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Mama's Family: The Mama's Family Favorites Collection

Score: 85%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Time Life
Region: 1
Media: DVD/6
Running Time: 895 Mins. Approx.
Genre: Comedy/TV Series/Family
Audio: English Stereo

Time Life is back at it with the release of the hilarious Mama's Family: The Mama's Family Favorites Collection, a collection of episodes from this spin-off of the ever-popular CBS television variety show, The Carol Burnett Show. Mama's Family debuted in 1983 on NBC, lasting two seasons before going into first-run syndication for another four years. This beloved comedy stars Vicki Lawrence as Thelma Harper, the matriarch of this dysfunctional family, who has taken in her son Vinton (Ken Berry) and his two children, after his marriage has failed.

Regular stars on the series are Harvey Korman, who plays narrator Alistair Quince and also Eunice's husband, Ed Higgins. Carol Burnett plays one of Thelma's three daughters, Eunice, while Betty White plays Ellen, and Rue McClanahan plays Fran. The daughters are always at odds with each other, while even-tempered locksmith Vinton (Berry) with children Sonja (Karin Argoud) and "Buzz" (Eric Brown) stays out of his sisters' fray. Other regulars are Thelma's neighbor and friend Iola Boylen (Beverly Archer), and Thelma's cousin, Gert Corey (Imogene Coca).

The easy-going gait of the Harper household was interrupted when Mama's son, Vinton, moved in, but even more so when nosy neighbor and sex-pot Naomi (Dorothy Lyman) directs her sight and designs on the easily-manipulated Vinton. Thelma is then gripped by discouragement, but determined to keep control of each and every member of her nuclear family.

Before some of the episodes begin, Vicki Lawrence offers insights on what makes Mama tick and what gets her ticked off. The Mama's Family Favorites Collection includes 37 episodes on six DVDs that were hand-picked by Lawrence as the most popular episodes. When the show went into syndication, you will notice that Vinton's two children were replaced by Eunice's son, Bubba Higgins (Allan Kayser). The Collection boasts notable guest stars including William Windom, Richard Dawson, Imogene Coca, Jack Gilford, Fred Willard, Alex Trebeck, Barney Martin, Bob Larkin, Julianna McCarthy, Lynn Milgrim, Harry S. Murphy and Stacey Q, among others.

You and your family will enjoy some of the funniest comedy that Mama's Family has to offer. Throughout the series, Mama tries to maintain a dignified and refined presence in the community; however, try as she may, her family is always bobbing up like an unwanted jack-in-the-box, embarrassing her to public disgrace. Naomi is a constant aggravation with her overt sexual behavior cast upon unsuspecting - but appreciative - Vinton, at the most inappropriate occasions. Bubba seems to be a light in the darkness, but disappoints Mama with memories of days gone by. You'll get a kick out of the Family's participation on Jeopardy and Family Feud. In one episode, Mama is sent to the hospital because of an accident while making jam, and in another, Mama has frisky fever when she gets a boyfriend. She rescues Cousin Gert from melancholy, and another time, she's a neighborhood terror when she learns to drive. She helps Aunt Fran with her newspaper column and becomes an on-air success. Another time, neighbor Iola feels the power when she moves in and takes over Mama's house, and you'll laugh and cry when Mama babysits Iola's cat. One of the funniest episodes is when photographer Bubba plays a joke on Mama and she becomes the belle of the ball at a community function. Two-part episodes occur when Mama's Family has a wedding, and the family goes to Hawaii.

Mama's Family: The Mama's Family Favorites Collection has no bonus features and the DVD warns that there may be imperfections in the audio and viewing of these discs due to the age of the original material, but like many other nostalgic DVDs, the entertainment outweighs any imperfections. Add this Collection to your comedy videos and you won't be disappointed. You and your family will share great times watching The Mama's Family Favorites Collection.

-Kambur O. Blythe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jan Daniel

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