standard television stock. The amount of noise and grain will give you trouble on HD monitors, but this show wasn’t meant for all the bells and whistles. It’s best watched on an older television on a lazy afternoon. Anything else will make Shirley Hemphill look like that guy from Shocker.

In the end, What’s Happening – The Complete Series is a fun idea. The execution of that fun idea turns it into a missed opportunity. Sony has plans to release other cult shows in similar packages, I just hope that they’ll be easier and more sturdy than this one. Hell, I’d like to see a special feature or two. Oh well, at least these discs worked.

If Cthulu’s taint had a face, she’d probably eat it.

5.0 out of 10