Anchor Bay // 1990 // 554 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Jennifer Malkowski (Retired) // April 19th, 2006
Dan: "Honey, I think we should talk about [our will]. I mean, what would
happen if we both went at the same time, like in a plane crash?"
Roseanne: "We never go anywhere, Dan. A plane would actually have to crash into the sofa."
The times they are a'changing for the Conners as all three of their children exhibit unsettling signs of serious growing up in the third season of comedian Roseanne Barr's working-class comedy.
This is a big season, offering the following 25 episodes:
* "The Test"
Jackie comes by one morning to clandestinely deliver a home pregnancy test to Roseanne, whose period is late. But like most secrets in the Conner household, this one doesn't stay hidden for long. Soon the whole family assembles to wait the agonizing ten minutes together for the little colored strip to appear.
* "Friends and Relatives"
Dan has a little extra cash on hand and decides to help Arnie out with a loan. When a job then falls through, Dan finds his own loan in an unlikely place. Plus, Arnie has spent the money Dan thought was for an engagement ring on a boob job for Nancy.
* "Like a Virgin"
Dan and Roseanne know Becky is due for a birth control discussion, but when they walk in on Darlene sucking face with a basketball buddy on the couch, they realize that their other daughter may need the same talk.
* "Like a New Job"
Roseanne starts to work at Rodbell's Diner in the mall, which is bad news for Becky, who hangs out there with friends. Meanwhile, Dan resolves a fight between Becky and Darlene by making Darlene move into the basement.
* "Goodbye Mr. Right"
When Jackie gets injured on the job, her fiancée Gary decides he can't handle any more worries about his woman on the force. Jackie has to choose between her badge and her man.
* "Becky, Beds, and Boys"
Not as racy as it sounds, this episode finds Roseanne and Dan enduring their squeaky old mattress and Becky's new boyfriend. Enter Mark, the motorbiking bad-ass who would become a series staple.
* "Trick or Treat"
Roseanne does Halloween in drag as a bearded lumberjack. To her delight, the disguise works on the guys at the Lobo Lounge and she gets an inside look at how men behave when women aren't around.
* "PMS, I Love You"
Dan's surprise birthday party coincides with Roseanne's "time of the month," inspiring fear and horror in the family, who have come to expect the worst from her PMS. Like most of the episodes that require Roseanne to become a terrifyingly extreme version of herself, this one gets real annoying real fast, as does the stereotypical exaggerated depiction of PMS.
* "Bird is the Word"
Becky flips the bird in a class picture, garnering her popularity at school, unexpected respect from Darlene, and resentment from Roseanne, who then has to go see the principal about it.
* "Dream Lover"
Roseanne worries that Dan is having an affair when he starts having vocal dreams about another woman. When she finds out that he has a crush on a woman who works at the hardware store, she is upset -- until she sees what the woman looks like, which inspires more puzzlement than anger.
* "Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?"
Tired of the girls breaking curfew, Dan and Roseanne decide to come home late themselves on the anniversary of their "first time." They check into the same cheap motel as before and relive the momentous event.
Another wonderful visit from Roseanne and Jackie's mother...this time a conversation about how much "potential" Jackie had leaves Roseanne feeling unpleasantly ordinary. Remembering how her mother never treated her and her sister equally makes her realize that she may be doing the same thing to her daughters.
* "The Courtship of Eddie, Dan's Father"
Roseanne, and especially Dan, react badly to unexpected news -- Dan's father Ed and Roseanne's friend Crystal are engaged!
* "The Wedding"
Pretty self-descriptive. Crystal and Ed get married.
* "Becky Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
Another fight with her Mom prompts Becky to move in with Aunt Jackie. Everyone is too proud to put things right, much to Jackie's annoyance.
Roseanne takes Darlene's home-ec class on a field trip to the grocery store. Yes, it's about as exciting as it sounds. Plus, Dan helps DJ deal with a school bully, but DJ surprises him with his own unique strategy.
