Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment
Mama’s Family is one of the sharpest comedies to ever grace any of the television world’s major networks. It can justifiably be said that if not for Mama’s Family, there would likely be no Roseanne. Either that or Roseanne might not have come along until much later than it did. It was Vicky Lawrence’s character of Thelma who paved the way not only for Roseanne Barr, but many other comediennes that would follow in her footsteps for years to come. Originally released in 2006, StarVista Entertainment obtained the distribution rights to the series some years ago and started re-issuing the series in 2013. Now almost two years after StarVista Entertainment re-issued the first of the series’ seasons that run has finally come to an end with the release of its sixth and final season last month. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Mama’s Family, every viewer will agree in watching this final season that even twenty-five years after the last episode aired, the series is still just as entertaining today as it was in its first run so long ago. The main reason that it remains so entertaining to this day is its writing. The writers crafted stories that were laugh riots both for themselves and for the sharp, witty one-liners tossed into the dialogue. The execution of those stories and one-liners by the show’s cast adds even more enjoyment to the show’s final season. In other words, the work of the show’s cast in interpreting the writers’ work adds even more to the overall enjoyment of these episodes. Last but not least of all worth noting of this set is the bonus material included in Season Six’s triple-disc box set. This includes both the set’s companion booklet and it’s bonus interviews with the show’s cast and crew. Each element by itself proves the sixth season of Mama’s Family to be a fitting finale for what is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th century. It is also one more welcome addition to the collection of any classic TV fan and any Mama’s Family fan, too.
The sixth and final season of Mama’s Family is a fitting finale for what is not just itself a great sitcom, but also one of the greatest sitcoms of the 20th Century. As with its first five seasons, it proves this yet again thanks to the efforts of the show’s writers. The writers crafted in the sixth season of Mama’s Family twenty-one episodes that are just as ripe with laughs as any of the episodes from the series’ first five seasons. They are so funny both because of the premises of the stories themselves and for the jokes incorporated into each story. For example, in “An Affair to Forget,” Thelma suspects Vinton of cheating on Naomi with his new trainee Heather. The result sees Thelma and Iola end up spying on him only to find out that Naomi and Heather are actually good friends and that nothing was going on between Heather and Vinton after all. Of course they have to save face, so they get out of dodge real fast so to speak. Their reactions throughout the entire story right up to that final moment are a laugh riot. The writers’ sharp, witty commentary about the role of men and women in society in “Mr. Wrong” will have audiences laughing just as hysterically. When Iola’s boyfriend Bert introduces himself to Thelma’s family, his sexist mindset comes out, forcing Thelma’s tongue and her hand. She compares Bert to Pee-wee Herman when Iola says Bert is humorous and outgoing. Thelma shoots back that so is Pee-wee Herman, but she wouldn’t date him. Then she goes on to call Bert a liar, a blowhard, and a pig, to which Iola responds, “alright. So he’s not perfect.” This back and forth is a moment that will have both men and women alike laughing. Ironically enough even today there are still men like Bert. That’s what makes Thelma’s commentary so funny. The related jokes about her grandson trying to find love through a “romance line” will have audiences laughing just as much. And even the dream sequence that makes up “The Big Nap” will please any classic crime films and TV shows. Seeing Lawrence dressed up as an old-time detective is itself funny. The use of the sepiatone effect for the dream sequence and the acting on the part of the cast shows just how much fun everybody had making this episode. The episode’s story, which centers on a handful of recipes, is so funny in itself that one can’t help but watch and see what happens. It’s one more example of how the work of the writers behind Mama’s Family managed to so easily keep this sitcom such a laugh riot for so long. Now with the re-issue of the series’ final season, its original fans and possibly even a whole new generation of fans will see this for themselves. With any luck, in seeing this, it will turn audiences of all ages away from all the serials out there today and back to the joy that is another wonderful classic sitcom.
The work of the writers behind Mama’s Family proves to be just as entertaining in the series’ sixth season as in its first as has been evidenced already. Thelma’s jokes and biting social commentary are just as relevant and laugh-inciting today as they were in the series’ original run so long ago. While the writers are to be commended just as much today as they were then, the cast is to be commended, too. Vicky Lawrence’s timing is spot on from one episode to the next. It is almost as rapid fire as Groucho Marx with the same sharp wit as Carol O’Connor in his days on All in the Family. Ken Berry’s Vinton remains the perfect comic relief. And straightwoman Iola plays off of Lawrence’s Thelma just as well. The pairing of the two creates its own share of laughs from the season premiere to its finale. Interestingly enough, Beverly Archer plays the role so well that one can’t help but feel kind of sorry for Iola. That’s because Archer makes her such a simpleton yet someone who has a good heart. It makes her a great contrast to Thelma’s much more quick-witted personality. And it really plays on the old adage that opposites attract, which is why the pair works so well on-screen especially in Carol Burnett’s departure from the show. Even Dorothy Lyman adds her own comic element to the show as Vinton’s ditzy wife Naomi. She is especially entertaining because even today, every viewer knows somebody like her. Those same sorts still exist today. And they are quite like her. In many cases, actors whose series have been on air so long have a tendency to phone it in so to speak and just go on cruise control. But the cast of Mama’s Family is one cast that maintained its professionalism right to the end. The end result is one more season that shows exactly why Mama’s Family remains in its sixth season just as entertaining as any of today’s current offerings if not more so. And it is one more reason that anyone looking for real comedy with heart and soul should add this season of Mama’s Family to their own home DVD collection.
Bot the work of the writers and the cast of Mama’s Family proves just as solid in this the series’ final season as its debut season only years before. Both are equally important to the overall enjoyment and success of the set. But they aren’t all to be considered. The companion interviews and booklet included with Mama’s Family Season Six rightfully lives up to the title of bonus material. It rounds out the elements that make this season so enjoyable and such a success. The companion booklet offers a short but concise look at some of the season’s highlights courtesy of freelance writer Andrew Whitenack. The booklet also offers a full episode list for each of the set’s three discs. The bonus interviews offer just as many laughs as the episodes themselves and just as much insight into the show. Vicky Lawrence sits down with Writer/EP Rick Hawkins for discussions on the show’s guest stars, the addictive nature of the show, working with Harvey Korman and so many other topics. Jim Evering discusses working on both The Carol Burnett Show and Mama’s Family. And writer Manny Basanese offers up his own thoughts on the show, too. He notes that he came on in the last season. Considering how young Basanese looks, such a comment coupled with the fact that he notes he watched the series himself before coming on means he had to have been pretty young when he watched it. That in itself is a bold statement. Despite some of the show’s language and topics even six seasons in, it shows how much the show appealed to younger audiences even in its original run. It’s a subtle yet bold statement. And it’s yet more proof of why the bonus material included in the sixth season of Mama’s Family makes this box set so enjoyable and the set in whole such a success.
The bonus material included in the sixth season of Mama’s Family proves in its own way why this final box set is such a joy for anyone looking to break away from the monotony of television’s current offerings. The laughs and insights offered through the both the companion booklet and the bonus interviews will have audiences laughing just as much as with the episodes themselves. Speaking of the episodes, the combined work of the show’s writers and its cast six seasons in will have audiences laughing till they cry tears of joy. This is quite the statement especially when these episodes are compared to television’s current bland offerings. The combination of all three elements together shows clearly why the sixth season of Mama’s Family is a must have for any classic TV fan and a must have for anyone looking to escape the monotony of all the crime dramas, medical procedurals, and serials currently polluting the television spectrum today. Mama’s Family Season Six is available in stores and online now. More information on this and other titles available from StarVista Entertainment is available online at:
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