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  1. #1
    Fighting Injustice on CBR SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Default The Different Universes of Mama's Family.

    Its rare a show has such different Universes and exists in 3 different worlds in a way. Usually a show moves a network and there are changes or during a shows run (like Happy Days , Family Matters) that make changes in Universe as a soft reboot at removing characters like they never existed. But there is a show that completely changed universes 3 times it appears.




    Back in 1967 , Carol Burnett introduced the sketch variety show "Carol Burnett Show" which would go on to run 11 seasons and become one of the longest running variety shows of the 1970's. Even with its final season and ratings so low , CBS was very loyal to Carol Burnett and the impact she had created on the network and TV industry. They wanted a 12th season but by then Burnett was burned out of doing a weekly series and decided against another season.

    During the mid 1970's cast member Vicki Lawrence would do a character that she would be identified with her entire life. As "Thelma Harper" she emerged in the sketches called "My Family" where as Mama she would at times cut down her own children. The children in these numerous sketches were slowly introduced and this Universe we will call...

    Mama's Family : The Carol Burnett Universe -

    In this universe Mama Harper is still alive in the mid/late 1970's and a widow. Her husband Carl had died years earlier and its revealed he died on the toilet. Mama is more mean in this universe and will constantly berate and put her daughter Eunice and son-in-law Ed Higgins down. There is very little good to Mama in this Universe as she cuts down her children quick with little reward at times.

    Thelma in the CB Universe has 5 children. Larry an artist and graphic designer (Alan Alda) , Phillip a writer and film producer in LA (Roddy McDowell) , and Jack a local hardware store worker (Tommy Smothers). Ellen (Betty White) and Eunice (Carol Burnett) completed the family. Through the sketches each son is put down for their career and direction in life they have done while only Ellen is spared this anger. As she is considered the good child.

    As time passes in the CB Universe ; Thelma Harper grows older and has to live with her daughter she constantly puts down in Eunice and her husband Ed. This puts a strain on things as by the end of the CB Universe run Ed Higgins has finally divorced and left Eunice (Harvey Korman who played Ed had left the series and they wrote his character out).

    Eunice (played by Carol Burnett) was a sad character who once dreamed of being a big actress among other dreams ; married dim witted Ed after high school and quickly had 2 children. Billy Ray Higgins and Bubba Ray Higgins. Both are never seen but Bubba its claimed is a troubled child in school growing up. Jack its claimed has a wife that is possibly cheating and has 2 children (not named).






    Mama's Family : The Eunice Universe -


    This Universe was introduced a couple years after Carol Burnett & Company (a summer series that continued the CB Universe version and ended it in 1979) arrived in 1982. This one shot TV movie introduced a whole new Universe and a number of changes happened.

    Thelma Harper was still a widow who lost her husband Carl a few years after 1955. She was now the mother of 3 children : Phillip (played by Ken Berry) who was a successful writer and later film producer , Ellen and Eunice. Nothing changed for the other characters at all as the years passed in the TV movie.

    Phillip would leave for NYC to work as a writer , much to Mama's anger at this and trying to stop him. Eunice had big dreams of being an actress but settled and married dim witted Ed Higgins out of high school. They had 2 children Billy and Bubba. Later its revealed Bubba would run off as Phillip would help Eunice pay for a detective to try and find him. Also Ed would leave her like the CB Universe.

    Thelma Harper in this Universe was still angry and would cut her children down. But she also had moments of kindness as she wanted to help her grand son come home . Also at the end of the Eunice Universe version Mama Harper dies. As her children unite after her funeral at her house at the end.




    Mama's Family : Modern Universe

    In this Universe introduced after the successful TV Movie , NBC rebooted everything. This was the biggest reboot of the entire concept.

    Thelma Harper was a widow who lost her husband after he died in bathroom years earlier. She had 3 children : Vinton (A local hardware/locksmith) , Ellen and Eunice. Living with Thelma in this new Universe was her sister Fran (Rue McClanahan) a would be writer. Fran its hinted never married and had moved in after Carl's death to help her sister.

    Another change is Phillip is removed from the Modern Universe completely as well as Jack and Larry. Vinton is the only son and has 2 children Buzz and Sonja. All 3 were allowed to move in as Vinton's wife had left him. Leaving them homeless so Thelma who loved her son and grand kids allowed this. Much to her sisters dismay.

    Speaking of Thelma Harper ; her character now was a sarcastic old lady who was tough but had her loving moments. She practiced tough love for her children and grand kids. But gone was the mean old lady completely from the CB Universe. The Modern era Mama Harper ruled the roost and let her children know if something she didn't like. But showed she cared for them.

    Eunice and Ed had one child now as well. Gone was Billy , instead Bubba Ray was mentioned as their only son and a troubled child. This was the 1st of the Modern Universe that NBC introduced in 1982. There would be no more changes to this universe beyond the small reboot that happened a few years later. Where Bubba Higgins was introduced on TV and Thelma's younger best friend Iola Bolin. With Buzz and Sonja moving away to live with their mother.



    But over all the series had 3 distinct Universes that had changes like a comic book universe as time happened.


