Case Number 24729: Small Claims Court

ROSEANNE: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON

Mill Creek Entertainment // 1993 // 583 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Bromley // October 26th, 2012

The Charge

"Do not talk down to me like one of those husbands who is not afraid of his wife." -- Roseanne Connor

The Case

One of the best sitcoms ever to air on television, Roseanne is a show that took a number of three-camera show conventions and turned them on their head. It didn't reinvent the family sitcom, but it did refine it into its own thing so much so that it developed one of the most unique voices on television. It is a bruised comedy, combining sarcastic laughs with real-life worries and hardships. It's sad and it's moving and it's very funny, and more than earns its spot among the all-time TV greats.

Though previously released on DVD by Anchor Bay, each season Roseanne has been receiving a discounted re-release courtesy of Mill Creek. If you don't own them already, now is the time to pick up every season and work your way through it. The show absolutely holds up, even 25 years after it first debuted. It's a great TV show.

Here are the episodes that make up Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season:

"Two Down, One to Go"
"The Mommy's Curse"
"Party Politics"
"A Stash from the Past"
"Be My Baby"
"Halloween V"
"Homeward Bound"
"Guilt by Imagination"
"Homecoming"
"Thanksgiving '93"
"The Driver's Seat"
"White Trash Christmas"
"Suck Up or Shut Up"
"Busted"
"David vs. Goliath"
"Everyone Comes to Jackie's"
"Don't Make Room for Daddy"
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
"Labor Day"
"Past Imperfect"
"Lies My Father Told Me"
"I Pray the Lord My Stove to Keep"
"Body by Jake"
"Isn't it Romantic?"
"Altar Egos"

While Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season still finds the show at its peak, it's the end of that peak and the beginning of the slow descent towards total shark jumping (cough cough "lottery" cough). In addition to introducing Sarah Chalke (Chaos Theory) as the new Becky, Season Six also brings Martin Mull back into the regular cast as Leon, the new investor in Roseanne's loose meat restaurant. While their contentious relationship isn't anything the show hasn't already done before, the dynamic between Barr and Mull is very amusing and the actor makes for a welcome antagonist. But it also takes Laurie Metcalfe's Jackie down a path that's never been my favorite for the character, hooking her up with Michael O'Keefe's Fred and introducing motherhood and marriage into her character arc. As much as I appreciate the effort to have the character grow and evolve over the course of the series, I've always preferred Jackie as single and disastrous.

There's also a tendency towards soapy relationship melodrama that the show previously hadn't focused on much. David and Darlene struggle; Roseanne gets jealous of one of Dan's old flames; Jackie goes back and forth with Fred. Because the show has always been good about mining some real topics for its dramatic material (and this is a sitcom with far more dramatic material than most), some of the roads taken during Season Six feel pretty lightweight. The loose meat restaurant takes center stage this season, too, and it was never as interesting as, say, the bike shop from previous seasons (though this is just a personal preference). The loss of Darlene to Chicago was an inevitable one -- kids grow up and go away to school -- but it puts a dent in the show, too. The dynamic at the Connor house has changed, and Roseanne doesn't quite figure out a way to keep working the way it once did (or work in a new and interesting way) with those changes.

The sixth season of Roseanne features one of its most famous episode, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," from 1994. In it, Roseanne shares a same sex kiss with guest star Mariel Hemingway (playing the girlfriend of Sandra Bernhard's Nancy). As one of the first TV shows to feature a same sex kiss, the episode generated a ton of controversy back when it aired -- so much so that ABC almost refused to air it. Seeing the episode in 2012, of course, reveals that it's actually very tame (there isn't an episode of The Real World that doesn't feature way more same sex action), but it's an interesting snapshot of gay panic in the early '90s and another example of just how ahead of its time Roseanne was.

Like Mill Creek's previous releases of Roseanne seasons, all of the episodes are presented in their original full frame broadcast aspect ratio. Because so many shows have been compressed onto only three discs, the shows suffer from digital noise and artifacting; black levels are shallow and inconsistent and colors aren't always natural. The presentation is far from perfect, but it's also not that different from what the shows look like on syndicated television. For the cost, it's good to have the shows available to watch whenever you like (and in their original broadcast versions, too, instead of the syndication edits). The 2.0 stereo soundtrack gets the job done but is totally unremarkable. There are no bonus features this time around.

Though there's still a lot that's strong about Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season, it's here that the seeds are planted for the show's eventual decline over the next three years. If you're just now collecting all of the seasons on DVD, you might be best off stopping here.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 583 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0094540/combined