Set in the 1950s, this half-hour situation comedy revolved around the friendship between bright-eyed, naive and demure Shirley Feeney and brassy, tough-talking, street smart Laverne De Fazio. Two bottle cappers for Shotz Brewery, the duo dated an array of questionable men, tolerated their dippy, loony neighbors Lenny and Squiggy, and forever pursued to "make all their dreams come true."
After its first half-season as a 1976 mid-season replacement, Laverne & Shirley
entered its first complete season with a well-deserved place at the top of the ratings. The show's connection to Happy Days
remained essential to its success, and after its first two episodes, the second season boosted its profile with back-to-back episodes ("Bachelor Mothers" and "Excuse Me, May I Cut In?") featuring appearances by Happy Days
stars Henry Winkler ("Fonzie"), Ron Howard ("Richie Cunningham") and Anson Williams ("Potsie"). After that, Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams) were on their own, and the best friends and Shotz Brewery bottle-cappers settled into a popular season of sitcom highlights. As these 23 episodes make abundantly clear, L&S
was steeped in the primarily Jewish traditions of Vaudeville humor, by way of I Love Lucy
and other vintage sitcoms, and much of the show's charm comes from the unspoken fact that Laverne and Shirley are virginally pure, eager for fun but clearly saving themselves for the elusive men of their dreams. Sex--which is to say, dating--is a common theme in these episodes, but most of them deal with the girls protecting their virtue, as in the hilarious "Good Time Girls" (from November 30, 1976), in which L&S cope with would-be suitors who found the girls' phone number etched on the wall of a men's public restroom. Like several other episodes this season, it's a prime showcase for slapstick humor, with Marshall and Williams clearly taking their cue from the legacy of Lucille Ball, and matching Lucy's lunacy with truly inspired bits of their own.
Season 2 is also highlighted by the regular appearances of Laverne and Shirley's underachieving neighbors Lenny (Michael McKean) and Squiggy (David L. Lander) who continue to make priceless, well-timed entrances, with Squiggy's trademark "Hello!" as one of the series' most crowd-pleasing running gags. The show's supporting cast members are all given moments to shine, and this season is further enriched by the hilarious rivalry between Laverne and her social-climbing nemesis Rosie Greenbaum (Carol Ita White) who appears in four episodes to taunt the girls with belittling insults. Fun-loving music is also a common factor here, and the season finale "Citizen Krane" takes its cue from Orson Welles' classic Citizen Kane, with the girls making their dubious show-biz debut as a singing duo, promoted by a Milwaukee impresario named "Charles Pfister Krane" (played with ham 'n' relish by character actor Severn Darden) who dubs them "The Rosebuds." It's a good example of the season's consistently high quality, owing mostly to the charms of its stars. And for those looking for a bit of pop-cultural perspective, consider this: Six weeks after Laverne & Shirley's second-season finale, Star Wars made its theatrical debut, and the world of entertainment would never be the same. (Note: There are no bonus features in this 4-disc set, and for legal and licensing reasons, some song performances and/or background music have been edited out or changed from the original TV broadcasts.) --Jeff Shannon