FINALLY, after a four-year gap and believing that Laverne & Shirley was shelved indefinitely, Season 5 is upon us. Paramount left many fans in suspense and wonder of whether or not the series had been abandoned, and I had honestly lost all hope that we'd ever see S5 released. We need not worry anymore! This long-awaited set focuses on what I(and many others)consider to be the best season yet. The two-parter "Murder on the Moose-Jaw Express" will finally be seen in its entirety(not the edited version that was shown on reruns), the much anticipated "Diner" episode where L&S go to work for Lenny & Squiggy running a greasy-spoon diner and of course everything that can go wrong does, to the tragic "Why did the Fireman?" episode, starring a then unknown Ted Danson as Laverne's boyfriend who ends up being killed in the line of duty. That particular episode displayed how versatile the characters could be at times, mixing comedy in the face of tragedy, yet somehow it seemed to work here which is more that can be said about many other TV shows today.
However, with that said, I think this should be a wrap, folks. Frankly something changed when the series and characters moved to California, although the first season in Burbank had a few funny moments(the earthquake episode), and the girls misadventures working at Bardwell's Department Store, it was all downhill from here. The very atmosphere of the show changed. I could never quite put my finger on it, but something just didn't seem "right" after the move out west. The new format, change of scenery, and chemistry between the new characters just never seemed to "click"(I always found Rhonda(Leslie Easterbrook)to be annoying as hell and I don't think her character added much to the plot or scripts). Many agree that the show definitely lost something. I say perhaps release the 6th season as a reminder of how great the "Milwaukee Years" were, and then call it quits. The show pretty much had run its course by that time. Ed Marinaro left after only 1 season in California, Betty Garrett left by 1981, Cindy Williams left in '82, and Michael McKean was missing from the final episodes. This is usually the first clue that a series is essentially on borrowed time. Everyone was jumping ship and by the time Eddie Mekka's character bid farewell to the cast, the show had honestly become unwatchable by then.
In any case, this is THE one we've all been waiting for and I'm glad CBS/Paramount finally caved in to our demands and heard our voices. Others have previously mentioned how the series was not very well received on DVD and that's why they've been slow in coming with the subsequent releases. Personally I think Laverne & Shirley caters to a certain demographic. Namely Generation X'ers and their parents who grew up watching it(remember the Happy Days/Laverne&Shirley/Three's Company lineup), and working class folks who found the "blue collar" theme of the show easy to relate to. Sure some of the episodes have aged better than others, and looking back now some don't seem as funny as they were back then but that's besides the point. I think part of it is the "kitsch" factor too. Or maybe perhaps you just had to be there living in that particular time to "get it". Nonetheless, I'm glad we finally have Season 5 to add to our collection and can reflect on when L&S was one of the most popular and celebrated series on prime-time TV. Thanks for listening, CBS.