* "Valentine's Day"
Everyone's favorite Hallmark holiday rolls around and finds Darlene interested for once. She has her eye on a boy named Barry, who is definitely interested in someone in the Conner house. Meanwhile, Dan braves a last-minute trip to the lingerie store.
* "Communicable Theater"
Jackie has a small part in a local play, but then suddenly gets way more responsibilities when the lead actress gets sick. Unfortunately, she hasn't bothered to learn the lines. Roseanne helps her, but then has to bail to go to DJ's merit badge ceremony.
* "Vegas Interruptus"
The worst ultimatum of this hard-choice-heavy season happens when Roseanne double books a trip to Vegas and a shift at work. She has to either sacrifice the trip and the plane fare or her new job at the diner.
* "Her Boyfriend's Back"
Tension about Mark explodes when he and Becky borrow Dan's motorcycle without asking. Dan deals with Becky -- by not talking to her -- while Roseanne confronts Mark.
* "Troubles with the Rubbles"
The new neighbors get along great with Dan and the kids, but the wife is clearly repulsed by Roseanne. The Conner matriarch must decide whether to keep the grudge going or sacrifice her pride so that DJ can continue being friends with their kid.
* "Second Time Around"
Dan is almost killed by a wrecking ball at work, which convinces him and Roseanne to revise their will. With Crystal and Ed expecting a new baby, they decide to "leave the kids to them," which hurts Jackie's feelings.
* "Dances with Darlene"
Darlene is excited about getting invited to her first school dance...until Roseanne finds out. Unable to resist "playing Barbie" with her second-born, she makes Darlene so uncomfortable that she decides not to go at all.
* "Scenes from a Barbecue"
Roseanne and Jackie's grandma is in town for a big family barbecue, which prompts Roseanne to try to convince her to move in. The grandma might be an okay character, but we could decide for ourselves without hearing someone say "Isn't she great?" every five minutes -- a sign of underconfident scripting.
* "The Pied Piper of Lanford"
Ziggy blows back into town, once again making Dan feel discontent with his highly domestic life. This time their old friend has $20,000 that he's willing to use to start up a bike shop with Dan.
After reviewing the first two seasons of Roseanne, I think I've already covered the premise, the formula, and the characters by this point. So let's get right into the specifics of the third season: how the characters are developed, what kind of laughs we're given, and, of course, what new cruddy job Roseanne is subjected to this time.
Said job is at Rodbell's Diner, where Roseanne serves burgers and fries to the old ladies and obnoxious teens who populate the mall. Here she meets a long-running character, Leon, who is quickly outed as the first of several gay characters on the series. Amusingly, there is a scene in the independent lesbian feature Go Fish in which a group of people try to make a list of lesbians throughout history; one of them speculates, "the entire cast or Roseanne?" Even though it doesn't pay that well, Roseanne actually gets attached to this job. In one of the most heart-wrenching storylines of the season she must choose between her non-refundable trip to Vegas and showing up for a shift that will allow her to keep the job. Since the Conners have so little money and so little leisure time, this plot really makes one feel the frustrations of the kind of sacrifices people without much money have to make on a daily basis. When confronted by Becky's principal about her priorities, Roseanne elquently explains that her family is her career and her job consequently has to be just a job, which comes second. She sometimes envies Jackie's freedom and gets irritated that she squanders it bouncing from one silly career to another. Explaining the expectations set for each of them growing up, Roseanne laments that, "It was always like Jackie could be some great astronaut or the president. And Roseanne could be some great organ donor."
Dan has relatively few major storylines this season, other than the not-particularly-memorable episodes about his father's engagement to Crystal. Mostly he joins Roseanne in doing damage control for their children's quickly accelerating developments. Becky embraces the parentally-feared bad boy type this season, getting involved with Mark, a biker with a major attitude. What seems like a reckless, volatile fling at first then stabilizes and sticks, despite her parents' continual disapproval. When Becky tells Dan that she's only 16 and far from thinking about marriage, he remains worried, as he should. After all, her assertion that her whole life was not just about Mark seems less and less believable as their relationship progresses.
