Television's most beloved gal pals with little money but big dreams are back in all 25 hilarious episodes from Season Five of Laverne & Shirley. They may be living in a Milwaukee basement apartment for now, but the indomitable duo of Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) have plans to make it their own way. From enlisting in the military to protesting for their rights to taking jobs at a diner, nothing's going to get them down - not even the increasingly more outrageous antics of upstairs Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David Lander). Pour yourself a milk and Pepsi, curl up with your own Boo Boo Kitty and enjoy all four discs from this classic comedy series.
Laverne & Shirley moved to Thursday nights at 8:00pm for the beginning of the fifth season. In December 1979, it was moved to Monday nights at 8:00pm before removing back to its familiar day and timeslot of Tuesdays at 8:30pm. These schedule changes led to the show finishing out of the top 30 in the ratings for the first and only time.
The season began with "Shotgun Wedding (Part 2)," in which Laverne and Shirley "get hitched" to Richie (Ron Howard) and Fonzie (Henry Winkler) from Happy Days so the guys can avoid marryting two farm girls. Part 1 of this episode had aired two days earlier as part of Happy Days on September 11, 1979. It's included as a bonus episode on Disc 1. Old resentments are stirred up when Shirley finds a love note from Carmine (Eddie Mekka) to Laverne behind the stove in "One Heckuva Note." It's nothing to make light of when Laverne and Shirley gets jobs at a weight-loss camp and find themselves woefully underprepared in "Fat City Holiday." The girls have an all-out catfight over a wrongly issued check, and soon the're dreaming about Shirley in heaven and Laverne in hell in "Upstairs Downstairs." It's a bittersweet reunion when Shirley's brother (Ed Begley, Jr.) returns from the Navy with a complicated problem in "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?"
It's up to Laverne and Shirley to reunite Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David Lander) after a skirmish between the guys results in Lenny's broken leg in "You've Pushed Me Too Far." There are wedding bells in the air when Frank (Phil Foster) and Edna (Betty Garrett) head down the aisle, and Laverne and Shirley decide to sing at the ceremony in "The Wedding." Laverne and Shirley introudce Edna's niece to the members of thir former girls' club...not realizing that the members have changed their forcus from comradeship to crime in "Bad Girls." Desperate for a little excitement, the girls enlist but find the road to becoming a battle-read soldier tougher than they expected in "We're in the Army Now." Lenny and Squiggy find the girls dates for an upcoming roller skating event, but their prospective matches come up somewhat "short" in "Take Two, They're Small." Being in charge isn't all it's cracked up to be when Laverne and Shirley must organize the company's highly anticipated talent show in "The Fourth Annual Shotz Talent Show."
When a psychiatrist is brought in to perform job evaluations, Laverne and Shirley worry that their deepest, darkest secrets will come to light in "Testing, Testing." Laverne and Shirley's Mexican vacation gets off to a shaky start when they find that their hotel isn't the exotic getaway they anticipated in "Not Quite South of the Border." It's lights, cerma, action -- but no glamour -- when the girls unwittingly audition to play hookers in a military "hygiene" film in "You Oughta Be in Pictures." A visit to a local coffee house becomes a life-changing experience for Shirley in "The Beatnik Show." Protesters Laverne and Shirley chain themselves to the gas company building in "The Right to Light." Sparks fly when Laverne falls for a firefighter (Ted Danson) who must constantly put his job before anything -- including anyone else in "Why Did the Fireman?" The stakes are high for Carmine when he takes a job working for a loan shark in "The Collector."
Laverne and Shirley's swanky trip gets off to a shaky start when a man stumbles into their train compartment and drops dead in "Murder on the Moosejaw Express (Part 1)." The murder case is anything but open-and-shut as Laverne and Shirley try to find the killer in "Murder on the Moosejaw Express (Part 2)." It's a battle of the sexes as the girls take an army survival challenge against the boys in "Survival Test." Seeking his fortune, Laverne's cousin (Ed Marinaro) leaves Italy and comes to America in "The Amazing Antonio." Lenny tries to find help for Squiggy, who has been sleepwalking and believes himself to be a Duke in "The Duke of Squigman." Desperate for work, Laverne and Shirley take jobs as a cook and a waitress in the diner Lenny recently inherited in "The Diner." Shirley does her best to teach Laverne how to enjoy being alone in "Separate Tables."
Notable guest stars this season included Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Ed Begley, Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Elizabeth (E.G.) Daily, Vicki Lawrence (in her first appearance as Sergeant Alvinia T. Plout), Art Garfunkel, Richard Stahl, Ted Danson, Scatman Crothers, Charlene Tilton, Conrad Janis, Ed Marinaro and Pat Morita.
The episodes appear to be mostly unedited, with running times over 25 minutes. "We're in the Army" originally aired as an one-hour episode and is presented that way here. There's a disclaimer on the back of the packaging which states: "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version."
