Laverne & Shirley: Why Did the Fireman

First of all, I’m sorry. This episode is a real downer. (For once, I’m not being hyperbolic.) But it features the lovely Ted Danson and it feels right to post this as he embarks on yet another starring role in a TV series with tonight’s premiere of Mr. Mayor.

In this episode of Laverne & Shirley, we see a young Ted almost three years before he became everybody’s favorite bartender on Cheers. And I’ll be honest, he seems a little wooden. He’s still affable and charming, but you can see the inherent shyness that Ted describes having to overcome in order to portray Sam on Cheers. On Laverne & Shirley, he’s playing Laverne’s fireman boyfriend, Randy.

He’s just such a sweetheart who likes Laverne for her brains and her bod. He’s the total package. And did I mention he’s a fireman? (Okay, seriously you’ve been warned to bail on this post now if you don’t want to be very, very sad.)

Laverne and Randy are desperately in love. They’re both a little weird and they both can’t get enough of each other. They share milkshakes, they play with puppies at the fire station, and they even want to get married. Unfortunately, Randy doesn’t make it much farther than halfway through the episode. You see, this is a very special episode after all — which means it’s a total bummer.

Laverne hears the news of Randy’s death from Lenny and Squiggy (who have somehow become volunteer firemen). I think this show is supposed to be a lesson in denial, but I really can’t say I blame Laverne for not believing Lenny and Squiggy. How could anyone take these guys seriously?

The denial really kicks into high gear when Laverne won’t listen to Shirley either. Laverne keeps doing her hair and waiting for Randy to show up. The next morning, she’s still getting ready for Randy when her father arrives to try to get through to her. Laverne refuses to listen to her father, saying that Randy will only be dead if she believes it, which is not exactly how denial works. However, I understand we’re trying to cover a lot of ground in this twenty-five minute episode so broad brushstrokes it is.

Laverne’s dad finally gets through to her by reading from the morning’s newspaper, which describes how Randy died in the process of saving a family. He then describes how he went through the same stages of grief when Laverne’s mother died. This scene is strong even though the episode overall is a bit uneven.

Very Special Lesson: This episode feels a little unnecessarily cruel. Like damn that’s a lot of emotion in twenty-five minutes. This might even be worse than that time Growing Pains killed off Matthew Perry. At least we got a few episodes with him! However, I think it’s still better to have loved and lost Ted Danson than to never have loved him at all.

5 thoughts on “Laverne & Shirley: Why Did the Fireman

  1. Thank you for sharing this very special episode. It is one that I missed in the run of the original show. The clip you shared is incredible. Shows the power of friendship and fatherhood and how these relationships gives a frame for the loved one to absorb truly awful truth. Shows we can deal with truth in this context no matter how hard the loss. The actors showed the depth of their craft in this episode.

  2. Laverne should have known that something was OFF about Lenny and Squiggy’s behavior before they told her Randy died. Both looked shaken up and on the verge of tears, and Lenny did break down crying (which, if you know both guys on the show, is out of character for them)–and Squiggy looked like he was trying to hold it together, as well and, as annoying as they are, they would NOT joke about something like that. It makes me wonder if she knew they were telling the truth all along and didn’t want to admit it to herself until the end…

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