Anchor Bay // 1994 // 598 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Jennifer Malkowski // May 23rd, 2007
Dan to David: "You're one of the Conners now. Abandon all hope!"
Post-Becky 2 but pre-lottery, the seventh season of Roseanne decently maintains the mix of humor and social commentary that made the early seasons great. But a slight increase in the latter and a slight decrease in the former foretell a terrible darkness gathering on the horizon...
Roseanne Conner (Roseanne) performs the role of a surly "domestic goddess" with a great sense of humor about her crippling financial troubles in this classic family sitcom. Living a working-class life in small-town Lanford, Ill., the Conners are always struggling with money trouble and their willful children. Dan (John Goodman) is the father, by turns uproariously funny and devastatingly depressed. Eldest child Becky (Sarah Chalke) and much-loathed hubby Mark (Glenn Quinn) continue to live with her parents. Cynical Darlene (Sara Gilbert) makes frequent visits from college in Chicago to her ever-emasculated boyfriend, David (Johnny Galecki), who occupies the Conner basement. Cute-but-scheming DJ (Michael Fishman) continues to play the troublemaker. Lovable loser Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) is still here to steal scenes as Roseanne's hapless sister, and their much-loathed mother, Bev (Estelle Parsons), also has a large role this season.
* "Nine Is Enough"
Dan gets fed up with his full house after Roseanne refuses to kick Mark and Becky out.
DJ: "You promised I could have a friend sleep over."
Roseanne: "Well, I didn't mean it. I thought you were just bluffing when you said you had a friend!"
* "Two for One"
While Dan gets grouchy with doubts about Roseanne's pregnancy, Roseanne has to unravel a mystery about David and Darlene's sex life.
Roseanne: "You haven't been feeding me a load of the truth, have you?...We have raised three children without the truth and we've managed to do very well, thank you, without your consarn newfangled ways."
* "Snoop Davey Dave"
David tries to get over Darlene, but ends up spilling a secret of hers to Dan and Roseanne.
Darlene: "I've got this new job and I have to work holidays."
Roseanne: "Work holidays?!? What kind of job is it? Mrs. Dan Conner?"
* "Girl Talk"
Secrets make the rounds in Lanford during an outbreak of sex gossip.
Jackie: "I swore to Becky I wouldn't tell."
Roseanne: "Well, it's not my fault you make promises that you can't keep."
David has an uncomfortably sexy dream about one of the Conner women.
Dan: "Man, I saw this comin'. All these unrelated kids under one roof -- it's an abomination. We're breakin' like fifty commandments."
Roseanne: "Well, that would explain the flood in the basement."
* "Skeleton in the Closet"
Halloween brings around the usual series of Conner pranks, but this time with a queer twist...
Jackie: "So Fred and I were talking and we decided this year for Halloween instead of candy we're gonna give out carrot sticks."
Roseanne: "Yeah, we're going healthy, too. We're gonna give out filtered cigarettes."
* "Follow the Son"
The littlest men at the Conner house are featured, as DJ quits working at the Lunch Box and David stalks Darlene's new boyfriend.
Roseanne on DJ: "He is at a crossroad of his life, where he can either become a total loser or...a busboy."
* "Punch and Jimmy"
DJ faces off against a school bully, Roseanne meets Darlene's new boyfriend, and David's masculinity is called into question...like every week.
David [after getting beaten up by DJ]: "He caught me off guard."
Mark: "What, did he hit you while you were knitting?"
* "White Men Can't Kiss"
When DJ refuses to kiss a black girl in the school play, the Conners must reexamine their racial attitudes.
Roseanne: "Hey, black people are just like us. They're every bit as good as us and any people who don't think so are just a bunch of banjo pickin', cousin datin', barefoot embarrassments to respectable white trash like us!"
* "Thanksgiving 1994"
This year's Turkey Day brings an unexpected in-law and news about Roseanne's pregnancy.
Becky: "She can't [drink], Nanna Mary, she's pregnant."
Mary: "Oh c'mon, my goodness. It's not as if the fetus had to drive somewhere."
* "Maybe Baby"
Tension about whether or not to abort Roseanne's baby comes between the Conner parents.
Roseanne: "C'mon, Dan, this is my apology. Let me be the ass. You always get to be the ass."
* "The Parenting Trap"
Dan and Roseanne feud over who gets to help DJ with a special problem he's having at school.
Roseanne: "Okay, you did better than me. Are you happy now?"
Dan: "Why, if I were any happier I'd need a book."
* "Rear Window"
Dan gets an unsettling new hobby when elderly nudists move in next door. Meanwhile, Darlene and Mark worry that there may be romance between Becky and David.
Fred: "Do your neighbors know you've been watching them?"
Roseanne: "No. We stand completely still because if they see us they might change their behavior. We got that from Wild Kingdom."
* "My Name is Bev"
Bev realizes that she may be an alcoholic just in time to crash Dan's Super Bowl party and keep it beer-free.
Roseanne: "What do you mean by driving drunk? If you want to kill yourself, that's fine, but have some consideration for other people. We promised that car to DJ."
* "Bed and Bored"
Roseanne is faced with a week of bed rest and the prospect of Dan taking over the household. Jackie copes with having her mother as a babysitter for Andy.
Dan: "Hey, is dandruff shampoo bad for dishes?"
Sets of sisters fight and make-up, prompted by Jackie's request that DJ come around her house less.
Roseanne: "I just had a big fight with Jackie about DJ being weird."
Dan: "Which side did you take?"
