About a week ago: I had come to an understanding. If *if* I gave in and allowed myself to set up a series recording of Mama’s Family, I would only allow one episode to be saved. I wanted to avoid any drama with my roommate around my/our excessive awful program hoarding. I also didn’t want to see after one week that I had four episodes waiting to be watched. That would have made me feel bad about myself.
Today was one of those days where I woke up and was able to convince myself that the slight headache I had was worth staying home to nurse. I slept in, reread a few chapters in the exciting but math-y Fermat’s Enigma and then tidied up the homestead, did laundry, brewed some coffee, and tried to stay on top of our ant problem.
I prepared my afternoon lunch using the last of the lettuce, one of 12 cans of beans purchased after a memorial service last Sunday, and croûtons purchased near, but not close to the stinky cheese dept of Whole Foods. I also took with me a tiny mini half can of Diet Pepsi. (The half can: often the perfect amount of soda!) Now: to see if our DVR had collected anything worth watching: something about tall buildings maybe or something about calligraphy or making bridges or maybe something funny. Or maybe something totally awful but part of my soul? YES! MAYBE SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Hello Mama’s Family.
Have I seen every episode over the span of 32 years? Probably. Have I watched it in waves, starting when I was 13 and then in a cycle 12 years later? That is true. It was a little like having an old friend over for a bean, lettuce, crouton luncheon.
The episode description said “Mama For Mayor.” My memory showed me a wonderful media/political parody that left me with many questions as a young teen and would eventually be responsible for me working towards a masters degree in media studies in my 20s [not true].
As the credits rolled I was of course put into the MF mood by the amazing, honky tonk/polka-tinged theme song. All my friends were there to greet me! But soon I encountered the first of what I call “things about Mama’s Family that are kind of displeasing to me.” This was one of those earlier, pre-Bubba episodes that were produced during two years when the writers and cast tried to develop the sit-com we know, adore, and respect today. The fingerprint of MF was not yet a smudge on the bulletproof glass of America until Allan Kayser joined the show and displaced Brown/Argoud.
And then imagine my joy when it was revealed, in the now familiar picture frames indicating vital cast members, Rue McClanahan would be appearing. And what is that? SPECIAL GUEST STAR BETTY WHITE. It was more like an old friend, all my college friends that I had forgotten about and a past lover were all sharing in my lettuce-bean-crouton lunch with me. Just when I thought I could not handle any more “star power”, the co-director’s credit went to Harvey Corman. Of course my first reaction was “why couldn’t he be appearing in the episode?” but then I stopped myself for asking too much out of one episode. He co-called the shots on this: that would be more than enough.
As for the episode itself: Mama continued to rewrite comedy theorems. Watch this:
Mayor: (at a reelection press conference) And I’ve worked on the transportation [of Raytown proper] issue.
Mama: (to group of people she is handing hors’ dourves to) Yeah…he bought himself a new Cadillac!
Ahead of its time? For sure. A 100% perfect delivery from Vicki Lawrence? No doubt.
Then I got bored with watching TV so I vacuumed raisins off the floor.