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Laverne & Shirley - The Fourth Season


TITLE: LAVERNE & SHIRLEY - THE FOURTH SEASON


Info:

DVD Release Date: April 22, 2008 (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Video)
Color / 1978-79
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 23 (24 if you count the two-part episode as two)
Running time: Approx. 9 Hours, 58 Minutes
Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital - Restored English Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; No Subtitles; Closed Captioned
Special Features: None


Introduction:

Milwaukee's funniest friends and roommates are back for another season of comic misadventures, and they're even better than ever! You'll love every one of the hilarious moments of this 4-disc, 23-episode collection of comedy classics. The fourth season of Laverne & Shirley (Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams) finds our feisty female friends taking on everything from musical auditions to industrial espionage to amnesia! And of course, there are plenty of rollicking romantic foibles in store, too. Along with their friends and neighbors Lenny and Squiggy (Michael McKean, David L. Lander) as well as some terrific and unexpected guest stars, Laverne and Shirley will keep you laughing for years to come.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Laverne & Shirley's fourth season premiered on September 5, 1978 with the first part of the two part episode "The Festival." Part 2 aired the following week. It continued to air on Tuesdays at 8:30-9:00 P.M. on ABC. It remained in first place in the ratings for the second consecutive season with a 30.5 rating, down a bit from a 31.6 before. Penny Marshall received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best TV Actress in a Musical/Comedy." Al Lehman was nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Costume Design for a Series" for this season.

Memorable episodes included "The Robbery," in which Laverne goes out on a date with Jake (Larry Bishop), a local tough guy, but things get complicated when the date includes robbing a grocery store. Laverne and Shirley, along with Lenny and Squiggy, compete on a TV game show in "The Quiz Show." Shirley reminisces about when she and Laverne first become roommates in "Laverne & Shirley Move In." Curious that she's the only petite brunette in an otherwise tall, blonde family, Shirley decides to find out if she's adopted in "Who's Papa?." Laverne finds that she has more friends than she thought when she wins three minutes of free shopping at Slotnick's market in "Supermarket Sweep." Lenny misunderstands a conversation with Laverne, and falls in love with her in "Lenny's Crush." Laverne and Shirley are worried that Squiggy's beautiful new girlfriend (Cynthia Harrison) might just be using him to help her move into her new apartment in "Squiggy In Love." Laverne decides to prove to her doubting coworkers that she really did see an industrial spy in the brewery in "There's A Spy In My Beer."

Notable guest stars included Hans Conreid as a madcap German professor, Lloyd Wilner, in "Laverne & Shirley Go To Night School." Paul Wilson played Warren Eraserhead in "A Date With Eraserhead." Larry Hankin guest starred as Bill in "The Bully Show." Toni Basil appeared as Mickey in "A Chorus Line." Hamilton Camp played Rags in "Oh, Come All Ye Bums." Rance Howard was the Doctor and Ed Begley, Jr. played Robert Feeney in "Who's Papa?." Anne Ramsey guest starred as the Lady in "The Fire Show." Jack Perkins appeared as the Bum and Jay Leno was Joey in "The Feminine Mistake." Robert Alda played Monroe Harrison in "Shirley and The Older Man."


Packaging:

