Time Life, Star Vista Score Another Hit With Mama’s Family Season Two

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

The second season of the hit classic sitcom Mama’s Family is one more wonderful addition to the home library of this show’s fans.  While it might have been edgy for its day during its original television broadcasts, it still had its own comic value.  In comparison to the fare being offered to today’s audiences, it is just as valuable for that same reason.  Season Two offers audiences just as many laughs as the show’s first season thanks to its writing staff.  Audiences see Thelma get a job working alongside Naomi in what is one of the season’s best episodes.  Fans also get in the season premiere, one of the most relatable of storylines when Thelma teaches Buzz and Sonja about the “good old days.”  And Thelma’s “help” with Fran’s advice column hits some hilarious highs, too.  These are just a few of the great episodes offered up in Season Two.  And they’re just part of what fans will appreciate in this season’s box set, too.  Fans will also appreciate the StarVista and Time Life Entertainment have included a bonus booklet with the set.  The booklet in question offers viewers a brief yet thorough synopsis of each episode contained on the set’s four discs.  Completing Season Two is the inclusion of the original TV movie Eunice that would eventually lead to the creation of Mama’s Family after The Carol Burnett Show ended.  These aspects and much more make Mama’s Family Season Two all the more worth adding to any fan’s home library.

Mama’s Family Season Two offers up to fans twenty-one complete episodes.  One of those episodes, “Mama for Mayor” is actually split into two separate episodes, bringing the grand total to twenty-two episodes.  What audiences will appreciate most of all from these episodes is that unlike the previous release of Mama’s Family in 2006, these episodes (as well as those in the release of Season One) include the famed introductions by Alastair Quince (Harvey Korman).  These introductions were allegedly not included in the show’s previous release in 2006.  They are a welcome addition to the whole presentation.  It’s one more part of the show’s writing that made it so fun.  Of course, the writing behind the episodes themselves will definitely entertain audiences, too.  One of the best examples of that writing is in the episode “Supermarket.”  This episode sees Thelma being forced to work alongside Naomi when she takes a job as a customer consultant at her local grocery store.  The rivalry between the two women reaches comedic heights as the pair go toe-to-toe.  In another of this season’s best moments, Thelma takes Buzz and Sonja on a trip back to the “good old days” when she sees what had become of youth culture in the world at that time.  Every generation can relate to this laugh riot episode.  And of course, Thelma’s biting commentary comes into hilarious play when she helps Fran with her advice column.  This is an episode that will leave any true comedy lover laughing tears of joy.  And it serves as one more example of how solid the show’s writing was and still is today in comparison to today’s sitcoms.

The writing staff on Mama’s Family did a top notch job writing the episodes for the show’s second season.  There are more laughs throughout this season than can be noted in one sitting.  Audiences will just have to take them all in when they order this set themselves.  When they order this set, they’ll find that the laughs aren’t all to appreciate.  Along with such solid writing, fans of the show will appreciate the Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista have included EuniceEunice was the TV movie that would eventually lead to the creation of Mama’s Family after The Carol Burnett Show’s end.  Being that Mama’s Family only lasted roughly two seasons in its original run, this inclusion is a big bonus for the show’s original fans.  It brings everything full circle and makes this season even more of a full experience for those looking to get back to a better brand of comedy.

The writing behind each of the show’s episodes in Season Two and the inclusion of Eunice offer viewers so much to appreciate.  But Time Life and Star Vista didn’t stop there.  Just as with the show’s first season, a bonus episode guide was included with the set.  The guide offers a brief yet concise synopsis on each the season’s episodes.  Many audiences take episode guides in box sets for granted.  But there are a lot of box sets released even today that don’t offer episode guides.  The inclusion of this little, but important bonus helps tie everything together.  It gives viewers the chance to know the plot of each episode, and thus make a decision which episode(s) to watch.  In turn, it helps audiences make a fully informed decision on which episode(s) they want to watch.  The resultant effect is even more appreciation of the show’s writing and of the set’s overall presentation.  This season is available now along with the show’s first season, and can be ordered direct online via the Time Life Entertainment website at http://timelife.com/products/mama-s-family-seasons-one-two.  More information on this and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment is available online at http://timelife.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Time Life, StarVista Deserve Applause For Mama’s Family Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Time Life/StarVista/Warner Home Video

Television today is a pale shadow of what it once was.  It used to have so much heart and substance.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Both the heart and substance were thrown out the window in favor of programming overly laden with sex and violence.  Thankfully StarVista, Time Life and Warner Home Video have officially released another nugget of television’s past in the form of Mama’s Family Season 1 that reminds audiences of what once made television great.  The first season of this spinoff from The Carol Burnett Show is front loaded with so many laughs that even audiences not familiar with the iconic comedy will agree it’s a welcome re-issue.  It also boasts some wonderful acting on the part of star Vicky Lawrence and her co-stars.  On a more extrinsic level, audiences will appreciate Season One’s packaging.  The packaging for the discs is right along the lines of most other companies.  All things considered, Mama’s Family Season One proves in its new re-issue to be just as fun as it has ever been.  It is a highly recommended piece for anyone looking for a change of pace from what TV studios offer today.

The debut season of Mama’s Family is the funniest of the show’s six total seasons.  It offered some of the greatest writing of any sitcom of the twentieth century.  It was completely unlike anything else on the air at the time.  It took the classic nuclear family setup from older family based sitcoms and completely turned it on its ear.  Even more interesting, it did so without being too racy or edgy.  By comparison to today’s programming, that speaks volumes for this sitcom.  Mama’s Family walked a very fine line even during the 80s.  But it never crossed that line.  It’s just part of the writing that made (and still makes) it such a cult hit.  Season One also offered its share of pure laughs.  A prime example of that lies in an episode that sees Thelma and company make an appearance on the hit game show, Family Feud.  Then host Richard Dawson was even on hand for the laugh riot episode.  This was such a funny episode in that it took that dysfunctional family element and took it outside the walls of Thelma’s house into a wholly new environment.  The result is one of the funniest episodes of Season One and of the entire series.

