17 May 2002 | Sweet Charity
A rare combination of hilarity and every day life
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!