* "Lost Youth"
Mark thwarts David's flirtations with a Lunch Box employee. Jackie can't convince Fred to spice up their sex life.
Fred: "I suppose having sex in my car isn't going to kill me."
Dan: "Not if you put your flashers on."
* "Single Married Female"
While Roseanne is out of town, Jackie contemplates an affair.
Dan: "Marriage is not a game, Fred. It's not something fun that you can win; marriage is a blood sport!"
* "The Clip Show: All About Rosey One-Hour Special"
Three unrelated skits frame a bunch of clips -- a young Roseanne and Jackie see a fortune teller, an elderly Jackie takes adult DJ to a therapist, and Roseanne is visited by the Sitcom Mom Welcome Wagon. This last bit is a lot of fun, but clip shows still stink.
Young Roseanne: "Show me my whole future."
Fortune Teller: "But you only give Madame Zaftig a dollar."
Young Roseanne: "What'll that buy me?"
Fortune Teller: "I will show you 1988 to '94."
* "Husbands and Wives"
After Jackie's near-affair, it takes some meddling from the Conners to get her and Fred back together.
Roseanne: "You can't just blame yourself...just make a list of all your problems and another list of everybody you know and then draw lines."
* "Happy Trailers"
Mark and Becky move into a trailer and give the writers a chance to make all those trailer trash jokes they'd been saving up. Sharon Stone guest stars as a trailer park neighbor.
Roseanne: "We don't know you and we don't wanna know you and here's why: we're better than you. And we almost never get a chance to say that!"
* "The Blaming of the Shrew"
DJ's new girlfriend is bossy in a very familiar way. Jackie and Fred see a therapist -- Ellen DeGeneres, in a very funny guest role.
Lisa: "Man, who gets drunk and cuts this family's hair?"
* "The Birds and the Frozen Bees"
Roseanne schemes to get Darlene and David back together.
Roseanne: "See, I told you [David] loves [Darlene]...Didn't you see the big moony look on his face when he was talking about her? That's the same look you get every year when the McRib comes back!"
* "Couch Potatoes"
As one life prepares to enter the world, another exits: near the end of Roseanne's pregnancy, the Conner family couch dies -- and just as they become a Nielsen family!
Roseanne [on becoming a Nielsen family]: "Man, this must be what it feels like to vote!"
* "Sherwood Schwartz: A Loving Tribute"
Darlene doesn't want David to take a trip to Europe and Roseanne doesn't want Dan to keep working on his boat. The latter plot leads to a Gilligan's Island fantasy segment.
Roseanne to Darlene: "C'mon, you've gotta give a guy his dreams. Then he won't notice that you control his reality."
As my grades for these 25 episodes reflect, Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season is a B season. There aren't any classics here like the fifth season's "Ladies' Choice" when Roseanne goes to a lesbian bar or the sixth season's "A Stash from the Past" when the Conners unearth and smoke some ancient pot. But "Skeleton in the Closet" features maybe the best of many Conner Halloween pranks and "The Blaming of the Shrew" humorously reveals how boys want to grow up and marry versions of their mother -- even boys with a mother like Roseanne. "Sleeper" is the highlight of the season, showcasing David's pathetic vulnerability and Roseanne's dangerous nosiness in the funniest of stories. The plots with longer arcs are decent this season, too. David's relationship with Darlene, his independence, and his sibling rivalry with Mark are all interesting to watch. Jackie's marriage takes some twists and turns and her new baby complicates her extreme feelings about her mother, Bev. There are some great moments scattered throughout this batch of moderately good episodes, such as Dan's advice to a heartbroken David ("Walk it off!") and Jackie's rant about love in "Snoop Davey Dave." And if the story of Roseanne's pregnancy feels a little tired after Jackie had just gone through the same thing last year, remember that we can blame Roseanne's real-life pregnancy rather than the writers for this one.
What doesn't work about the seventh season -- and what foregrounds some of the problems of the series' truly terribly ninth season -- is the tendency for episodes to have an "issue of the week" and thin stretching of storylines that perhaps indicates a reservoir of ideas that is drying up after seven years. "Couch Potatoes," for example, struggles to build 20-odd minutes of story around two minor plot points -- the Conners become a Nielsen family and their couch breaks. The problem with Roseanne's pregnancy that makes the Conners consider an abortion is extended as the main plot of two episodes when it probably should have been just one. And as much as I admire the series for taking a stand on abortion, this kind of issue-driven episode becomes a little wearying at this point in the series because it starts to hurt the humor. On the second disc alone we get a parade of "very special episodes" that handle racism, abortion, and alcoholism. The balancing act between issues and comedy that Roseanne accomplished so well in the past is starting to fail here, particularly evident in the episode "White Men Can't Kiss" that takes kind of a clumsy, unfunny approach to the important and interesting problem of subtle racism in well-intentioned white people. Lastly, Roseanne herself is sorely missed in "Single Married Female," the first episode in which the star does not appear (except in a brief snippet at the end when she assures a worried audience that she will still get paid).
Picture and sound quality on Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season are fine and consistent with past Roseanne releases. As with the sixth season, Anchor Bay unfortunately offers no special features with this set.
Perhaps occupying the borderland between great Roseanne and terrible Roseanne, it displays flashes of the show's earlier comic brilliance and also of its later quagmire of unfunny issue and drama-driven episodes.
Not guilty -- at least not for another season or two.
Review content copyright © 2007 Jennifer Malkowski; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 598 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Roseanne's Official Site
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review
* Season Six Review