Mama’s Family: The Complete First Season

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Ms. Thelma Harper (Vicki Lawrence), better known as Mama, has raised her offspring, but she is about to have a child at home once again. Her son Vinton (Ken Berry) has just been divorced by his wife and in the wake of his loss, he moves back in with Mama. He isn’t alone however, as he also brings his son Buzz and daughter Sonja, so Mama’s house is full of life once again. But Mama isn’t thrilled with this turn of events, as her grandchildren are not well behaved and Vinton seems to have no direction in his life. She won’t put up with trouble and doesn’t hesitate to dispense with harsh words when she deems it needed. As if the new arrivals weren’t enough, Vinton soon remarries, but he doesn’t move out of Mama’s house. Of course, he chooses a bride that Mama doesn’t approve in, a woman named Naomi (Dorothy Lyman), who owns quite the bad reputation. To say Mama now has a full house is a huge understatement, but she presses on. Can Mama keep her household in order despite these recent events, or is she bound to kick some folks out sooner or later?

I want to open this review by letting fans know, Warner has chosen to release the syndicated versions of these episodes, which means minutes of content have been removed. According to Warner, they don’t own the rights to those uncut episodes, but even so, fans are sure to be disappointed. That aside, Mama’s Family is an old school show, with a staged feel and basic approach. The show doesn’t aim for atmosphere or realism, with a young Vicki Lawrence in the lead as an old woman, not to mention the simple backdrops and laid back style of the actors and writers. This just supposed to entertain on a simple level, no in depth exposition or hidden commentary, just jokes for the sake of jokes. This simplistic style isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but the show has a lot of humor to offer, if you can appreciate the design. Lawrence is quite good as Mama and while it is so obvious she isn’t an old woman, she plays it to the hilt. The rest of the cast falls in line behind her, including the always great Betty White, who plays Lawrence’s daughter here. The comedy is simple, as I said, but universal in substance, as we all have families and can relate to the material on some level. This isn’t side splittingly hilarious or non stop laughs, but Mama’s Family is a solid, old school sitcom. Warner hasn’t done much with this first season release however, so even fans might hesitate to lay down the cash.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. These episodes look about as good as an early ’80s television show can. The prints have some grain and debris, but when compared to reruns, these episodes look terrific. I found colors to look solid and suffer from only slight fading, while contrast is sharp and shows no age related troubles. I do think the image is a little soft thanks to the years behind this series, but the visuals still look very good in this edition. A few episodes look more worn than others, but most look more than solid. By the same token, a few look almost pristine and of course, make you wish all of them looked as good. All things considered, a more than acceptable visual treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included soundtrack ensures these episodes sound much like they would have on television, which is about all you can ask from this release. The sound effects & music come through well here, no age related issues surface and I was pleased with the overall clarity involved. I had no problems with the dialogue either, as vocals were smooth & crisp at all times. This release also includes Spanish and French subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release includes no bonus materials.

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