DVD Review: Mama’s Family (The Complete Sixth Season)

Mama’s Family is a story of persistence. The show became such a popular sketch on The Carol Burnett Show that it seemed to be a sitcom interrupting a variety show. At the time the focus of the show was the relationship between Mama (Vicki Lawrence) and her stressed out adult daughter Eunice (Carol Burnett). When the sitcom finally arrived on NBC, Mama’s main foil would be her son Vinton (F Troop‘s Ken Berry). The show lasted for two seasons on the network before it was canceled. Luckily someone sensed that Mama’s Family had a real audience. Instead of just being stuck with 35 episodes in the vault, Lorimar-Telepictures offered the series as a first run syndication program in order to get to the magic 100 episodes. The gamble paid off as Mama’s Family: The Complete Sixth Season marked the sitcom having more than enough to remain in reruns for decades.

The final season focuses on Vint and his wife Naomi (Dorothy Lyman) getting ready to have a baby. “Mama’s Medicine Show” has the couple talk Mama into turning her secret tonic into a energy drink. They need to earn a lot of money to pay for the kid. They all get in trouble when they realize the secret ingredient. “Tri-State’s Most Wanted” has Mama dating a man who appears on an alternate version of America’s Most Wanted. She fears for her life although seems eager to get the reward money. “Mama Fights Back” has her become a loud mouth radio host. She even does the show from her living room which is how most of today’s blowhards do their programs. But can she handle to life of being a shock jock? There’s even more end of the ’80s fun with “Take My Mama, Please!” when she ends up on stage at a comedy club. “Bubba’s House Band” has a female heavy metal band arrive. Mama seems eager to tame this version of Vixen.

The final episodes focus on the baby’s arrival. “Look Who’s Breathing” sends Mama and Naomi to a birthing class. This would be comedy enough except Mama wants to speed things up so she can make Bingo night. “There is Nothing Like the Dames” lets Vint finally move out of Mama’s house. He’s bought an RV and rented space at a trailer park. All looks good until he can’t get the engine running. He’s stuck in Mama’s driveway. “Bye-Bye — Baby!” finally as the happy event take place. Before the rush to the hospital Mama flashback to the past to keep Naomi calm.

Why did Mama’s Family come to an end? Ken Berry says that Lawrence had grown tired of being Mama and refused to sign a new contract. Lawrence says that Lorimar-Telepictures shut down the show since they finally had more than enough episodes for an attractive syndication package. This was a much better fate than when NBC pulled the plug on them.

Also available is Mama’s Family: Mama’s Favorites Season 4 with six of the 25 episodes. “Mama on Jeopardy!” really does guest star Alex Trebek. You might be shocked to see the man with all the answers from 27 years ago. “Mama Goes to Hawaiian” is a two-parter that allows the family to enjoy Mama’s big prize from Jeopardy! This is much better than a friend who lost on Jeopardy! around this time and merely came home with a case of Rice-A-Roni. The family has plenty of adventures on the 50th state. Vinton gets mistaken for a Wall Street hustler. Mama gets eyed by a beach bum. The other three episodes are “Ziconia’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” “Educating Mama” and “Sins of the Mother.” This is a good collection for fans of Mama’s Family and Jeopardy!

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series was shot on video. The image is standard definition video. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are fine for when Mama hits her second level of speaking to Vinton.

Interviews include Jim Evering (Producer & Writer), Manny Basanese (Writer), Vicki Lawrence & Rick Hawkins (Executive Producer) and Bob Mackie and Ret Turner (Costume Design).

Mama’s Family: The Complete Sixth Season brings to an end a series that might have vaporized after its network run. Thanks to first run syndication, the series has never left the airwaves.

Time Life, Warner Home Entertainment and Star Vista Entertainment present Mama’s Family: The Complete Sixth Season. Starring: Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry and Dorothy Lyman. Boxset Contents: 20 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: February 10, 2015.

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