There are few shows that stand the test of time. In the television landscape, sitcoms come and go, but the few that last the test of time become classics. One of those shows is Mama’s Family starring Vicki Lawrence. The series has been constantly on in my house no matter what time it is, or… how old I was.
It’s funny, television, much like music can immediately take you back in time to a different era and stir up tons of memories. I can remember watching Mama’s Family with my grandmother back in the day and when the series was in first run syndication. The memories we had watching the series cannot be replaced.
Vicki Lawrence starred in Mama’s Family, which originated as part of the “Family” sketches on the Carol Burnett Show. The series originally premiered on NBC in 1983 and was short lived, ending it’s first run in 1984 after two seasons. This incarnation of the series also starred Rue McClanahan as Mama’s spinster sister and Mama’s son Vinton (Ken Berry) who recently was left by his wife with their two children. Betty White, Harvey Korman and Carol Burnett were all recurring characters on the series reprising their roles from the “Family” sketches.
Watching these older episodes is such a treat because a lot of them have not been shown that often in syndication. Now, you can catch up with everything because The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection is coming out this week. It features selections of “Mama’s Favorites” from each season hand picked from Mama herself, Vicki Lawrence! I think if anyone knows which episodes are the standout’s it’s her!
Once the series was cancelled, something really rare happened, the show was resurrected to start original episodes in first run syndication. At that time, a lot of networks had air time to fill before the prime time programming, and as a way of keeping people engaged, stations would syndicate first run series, like Small Wonder, Out of This World, and She’s the Sheriff. Mama’s Family was included in that bunch and was slightly retooled.
The only original cast members to come back were Lawrence, Berry and Dorothy Lyman who played frisky neighbor Naomi who would eventually marry Vinton and move into the basement. Vinton’s two kids were mentioned briefly and then never spoke of again, instead joining the cast were Beverly Archer as Mama’s best friend Iola and Allan Kayser as Bubba who was Mama’s grandson.
This incarnation is probably what fans remember the best and certainly lasted longer in my mind. The cast was top notch, who can forget Iola’s catchphrase, “Knock Knock” when she entered a room. It was great to re-watch these episodes again and relive them.
What’s also great about this set in particular is the fact that each episode was hand picked to be a part of it. That’s really nice because while I may have my favorite episodes, knowing that these are Vicki Lawrence’s favorite episodes makes them even more special. Plus, it’s nice to see which ones we would have both picked, such as The Wedding parts one and two from season one or The Big Nap from season six. All in all there are 37 episodes on this set, and they are all hysterical.
I think you could have guessed by now what a huge fan of this show I am and I’m telling you this set is awesome. If you were a hard core fan of the series Mama’s Family or just a casual fan, this is the perfect set for you. I can’t recommend it enough!
The Mama’s Family Favorites Collection is out now on DVD!