A spin-off of "Happy Days", "Laverne and Shirley" (which started in 1976) focused on Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), two Milwaukee single women who work at a beer bottling company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (before they moved to California in the last few seasons.) The show even resulted in an animated Saturday morning cartoon, "Laverne and Shirley in the Army", which was voiced by the leads. There were even albums, including the cleverly titled "Laverne and Shirley Sing."
Watching the series now - even after the show had past its prime - it's tough to see the golden age of television and not really be sure whether or not (in the age of the Kardashians), we'll ever see a return to the kind of television that was seen decades ago (or even in the '90's.) Even the worst of "Laverne and Shirley" - and, given the problems with the cast in this season, this is about it - is better than a good deal of the sitcoms around today.
While the series had seen its ratings slump after the move to California, it still remains amusing, despite losing some of the charm it built with the Midwestern setting. Maybe I'm wrong, but when most people think of the series, they think Milwaukee, they don't think sunny California. However, whereas the series was still able to find reasonably engaging adventures for the two when they moved away from Milwaukee, the eighth and final season of the series does face a real problem when the duo of the title is broken up.
Williams (who was expecting her first child) got into a contract dispute with the studio and, when an agreement couldn't be reached, decided to leave the series. A couple of episodes into the eighth season, she marries an army doctor and leaves to be with him. The departure is abrupt and unfortunate. Despite her departure, the series was still called "Laverne and Shirley" for the remainder of the run, but it just wasn't the same.
There are some highlights though, including: "The Playboy Show" (Laverne tries to become a Playboy bunny), "Please Don't Feed the Buzzards" (Lenny and Squiggy find a treasure map and follow the instructions all the way into the desert), "Here Today Hair Tomorrow" (Carmine decides to leave for NYC to perform on Broadway, as the characters say goodbye) and "The Fashion Show" (Jealous of the beautiful women her photographer boyfriend works with, Laverne crashes a fashion show and walks the runway.)
157 8-01 28/Sep/82 The Mummy's Bride
158 8-02 12/Oct/82 Window on Main Street
159 8-03 19/Oct/82 The Note
160 8-04 26/Oct/82 Lost in Spacesuits
161 8-05 09/Nov/82 The Playboy Show
162 8-06 16/Nov/82 Death Row (1)
163 8-07 23/Nov/82 Death Row (2)
164 8-08 30/Nov/82 Jinxed
165 8-09 07/Dec/82 Of Mice and Men
166 8-10 14/Dec/82 The Gymnast
167 8-11 04/Jan/83 The Monastery Show
168 8-12 11/Jan/83 Defective Ballet
169 8-13 18/Jan/83 The Baby Show
170 8-14 25/Jan/83 Rock 'n' Roll Show
171 8-15 01/Feb/83 The Fashion Show
172 8-16 08/Feb/83 Short on Time
173 8-17 15/Feb/83 Ghost Story
174 8-18 22/Feb/83 Please Don't Feed the Buzzards
175 8-19 01/Mar/83 How's Your Sister?
176 8-20 15/Mar/83 Do the Carmine
177 8-21 03/May/83 Councilman DeFazio
178 8-22 10/May/83 Here Today, Hair Tomorrow
Video: "Laverne and Shirley" is presented in the show's 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The picture quality fares unexpectedly well, noticably surpassing any broadcast reruns of the series that I've remembered seeing in the recent past. Sharpness and detail are quite good, as the image maintains a bright, well-defined appearance; while not exceptionally well-defined, the level of detail certainly exceeded my expectations, considering the material and its age.
The presentation wasn't without a few concerns, but the image quality was largely quite pleasing. Some minor instances of dirty and wear were spotted on occasion throughout the episodes, but largely, the elements appeared very clean. Some minor shimmering was also present at times. Colors appeared bright and vivid, with no smearing or other concerns. Flesh tones also looked accurate and natural. Overall, a very nice job.
Audio: The 2.0 audio isn't really anything to write home about, but does a fine job reproducing the show's original audio.
Extras: Gag reel and promos for select episodes. Given that this is the last season and really regarded as the least successful, it would have been great if more extras would have been included, such as the reunion show. While I wouldn't expect a "Collector's Edition" release, more extras would have maybe made this of greater interest to the broader fan base, rather than likely of more interest to fans who are getting it because they want to have the complete series.
Final Thoughts: The move West took away from the series, but the show couldn't go on after the duo was broken up in this 8th and final season. While the audience will likely be primarily the show's hardcore fans looking to complete their collection, there are still some fun moments to be had in this 8th season. Recommended for fans.