DVD Review: Laverne & Shirley (The Sixth Season)

Laverne-and-Shirley

The massive ABC schedule bungle in during the 1979-80 season had done major damage to Laverne and Shirley. The fourth season was the top ranked series with its time slot between Happy Days and Three’s Company on Tuesday nights. Then some goofball in suit and a bright idea thought it’d be great to swap it with Angie that was doing fine on Thursday nights between Mork and Mindy and Barney Miller. The result was that the fifth season of Laverne & Shirley fell out of the Top 30. Angie was canceled. They brought the girls back to Tuesday night and had to do some drastic changes to bring back the audience. Since they couldn’t give either woman a baby, they did the next best thing to alter Laverne and Shirley: The Sixth Season.

“Not Quite New York” brings a big change to the Shotz brewery. They’re installing a brand machine for bottle caps. This means they no longer need Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams) to be inspectors on the line. Mr. Shotz offers them another position at the plant. But instead of accepting a less position, Laverne and Shirley take a major risk. They pack up their basement apartment in Milwaukee and move to sunny Southern California. Turns out Laverne’s father is running a restaurant out there so they aren’t completely going out on a whim. And don’t panic that major reason to watch the show had vanished. Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David L. Lander) drive everyone out West in an ice cream truck. “Welcome to Burbank” introduces us to new supporting characters. Ed Marinaro pops up this season as the apartment building’s super and a flirting object for Laverne. Don’t get attached to the ex-NFL player. He’d leave during the off-season for a better role on Hill Street Blues. Also in the apartment building is in aspiring actress Rohnda Lee (Police Academy‘s Leslie Easterbrook). She’d help the girls get in trouble in Tinseltown. They also get introduced to their first earthquake. For those curious, the Beatles poster in the main room remains. There’s no digital obscuring of their faces. “Studio City” puts the girls in the movies when they lie to become stuntmen. Fans of Cry-Baby will get to trill to a cameo from Troy Donahue. “Grand Opening” brings the Big Ragoo (Eddie Mekka) to town. Now all the regular cast has relocated.

“The Dating Game” allows Lenny and Squiggy go on the legendary show to find a little love. But this won’t be won’t work out well. Jim Lange assumes his usual position on the recreated set. “Born Too Late” is a fantasy episode with Lenny and Squiggy dreaming they’re big time stars in the silent film era. What’s a thrill is seeing Sarah Kennedy (The Telephone Book) in a bit part. “I Do, I Do, I Do” brings the girls to the alter for a joint marriage with Eric Idle (Monty Python) and Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits). They really should go through with their vows.

“High Priced Dates” puts the girls out on the town with two guys expecting more. This episodes should be avoided if you’re upset by historical inaccuracies. The series insists the show is now taking place in 1965. A calender in their kitchen says 1965. During the episode Laverne jokes about watching Star Trek and the Klingons. What’s the problem with that? How about the fact that Star Trek didn’t get on the air until 1966! The Klingons didn’t appear on the show until 1967 with “Errand of Mercy.” Did Garry Marshall believe that nobody would notice such a screw up in time? Or did Laverne’s TV get signals from the future? Laverne & Shirley should be treated as the Wikipedia of 1981.

The move out west on Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season does a fine job of revitalizing the show. Their lives in Milwaukee was getting stale. They were no longer tied down to their lame jobs at the brewery or the pizza bowl place. Now they could beg to land real showbiz gigs. While the show didn’t regain it’s top status, enough fans returned to put it near the Top 20.

The Episodes

“Not Quite New York,” “Welcome to Burbank,” “Studio City,” “Grand Opening,” “Candy Is Dandy,” “The Dating Game,” “The Other Woman,” “The Road to Burbank,” “Born Too Late,” “Love Out the Window,” “Malibu Mansion,” “To Tell the Truth,” “I Do, I Do,” “But Seriously, Folks . . .,” “The Bardwell Caper” (two-parter), “High Priced Dates,” “Fifth Anniversary,” “Out, Out Damned Plout,” “Laverne’s Broken Leg,” “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Child’s Play.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer brings out the details of the set including the sadness of the old basement apartment emptied out. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll hear Penny Marshall’s whine in crystal clarity. The episodes are subtitled.

Episodic Promos (0:30) come from the syndication release.

Gag Reel (5:05) has the girls kiss on the set so they aren’t that angry all the time.

Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season takes the girls out of cold Milwaukee and into warm Los Angeles. The location change heats up the fun as they get to really pursue their dreams of stumbling into showbiz. It also allows Lenny and Squiggy to be beach gods.

CBS DVDs presents Laverne & Shirley: The Sixth Season. Starring: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, David L. Lander and Michael McKean. Boxset Contents: 22 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.

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