Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Roseanne - Season 1

Roseanne (1988-97, ABC) is right up there with Seinfeld (1989-98, NBC) as one of my all time favorite TV shows. Both series ran nearly concurrently with each other, with Roseanne starting and ending just a year earlier. In case you are unfamiliar with the show, Roseanne (trailer) is centered around the Connor family being a hard working blue-collar family barely making ends meet, while being constantly at odds with each other for better or worse. A couple years ago I ran across the series bundle set for $20 online and could not pass it up. Over the last several weeks I watched an episode here and there until finishing up the first season a few days ago and the show still holds up remarkably well as it did when I was a kiddo.

I loved the show growing up because when it originally aired I related more with the three Connor children on the show because I was in their age bracket and they were constantly driving each other up the wall like I was with my three siblings I grew up with at the time. Watching this show with a fresh set of eyes nearly two decades after it originally aired at the age of 33 I find myself now just a couple years younger (!) than when the parents Dan (John Goodman) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) were when the show first aired so obviously I am leaning more towards their story arcs this time around.

My memories of the show featured a decent split of the episodes focusing on the parent’s and children’s story arcs, but the first season is more 80% Dan & Roseanne being the focus while the kids are primarily background noise with a few occasional episodes of one of them being at the forefront. First season Roseanne took me awhile to get use to because it was well before Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Alicia Granson) started dating their significant others that wound up as season regulars in later seasons. Becky more-or-less retained her princess character throughout the show, but we are still a couple seasons away from Darlene and DJ (Michael Fishman) from developing into the super emo/out there characters I remember them as. In the first season they are mostly siblings who are constantly driving each other up the wall, and I absolutely loved watching them drive Dan & Roseanne nuts too.

John Goodman is sublime as Dan, and he was a natural for the hard working father role from the first episode. However, it took Barr several episodes to come into her own on the show. She seemed a little too hostile and aggressive with her wit and tone before dialing it back to a more appropriate level about halfway through the season. In one of the extra feature interviews on the first season, Barr herself stated the exact same thing until she was able to find equal ground with the writers and producers on how to round off her character. I think for covering this TV series when it comes to covering the actual individual season content I am just going to list several things that stood out to me in each season, so here are a few more noteworthy items from the debut season.

-I always associated Roseanne and her sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) for working at the traditional diner throughout the show’s history, but in the first season they were manual laborers at a plastics factory. On top of that, their boss was a pre-ER George Clooney who toyed with dating Jackie off and on for the first season. An evil new boss in the season finale led to Roseanne and Jackie quitting the plastics factory.

-I had no idea until I watched the pilot on the DVD that there was originally a different DJ in the first episode. Michael Fishman took over on the very next episode, but the pilot DJ featured a slightly older kid but he retained nearly the same look and essence that Fishburn did for DJ in the first season. Also slightly different in the pilot episode was the theme song before it got altered a bit into the opening theme I grew to love from the second episode on.

-I really dug how most of the episodes take place almost entirely inside the Conner’s home. Every few episodes we would get a couple scenes of Roseanne and Jackie at work, but minus a few other moments throughout the season nearly half the episodes this season take place entirely at the Conner’s residence or at the plastics factory. This may seem limiting to the show at first, but somehow the show made it work and proved that a lot of stuff can go down at home and be damn entertaining in the process.

-We are still a bit off from Dan running his own cycle shop, and in the first season he is an independent contractor working dry wall who has ups and downs throughout the season with good paying gigs and occasional lulls between contracts.

-Standout episodes to me in the first season is when the Conners spend an episode coming together to survive a tornado that hit town and it brought back many memories of my family running amok whenever a tornado warning would occur. The episode where the family is kicking back in a friendly rivalry at the bowling alley hit the right notes with me too because of a lot of friendly rivalry games I had with the family.

-There are a few extras worth watching on the first season. There are new interviews (well from 2005 anyways) with Barr and Goodman who discuss their memories of the show and how they knew they had something special from the start. There is also an excellent blooper reel to round off the extras.

-I was surprised to find myself enjoying the first season as much as I did as I presumed it would take the show a couple seasons before it fully found its footing, but here you can tell that the whole cast was gelling together perfectly by the halfway point of the first season. I am looking forward to keep plugging along with the next seasons.

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 8
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

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