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The Mama Who Came to Dinner is the premiere episode of the first season in this television sitcom of Family Matters, which aired for the first time from ABC on September 22, 1989. It was directed by Joel Zwick and written by William Bickley and Michael Warren.


Chicago Chronicle elevator operator Harriette Winslow's sister Rachel Crawford and Rachel's baby son Richie moved into the Winslow home sometime before the start of the series. The family is now preparing Estelle Winslow, the mother of Harriette's police officer husband Carl, into their home. As soon as Mother Winslow moves in, she does exactly what Carl had been dreading -- she tries to usurp his authority over the household, even allowing Carl and Harriette's son Eddie to go to a party that Carl forbade him from going to.


Carl is dreading having his mother come live with his family. Harriette Winslow tries to get him to think positive, but he knows better. The woman that she thinks Estelle is, the kind hearted old woman is the one they often see on holidays. However, the mother that Carl actually knows is the one who will do whatever it takes to gain control of the house and challenge his "Man of the House" position. He wants to call Frank or Calvin to convince them to let Estelle live with them. Harriette will have none of it, still thinking Carl is paranoid and suggests they get it over with. In the kitchen, Judy is jealous that Laura gets to hold the baby and not her. Rachel tries to convince her that it's because she's too young. Laura continues picking on Judy by pointing out that Richie dislikes her, making Rachel angry at her choice of words. Harriette then comes and tells both Laura and Judy to go clean their room in preparation for their grandmother's arrival. Mother Winslow arrives and, at first, she is the same woman that the family sees on the holidays. She bonds well with Eddie, Laura and Judy and entertains them with stories of the places she's visited and the people she's met. Estelle gets along well with Rachel and Richie, even helps Rachel with a novel she's writing. Soon, she proves Carl right in wanting to take over the family's life and even Harriette starts to see some validation for his fear.

In the meantime, Eddie wishes to go watch a Rambo marathon with his friends, but Carl imposes a 10:00 curfew on him. When Mother Winslow gives him the permission to go to a friend's house, Carl is upset and confronts her. She tells him that he forgotten to be laid-back, but Carl doesn't budge and calls her out for trying to take over his family's life. Estelle advises him to loosen up once in a while and promises to honor his man of the house. He does and lets Eddie go to his friend's house. The episode ends with the family singing "He's Got the Whold World in his Hands" while Laura and Judy watch, with a camera pan fading over the Chicago skyline.


This is the series pilot. It was previously shot with Valerie Jones as Judy because Jaimee Foxworth, the producers' first choice for the role, was unavailable, due to a prior commitment. The pilot with Jones is included on The Complete First Season DVD sets.




  • For the first five episodes of the series, the theme song was the classic "What A Wonderful World" performed by Louis Armstrong with a longer opening. After the original airing of those episodes, the theme song was changed to "As Days Go By" theme song.
  • The title is based on the play "The Man Who Came to Dinner" written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman and opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on October 16, 1939 and ran for 739 performances.
  • In the first episode, the entire set is different; there is a small hallway at the front door. The living room is smaller and the stairs go straight up (in all the other episodes, they are shaped like an L with a platform between the two sets of stairs). There is also a room where the stairs are in all the other episodes. In the kitchen, there is no stair case to go upstairs (only a door for the laundry room). The kitchen is also longer and the island is decor one. The wood work is all stained and not painted or wallpapered.
  • Judy was originally portrayed by Valerie Jones who only appeared in the pilot. Jaimee Foxworth would assume the role in Two-Income Family and continue until Season 4.
  • This is the only episode where Laura and Judy share a room.
  • This marks the only time Laura and Judy's room can be seen is in the opening credits.
  • This show was actually a spin-off of "Perfect Strangers" (which featured Larry & Balki and their adventures in the Chicago Chronicle). Harriette was featured on that show as an elevator operator. This show focused more on her family life outside of the elevator.
  • The first episode of Family Matters aired on September 22, 1989 as the same date after Full House in 1987.


Judy: Have you ever met Prince?
Estelle: I've met a lot of princes. Prince of Wales, Prince of Denmark, Prince of Nepal, uh, what prince are you talking about honey?
Laura: I think she's talking about the Prince that sings and wears purple underwear.
Estelle: that would be the Prince of Nepal!
Estelle (after Carl tells her off and Eddie storms out): give a man a badge!
Eddie: Today, I'm gonna do the laundry and after that wash the car and mow the lawn.
Carl: Who are you and what have you done with our son?
Harriette: Who cares? Let's keep this one!

Carl: Are his parents going to be there?
Eddie: Yes.
Carl: Beer?
Eddie: No.
Carl: Girls?
Eddie: No.
Carl: How late?
Eddie: 2:00.
Carl: Bingo! Book him, Danno!

Eddie: Dad, is there anything else you want me to do before I go to the party?
Carl (to Eddie): Edward, you're not going to the party.
Eddie: You mean I was nice for nothing? I tell you, that's the last time I do anything in this house! (begins to walk out)
Harriette (handing Eddie a tray of glasses): Here. Take this with you.
Eddie: Yes, Mom.

Estelle (to Eddie): Why won't your parents let you go to the party?
Eddie: I don't know! All we were gonna do is watch a Rambo marathon! The problem is my curfew is at 10:00 and the first movie doesn't start until 9:30.
Estelle: Well, that stinks. Rambo won't even blow anything up until after 10:00.
Eddie: That's what I told Dad.
Estelle: You know, he's forgotten what it's like to be fifteen. I'll handle your father at dinner. Your grandma is gonna fight for your right to party.

Judy: (about Richie) Let me hold him!
Laura: No. Aunt Rachel said I could take care of little Richie.
Judy: I wanna hold him!
Laura: You can hold him when you get older.
Judy: When I get older, he won't be a baby anymore.
Laura: Hey, stuff happens.

Harriette (to Judy & Laura): Girls, have you cleaned up your room yet?
Judy: I cleaned up my half.
Laura: No you didn't. You just threw all your junk on my half.
Harriette: Girls, upstairs.
Laura: But Mom, she always...
Harriette: NOW!

Rachel (to Laura & Judy): Girls, who's watching my baby?
Laura and Judy (pointing to each other): She is!
  v - e - dFamily Matters Season 1
The Mama Who Came to DinnerTwo-Income FamilyShort StoryRachel's First DateStraight A'sBasketball BluesBody DamageMr. BadwrenchStake-OutFalse ArrestThe QuiltLaura's First DateMan's Best FriendBaker's DozenThe Big ReunionThe PartyThe Big FixSitting PrettyIn a JamThe CandidateBowl Me OverRock Video