DVD Review – LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY – The Second Season

     April 23, 2007

Reviewed by Jennifer Smith

I used to watch Laverne and Shirley as a little girl. Now in my early thirties, I wondered if the show would hold up, or grow stale and unwatchable like The Cosby Show or the early Happy Days seasons. Thankfully, Laverne and Shirley: The Second Season is not only watchable, but also damned enjoyable! I found myself laughing out loud when Lenny and Sqiggy would enter the girls’ apartment without knocking, or fall down the dumb waiter because they were playing “mineshaft”. It’s fun when comedies are just plain silly, without a topical message.

This package comes with four DVD’s, with six episodes on each. There isn’t a bonus documentary, audio commentary or any interviews, but with this set you don’t feel gypped without them. I sat down with disc one and didn’t get back up until I had watched all six episodes, and still could have watched more. Even better, I feel that I could re-watch the episodes, which isn’t true with a lot of nostalgia-driven DVD purchases that you remember as being funnier than it really is.

These early episodes are like candy, written when the writers were still full of ideas, and the show still had its early sixties vibe, appropriate to the time it was set in. In later seasons, the seventies began to poke through. Some of the situations are surprisingly suggestive, like the 1976 episode “Excuse me, May I Cut In?”, where Shirley promises Happy Days guest stars Ritchie and Potsie “a real good time” if they help her win a dance contest where the prize is a new television set. Keep in mind, it makes for squirmy viewing when Ritchie says that he’s a senior in high school, and Laverne and Shirley are in their late twenties. Interestingly, it is the Fonzie guest-star episodes that are the worst. The live studio audience freaks out when he enters, attesting to the continued popularity of the show Laverne and Shirley was a spin off from, Happy Days. Even while trying to keep late 70’s Fonzie-mania in mind while viewing, its still creepy to see him make out with Shirley, then Laverne, all in a span of a minute and a half, in the same room.

The best episode of the season is where Laverne and Shirley receive an invitation to attend the wedding shower of “fat Eleanor”, who had been in their high school girls’ club, “The Angora Debs”. Laverne and Shirley realize that they are the last unmarried girls left from the group, and will be mercilessly teased by the party’s hostess, Laverne’s stuck-up arch-nemesis. Hilarity ensues, including Laverne dunking the hostesses’ fox-fur wrap into the punch bowl.

Really, it is Cindy Williams who makes the show enjoyable for me as an adult viewer. When I was 10 years old watching the show in re-runs, it was Lenny and Squiggy that I loved the most. To most who watched the show during its original run, it was Penny Marshall’s comic brilliance that usually stole the show. Now I find that it’s touching to see Williams play her character Shirley as a girl who tries to be classy, but naively gets everything wrong anyway. Okay, and I still love Lenny and Squiggy.

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