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DVD Review: Laverne & Shirley – The Third Season

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Written by Senora Bicho

“Schlemiel! Schlemazl! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!" I’m gonna do it! I have decided to make my dreams come true by reviewing the Third Season of Laverne & Shirley.

Created by Gary Marshall as a spin-off from the popular sitcom Happy Days, the series originally aired from 1976 to 1983. It is set in the early sixties Milwaukee and follows the adventures of Shotz Brewery bottle-cappers Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall, Gary's sister) & Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). The show started off extremely strong in the ratings and was the #1-rated show from 1977-1979. Then, the network moved it from its Tuesday night timeslot to Thursdays. It dropped out of the Top 30 completely and even after ABC returned the show to it regular spot, it never regained its popularity and hovered in the Top 20s for the duration of its run.

I was only three when the show first aired, but I discovered it in syndication in the early eighties and learned to love it. I looked up to Laverne and Shirley as role models. They were best friends and roommates who worked, played, and did lots of dating. A lot of shows centered on strong females have come and gone since Laverne & Shirley, but unfortunately it doesn’t hold much of its original charm.

Laverne is the outgoing flirt with embroidered L’s on all of her clothes while Shirley is the demure innocent. There were some trademark aspects of the show that I had long since forgotten but that brought a smile to my face such as Laverne drinking milk and Pepsi and Shirley’s “Boo Boo Kitty” stuffed cat.

In Season Three, the girls find themselves in many wild predicaments such as flying a plane and helping out the FBI. They even go on a very glamorous vacation, a cruise through the great lakes. In addition to the lead actresses, the regularly featured supporting cast provides some chuckles. Laverne and Shirley’s dimwitted but lovable neighbors Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski (Michael McKean) and Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman (David Lander) are one of the bright spots of the show and probably the most well known for their crazy antics. There is also Laverne’s father Frank De Fazio (Phil Foster) and his girlfriend Edna Babish (Betty Garrett), and Shirley’s on-again, off-again love interest Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa (Eddie Mekka), a former boxer turned dancer. There are also a few noteworthy guest stars this season including Fabian and Harry Shearer as Mr. Shotz.

The show has a sweet and innocent nature but the laughs are a bit lacking with silly storylines and lots of bad one-liners. The friendship of Laverne and Shirley is the heart of the show though and still comes shinning through. The DVD set includes all 24 original episodes with no other added features.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS