Plenty of TV shows and movies over the years have been the subject of fan fiction. Many of those adaptations take the characters as they are and place them in plotlines their original creators never dreamed of. James Boice’s new novel is not exactly that kind of fan fiction.
Who Killed the Fonz? places the characters from the iconic Milwaukee-based sitcom, Happy Days, a couple of decades after the series ended its run. It imagines Richie Cunningham, Potsie Weber, Ralph Malph and others existing in the real world of the early 1980s, following a tragic motorcycle accident on the Hoan Bridge.
The book is set in a somewhat fictionalized version of Milwaukee, similar to how Happy Days is set in an idealized version of the 1950s.
"It's sort of a misremembered past; a version of a time and place in America that never really existed, but that doesn't really matter to us because we enjoy the memory of it anyway," Boice explains in a phone interview.
It begins with Richie Cunningham returning to Milwaukee after working in Hollywood for 20 years. What happens when he returns is more about friendship and time than about celebrating the show.
"The theme of the book, I think, is the nature of friendship — what happens as we grow up and grow apart ... Do those friendships still have value? Do they serve us? How do we bring those on as we go forward?" Boice says.