Judge Jennifer Malkowski used to go for the bad boys in high school just like Becky...one of them was even president of the Star Trek Club! Hot.
Our reviews of Roseanne: The Complete First Season (published December 7th, 2005), Roseanne: The Complete Second Season (published January 25th, 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.
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?"
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.
Facts of the Case
This is a big season, offering the following 25 episodes:
• "The Test"
• "Friends and Relatives"
• "Like a Virgin"
• "Like a New Job"
• "Goodbye Mr. Right"
• "Becky, Beds, and Boys"
• "Trick or Treat"
• "PMS, I Love You"
• "Bird is the Word"
• "Dream Lover"
• "Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?"
• "The Courtship of Eddie, Dan's Father"
• "The Wedding"
• "Becky Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
• "Valentine's Day"
• "Communicable Theater"
• "Vegas Interruptus"
• "Her Boyfriend's Back"
• "Troubles with the Rubbles"
• "Second Time Around"
• "Dances with Darlene"
• "Scenes from a Barbecue"
• "The Pied Piper of Lanford"
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.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Laurie Metcalf Interview: "The Sister that Never Leaves"
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