DVD Review: The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection

There are certain shows that have a bigger following than you can ever guess. Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory are easy to predict that someone in the room has seen all the episodes. There are other shows you ponder if anyone remembers them airing such as Babes, Chicken Soup and The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. There are other shows that have a stealth following where fans love them, but don’t quote lines in public. Such appears to be the case with Mama’s Family. You mention the title and an unexpected person reflects upon seeing it as a kid with their family. The series had a loyal viewership that followed it from network to first run syndication in the ’80s. Even today the series is can be found on the cable dial at Logo and on the airwaves via METV. Now the casual fan can enjoy the cream of the series with The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection that picks the best episodes from each of the six seasons.

The sitcom was based on “The Family” sketch on The Carol Burnett Show. Most of the sketches were about Mama (Vicki Lawrence) clashing with her daughter Eunice (Carol Burnett). It wasn’t the usual slapstick and musical humor found on the show. Mama was a fierce and cruel woman to Eunice. When it came time to develop Mama’s Family, she softened up a bit and found a new target. Her son Vinton (F Troops‘ Ken Berry) is in a bad place after his wife leaves him for Las Vegas. Vinton gets evicted and needs a place for him and his kids. Remarkable enough, Mama offers her house to him. But of course there’s a major price living under his mother’s watchful eyes. She’s not pleased when Vinton strikes up a relationship with Naomi Oates (Dorothy Lyman), a neighbor. Slowly Mama’s house becomes crowded as everyone moves into the basement. The first two seasons were on NBC and also featured guest visits from sister Fran (Rue McClanahan) and her daughter Ellen (Betty White), When the show was brought back in syndication, Rue and Betty were busy with The Golden Girls. Vint’s kids vanished and Mama’s delinquent teenage grandson Mitchel “Bubba” Higgins (Allan Kayser) arrived. Bubba was bad seed of Ed and Eunice. He made Mama almost a moral authority without reverting a old lady who emotionally tormented her children. The sitcom was about fun and not A Long Days Journey Into Night with a laugh track.

The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection contains six episodes per season as picked by star Vicki Lawrence. The first season has 7 since “The Wedding” was a two-parter. Among her picks are “Mama on Jeopardy” with Alex Trebek serving up the answers. “Mama Goes Hawaiian” takes her on the big trip to the paradise state. “Zirconia’s Are a Girls Best Friend” gets Mama hooked on television shopping channel which was a serious addiction in 1987. “The Really Loud Family” has Bubba videotape the family and turn them into reality stars. This is amazing since it’s before the world had to suffer through the Kardashians. “Bubba’s House Band” has Stacey Q go video vixen. Mama ain’t gonna put up with that. The boxset is best for the casual fan that wants the best of each season to enjoy on a cool spring night when nobody is around to hear Mama correcting Vint.

The videos is 1.33:1 full frame. The show’s post production was on standard definition video so the transfer lack resolution.

Episode Introductions from Vicki Lawrence are featured on season one and two collections.

Time-Life and StarVista present The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection. Starring: Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman and Allan Kayser. Boxset Contents: 37 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: March 7, 2017.

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