Monday, August 12, 2013

Celebrity Toons: Laverne & Shirley in The Army (1981)

Who can figure out network executives?

As Fonz & the Happy Days Gang began its second season, another branch of the Happy Days tree grew a branch of its own, as Laverne & Shirley were spun off into an animated series of their own, which saw the title characters (Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams) enlist in the Army. Curiously, Hanna-Barbera did the same thing with Popeye's girlfriend, Olive Oyl, and Alice the Goon over on CBS the same year, and that particular idea flopped harder than a stack of frozen flapjacks.

While Olive & Alice actually had a human CO (Jo Anne Worley, ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), Laverne & Shirley were stuck with, of all things, a talking pig, Sgt. Squealy (Ron Palillo, ex-Welcome Back, Kotter), who was always threatening to turn them in to his CO, Sgt. Turnbuckle. Seems Squealy was ten times more annoying than that other pint-size pest in the H-B zoo, Scrappy-Doo.

However, the girls' hitch in the Army lasted longer, because a 2nd season was ordered as a means of adding Fonzie (Henry Winkler) to the mix, after his cartoon had ended. Viewers were forced to assume that he, along with Richie & Ralph, had made it home. After all, his pet pooch, Mr. Cool (Frank Welker), was also brought along. You can pretty much guess how that went.

Anyway, here's the open, and the title card for the series premiere, "Invasion of the Booby Hatchers":

I wanted to give this a chance, but H-B counter-programmed itself, since Smurfs aired at the same hour on NBC. Enough said.

Rating: D.


magicdog said...

Looking back, this show was BAD!

I assume the premise was stolen from a two part episode in which the girls lost their jobs (temporarily) and decided to join the Army (with Vicky Lawrence waiting as their CO, Lavinia T. Plout).

I remember that in the first seasons, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams did their own voices, but they were replaced sometime later.

Adding Fonzie and Mr. Cool only made things unbearable! Besides, Fonz was NEVER the type to join the army and probably would have had an easy out if he had been drafted - he was too cool!

hobbyfan said...

According to the research I came up with, Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams did both seasons, but then, since I barely watched in season 2, I may have to double-check.

Fonz was in the motor pool as a mechanic when he was added, but they insisted on keeping Mr. Cool around. In hindsight, I think the reason they used a pig was because they couldn't get Vicki Lawrence to reprise as Lavina, which would've been much better.