Judge Jennifer Malkowski has a Fluky's t-shirt just like Becky's. Actually, that's a lie, but she has eaten plenty of hot dogs from that Chicago institution.
Our reviews of Roseanne: The Complete First Season (published December 7th, 2005), Roseanne: The Complete Third Season (published April 19th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 26th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season (published October 26th, 2012), Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season (published November 29th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season (published January 24th, 2007), Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 26th, 2012), Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season (published May 23rd, 2007), Roseanne: The Complete Eighth Season (published September 5th, 2007), and Roseanne: The Complete Ninth Season (published January 9th, 2008) are also available.
"I feel like a used piece of gum that someone stuck under the table. I'm just waiting for the excitement of drying up and hitting the floor."—Roseanne
The Conner family of Lanford, IL continues to struggle with jobs, bills, kids, and parents. But somehow Roseanne and Dan always find time for jokes…and sometimes even a good roll in the sack!
Facts of the Case
Here's a breakdown of the second season's 24 episodes:
• "The Little Sister"
• "Guilt By Disassociation"
• "Somebody Stole My Gal"
• "House of Grown-Ups"
• "Five of a Kind"
• "We Gather Together"
• "Brain-Dead Poets Society"
• "No Talking"
• "Chicken Hearts"
• "One for the Road"
• "Born To Be Wild"
• "I'm Hungry"
• "All of Me—Part I"
• "To Tell the Truth—Part II"
• "Fender Bender"
• "Fathers and Daughters"
• "Happy Birthday"
The second season of Roseanne has a similar tone to the first, but the writers push themes of being relatively poor, overworked, and approaching middle age into slightly darker territory. The main events are still the everyday trials and tribulations of working class families, focusing particularly on the lack of fulfilling jobs available to women like Roseanne. Despite being the unopposed queen bee at home, when Roseanne walks back into the world of employment, she is just a frazzled mom with a high school education who doesn't know how to work a computer. Seeing her try to sell magazine subscriptions over the phone while her kids are screaming in the background, or drag herself to shifts at Chicken Delite or The Lobo Lounge, is pretty bold and depressing material for a sitcom. The same can be said for Dan's storylines, especially in "Born To Be Wild." Viewers are used to seeing him in the role of the comic relief, the one who does a funny impression or tells a joke to cheer up a family member and lighten the mood. But in this episode he is beaten down by life, missing the "chug on through and laugh along the way" attitude he usually embodies.
The gamble with more serious themes pays off this season (as it would fail to do toward the end of the series) largely because the writers stay true to the characters and their sarcastic, witty, defiant attitudes. A perfect example of the difference between these episodes and the later ones is illustrated by the final scene of "We Gather Together." This is one of the first times we experience "voiceover Roseanne," giving the audience her thoughts directly as she stares at her husband and kids sleeping on the couch after the Thanksgiving meal is over and the guests have left. She thinks, "Look at 'em in there, laying around like a bunch of beached whales. And they're all mine. And for this I am truly thankful…'course I'd trade any one of 'em for a dishwasher." The writers set up a really sweet moment and then cut through the sugar with a great one-liner before it becomes nauseating or worse, boring. This tactic was ruined by later writing staffs who created similar voiceover moments but dropped the punchlines, partly causing the extreme deterioration of a show that is still fantastic at this point in its run.
As usual, Darlene and Jackie steal almost every scene they're in. The best episode of the season, "Brain-Dead Poets Society," features the former at both her wittiest and her most vulnerable. And she has at least one great, sarcastic line in almost every episode, like the following:
[Becky walks in all dressed up]
Jackie gets some good material this season, and the talented Laurie Metcalf transforms even her mediocre lines into big laughs. One of my favorite reoccurring themes in season two is Jackie's cop advice. Whenever she gets the chance, she puffs herself up, butts into conversations, and dishes out some wisdom from a woman on "the force." More often than not, the "wisdom" is overly simplistic, irrational, or just plain incorrect, which the kids quickly point out. After Roseanne's car accident, she tries to teach them a safety lesson:
Jackie: You know, a cop's gotta say it: you never pull a dead man out of a
A few interesting staff writers show up this season. Tom Arnold, Roseanne's real life future husband—and then future ex-husband—pens "Lobocop." And Joss Whedon—later creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly (you may know him by his other name, God)—serves as writer and/or story editor for many of the season's episodes.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The discs are noticeably improved this time around. Most importantly, the episodes are complete in this release, unlike in the first season set which included the shortened versions used for syndication. The picture quality also seems a lot better this time with nice sharp images and reduced graininess. The sound quality is just fine, too. However, Roseanne: The Complete Second Season is still plagued by an irritating menu navigation system, insufficient chapter breaks, and lackluster extras. Said extras are in the mold of the first season's. There is an overlong interview with Michael Fishman, "DJ: All Grown Up," and a new interview with John Goodman that feels like just another dose of the old interview with John Goodman from last season. "Best of Season Two" and "Wacky Jackie," predictably, are just clip shows that Anchor Bay tossed together. The only semi-interesting extra is the short feature, "Roseanne Reunited—Behind the Scenes: Season One Launch Party," which at least provides the fun of seeing all the cast members grown and gussied up. "Peanut Butter and Jellyfish" is a trailer masquerading as an extra for a truly bizarre-looking kids' show that Roseanne is apparently doing now. Is it really too much to ask for even a single commentary track? It would be really fun to get Whedon back for some.
Deftly balancing dark and light material, jokes and drama, Roseanne: The Complete Second Season is a collection of great episodes from series that was still great back then. Anchor Bay does a better job on the set this time around with the uncut versions, though the extras still stink worse than Dan's dirty socks.
Roseanne: The Complete Second Season is off the hook on account of some high-quality episodes. But if Roseanne herself shelled out her hard-earned dollars for this set, she might want a refund once she saw the extras.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• John Goodman: A Candid Interview
Review content copyright © 2006 Jennifer Malkowski; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.