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Reading through the comments for "Laverne & Shirley," I have seen several remarking that they felt the show was "lacking," "annoying," "dull" and several other negative adjectives. It is obvious to me that these people have yet to indulge themselves in the fantastic world of the 1970's sitcom that jumped on the nostalgia boat. I was all of 12 years old when I first discovered "Laverne & Shirley" on Nick @ Nite (this was circa the summer of 1998). I would be lying if I said that it hadn't shaped my life-- and I know that sounds totally insane, but it broadened my horizons to a world of classic television, classic movies, and the theatre. But enough about me-- the show is a gem. The show was never meant to be a groundbreaker like "All in the Family" or "Maude" (although it did have it's tender moments and morals in episodes such as "Look Before You Leap" and "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor", taking a gentle look towards single parenting and alcoholism). It was only meant to do one thing: be funny. And it did so in a way that had only been done by the likes of "The Honeymooners"-- it involved the antics of the blue collar working class. It was meant to entertain, and it does a darned good job of it! The chemistry between Cindy Williams & Penny Marshall is awesome-- comparable, in their own way, to that of Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz, Ralph Kramden & Ed Norton, and those that came before them. Cindy's cute-as-a-button, innocent but never naive portrayal of Shirley Feeney and Penny's tough-as-nails exterior with a heart of gold combined with the desire to be "loose" but the morals to be a "prude" make for one uniquely and incredibly comical friendship. Also, Michael McKean's Lenny & David L. Lander's Squiggy are outlandish but hilarious characters. Who could have played the "guy who's really smart and thinks he's dumb" and "the guy who's really dumb and thinks he's smart" better than these two?! Also in the cast you have outstanding veteran actors like Phil Foster as the gruff but huggable Frank 'Pop' DeFazio and sweet MGM musical star Betty Garrett as the girls' wise landlady (and later, Laverne's stepmother). Eddie Mekka is charming and funny as Carmine Ragusa, Shirley's boxing/dancing/singing boyfriend (is there anything this fella CAN'T do?). The cast is electric. This show's motto should have been "We aim to please." If you're having a bad day, this show is sure to put a smile on your face, your laughter in the air, and a quote in your head! It's one of the greatest examples of classic TV of all time!
Laverne and Shirley was one of my personal favorites growing up. Of course, we had reruns and repeats in those days. I loved Laverne and Shirley. They were the underdogs and perfectly suited as roommates and best friends. They were played brilliantly by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. Unfortunately, the show never recovered after Cindy Williams left to have her daughter and who could blame her. She was happily married to Bill Hudson, Kate's father, for twenty years with two children. Penny Marshall and the gang did their best to recover but never fully did. The reason and there are many that this show was so popular was the physical antics that Laverne and Shirley got into. I don't know if I preferred Milwaukee or Burbank but the supporting cast was top notch featuring Lenny and Sqiggy who could have had their own show. The delightful Carmine as the aspiring dancer. Elaine Joyce as the beautiful neighbor in Burbank. Betty Garrett and Al Molinaro as the landlady and Mr. Defazio. The show had plenty of it's moments too and great guest stars. It's certainly still a beloved show even in repeats.
"Happy Days" spin-off about the two titled characters (Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams) and their total comedic and romantic misadventures as Milwaukee brewery workers in the 1950s and 1960s. The series seemed to work in spite of itself due to the likable leads and their ever-lasting love interests (scene-stealers Michael McKean and David L. Lander). The characters were silly, but had a reality to them that could not be over-looked. Adequate writing and above average direction were sufficient in keeping the show a ratings winner for a good eight years from 1976 through 1983. Still a show that has a strong following as it survives the years in relatively wide-spread syndication. 4 stars out of 5.
I was 13 when L&S debuted, loved at and followed it faithfully until it jumped the shark when they all moved to California (didn't the same thing happen to Lucy & Ethel?)It actually was a far better show than "Happy Days" other spin-off, "Mork & Mindy", which relied solely on the admittedly generous comedic talents of Robin Williams to generate laughs (the rest of the cast may as well have come from Madam Tussaud's). This was a show where everyone had a role, a chance to stand out-except maybe for Carmine Ragusa, who was the only somewhat weak character. These weren't lily-white folks-on one show Laverne thought she was pregnant-they were working class dreamers who aspired to something better, albeit their dreams were of rich husbands. One of my favorite scenes is where Laverne & Lenny (who now reminds me of Butthead to Squiggey's Beavis) are singing "I Know the Look!" A classic, and I'm glad I had the privilege to see it the first time around!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being a devout fan of Happy Days and having had Aurthur Fonzerelli as a
hero,it only made sense I would watch "Laverene and Shirley" as well.
Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams certainly made an impression on their
1st guest appearance in "Happy Days".
Penny was definitely already "Laverne" but "Shirley" while nice was sort of like Laverene too,thankfully she became the sweet,boo-boo kitty hugging Shirley we know & love. The show debuted in January of 1976 and just took of straight from there. With "Happy days" as it's lead in of course.
The theme,"Making Our Dreams Come True" by Cyndi Grecco was a top 20 hit (although the music a bit faster than that from the TV version.) After watching the Cunninghams,Fonzie & Ralph & Potsie,I sat tight for even bigger,bawdier & sillier slapstick laughs from these two wonderful females.
Those that know this show like the back of their hand could most likely name of all the best sight gags and stunts. I loved the one with the seemingly alive "Murphy Bed". This was a bed that you could lift up and put away into the wall behind two doors.
The girls open these doors in someone's apartment and the bed hits the floor. They try to put it back but it seems this bed has a mind of it's own! They walk near it and it lifts itself off the ground. They step back...it goes back. Finally they tackle the bed like football players and it sends them both up into the wall space and up & down until they come flipping out of there,land on their feet and slam it back shut!
Laverne: "That thing tried ta eat me"!! LOL! If Lucille Ball was tuning in that night,I'm sure she laughed herself sore.
Just as important as the physical humor were the touching stories about the importance friendship and standing by someone through "whatever". They even stand by the lecherous Lenny & Squiggy ("Hello!"),who are always busting into their apartment and sometimes making inappropriate advances on them. Yet,somehow over the course of the show they become friends.
My favorite episode,before the ill-fated idea of moving to California,was the 2 parter,"The Moosejaw Express". Laverne & Shirley board this train of the same name and end up in the middle of espionage & murder. It's not so much that this episode is "funny" but it shows what had to be the strongest test of their friendship.
The spy/killer on board is trying to sell microfilm to the Russians,somehow it has ended up in the girls possession. In the climax of part 2,Shirley is seemingly thrown out the door of the luggage car by the villain and Laverne is beyond anger. "You killed her. You killed Shirley!! You killed my best friend!!"
She decks him on the jaw,struggles with him and she's almost thrown off herself but suddenly a hand from outside the car grabs him and he flies out the door. It's Shirley! Who has somehow grabbed onto something outside earlier. She grabs Laverne's hand and they're safe inside again. One of the best shows from between 1976-1980.
Then comes the '80-'81 season. Talk about Jumping the Shark! What in the world possessed producers or whoever to move the girls to Hollywood,California we'll never know. Unless it was ratings. Can anyone out there name more than five of these '80-'83 shows? Unless I read IMDb's episode list,I'd be hard pressed too.
The most telling thing that should have said "end it" was the episode where Shirley has moved out and gone to live with her new husband Walter Meeny (whom she married in the season before,he was in a body cast.) "Shirley Feeny Meeny" leaves Laverne a note letting her know where she's gone so suddenly and why.
So,in the final season we end up with "The Laverne Show" (I called it) with almost forgettable episodes. The worst? There's a ghost in the apartment that is the spirit of an Olympic athlete who cannot ascend until he wins a race that he lost decades ago. He inhabits Laverne for this race and (this is really stupid)when the race starts we go to slow motion and hear the theme from..."Chariots Of Fire"???!
I will say,a few shows stand out in this era. Shirley dating a man whose only sepearted from his wife,Squigy's reunited with his con artist father & others. (Watch them on DVD,the good ones do stand out.)
Anyhow,the show by this time,unlike "Happy Days",is set in the year 1967,(Happy Days was still somewhere in 1963),Betty Garrett has departed,Lenny & Squiggy's act has worn thin and Carmine has gotten nowhere in Hollywood.
For those that don't know,the show had no "good-bye" episode and no return visits from Shirley. The last show in May of '83 was about Carmine leaving California and heading to New York to try and make it there. I've only read about this episode,I've never seen it because,like most,I lost track of the show because it had become such an "unfunny" series.