The 4-disc set includes all 23 (24 if you count the 2 part episode as 2) episodes from the fourth (1978-79) season. The packaging is similar to what they've used for the second and third seasons. It comes in an Amaray movie-style case with clear outer edges. The cover art features a photo of Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. I'm not sure if this photo is from the fourth season, but that is a minor point. The Laverne & Shirley logo is in pink in the middle of the case and "The Fourth Season" is in a bottlecap to the right of that. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams are listed at the very top of the case. The color scheme of this set is various shades of light blue and pink. On the back of the case, there is a large photo of Penny and Cindy in pajamas and three smaller screenshot photos from the episodes (one of Lenny & Squiggy and two of Laverne & Shirley). A short synopsis of the set is provided. The DVD specs are listed at the bottom. A tiny photo of Cindy and Penny is on the spine of the case. There is a plastic holder in the middle of the case that holds the second and third discs. The first and fourth discs are in embedded holders. Although these holders appear somewhat sturdier than some earlier CBS DVD releases, part of one of the embedded holders was broken during the shipping to me. Even thought the set was bulkier, I preferred the slimcases that they used for the first season. Episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are listed by disc in the backgrounds, which are white in color with a light blue border. The disc number and episodes titles are listed in purple. The original airdates and short summaries are in black text. There are two photos of Penny and Cindy from the episodes inside the case. Continuing the trend of other recent CBS DVD/Paramount sets, the discs are very plain looking and just have the show logo on them and have a silver background. The Laverne & Shirley logo on them gives a hologram-type effect when you turn them into the light. Photos of the cast on the discs would have been much nicer. Here is the breakdown by disc: Disc 1 - 63-68, Disc 2 - Episodes 69-74, Disc 3 - Episodes 75-80, Disc 4 - Episodes 81-86.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very basic, but they look nice and are easy to navigate. They have the same vertical striped, light blue background as the cover art. Each disc has a different photo. Disc 1 has Laverne & Shirley. Disc 2 has Lenny & Squiggy. Disc 3 has Laverne & Shirley from the game show episode. Disc 4 has Laverne & Shirley They have the Laverne & Shirley logo in pink above the photos and "The Fourth Season" is written in a silver bottlecap. The episode titles are listed vertically in white in a box on the right side of the screen. The disc number is noted in the upper right. When you pick an episode, it highlights it in pink and turns light blue upon your selection. A "Play All" button is available at the bottom of the screen for those who want to watch the episodes without any interruptions. A previews option for some other CBS DVD/Paramount TV releases is available at the start of the first disc. Chapter stops are available within the episodes, but no separate scene selection menus are offered.


Video and Audio Quality:

After a somewhat disappointing third season release, the video quality seems to have improved a bit on this set. The first season seemed to look the best, but the next two seasons after that appeared to be not as good. Since the show was shot on film, there are a few secenes with some dirt, debris and other digital artifacts. There are also some areas where there are small white specks and static on them. I also noticed some scenes where the color seems to fade in and out. Despite these problems, the episodes all look very watchable. Unfortunately, it seems that seasons 2-4 were not remastered like the first season. The episodes are presented in their original full screen (1.33:1) and in their original broadcast order. They are spread out well over 4 discs with no more than 6 episodes per disc. For the closing logo enthusiasts, you will be disappointed to see that the Paramount logo is gone. A Miller-Milkis Productions, Inc. and Henderson Production Company, Inc. logo is embedded in the credits. Instead of the CBS Paramount Television logo that has been seen on other recent releases, they use one for CBS Television Distribution this time.

The audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Restored English Mono. I didn't notice any major problems. The volume is at a good level, and the dialogue is easy to understand. Closed captioning is available. While the opening and closing theme songs are intact, there are some music substituions in the episodes. On the back of the case, it says in very small text: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version." While Laverne & Shirley didn't use quite as much music as the early seasons of Happy Days, there was still a decent amount that was spread throughout the episodes (although not every episode had music). Most of the music that has been replaced on this set with generic instrumental music was played on the jukebox at the Pizza Bowl. I couldn't identify any of the music that was heard on the jukebox as being from the original artists. All of the cast performances and musical numbers appear to be included on the set. They seemed to phase out the Big Ragu music numbers in the fourth season, but there were still a few here and there. The episodes run from 24:41 to 48:15. Most are around 25 minutes. It is a bit strange that they present The Festival as one episode when it originally aired as 2 episodes over 2 weeks.

I've checked the music listings on the episode guide at TV.com. It may not be 100% accurate or complete, but it is the only list that I had to go by. The original artists title cards are included in the closing credits after being omitted from the second season. If you notice any missing scenes or substitued music, please post in this thread.

A Date With Eraserhead - "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" by Neil Sedaka and "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee are heard on the jukebox in the original episode. They have been both replaced on the DVD with generic instrumental music.

A Visit To The Cemetery - "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee is heard on the jukebox in the original episode. It has been replaced by instrumental music.

A Chorus Line - This episode appears to include all of the original music. Lenny, Squiggy and Laverne sing "I'm a Pretty Wonderful Boy." Carmine and Laverne dance to an instrumental song. Toni Basil's (as Mickey!) dance number is included. Laverne and Frank sing part of a song near the end of the episode.

Dinner For Four - "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee and "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson are heard on the jukebox in the original episode. They have been replaced by generic instrumentals on the DVD.

