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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RATING: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 278 minutes
The standard family sitcom with the added bonus of granny sass.
Vicki Lawrence, Ken Barry, Rue McClanahan, Carol Burnett, Dorothy Lyman
She should have listened to Indy when he said to keep her eyes closed.
Thelma Harper is the matriarch to a family of buffoons. (Why couldn’t it have been baboons? Now that would have been a show.) She enjoys a calm lifestyle with her sister, Fran. Things take a turn for the situational when her divorced son Vinton moves back into the house bringing along his worthless children, Buzz and Sonja. If that didn’t create enough comedic opportunities, Thelma’s other children, Ellen and Eunice, stop by occasionally to add to the bunching of the granny panties.
The success of Mama’s Family hangs on the conceit that a 34 year-old in a grey wig is a believable grandmother. Not surprisingly, the show is for the most part unsuccessful. Maybe I’m dead inside, but my imagination could never let me believe that Vicki Lawrence was an old lady. I kept wondering if an older actress could have sued the production under the guise of age discrimination.
Unconvincing premise or not, there are a lot of good performances on this show. Most of the characters are very one dimensional, but each actor gives the material a boost. Sure, Vinton is a guilible idiot. That doesn’t stop Barry from giving the character a few extra layers through his mannerisms and interactions with the other actors. The scenes between Lawrence and Burnett work the best. The two developed a strong sense of comedic timing during their previous work on The Carol Burnett Show, and it shows here. The best episodes feature Burnett’s character Eunice. The only two actors that don’t elevate the material are Eric Brown and Karin Argoud as Buzz and Sonja. They bring nothing to show except painful line reading. That’s probably why both characters disappeared after three years.
Betty White’s Go audition tape was both disturbing and alluring at the same time.
There might have been a point when this series was funny. Time hasn’t been too kind on these episodes. Most of the jokes are dated and unfunny. Blame can’t be placed on the actors, though. As is the case with most sitcoms, a pattern develops in the storytelling. Somebody makes Mama angry, she starts yelling loudly, things are comfortably resolved, then another character makes a remark to get Mama yelling again just in time for the credits. It’s comedy gold! Why? The laugh track says it’s so!
It should be mentioned that the episodes featured on this disc are the edited syndicated episodes. Thanks to the angry fans on Amazon for getting the word out. Maybe one day you’ll reach your dream of working for Consumer Reports. By not including the unedited versions, each episode is missing three to four minutes. Forty minutes of my time was saved because of this and has been reflected positively on the final score.
Subtitles por favor. Merci.
She enjoyed a warm cup of joe with her morning exorcism.