The writing behind Mama’s Family made this sitcom unlike anything else on television at the time.  It continues to do so today.  But what is good writing without a cast to bring the scripts to life?  Luckily, the cast that made “The Family” a hit on The Carol Burnett Show were also the cast here in Season One of Mama’s Family.  It would have been so easy to replace any of the core cast with new actors for the series.  Luckily that didn’t happen.  In turn, the chemistry developed among the original cast members was allowed to develop here.  It was obvious just how much chemistry the cast had, too.  This is especially the case between Burnett and Lawrence.  Audiences will be laughing nonstop as they watch the pair argue so convincingly as if they really were mother and daughter.  The episode, “Cellmates” is proof of that.  When the pair end up in jail together, it leads to one of the funniest moments between the pair in Season One.  The occasional appearances of Betty White and Rue McClanahan as Fran and Ellen added their own extra comic element, too.  Ironically enough, the pair would go on to star together in The Golden Girls only a couple years later.  That aside, the acting of both women and the rest of the show’s cast in Season One proves to be one more reason that any true fan of comedy should watch at least this season.

Writing and acting are obviously the most important part of any television program’s success.  Both elements have made Mama’s Family a huge success even roughly three decades after it first premiered.  There is one more piece of the puzzle to examine in what makes  the newly re-issued first season of Mama’s Family a success.  That piece to the puzzle is its packaging.  Season One’s packaging follows the standard used so commonly today for multi-disc box sets.  Two of the set’s three discs are placed on either side of a plastic “insert” while the third is placed in its own spot on the back side of the case.  This standard packaging format helps to protect the integrity of the discs.  It also is more ergonomic.  Packaging usually doesn’t get much credit for DVD and blu-ray sets.  But it really is an important part of any release’s full presentation.  And in this case, it’s the icing on the cake of a much welcomed and needed blast from the past that is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered along with the larger complete set online at http://timelife.com/products/mama-s-family-the-complete-series.

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New Carol Burnett Show Re-Issue A Great Piece of TV Nostalgia

Courtesy: Time Life/Star Vista

Television today is largely anything but family friendly.  As Peter and Lois Griffin joke in the opening to Seth McFarlane’s hit cartoon, Family Guy, “all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.”  While that line is meant entirely in a tongue-in-cheek manner, there’s a certain modicum of truth to it in today’s television culture.  Thank goodness for companies such as Time Life.  Time Life officially released yesterday what is one of the greatest sketch comedy/variety programs of all time and one of the greatest family friendly programs in television history in The Carol Burnett Show.

Time Life released “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” yesterday.  The six-disc compilation contains seventeen episodes considered among the “best” of the show’s roughly eleven year run on CBS.  The episodes compiled for this new set leave no doubt that Burnett’s show was one of the influences behind NBC’s Saturday Night Live.  The sketches from this show clearly hint at the bits that would come from the latter.  The Carol Burnett Show even spawned a little show called “Mama’s Family” that would last a total of six seasons on television.  Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, has tried multiple times to spin off its sketches to both the big and small screen with little success.  That goes to show the importance and staying power of The Carol Burnett Show to this day.  It’s even been spoofed by a number of television shows that have come since.  And after all, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

“The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is a wonderful collection for those who are unable to pick up the complete twenty-two disc collection.  That collection was released yesterday alongside this compilation.  It contains every episode from the show’s run.  Among some of the best episodes included in the six-disc “Carol’s Favorites” are the ones that include the hilarious skit, “The Family.”  That skit was the precursor to Vicki Lawrence’s hit TV sitcom, “Mama’s Family.”  Fans of “Mama’s Family” will be happy to know that on this set is the very first episode of “The Family.”  Guest star Roddy McDowall even gets his own role in the skit.  McDowall is just one of a bevy of guest stars to make appearances on the show.  Also appearing on the show in this compilation are the likes of:  Joan Rivers, Johnny Cash, The Jackson 5, Steve Martin, Betty White, Vincent Price and loads more.

From the original skits to the guest stars, The Carol Burnett Show offered so much great entertainment for the entire family.  That’s not all that makes this set such a great addition to the library of any classic television fan.  The set’s packaging is another bonus.  While the box may seem slightly bulky, the packaging for the discs themselves is very impressive.  Three inserts hold all six discs inside the box.  Each disc has its own spot on the inserts, thus protecting them and increasing their longevity.  This may come across as something minor.  But the longer the discs last, the more families will get to enjoy this TV classic.

The packaging goes a long way to making “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” a joy for families and fans alike.  But one would be remiss to ignore the most obvious factor of this set that makes it such a joy.  That factor would be the footage itself.  There are those who would speak badly of the footage quality.  But as with so many shows from that era, watching it from its original airing recordings is like listening to an original classic jazz song on vinyl.  The static on those old original vinyls creates a certain sense of nostalgia.  In the same vein, seeing this show as it originally aired will bring back that sense of nostalgia, too.  Trying to enhance it would only decrease that sense of nostalgia.  So kudos to Time life for keeping it how it was. 

There are shows that deserve to be resurrected on DVD and blu-ray.  And then there are those that are better left dead.  The Carol Burnett Show is one of those shows that belong in the prior category.  Despite what some critics may have to say, this newest reintroduction of this classic show is quite welcome.  Now a whole new generation can experience what is an example of television with real heart.  “The Carol Burnett Show:  Carol’s Favorites” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Time Life’s website, http://timelife.com.

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