    CB Universe
    Eunice Universe
    Modern Universe
    "The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged in our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible." - Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.

  2. #2
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    I watched Mama's Family, the tv show, through it's entire run. It was a cute, enjoyable show but nothing to write home about. How fortunate we were that NBC cancelled it just in time for Betty White and Rue McClanahan to jump over to The Golden Girls. The syndicated version with Bubba and Iola was again cute but nothing great.

    For me, The Carol Burnett Show version is the only one I genuinely loved and consider to be the true Higgins/Harper characters. Carol Burnett always notes that this is one of her favorite skits of her show and that it wasn't 'joke driven' but 'character driven'. Eunice, Ed, and Thelma were three people who probably never should've been around each other for very long but because of their circumstances, were constantly in each other's orbit. And while very cruel and sad, you have to admit it was comedy gold.

    This was a very interesting post by the OP to show the differences in each universe. One sad note was that Carol and Harvey appeared in the NBC season of Mama's Family but Carol became upset with Vicki Lawrence when she agreed to do the syndicated version of the show with Carol's husband Joe Hamilton (who Carol was divorcing). Lawrence said that Carol saw it as being disloyal and didn't speak to Lawrence for a few years after that. But luckily, they mended fences some time later.

    From Wikipedia:

    Vicki Lawrence: A funny thing happened the day I signed with Lorimar. Carol called and said, 'I think I'd like to put together maybe a little syndicated show with the family characters. I'll do Eunice, you do Mama. Doesn't that sound like fun?' I said, 'It does, but I just signed with Lorimar to do Mama's Family for Joe.' It became a very abrupt conversation, and Carol hung up. I then went to Al (Vicki's husband) and asked him what he made of the whole thing. He agreed it was really weird. I wondered if I was about to get caught in the middle of yet another struggle between the two of them . . . During her divorce, Carol and I went through a 'cool' period. She 'divorced' everyone and remained distant for a lot of years. She called the house a few years ago. I was standing at the sink peeling carrots, fifteen feet from the phone, but Garrett (Vicki's son) got to it first and I only heard his half of the following conversation: 'Hello? Oh hi. Yeah, sure, he's in the other room, on the other line. You want me to tell him you're calling? My mom's here, you want to talk to her? No? Okay. Goodbye.' When he hung up I asked him who it was. 'Carol Burnett.' I was shocked. 'What did she say?' 'She didn't want to talk to you. She only wanted to talk to Dad.' Al called her back later that night, made a point of telling her how much we missed and loved her, and she told him, 'I'll be back. It's just going to take a while longer. Give me another year or so."

  3. #3
    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caj View Post
    I watched Mama's Family, the tv show, through it's entire run. It was a cute, enjoyable show but nothing to write home about. How fortunate we were that NBC cancelled it just in time for Betty White and Rue McClanahan to jump over to The Golden Girls. The syndicated version with Bubba and Iola was again cute but nothing great.

    For me, The Carol Burnett Show version is the only one I genuinely loved and consider to be the true Higgins/Harper characters. Carol Burnett always notes that this is one of her favorite skits of her show and that it wasn't 'joke driven' but 'character driven'. Eunice, Ed, and Thelma were three people who probably never should've been around each other for very long but because of their circumstances, were constantly in each other's orbit. And while very cruel and sad, you have to admit it was comedy gold.

    This was a very interesting post by the OP to show the differences in each universe. One sad note was that Carol and Harvey appeared in the NBC season of Mama's Family but Carol became upset with Vicki Lawrence when she agreed to do the syndicated version of the show with Carol's husband Joe Hamilton (who Carol was divorcing). Lawrence said that Carol saw it as being disloyal and didn't speak to Lawrence for a few years after that. But luckily, they mended fences some time later.

    From Wikipedia:

    Vicki Lawrence: A funny thing happened the day I signed with Lorimar. Carol called and saiy annoyed d, 'I think I'd like to put together maybe a little syndicated show with the family characters. I'll do Eunice, you do Mama. Doesn't that sound like fun?' I said, 'It does, but I just signed with Lorimar to do Mama's Family for Joe.' It became a very abrupt conversation, and Carol hung up. I then went to Al (Vicki's husband) and asked him what he made of the whole thing. He agreed it was really weird. I wondered if I was about to get caught in the middle of yet another struggle between the two of them . . . During her divorce, Carol and I went through a 'cool' period. She 'divorced' everyone and remained distant for a lot of years. She called the house a few years ago. I was standing at the sink peeling carrots, fifteen feet from the phone, but Garrett (Vicki's son) got to it first and I only heard his half of the following conversation: 'Hello? Oh hi. Yeah, sure, he's in the other room, on the other line. You want me to tell him you're calling? My mom's here, you want to talk to her? No? Okay. Goodbye.' When he hung upnd I asked him who it was. 'Carol Burnett.' I was shocked. 'What did she say?' 'She didn't want to talk to you. She only wanted to talk to Dad.' Al called her back later that night, made a point of telling her how much we missed and loved her, and she told him, 'I'll be back. It's just going to take a while longer. Give me another year or so."
    Yeah, I had read something similar, with Carol and crew seemingly annoyed that Vickey got the offer. The Carol crew cut off from that new production (with Bubba Iola), which is why any "Eunice" from then onward was portrayed by anyone but Carol herself.