7 out of 10 for mainly,1976 to spring 1980. If I had to rate the series solely on '80 to '83? Two stars at best,making those years "Schlemiel/Schlomozzel". (END)
Laverne & Shirley was one of several spin-offs of the popular 1970s Miller/Milkis series Happy Days and centered on two blue collar women living in Wisconsin in the late 1950s/early 1960s. The show was quite popular although it was dismissed by serious critics at the time and returning to it years after the fact only highlights its success. The women, played to perfection by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, were good-hearted, hard-working individuals making their way in the world on their own power. The show features lots of slapstick humor - which was looked down upon at this time - but it is because of it that this show actually holds up better than such controversial critical darlings of the period such as All in the Family or Maude, which come off as far more dated - even annoyingly so. After this show's demise, it would be many years - until the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, that two talented actresses would again headline a comedy series featuring copious slapstick. Marshall usually got the best lines which she could hit out of the ballpark, but Williams was a tremendous comedienne herself and an able straight man to Marshall's antics - an issue fully realized when the show was without her in its final season. They were ably supported by a venerable cast featuring the idiotic greasers upstairs Lenny & Squiggy (the immortal Michael McKean and David L. Lander), Shirley's steadfast boxer/singer boyfriend Carmine (cute Eddie Mekka), Laverne's bull-headed father Phil Foster, and kind landlady and Laverne's future stepmom Betty Garrett. Guest visits by Carol Ita White as the bane of Laverne's existence - Rosie Greenbaum - were hilarious. Particularly memorable series moments abounded, but two of the best included a murder mystery-themed train trip and a crossover episode with Happy Days featuring a side-splitting square dance. The series started to deteriorate when producers moved the action to save costs from Milkwaukee to California, with all the regulars improbably in tow. New semi-regulars were added to little avail including Leslie Easterbrook as a blonde bombshell named Rhonda Lee and Ed Marinaro as a beefcake neighbor with designs on Laverne. Both actors were perfectly fine, but the writers never seemed to know what to do exactly with Easterbrook and Marinaro ultimately vanished with barely a nod. The talented and criminally underused Garrett left the show with little fanfare as well. Then the final nail was the departure of Williams after acrimonious contract disputes in a ridiculously improbable scenario which left the show without its trademark dynamic. While Marshall was a talented comedic actress, a straight woman was desperately required. A rotating roster of guest stars including Vicky Lawrence, Carrie Fisher and Laraine Newman made their way through, but none of them sparked like Williams did and the show finally whimpered out of existence. Even on that note, the majority of the seasons preceding are definitely filled with hilarity and uplifting fun.
In the seventies, so many sitcoms were making an effort to change something, to make a point. And this show did it without anybody really ever realizing it. Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney are hardworking girls, out on thier own, putting up with men, work, neighbors, and other life problems. Laverne had her "L", on every single item of clothing that she owned, Shirley had her security Boo-Boo-Kitty, and wrote in her diary. The annoyance and sometimes utter stupidity of Lenny Kosnowski and Andrew Squiggmann just made you have to love the guys. Lenny was the soft one, who looked up to his best friend, had a toy lizard, a slight crush on Laverne, and a tough childhood. Squiggy seemed to be above the world, yet he did show emotions, if you only looked. He loved Lenny more than anything. Laverne and Shirley had their quarrels, but they were always best friends, and Shirley did finally achieve her dream: she married a doctor and lived happily ever after (much to the downfall of the series, but none the less). Laverne and Shirley is my favorite show, as you may have noticed, and there is so much to be seen in it, as there is with many comedies, if we only try to look hard enough!
When Lavern & Shirely first aired, America was undergoing historic changes in many areas. So were American families. Values once held dear suddenly were facing new ideas, new challenges. So were Lavern & Shirely. Stereo typing women was not going to be tolerated any longer. Neither in the home, Entertainment, common work place and in politics. Lavern & Shirely's writers were aware of women's rights and wrote accordingly...with taste and humor. I loved watching the show for several reason but mostly on account Cindy Williams was my personal "Girl Next Door" ever since seeing her portrayal of 'Laurie' in American Graffiti (1973). Above all that, I was the same age as Laurie and Steve then Shirely. I could totally relate to what they were up against. Lavern & Shirely just took the experience to a different level and a different city. Gr8 Program.
Here is an example of an excellent television program. This show is a show that can be enjoyed by all without nonsense about sex, drugs, and violence. It's also way funnier than the some of the shows we have on television today. It's a shame that this wonderful program cannot be found in syndication these days. This show also had some great characters even beyond the title characters such as Lenny, Squiggy, Big Rosie Greenbaum, and more. In my eyes, Laverne & Shirley is a classic that will never die and that will be cherished for years to come. If the opportunity ever comes along for you to see this great television show, don't let it pass you by. See Laverne & Shirley if you haven't, you'll be glad you did.
When Laverne and Shirley first debuted on Happy Days, little did anyone know that that supposed one off appearance would lead to a classic. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were perfect as the wild Laverne and the prissy Shirley. However, the rest of the cast deserves credit for this excellent slice of life comedy, especially Michael McKeon and David Lander as everyone's favorite losers Lenny and Squiggy. But the thing that made this show great was the fact that it was one of the all-time great slapsctick comedies.
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