09-22-2010, 04:24 AM
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As some of you know, the Carol Burnett show, which was on for 11 years, had many popular skits throughout its successful run. Arguably, the most popular were the "family skits", featuring Eunice (Burnett), Mama (Vicki Lawrence) and Ed (Harvey Korman). There was at least one occasion where guest star Betty White played Eunice's sister Ellen. Now Eunice also had a brother, and this is where it gets tricky. At least 3 different people played Eunice's brother on the show. (IIRC, Roddy McDowell, Tom Smothers and Alan Alda.) I can't remember if Ken Berry, who was one of the more frequent guest stars, ever played Vinton on the Carol Burnett show.

in 1982, a pilot for Eunice was shot and aired. This was basically a spin-off of the family sketches. Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Betty White all reprised their previous roles, and Ken Berry was on as Vinton, Eunice's brother. Some of the major plotlines during this pilot were the death of Mama and Eunice hoping to finally fulfill her aspirations of hitting it big in Hollywood.
Given the success of the Carol Burnett show and the family sketches, it seemed like this series would have been picked up as is, but for some unknown reason, it never materialized.

However, the following year, Mama's family would make in on as a series on NBC. However, there were some drastic changes. Mama had apparently come back from the dead (?!) and Eunice and Ed were reduced to occasional guest stars, although Korman did direct the series to start. Joining the cast were Dorothy Lyman as Mama's neighbor and enemy (and soon to be Vint's wife), Eric Brown and Karin Argoud as Buzz and Sonia, Vinton's children from a previous marriage, and Rue Mclanahan as Fran, Mama's sister. The series would be on for a year, before being cancelled by NBC.

However, in 1986 the series was resurrected again and found its way back on the air in syndication, where it would remain for four years. More drastic changes occurred as the characters of Ellen, Fran, Buzz, Sonia, Eunice and Ed were all written off. Joining the cast were Allen Kayser as Mama's grandson (and Eunice's son) Bubba, and Beverly Archer as Mama's neighbor Iola.

Mama's Family rivals Unsolved Mysteries for title of "show that has been brought back from the dead the most times." It's interesting to think about how things would have been different if things went originally as intended and the show's main character was Eunice, or what might have happened if the show hadn't been cancelled in 1984. Since Betty White and Rue Mclanahan were both semi-regulars in 1984, they might have never gone off to do the Golden Girls! Imagine that circumstance! Lots of interesting possiblities to think about.
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