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Laverne & Shirley - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: August 17, 2004 (Paramount Home Video)
color/6 hours 13 minutes
MSRP: $49.99
Number of discs: 3
Number of episodes: 15
Languages and subtitles: English - Mono, Closed Captioned
Special features: None


Give them any chance, they'll take it... read them any rule, they'll break it! They're Laverne & Shirley (Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams), the hilarious female duo who work as bottlecappers at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Laverne & Shirley: The Complete First Season, you'll relive each laugh-filled moment in the premiere season (1976) of this wildly popular, best-loved sitcom, from its beginning as a spin-off from Happy Days to its triumph as an instant smash hit wtih TV audiences nationwide. A stellar supporting cast and sidesplitting situations are all part of the Laverne & Shirley hilarity presented on DVD in this three-disc set. From Lenny and Squiggy to Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa and Boo-Boo Kitty, the gang's all here!

Laverne & Shirley was Happy Days' first spin-off series premiering on January 27, 1976 on ABC as a mid-season replacement. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams first appeared on the Happy Days episode "A Date with Fonzie" on November 11, 1975 as Laverne De Fazio and Shirley Feeney. Like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley was set in Milwaukee and in the same time period. There were frequent cross-over episodes between the shows. From 1976-1979, Laverne & Shirley aired on Tuesday nights along with Happy Days and Three's Company and formed one of the most popular nights in the 1970's and in tv history. During it's 3rd season, Laverne & Shirley would become the #1 rated tv show in the country surpassing the show that gave it their start - Happy Days. Laverne & Shirley would run for 8 successful seasons producing 178 episodes.

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The first season included 15 episodes. Memorable episodes included the pilot episode "The Society Party" where the girls are invited to a gala party and The Fonz appears as Laverne's escort, "The Bachelor Party" where the girls host a wild bachelor party at The Pizza Bowl, and Bowling For Razzberries where an ill Laverne competes in a bowling competition (this episode was named a classic episode by TV Guide). Notable guest stars included Henry Winkler as The Fonz in the first 2 episodes, Paul Linke in "The Bachelor Party", Al Molinaro in "Falter at the Altar", Fred Willard in "Dog Day Blind Dates", Mark Harmon and Robert Hays in "Dating Slump", and Pat Carroll as Mrs. Feeney in "Mother Knows Worst".


The DVD cover art features a photo of Laverne & Shirley in a circle with the show title logo at the top with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams' names next to it it (see above). The back of the box features a photo of Laverne & Shirley at the brewery capping bottles, a small photo of Laverne & Shirley with Fonzie, and a larger photo of Laverne with a blue stuffed animal (sorry I don't know the name) and Shirley with her Boo Boo Kitty. There is also a short summary of the set.

There are 3 individual snapcases for each disc that slide out from the dvd box. All 3 cases have photos on the front with the episode titles on the back. The first case has a photo of Laverne & Shirley holding baseball bats, the second case has them standing back to back, and the third case has a photo of Laverne with a blue stuffed animal and Shirley with her treasured Boo Boo Kitty. When you open the case, the episode titles are also listed in the inside cover with 1-2 sentence summaries and the original airdate. The back of the cases have various photos of Laverne & Shirley while the 1st case has a cast photo that includes Mr. De Fazio, Lenny, Squiggy, and The Big Ragu. The actual discs have the Laverne & Shirley logo on them with bowling pins and a bowling ball with the disc number. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-5, Disc 2 has episodes 6-10, and Disc 3 offers episodes 11-15. The episodes are organized in their original airdate order.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Each DVD has a very simple menu that is easy to navigate. There are no sub-menus, only a main menu that lists all the episode titles that you just highlight the episode you want and a bowling pin appears by it and it plays. The disc 1 menu has the same photo as the cover art, disc 2 has photo of the 3rd dvd case, and disc 3 uses the photo from the first disc case. There is also a 'Play All' button for those who want to watch all the episodes on each disc without interruption.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio on these sets is very good. There are a few scenes where there is some dirt or very brief lines on some of the episodes, but it's not too bad. The episodes are presented in full screen (1.33:1). The audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and I didn't notice any major problems. It seems like sometimes the cast had to talk at a higher volume level then you normally would do to some of the locations (particularly the girls apartment) to be heard clearly. I had purchased some of the VHS tapes Columbia House had released a few years back, and these dvd copies are much better.

All episodes clock in around 25 minutes, so they appear unedited. Current syndication prints are around 22 minutes, so you get to see about 3 minutes of "new" footage for each episode on these dvds. I also saw a nice bonus at the end of the pilot episode that had Laverne, Shirley, and Fonzie promoting the next week's episode "The Bachelor Party." For the closing logo enthusiasts, I don't think there were any vintage logos. There is just a standard modern looking Paramount logo at the end of all the episodes. The Happy Days DVD set had an older red, white and blue colored Paramount Pictures logo.

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there are no bonus features and that's the only major downfall I can think of for this set. It would have been great had they included the original short pilot treatment that was shot in Fonzie's apartment and was shown to ABC executives or Laverne & Shirley's first appearance on Happy Days (it will surely be on the Happy Days 3rd season set when it's released). Some other ideas for potential bonus features on future releases could be blooper reels, cast interviews, original network promos, production notes, and the 1993 ABC Laverne & Shirley Reunion Special or 2002 Laverne & Shirley Together Again Special that was produced by Entertainment Tonight for ABC.

Final Comments:

This is a good start of will hopefully be 7 more season sets for Laverne & Shirley. The show was an instant hit that remains popular today. There was lots of silly humor and slapstick and physical comedy. Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were a dynamic duo that could produce lots of laughs and the show had a great ensemble cast as well. Some bonus features for future releases and some Pepsi Cola would hit the spot!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video quality: 4.4/5
Audio quality: 4.2/5
Special Features: NA
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 08/02/04

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