Case Number 11221


Paramount // 1976 // 568 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // April 18th, 2007

The Charge

Shirley: Laverne, I'm telling you, flying is safer than driving! Nobody has ever crashed into a cloud!
Laverne: Yeah, well nobody ever fell 40,000 feet from a DeSoto either.

Opening Statement

After almost three years, Paramount has finally released the second season of this classic sitcom. Sounds to me like they let Lenny and Squiggy drive the delivery truck. "Haallo!"

Facts of the Case

Street tough Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and her best friend, pixyish Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) share a basement apartment in Milwaukee, WI where they work as bottle cappers for the Shotz Brewing Company. Each week, the girls get themselves in a variety of wacky situations, many developing from their hopes of finding love and success in the world. They're often aided and abetted by their upstairs neighbors, the wacky Lenny (Michael McKean, This is Spinal Tap) and Squiggy (David L. Lander). You'll also see Shirley's former boxer turned dancer boyfriend Carmine (Eddie Mekka), Laverne's father (Phil Foster), and their landlady Mrs. Babish (played by former musical star Betty Garrett, On the Town).

Set in the 1950's, the series was a spin-off from Happy Days but went on to be a singular sensation. There are four DVD's in this set and here are the episodes included:

Disc One
* "Drive! She Said"
•"Angels of Mercy"
•"Bachelor Mothers"
•"Excuse Me, May I Cut In?"
•"Bridal Shower"
•"Look Before You Leap"

Disc Two
•"Dear Future Model"
•"Good Time Girls"
•"Two of Our Weirdos Are Missing"
•"Oh Hear the Angel's Voices"
•"Guilty Until Proven Not Innocent"
•"Birthday Show"

Disc Three
•"Playing Hooky"
•"Guinea Pigs"
•"Call Me a Taxi"
•"Steppin Out"
•"Buddy, Can You Spare a Father?"
•"Honeymoon Hotel"

Disc Four
•"Hi, Neighbor Book II"
•"Frank's Fling"
•"Haunted House"
•"Lonely at the Middle"
•"Citizen Krane"

The Evidence

There's no doubt that Laverne & Shirley are the Lucy and Ethel of the '70s. From their hair-brained schemes to their masterful physical comedy, these two put it out there week after week. One of the reasons for the show's success is that it's so very relatable. Okay, so I didn't work as a bottlecapper in the '50s, but I did live with my best friend when I first moved out on my own. I struggled to pay the rent and made do with bad fix-it jobs until my father came to visit. But most importantly, I dreamed. I dreamed of being a star. I dreamed of having a house and a family. I dreamed of being more than I was and that's what this show is really all about. Dreams.

Shirley is open and honest about her dreams. She becomes a nurse's aide in "Angels of Mercy" so she can meet and marry a doctor. She subscribes to a modeling course in "Dear Future Model" so she can live the good life. Laverne likes to say that she doesn't have dreams, but she does and they may be even bigger than Shirley's.

Though the antics are often over the top, this is a show with a lot of heart. It's not all funny when Shirley's dad comes to visit in "Brother, Can You Spare a Father." And I cried at the Christmas episode, "Oh Hear the Angel's Voices." (Of course, I cry at all Christmas shows so maybe that's not a good gauge.)

Sandwiched in between the dreams, the heart, and the tears are some really funny bits, like Shirley teaching Laverne to drive using canned vegetables and a banana (Shouldn't the beans be the gas?), the sleeping and eating deprivation experiments in "Guinea Pigs," and the ghostly goings on in "Haunted House" (making it one of my all-time favorite episodes).

There are six more seasons to go but it doesn't get better than this.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Boo Boo kitty is sad to see the shoddy way Paramount has treated this classic sitcom. First off, no extras. Come on? You couldn't find one person willing to do a commentary or an interview?

Second, the packaging. Four discs are housed in one plastic case with one of those cheesy disc holder flaps in the middle. The episodes are listed on the inside of the paper slip and thus are hidden behind the discs. Even once you remove the disc, you're forced to read around the plastic case indentations.

Come on, Paramount, pony up for two cases and a slip cover the next time around.

Closing Statement

Mary Tyler Moore may have tried to make it on her own, but Laverne & Shirley are the epitome of "You Gotta Have Friends." For anyone who's ever chased a dream, this sitcom is for you.

The Verdict

This week Laverne & Shirley take jobs as court clerks but find themselves in a sticky situation when Laverne's father decides to sue Lenny and Squiggy for bowling with watermelons at the Pizza Bowl.

Review content copyright © 2007 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 89
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 568 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Official Cindy Williams Site

* Museum of Broadcast Communications - Laverne & Shirley