DVD Review: Laverne & Shirley (The Final Season)

DVD Reviews, Reviews

Over the years stories have emerged about how the set of Laverne & Shirley wasn’t a lovefest. Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Cindy Williams (Shirley) supposedly battled constantly about who had more lines and screen time. They argued about actress was the reason the show was a #1 hit? The animosity didn’t hurt. The show was still in the Top 20 as it entered the 8th season. Cindy had become pregnant. She had a list of things she needed before and after the child arrived. Cindy forgot that even though she was a star, she was not the sister of creator Garry Marshall. That is why Laverne & Shirley: The Final Season quickly becomes The Laverne Minus Shirley.

Before things went South, Shirley’s life had a major turnaround. “The Mummy’s Bride” really changes up the mix when Shirley is set to get married. The big shocker is the groom won’t be Carmine (Eddie Mekka). After 8 seasons of putting up with Shirley, the Big Ragu is being dumped for an unknown tomato can. Her real groom is a guy named Walter in the military. The episode has her worrying about breaking the news to Carmine and rushing her nuptials. “Window On Main Street” seems out of order. Laverne and Shirley must live in the futuristic home display at their department store. “The Note” is a shocking episode when Laverne can’t find the pregnant Shirley. She won her some baby stuff and returns to a half empty house. How will she cope being alone in Hollywood?

The show goes weird in the sense that the opening has Laverne & Shirley, but it’s just Laverne on the screen. She’s been removed like Tyler Durden in the “fixed” Fight Club. They do their best to find people to play the Shirley in the episodes. “The Playboy Show” brings along Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) as a fellow woman doing her best to be a Bunny at the Playboy Club. Hugh Hefner (Girls Next Door) plays his younger self. “Death Row” is a two parter that puts Laverne behind bars. She’s mistaken for a convicted killer that had escaped from prison. Will she get the electric hair without Shirley to bail her out?

“The Gymnast Show” puts Laverne into a three ring relationship. Adam West (Batman) is a trapeze artist who might want to swing with her. She fears the guy wants to kill her. “The Monastery Show” puts Laverne in a religious order that’s all about silence. Can she keep her mouth shut with Louise Lasser around? “Defective Ballet” makes Squiggy (David L. Lander)dance “Swan Lake.” “Please Don’t Feed the Buzzards” puts Squiggy and Lenny (Michael McKean) on the trail of a treasure. Can they survive time in the desert. Jay Leno hosts a music show in “Do the Carmine.” Later Carmine would leave LA in “Here Today Hair Tomorrow.” It’s nice he got a send off before the final episode. He got his own applause from the fans with his touching goodbye. “Councilman De Fazio” wraps up the series with Laverne’s dad running for public office to save his Cowboy Bill’s restaurant.

The disappearance of Shirley didn’t turn off viewers. The ratings for the eighth season were only slightly less than the seventh. ABC wanted a ninth season of just Laverne. Penny Marshall declined. This choice led to her making quite a few major feature films including Big, A League of Their Own and The Preacher’s Wife. Cindy Williams still acts. Proving time makes people friendly, the duo reunited on Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat which is today’s tween version of Laverne & Shirley. It’s nice that the two former brewery pals found each other again.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The detail on the transfers allows you to see the word “peyote” is listed for a few menu items on the wall. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You won’t hear Shirley vanish. The episodes are subtitled.

Promos (0:30) for the syndicated version are included for almost all of the episodes.

Gag Reel (3:43) has a few of Cindy Williams blowing her lines. But mostly Penny Marshall screws things up.

Laverne & Shirley: The Final Season ends with Laverne without Shirley. The plus for the season is seeing Carrie Fisher in a Playboy Bunny outfit.

CBS DVD presents Laverne & Shirley: The Final Season. Starring: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, David L. Lander and Michael McKean. Boxset Contents: 22 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 6, 2014.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.