Judge Jennifer Malkowski thinks that at this point in its run, Roseanne should have added a new baby to improve ratings, or maybe had the Conners win the lottery...
Our reviews of Roseanne: The Complete First Season (published December 7th, 2005), Roseanne: The Complete Second Season (published January 25th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Third Season (published April 19th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 26th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season (published November 29th, 2006), Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season (published October 26th, 2012), Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season (published January 24th, 2007), Roseanne: The Complete Sixth Season (published October 26th, 2012), Roseanne: The Complete Eighth Season (published September 5th, 2007), and Roseanne: The Complete Ninth Season (published January 9th, 2008) are also available.
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…
Facts of the Case
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"
• "Two for One"
• "Snoop Davey Dave"
• "Girl Talk"
• "Skeleton in the Closet"
• "Follow the Son"
• "Punch and Jimmy"
• "White Men Can't Kiss"
• "Thanksgiving 1994"
• "Maybe Baby"
• "The Parenting Trap"
• "Rear Window"
• "My Name is Bev"
• "Bed and Bored"
• "Lost Youth"
• "Single Married Female"
• "The Clip Show: All About Rosey One-Hour Special"
• "Husbands and Wives"
• "Happy Trailers"
• "The Blaming of the Shrew"
• "The Birds and the Frozen Bees"
• "Couch Potatoes"
• "Sherwood Schwartz: A Loving Tribute"
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.
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