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    A Mama-Verse?

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    Fighting Injustice on CBR SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixx9 View Post
    Yeah, I had read something similar, with Carol and crew seemingly annoyed that Vickey got the offer. The Carol crew cut off from that new production (with Bubba Iola), which is why any "Eunice" from then onward was portrayed by anyone but Carol herself.
    I really can't blame Lawrence here. The show by all intents was done. NBC had cancelled it in 1984 after a 2 season run and 35 episodes. There was no belief the show or characters would return then. It wasn't til Hamilton (who owned the characters) called up a year later and told Lawrence they could do a new series in this thing called "syndication" that was taking off.

    It wasn't til later that Burnett called (but if her ex-husband owned the characters what could she do here ?) and wanted to do a variety show or something again. By this point the variety era was done. So Lawrence chose a steady pay check before this happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by KabutoRyder View Post
    A Mama-Verse?
    CRISIS ON INFINITE MAMA'S !

    Being serious while the characters were insanely funny on Carol Burnett show for what they were , they were very 1 note characters. Thelma there was very 1 dimensional character who basically was more into insulting family and being very angry. Which is funny , but she also had a bigger heart on the Modern Universe as I posted.
    "The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged in our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible." - Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.

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    Incredible Member SwampyCA's Avatar
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    I legit found this show disturbing and could not watch it.

    Something with Vicki Lawrence pretending to be so much older (and so angry), then bring in 50-something Ken Berry to be her son. WTF

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    Fighting Injustice on CBR SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SwampyCA View Post
    I legit found this show disturbing and could not watch it.

    Something with Vicki Lawrence pretending to be so much older (and so angry), then bring in 50-something Ken Berry to be her son. WTF
    Thelma Harper was supposed to be in her late 50's/early 60's in the series. A fact that they placed her being part of the USO days as she shows Sonja a costume. Ken Berry was supposed to be in his 30's with 2 teenage kids.

    Its not the 1st time this type of casting happened. In Bonanza in the 1960's Lorne Greene was 44 when he got the role of Ben Cartwright. His oldest son played by Pernell Roberts was 31. Also Roberts was bald and wore a toupee and he asked if he could not wear it. A fact once producers saw this they told him to keep it on since he wouldn't fit the role age wise.

    Today Vicki Lawrence now fits the age of Thelma and has played her in spots.




    Also as this claims Hamilton seemingly had a deal in place in 1977 to do Mama's Family then and spin off the character , wanting to not have the others involved. Vicki Lawrence rejected that idea as she claims to Burnett and it wasn't til 5+ years later it happened.
    "The story so far: As usual, Ginger and I are engaged in our quest to find out what the hell is going on and save humanity from my nemesis, some bastard who is presumably responsible." - Sir Digby Chicken Caesar.

  8. #8
    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    Thelma Harper was supposed to be in her late 50's/early 60's in the series. A fact that they placed her being part of the USO days as she shows Sonja a costume. Ken Berry was supposed to be in his 30's with 2 teenage kids.

    Its not the 1st time this type of casting happened. In Bonanza in the 1960's Lorne Greene was 44 when he got the role of Ben Cartwright. His oldest son played by Pernell Roberts was 31. Also Roberts was bald and wore a toupee and he asked if he could not wear it. A fact once producers saw this they told him to keep it on since he wouldn't fit the role age wi
    Today Vicki Lawrence now fits the age of Thelmitnn ta and has played her in spots.




    Also as this claims Hamilton seemingly had a deal in place in 1977 to do Mama's Family then and spin off the character , wanting to not have the others involved. Vicki Lawrence rejected that idea as she claims to Burnett and it wasn't til 5+ years later it happened.
    No, for the last version of the show, "Mama" Vicki was supposed to be retired, 65-66. A little later, age "68" was mentioned a few different times as her age. Vint and Naomi were supposed to be in their 30's wanting to have a baby, which they did on the last episode, however, both looked older, especially Vint.
    Last edited by Phoenixx9; 01-29-2020 at 10:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    Thelma Harper was supposed to be in her late 50's/early 60's in the series. A fact that they placed her being part of the USO days as she shows Sonja a costume. Ken Berry was supposed to be in his 30's with 2 teenage kids.

    Its not the 1st time this type of casting happened. In Bonanza in the 1960's Lorne Greene was 44 when he got the role of Ben Cartwright. His oldest son played by Pernell Roberts was 31. Also Roberts was bald and wore a toupee and he asked if he could not wear it. A fact once producers saw this they told him to keep it on since he wouldn't fit the role age wise.

    Today Vicki Lawrence now fits the age of Thelma and has played her in spots.




    Also as this claims Hamilton seemingly had a deal in place in 1977 to do Mama's Family then and spin off the character , wanting to not have the others involved. Vicki Lawrence rejected that idea as she claims to Burnett and it wasn't til 5+ years later it happened.
    Mama did an Adam Driver.

  10. #10
    A Wearied Madness Vakanai's Avatar
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    Mama's Family cinematic universe when?

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