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Mama's Family - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006 (Warner Home Video)
MSRP: $26.98
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 278 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: Closed Captioned; Spanish and French subtitles
Special Features: None


America's favorite blue-haired Mama--well unless you are like me and think Marge Simpson is better--is now on DVD! The Complete First Season of Mama's Family gives you all 13 episodes of the first season of the show on DVD--though in an edited manner. Watch Thelma Harper (Vicki Lawrence) deal with her nutty family, including her sister Fran (Rue McClanahan), son Vint (Ken Berry), and grandchildren Buzz (Eric Brown) and Sonya (Karen Argoud). And of course there is Mama's ever so annoying daughters Eunice (Carol Burnett) and Ellen (Betty White) always making frequent visits. Can Mama, who should be in her twilight years enjoying life alone without raising a family, survive in this nuthouse? Find out by watching these episodes!

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The first season of Mama's Family is very weird for one reason--no matter which way you go (watching the episodes in airdate order vs. production order), the sequencing of events is all wrong. You'll find that certain events take place in one episode and suddenly a few episodes later, you are back to a time before that major event happened (like planning to marry somebody seven episodes after you married the person that you were married to for practically the entire series). This set uses the airdate order, which to me, makes just as much sense as the production order does. They are both all out of order.

With that being said, the set begins with the episode "Vint and the Kids Move In," which I don't even think it is necessary to say what that episode is about--it is self-explanatory. Next, we have "For Better or For Worse," where Mama's next-door neighbor, Naomi (Dorothy Lyman) sees Vint for the first time in a while and realizes how sexy she always thought he was--and before you know it, they decide to spend the night together, under Mama's roof! And talk about quick relationships!!! Just one week later, Vint and Naomi get married in the wedding catastrophe two-parter, ""The Wedding." Richard Dawson guest stars on "Family Feud," where the family goes on the hit game show. Will they win or lose? In "Cellmates," Eunice causes a scene at a restaurant and causes herself and Mama to go to jail, where they meet up with a hooker that teaches them more about mother-daughter relationships than they ever knew themselves. John Sylvester-White (Welcome Back, Kotter) plays Mama's boss when she gets a job in "Mama Gets a Job." Mama has to iron Fran's dress for an important event in "Fran's Dress," but when she accidentally screws up and burns it, will Fran know that Mama replaced the old dress? In "Positive Thinking," Eunice decides to become a better woman instead of the annoying person she always has been, but will Mama cause her to go back to her old ways?


The package is basic but functional and practical for the set. The set is spanned over two discs, with 7 episodes on Disc 1 and 6 episodes on Disc 2. The set uses a typical Amaray style case, with a tray inside holding the second disc. On the front of the case, there is a standard cast photo--what more can one say about it? And the disc art is pretty basic too, with a picture of Mama on each disc. The set has a useful episode insert included too, with a description and original airdate for each episode on the set.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are basic and serve the function that one would expect. The main menu has a cast photo--the exact same one on the outer case—and has options for Play, Episodes, and Languages, all of which are self-explanatory. I have a huge problem with the main menu though. The music that plays on the menu is very annoying and out of place! It is some kind of New Orleans-style jazz... what does that have to do with Mama's Family??? As one would expect, selecting Play will play all of the episodes, selecting Episodes takes you to a list of episodes, and Languages allows you to turn on subtitles (Spanish and French, which I guess goes great with the New Orleans-style music on the main menu). And there are chapters placed throughout every episode; 5 to be exact (one after the opening credits, one at the beginning of each scene, and one at the beginning of the closing credits).

Video and Audio Quality:

The video and audio quality are acceptable, although it obviously looks somewhat dated. Black levels seemed to be a major issue with this set all throughout, as it often has been with this show in syndication. The show obviously has not been well preserved as it could have been. But what is even more obvious is this: Warner really, REALLY, blew it on this set. The episodes on this set are edited episodes--every single one of them. They all run at roughly 21:20-21:30, and without even thinking too hard, it is obvious what one of the missing elements is. At the beginning of each episode that aired in this season, there was a brief introduction from Harvey Korman as "Alastair Quince," who would basically introduce you to the episode. Well, those aren't there on the DVDs, so CLEARLY, the set is edited. As for what else is missing, there is no telling what, if anything, but one can reasonably assume something else is missing in this set.

Special Features:

They didn't do anything else right with this set, so to actually expect special features would be foolish. However, there are many nice things that they could have done. For instance, it would have been a nice touch to include the movie "Eunice" as a bonus item; this was (in a sense) the pilot for the show. Maybe some old skits from The Carol Burnett Show would have been nice. And of course, there is always the old standby, commentaries and interviews. What did Warner do though? Nothing. Shame on them. And while I'm on special features, does anybody have any clue what Eric Brown and Karen Argoud are up to these days???

Final Comments:

I honestly think that this set may be one of the biggest disappointments of the year, primarily due to the fact that Warner used syndicated episodes on this set. I had been looking forward to this set for quite some time, primarily because I was anxious to see unedited versions of this show for the first time ever, but I couldn't even get that. It isn't too often that I don't recommend a DVD set, but I can not honestly say that I do recommend this set. Instead, I'd recommend recording episodes off of i: Independent Television, which airs the show 5 nights a week in the same form as the episodes are presented on the DVDs. But if Warner does the right thing, and given the way that they have handled some botched releases before, I would say there is a chance, and decides to reissue the set as an unedited set, I'd say to get the set. But for now, your happy home would probably be just as well blessed if you don't buy this set.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/24/06

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