Oh, Come All Ye Bums - All of the original music appears to be intact. Laverne & Shirley sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" at the begiinning of the episode. Laverne, Shirley and Carmine sing "Deck the Halls" and "Hark the Herald Angels." The entire casts sings "O Come, All Ye Faithful" at the Pizza Bowl near the end of the episode.

The Third Annual Shotz Talent Show - All of the music performances seem to be included. Edna plays the ukulele and sings a song. Carmine sings "All I Need Is the Girl." Lenny & Squiggy perform a song. Laverne & Shirley sing "The Wedding of Jack and Jill."

The Feminine Mistake - "Take Good Care Of My Baby" by Bobby Vee and "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" by Paul Anka were heard during the original episode, but I didn't hear them on the DVD.

Here is the episode breakdown by disc, including the running times:

Disc 1
---------
4-1 and 4-2 - 63-64. The Festival (Parts 1 & 2) (09/05/78 and 09/12/78) (48:15) *
4-3 - 65. Playing the Roxy (09/19/78) (25:09)
4-4 - 66. The Robbery (09/26/78) (25:05)
4-5 - 67. The Quiz Show (10/10/78) (24:49)
4-6 - 68. Laverne & Shirley Go To Night School (10/17/78) (25:02)

* Note: They have this as one episode with only one opening and ending credits sequence. It originally aired in two parts over two weeks.

Disc 2
---------
4-7 - 69. A Date With Eraserhead (10/24/78) (25:09)
4-8 - 70. The Bully Show (10/31/78) (24:49)
4-9 - 71. A Visit To The Cemetery (11/14/78) (25:09)
4-10 - 72. A Chorus Line (11/21/78) (25:05)
4-11 - 73. Laverne & Shirley Move In (11/28/78) (24:45)
4-12 - 74. Dinner For Four (12/05/78) (25:09)

Disc 3
---------
4-13 - 75. It's A Dog's Life (12/12/78) (24:41)
4-14 - 76. Oh, Come All Ye Bums (12/19/78) (25:06)
4-15 - 77. Who's Papa? (01/16/79) (25:07)
4-16 - 78. The Third Annual Shotz Talent Show (01/30/79) (25:08)
4-17 - 79. Supermarket Sweep (02/06/79) (24:55)
4-18 - 80. Lenny's Crush (02/13/79) (24:46)

Disc 4
---------
4-19 - 81. The Fire Show (02/20/79) (25:03)
4-20 - 82. Squiggy In Love (02/27/79) (25:08)
4-21 - 83. The Feminine Mistake (03/06/79) (25:09)
4-22 - 84. Tenants Are Revolting (03/13/79) (25:05)
4-23 - 85. There's A Spy In My Beer (05/08/79) (25:05)
4-24 - 86. Shirley and the Older Man (05/15/79) (25:04)


Special Features:

Unfortunately, there are no special features included for the fourth consecutive time. It would have been nice if they could have made up for the music substitutions with some extras. Hopefully we will seem some bloopers, promos or other bonus material on future seasons. It will be interesting to see if they include the first part of "Shotgun Wedding" that aired as a Happy Days episode on the fifth season release, since it will be awhile until they get to that season of Happy Days on DVD.


Final Comments:

This time, there's no stopping us! The 1978-79 television season was quite a banner year for Garry Marshall. Laverne & Shirley finished in first place for a second consecutive season. Two other shows he created, Happy Days and Mork & Mindy, finished tied for third place. There will probably never be another Tuesday night lineup like ABC had that season. Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company and Taxi. That was a very powerful schedule with all four shows finishing in the top 10.

Overall, I think this is the best Laverne & Shirley release since the first season. The video quality seems improved over the second and third seasons. While there are some music substitions on this set once again, they all appear to be songs that were played on the jukebox. There weren't as many songs used in the fourth season as in the earlier seasons. All of the cast performances and musical numbers appear to be intact on the DVD, so that is a good sign. There seems to very little editing of the episodes, unlike the previous two seasons. It was only a little less than 5 months since the third season was released, so hopefully we will get the remaining seasons at a similar rate. I was hoping that we would get the fourth seasons of Happy Days and Mork & Mindy on the same day, but I guess they are staggering the releases. Hopefully we will see them in the summer or fall.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 04/20/08

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0012EM5E2/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=223793


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