Darlene, meanwhile, is suddenly looking at the guys she plays sports with differently. Getting felt up on the couch, getting invited to her first school dance, and experiencing her first major rejection from a boy are just a few of the events in store for the lifelong tomboy this season. As Becky says, "Way to go, Butch!" Roseanne advises Dan, "Face it: your son is becoming a woman." Perhaps the nicest bit of foreshadowing in the season refers to Darlene's sudden boy-craziness. When she decides not to go to the school dance, Roseanne argues, "There's better ways to get back at me. Maybe Becky's boyfriend has a little brother." She jinxed herself with that line. In fact, Darlene's first crush is quite the proto-David himself, with the same greasy brown hair but not as much goofy charm. As a former tomboy myself, it tugged at my heartstrings a little to watch Darlene realize that she might have to change to make boys interested in her, vulnerably asking a male friend if he thought she was pretty enough to be a cheerleader. Luckily, Sara Gilbert -- who plays Darlene -- and I eventually wised up and became lesbians instead! Darlene was not so lucky, as far as we know...
As the back of the box succinctly puts it, this is also the season in which "DJ turns weird." The cutest little runt in Lanford grows a darker side this season, as Becky and Darlene discover when they pull a box of severed doll heads out from under his bed. The littlest Conner also starts peeking at his sisters while they are getting dressed. Upon hearing that he walked in on Darlene, Becky looks her up and down and says, "Why?" Later Roseanne suggests that they repossess Nancy's boob job and give them to Darlene "so that DJ has something to look at."
The presentation of this set is pretty consistent with the last two. The picture and sound quality are up to snuff, with only the credits sequence and the inserted still shots showing any significant grain. It's not the most pleasant show to look at or listen to, aesthetically, but it never was and never was meant to be. The extras are few and mediocre, but they do present a nice continuity with the previous two sets, continuing the tradition of systematically interviewing cast members. This time Laurie Metcalf (Jackie) and Lecy Goranson (Becky) reminisce with clips of their characters interspersed. These interview subjects seem kind of somber or sedated, just like Goodman before them. Every previous interviewee has gushed about how Metcalf could make any crappy old material funny and entertaining. Apparently that talent stops short of livening up these sorry extras. Goranson's segment is a bit more animated, as she actually tears up talking about how special the show! was and how happy she was to have been a part of it. What she pointedly doesn't talk about is the thing her character is most remembered for: Goranson's departure midway through the series and replacement with Sarah Chalke. It would have been interesting to hear her reasons for leaving and her take on Becky #2. The "Best of Season Three" is another in a series of hastily-thrown-together clip shows that barely count as "special features."
By far the most unfortunate of these extras is the preview for "Rockin' with Roseanne," the latest in a new series of children's videos the Domestic Goddess has been cranking out. If anything could mar the memory of what a great series Roseanne was and how wonderful Roseanne herself was on it, it is this image of her in pigtails with fake freckles painted onto her face singing an insipid song about being afraid of monsters. Sigh. Roseanne used to "tell it like it is" about neglected topics like working-class families, managing kids and jobs, talking to daughters about sex and birth control, and gay family members. Now she claims to "tell it like it is" to kids, then proceeds to sing a boring song about cowboys with none of her trademark wit.
Ignore the downward spiral of Roseanne's career into the world of bland children's videos and catch her at her peak in Roseanne: The Complete Third Season. The kids on these DVDs have a hell of a lot more bite than the ones on "Rockin' with Roseanne!"
Judge Jennifer Malkowski convicts Becky of disobedience, Darlene of awkwardness, and DJ of just-plain-weirdness. Fortunately, all of these undesirable traits produce plenty of laughs in one of the best seasons of Roseanne.
Review content copyright © 2006 Jennifer Malkowski; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 554 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Laurie Metcalf Interview: "The Sister that Never Leaves"
* Lecy Goranson Interview: "I Was a Teenage Becky"
* "The Best of Season Three"
* Preview of "Rockin' with Roseanne"
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review