Judge P.S. Colbert hopes this review leads to a Happy Days spinoff.
Our reviews of Laverne And Shirley: The First Season (published September 22nd, 2004), Laverne & Shirley: The Seventh Season (published February 4th, 2014), Laverne And Shirley: The Fifth Season (published April 10th, 2012), and Laverne And Shirley: The Second Season (published April 18th, 2007) are also available.
Not ten minutes into Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season, our favorite bottle-capping Schlemiels get the old Schlimazel from Shotz Brewery. Never ones to sit and brood, Ladies DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Feeney (Cindy Williams) decide to get the Hasenpfeffer out of dreary old Milwaukee, and seek their fortunes in the sunny climes of the Golden State. Hollywood or Bust!
Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The Brown Derby. The Farmer's Market. Surfers riding the waves. Traffic clogging the freeway. The San Andreas Fault. That mountainside with that sign on it!
The girls get new digs; a Spanish stucco split-level apartment, with arched doorways and a balcony, located in beautiful, downtown Burbank.
Laverne: "Shirl, we finally made it out of the cellar."
The girls get new neighbors: Sonny St. Jacques (Ed Marinaro, Hill Street Blues), the handsome and hunky building manager and aspiring stunt-man. To prove his point, Sonny literally drops into his first scene, explaining that he jumps out of windows "to keep in shape." And right next door lives Actress-Model-Dancer Rhonda Lee (Leslie Easterbrook, Police Academy), whose legs go on for miles of suntan pantyhose. Daffy and egotistical, the blonde Amazonian beauty promises to be a constant source of annoyance to L & S. Only one of them will make it to the next season. (Cue ominous music).
Once a palatial estate, the house has been broken up into four apartments, with Laverne & Shirley in one, Rhonda in the second, and Sonny in the third. And behind door number four? None other than Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David L. Lander), who, after giving the girls a ride in from Wisconsin (via dilapidated ice cream truck), are so bewitched by beach beauties that they decide to stay. Laverne's father, Frank (Phil Foster) and wife Edna (Betty Garrett) actually hit the coast before the rest of them, relocating their "Cowboy Bill's" restaurant in a real Southwestern setting.
And what of the Big Ragoo? Not to worry, Carmine (Eddie Mekka) hits Cali by episode four, and stays on to extend his run as television's greatest cuckold.
Bring on the new adventures! The girls experience their first earthquake, make a movie with Troy Donahue (Palm Springs Weekend), and take in a Dodgers game. Laverne breaks her leg, while Shirley writes and directs a play in hopes of attracting a Broadway producer's interest. The girls work a slew of zany one-off jobs, and participate in a knife-throwing act, etcetera, etcetera. With no disrespect, the new adventures tend to resemble the old ones, what with all the barking, bellowing, and leaping onto each other, but if you loved such antics during the first five seasons, the fresh set-ups shouldn't dampen your enthusiasm.
There are some inventive diversions from the norm. Lenny and Squiggy compete against each other as guests on "The Dating Game" in one episode, and imagine themselves as silent movie characters in another. Still, no episode goes farther out than "I Do, I Do," which finds the girls loaded on hash-laced brownies and heading down the aisle to marry a pair of English rock stars (played by Eric Idle and Peter Noone)—I'm not making this up!
There are twenty-two episodes in all, spread over a three disc set. There are extras, but they're limited to episodic promos and a "Gag Reel"—basically just a collection of screw-ups, where the actor blows a line and immediately giggles from embarrassment, though never because the screw up is particularly funny—meh. Paramount has again delivered the best looking season of L & S transfers yet—I don't know how they've managed it, but I figure it's better to appreciate than question. Again, the 2.0 mono was so clear that I didn't need the English SDH subtitles, and considering these bombed-out hearing holes of mine, that's really saying something.
Full Disclosure: I've never much enjoyed this show, despite its having one of the most likable casts ever assembled. Too much social retardation all bottled up on the same sound stage, I guess. That said, Laverne & Shirley: Sixth Season gave me a great deal more entertainment value than I'd have ever thought possible. It's generally considered a classic "Jump-the-Shark" moment when a decision is made to uproot the whole kit and caboodle from one location to another, but letting this goony bunch run amok in Hollywood definitely upped the ante. Maybe the problem was Wisconsin all along.
It's okay, I'm allowed to talk smack about the Badger state—I'm from Illinois. The Pack is whack. Go Bears!
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