There was very little music used this season according to the episode guide at TV.com. "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" by Neil Sedaka is heard on the jukebox in "One Heckuva Note." "Wild One" by Bobby Rydell and "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson are replaced on the jukebox with unknown instrumentals in "Bad Girls." "Chances Are" by Johnny Mathis is heard on a record player at the end of "Take Two, They're Small." All of the musical numbers are included in "The Fourth Annual Shotz Talent Show." Carmine singing "There's No Business Like Show Business" by Irving Berlin is included in the "The Diner," but all of the songs on the jukebox have been replaced with instrumentals. The missing songs include "I Like It Like That" by Chris Kenner, "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson, "Wild One" by Bobby Rydell, "Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons and "Runaway" by Del Shannon. If there's only some jukebox music substituions and no other edited scenes, I think most fans would be ok with that.
Shotgun Wedding (Part 1) (from Happy Days, the Seventh Season) (09/11/79) (24:24)
Shotgun Wedding (Part 2) (09/13/79) (25:06)
One Heckuva Note (09/20/79) (25:09)
Fat City Holiday (09/27/79) (25:07)
Upstairs Downstairs (10/04/79) (25:10)
What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor? (10/18/79) (25:07)
You've Pushed Me Too Far (10/25/79) (25:09)
The Wedding (11/01/79) (25:07)
Bad Girls (11/08/79) (25:07)
We're in the Army Now (11/15/79) (48:37)
Take Two, They're Small (11/22/79) (25:08)
The Fourth Annual Shotz Talent Show (12/06/79) (25:08)
Testing, Testing (12/13/79) (25:08)
Not Quite South of the Border (01/07/80) (25:07)
You Oughta Be in Pictures (01/14/80) (25:39)
The Beatnik Show (01/21/80) (25:40)
The Right to Light (01/28/80) (25:38)
Why Did the Fireman? (02/04/80) (25:38)
The Collector (02/11/80) (25:38)
Murder on the Moosejaw Express (Part 1) (02/26/80) (24:35)
Murder on the Moosejaw Express (Part 2) (03/04/80) (25:07)
Survival Test (03/11/80) (25:07)
The Amazing Antonio (03/18/80) (25:06)
The Duke of Squigman (03/25/80) (25:10)
The Diner (05/06/80) (25:08)
Separate Tables (05/13/80) (25:07)
The 4-disc set contains all 25 episodes (plus a bonus episode of Happy Days) from the fifth season (1979-80). The packaging is similar to what they've used for the second-fourth seasons. It comes in a clear plastic snap case. The cover art features a photo of Penny Marshall in green with her trademark "L" on it and Cindy Williams in red. The Laverne & Shirley logo is in pink in the middle of the case. "The Fifth Season" is written on a bottlecap to the right of that. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams are listed at the very top of the case. Various purple shaded dots are used in the background. The color scheme of this set is various shades of purple and pink. The same photo as the cover art is used on the spine of the case. On the back of the case, there is a large photo from the "Shotz Showcase" and five smaller screenshots from various episodes. A synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are provided. Inside the case, there is a plastic holder that holds the discs back-to-back. These holders seem sturdier and less likely to break than what they've used in the past. There is no embedded holders this time, so that is a nice change for this season. Episode titles, original airdates and short summaries are provided by the disc number. There are two small, circular photos used inside the case: one with Henry Winkler and Ron Howard with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams and the rest of the cast of "Shotgun Wedding" and the other with Marshall, Ted Danson and a dalmatian. The discs are just plain looking with a light gray background. They have the show logo and episode titles printed on them. The lettering has a holographic type effect to it. Disc 1 holds episodes 87-91 (plus the Happy Days bonus episode). Disc 2 has episodes 92-98. Disc 3 contains episodes 99-105. Disc 4 rounds out the set with episodes 106-112.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are colorful and easy to navigate. The main menus feature a different photo of Marshall and Williams on Discs 1-2 and McKean and Lander on Discs 3-4. The Laverne & Shirley logo is above the photo in pink, with the familiar bottlecap noting the fifth season below that. The episode titles are listed vertically in black text in a light purple table. There is a "Play All" button, or you can view the episodes individually. The subitles menu features three circular photos of Marshall and Williams, Lander and McKean, and Mekka. You can turn on the English for the deaf and hard of hearing subtitles here. The episode you highlight has pink half circular icons next to it that turns purple upon your selection. When you select an episode, it takes you to another menu where there is a screenshot from that episode. You can play the episode or a separate episodic promo for it. A previews option for some other CBS DVD/Paramount TV releases is available at the start of the first disc. They give you the option of going directly to the main menu. These promos are very old promoting the third seasons of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy and the final season of Cheers. Chapters are placed at the appropriate places within the episodes.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video quality has varied in the first four seasons. The first season seemed to have the best quality, while seasons two-four didn't look like they received the same remastering treatment. These episodes arguably look the best of any of the previous releases. They appear to be remastered for this release. There's a minimal amount of dirt, debris and other digital artifacts. I didn't see any issues where scenes had small white specks and static on them like the earlier seasons. There were some issues where the color appeared faded in episodes of other seasons, but I didn't see any problems on this set. Unfortunately, the bonus Happy Days episode of "Shotgun Wedding (Part 1)" didn't receive the same type of remastering. If you watch the "Shotgun Wedding" episodes back-to-back, I think you can clearly see the difference in the video quality of the episodes. The episodes are presented in their original 4:3 ratio and in the original broadcast order. There are no closing logos on any of the Laverne & Shirley episodes besides a new one for CBS Television Distribution, but the original Paramount blue mountain logo did survive on the bonus Happy Days episode. That episode also includes the original promo for the second part of the Laverne & Shirley episode that aired two days later. It was pretty neat to see that included. Unfortunately, they didn't include the alternate syndicated ending for the Happy Days episode. Richie runs and tells Howard that Fonzie is in trouble, but Fonzie is right there and talks to Howard. Fonzie tells the father that Ralph and Potsie (two rich doctors)
will marry his daughters. Hopefully they include that as a bonus on the seventh season release of Happy Days.
