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Laverne & Shirley - The Complete Second Season

Paramount // Unrated // April 17, 2007
List Price: $38.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Eric D. Snider | posted April 18, 2007 | E-mail the Author
THE SHOW

I feared that seeing "Laverne & Shirley" again after all these years, I would be as disappointed as I was when I saw "Mork & Mindy" and "The Jeffersons" on DVD -- i.e., that it would turn out to be a lousy show that I only liked back then because I was an undiscerning kid. It is my pleasure to report that my fears were unfounded, and that "Laverne & Shirley" is actually a funny, good-natured sitcom that has stood the test of time fairly well.

Season 2 (1976-77) was the girls' first full season after having debuted in January as a midseason replacement. There are no Very Special Episodes, no major stunts (other than a few "Happy Days" characters popping up occasionally), nothing but the usual hijinks. Laverne learns to drive a car. Shirley wins a contest where the prize is a stay in a honeymoon suite. Laverne has a pregnancy scare after a wild night. Someone puts the girls' phone number on a men's bathroom wall. The girls go to modeling school to meet boys. It's trifling stuff like that (even that pregnancy scare is treated fairly humorously), and the high-spirited energy of the show is infectious.

Most of the plots involve both characters (rather than giving each girl her own subplot), and it's remarkable to see how spirited and committed Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams are in their performances. Though a spinoff of "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley" had a far greater emphasis on slapstick, and much of it was staged in a genuinely entertaining way, not forced or strained the way a lot of TV slapstick is. The show had broader jokes and more outright goofiness than its parent series, too. Laverne and Shirley were a classic "odd couple" duo -- Laverne was brassy and Brooklyn, Shirley was demure and Midwestern, but both were a little horny all the time -- and the pair is one of the most successful TV teams in history. If you narrow it down to female comedy teams, I can't think of anyone to top them.

I think the show's closest modern-day descendant, in tone and structure, is "Will & Grace." You have the two platonic but deeply devoted roommates who bicker a lot; you have the pair of idiots for extra comic relief (Lenny and Squiggy); and you have a lot of physical comedy that is just slightly exaggerated beyond what most sitcoms use. Not surprisingly, James Burrows, who directed every episode of "Will & Grace," directed six Season 2 "Laverne & Shirley" episodes.

So that's Season 2 of "Laverne & Shirley": consistently amusing, often laugh-out-loud funny, and a treat to watch again after all these years. Too bad all the sitcoms from my childhood can't hold up this well over time. (I'm looking at you, "Diff'rent Strokes.")

Here are the episodes in this set:

1. "Drive! She Said" - 9/28/76 - Shirley buys a car and teaches Laverne to drive.
2. "Angels of Mercy" - 10/5/76 - Laverne volunteers at a hospital.
3. "Bachelor Mothers" - 10/19/76 - The girls babysit an infant.
4. "Excuse Me, May I Cut In?" - 10/26/76 - The girls try to win a new TV in a dance contest.
5. "Bridal Shower" - 11/9/76 - Going to a bridal shower depresses the single gals.
6. "Look Before You Leap" - 11/16/76 - Laverne got too drunk to remember what happened at a party, and now she might be pregnant.


7. "Dear Future Model" - 11/23/76 - The girls go to modeling school.
8. "Good Time Girls" - 11/30/76 - A creepy puts the girls' names and phone number on some bathroom walls.
9. "Two of Our Weirdos Are Missing" - 12/7/76 - Lenny and Squiggy disappear.
10. "Oh Hear the Angels' Voices" - 12/21/76 - The girls provide entertainment at a hospital Christmas party.
11. "Guilty Until Proven Not Innocent" - 1/4/77 - Laverne accidentally shoplifts a handkerchief.
12. "Birthday Show" - 1/10/77 - Clip show -- a little premature, considering this is only the 27th episode.

13. "Playing Hooky" - 1/11/77 - The girls skip work and have a disastrous day.
14. "Guinea Pigs" - 1/18/77 - The girls volunteer as test subjects for a science experiment.
15. "Call Me a Taxi" - 2/1/77 - The gals work as dime-a-dance girls.
16. "Steppin' Out" - 2/8/77 - The girls prepare for their "dream dates," but everything goes wrong.
17. "Buddy Can You Spare a Father" - 2/15/77 - Shirley's dad visits then disappears.
18. "Honeymoon Hotel" - 2/22/77 - Shirley wins a contest. The prize: a stay in a honeymoon suite.


19. "Hi Neighbor Book II" - 3/1/77 - Lenny and Squiggy get stood up, so the girls step in.
20. "Frank's Fling" - 3/8/77 - Frank has a new love interest.
21. "Haunted House" - 3/22/77 - The girls need a new sofa, and they go looking in a house that turns out to be haunted.
22. "Lonely at the Middle" - 3/29/77 - Shirley's co-workers are jealous of her promotion.
23. "Citizen Krane" - 4/5/77 - A rich man wants to sponsor the girls' singing careers.


THE DVD

All 23 episodes are included on four discs, with six episodes on Discs 1, 2, and 3, and five episodes on Disc 4. The discs come in a clear plastic keepcase the width of a regular single DVD. Discs 1 and 4 are clasped inside the covers, while 3 and 4 are back-to-back on a thin plastic sheet that swings out of the center binding on hinges.

The episode descriptions appear on the inside covers -- which means you have to take Discs 1 and 4 out of the case to read them. Kind of annoying, but I assume it was cheaper to do it that way than to include a separate glossy insert with the summaries.

There are no subtitles or alternate language tracks.

VIDEO: This was a sunny, colorful show, and while the colors have gone a little flat over the years, and though there are blemishes and dirt specks here and there, overall the picture looks good.

AUDIO: A basic mono soundtrack, and it's fine.

EXTRAS: Nothing.


IN SUMMARY

It's a shame there are no extras, but I think the episodes are enjoyable enough by themselves to make the set worth picking up.

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