The show, set in the small town of Raytown, revolved around a typical squabbling family, headed by Thelma Harper — a buxom, blue-haired, purse-lipped, 65-year-old widow, who is loudmouthed and outspoken. Living with Thelma originally was only her uptight spinster sister Fran, a journalist for a local paper. Thelma's son, Vinton (whose wife, Mitzi, had left him to become a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas, Nevada) and his two children, Sonja and Buzz, moved in with her later.
During the first season, Vinton forged a relationship with the Harper’s flirtatious next-door neighbor Naomi Oates (whom Thelma had a distaste for), and soon married her. Also seen on a recurring basis were Thelma’s two daughters: the snobbish Ellen (Betty White), and the ornery Eunice (Carol Burnett). Harvey Korman, who directed many of the earlier episodes, made featured appearances as Eunice’s husband, Ed Higgins. He also appeared at the beginning of each episode as the stuffed shirt Alistair Quince, who would soberly introduce the program in the style of Masterpiece Theatre. These monologues were cut out of the later syndicated reruns and the subsequent DVD release of the first season.
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