The audio is a restored English Mono track. I didn't notice any major problems. The volume is at a good
level. The dialogue is easy to understand. English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are available on all of the episodes. There are some music substitutions for songs that were played on the jukebox at the Pizza Bowl and in the diner episode, but it seems like there were fewer replacements on this release. See the Episodes section above for more details.
None of the previous seasons of Laverne & Shirley had any extras, so it was nice surprise to see a few included on this release. They really aren't plentiful, but it's good to see the effort made.
The first special feature is a bonus crossover episode from Happy Days' seventh season. "Shotgun Wedding (Part 1)" aired on Tuesday, September 11, 1979. Two days later on Thursday, September 13, 1979, the episode concluded on Laverne & Shirley. The episodes are presented in sequence on Disc 1. Unfortunately, the alternate syndication ending wasn't included, but there is a promo for the second part of the episode at the end of it.
Episode Promos - These are 35 second or so promo clips that were used in syndication. They are included for all of the episodes (except for the bonus Happy Days episode). These promos give you a good general idea what each episode is about. They are interesting to watch.
Gag Reel (Disc 4) - The gag reel runs 3:11 and is specific to the fifth season. The video quality isn't great, but it's certainly watchable. It opens with a short clip of the opening credits. Garry Marshall gives a brief intro and says that he thinks tape sucks. Various bloopers are then shown, including some with bleeped out profanity. There's also a few short montages to the instrumental and vocal version of the theme. These were fun to watch. I just wish that the gag reel ran longer than 3 minutes. This was something that was made for the cast and crew after the season ended, so you would think there would be much more material than the 3 minutes provided here.
The fifth season is finally available on DVD! It's been nearly a four-year wait since the fourth season was released way back on April 22, 2008. Seasons two-four had been released at a pretty quick pace in 2007-08, but then the news stopped. Season five was a pretty strong one with memorable episodes like the one-hour "We're in the Army Now," "Why Did the Fireman?" with a pre-Cheers Ted Danson, the two-part "Murder on the Moosejaw Express" and "The Diner." Sadly, this was the final season set in Milwaukee before they moved to Burbank, CA. This was the only season that finished out of the top 30 in the ratings. This was mainly due to the timeslot changes when they moved it from its established spot on Tuesdays nights at 8:30pm. They received some new life in season six with the move back to their regular night and time, the setting change to California and a few new supporting characters. I will always prefer the Milwaukee episodes, though.
It's so nice to see the fifth season now available. It was a long wait, but hopefully the floodgates will open and we'll see the remaining three California seasons released soon. This is probably the best release since the first season. These episodes have improved video quality over the second-fourth seasons. There are still a few jukebox songs that were replaced with instrumentals, but there are far fewer replacements here than on some of the other seasons. It seems like all of the episodes are otherwise unedited, so that's good news. I can accept some music substitutions as long as no actual scenes are edited out. They even included some special features for the first time on a Laverne & Shirley release. The episodic promos are interesting to watch to see how the episodes were promoted in syndication. The gag reel is a lot of fun to watch, but it just feels way too short at a little over 3 minutes. It was nice that the included the bonus episode of Happy Days. I'm disappointed that it didn't receive the same kind of remastering treatment. They also didn't include the alternate syndication ending. Hopefully they will have improved video quality and the alternate ending on the seventh season release of Happy Days if/when that finally happens. Now that Laverne & Shirley is back on, let's hope we will get more seasons of Happy Days and the final season of Mork & Mindy.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 04/03/12
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