Our Judge Dennis Prince was disappointed to learn his favorite corner barbershop had closed almost as quickly as it had opened.
"…talkin' 'bout my Mama…"
Stroll on in to Oscar's Barbershop for a one last trim as Clifton, Earl, Mama, and the rest bid you a fond farewell in this second and final season of That's My Mama.
Facts of the Case
Clifton Curtis (Clifton Davis, Amen) is still keeping the door open to his late father's barber shop, Oscar's Place. He lives in the same converted home/business in Washington D.C. with is mother, Eloise "Mama" Curtis (Theresa Merritt, The Wiz). His best friend, former mail carrier Earl (Teddy Wilson, Cotton Comes to Harlem) has become a haircutter alongside Clifton. Brother-in-law Leonard (Lisle Wilson, The Incredible Melting Man) is still hard working at his financial firm while uniformly annoying his wife, Tracy (Lynne Moody, Roots), as well as Clifton. Free-spirited Junior (Ted Lange, The Love Boat) is in college but doesn't seem to have increased his social standing much.
In its sophomore outing, That's My Mama retained its original cast but did manage a bit of character reshuffling. Earl hung up his mailbag and navy blues to come work alongside Clifton in the barbershop. Junior somehow found his way into college, likely in a move that would allow the character a string of co-ed misadventures. Leonard continued to exist as a sort of snooty, aloof, often uncaring foil to Clifton. Tracy, wife to Leonard and sister to Clifton, was still generally sidelined without much to offer to the proceedings. Mama, of course, still ruled the roost and continued to encourage her beloved son to find a woman and settle down. And Clifton was still the highly eligible bachelor who enjoyed dating but seemed incapable of making the ultimate life's commitment. But, despite the few changes noted here (as well as the points of continuity that had carried the show through its first successful season), there weren't really enough new situations to buoy each new episode. While the acting was still on par with what America expected and enjoyed in a 70s sitcom, the comedy lacked compelling situations. It became a series of one-liners with a thin plot wrapped around them, and, sadly, each episode became somewhat indistinguishable from those that had preceded or would follow.
Call it coincidence or unwitting prescience, but the core theme of this second season seemed to be that of Oscar's Place being on the brink of bankruptcy. Ultimately, this would come to pass in a season that would only deliver 13 episodes, being cut off mid-year. Oscar's Place officially closed its doors following the December 17, 1975 episode. Oddly enough, this final installment has Clifton ready to finally settle down with a girl, Mama enthusiastically approving, but the girl being more than a bit wary of such an arrangement (somehow, she must have known dear Clifton was about to go out of business).
So, for better or for worse, here are the episodes you find on this somewhat abbreviated boxed set:
• "The Birthday Party"
• "Queen of the Ribs"
Each episode is presented in a 1.33:1 full frame format as originally televised and each looks as good as those in the first season set. The color is vibrant and well managed yet hasn't been over-engineered to the point that it would lose that distinctive pallor of 70s television. As with the first season episodes, you'll witness the same sort of softness in the image quality here, preserving the truthful limitations of mid-70s source video masters. The audio is suitable in an intelligible Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix. The dialogue is always easy to understand and the audience's chorus of laughs never reaches that sometimes piercing shrillness of other sitcom discs. Again, as with the first season set, there are no extras here.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Again, as was the unfortunate affliction of the episodes as presented in the first season boxed set, these final 13 shows are likewise edited syndication-length presentations. Each show runs just about 22 minutes, still 2 minutes shy of their original broadcast length.
In all, viewing That's My Mama serves as a pleasant distraction. It serves as a time capsule of some cringe-worthy 70s fashion and attitudes and is also enjoyably free of the sort of hyper-cynical and overtly sexual assaults that are passed off as prime time entertainment today. Thank you, Mama, for keeping us in line.
The cast and crew of That's My Mama are found not guilty of any wrongdoing while Sony Home Entertainment is still in need of discipline for releasing edited episodes.
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