Mama’s Family The Complete First Season
Vicki Lawrence, Ken Berry, Dorothy Lyman
Guest appearances by Carol Burnett
Originally broadcast 1983
2 DVDs 13 episodes
Warner Home Video 2006

Mama’s Family is the spin-off situation comedy from the Carol Burnett Show where Vicki Lawrence (Mama) often upstaged Carol Burnett (daughter Eunice) in this redneck dysfunctional comic family you can get the first 13 episodes of in Mama’s Family The Complete First Season. In addition to Vicki Lawrence, Mama’s Family stars Betty White (of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls), Rue McClanahan (also of Golden Girls fame) and Ken Berry (F Troop) as members of Mama’s family.

The first episodes of Mama’s Family The Complete First Season do seem to have a bit of a problem getting away from the short skit format it was used to on the Carol Burnett Show but quickly finds its feet, as in episodes 3 and 4 where Vint (Ken Berry) marries neighbor Naomi (Dorothy Lyman). The hen party in the first part of this wedding special is a lot of fun as if the constant feuding between Eunice and her sisters in both episodes of a genuine redneck wedding.

A particularly enjoyable episode is Family Feud where Mama’s Family competes against the snooty Van Courtland family on Richard Dawson’s classic game show although Richard Dawson is certainly not as charming as he was on a regular show. Another good show with Carol Burnett is Cellmates where Eunice and Mama throw a redneck birthday party and end up in jail together and share a cell with a lady of the evening who ends up playing family advisor. The last episode on the first DVD in Mama’s Family The Complete First Season features John Sylvester White (of Welcome Back Kotter fame) as a travel agent who hires Mama for a very short time.

Raising two teenagers is not easy, especially when the teenagers (Eric Brown and Karin Argoud) and not really good actors. Still episode seven where the kids battle their father over curfew is not bad. An original and entertaining Mama’s Family episode is Mama’s Boyfriend where a former beau woos Mama.

Mama’s Family, as seen in The Complete First Season two DVD set is perhaps not always brilliantly scripted but there are some fine comedy moments with perfect timing such as the scene in Fran’s Dress where Aunt Fran (Rue McClanahan) and Mama have an argument about responsibility. Still, there is one brilliant episode, Positive Thinking, guest starring Carol Burnett, where Eunice really tries to follow the advice of a positive thinking tape through thick and thin, Mama and family, and life in general.


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