The SmarK DVD Rant for Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season

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The SmarK DVD Rant for Roseanne – Season Seven

Although at this point the show wasn’t as bad as it would get, the seventh season is definitely getting into “for fans only” territory, as Roseanne herself seems less interested in presenting a universally-appealing show any longer and more interested in doing a weekly psycho-therapy session and exploring all the problems that have made her who she is. That’s OK when the material is good and the jokes are funny, but when they’re not, look out.

Disc One

– “Nine Is Enough”. Roseanne is just plain “Roseanne” in the credits now. So this episode is the official shark-jumping, general downfall of the series, whatever you want to call it. Dan is all weird about shaving his armpits for a minor operation (good thing he’s not a wrestler). Overcrowding in the Conner house is driving everyone more crazy than usual, but it gets worse when Roseanne is finally pregnant after months of trying. As usual, Dan gets emasculated and humiliated in the end. The other plot sees Jackie being ridiculously overprotective of her baby. A so-so premiere.

– “Two For One”. Roseanne decides that they’re going to eat healthier, which has sugar junkie Dan on edge as a result. The melodrama with David and Darlene ramps up again when Darlene gets caught in an affair, and this time Roseanne is adamant that he’s NOT moving in with them. More melancholy as Roseanne and Dan both stress over the pregnancy. Darlene dumps David for The Other Guy, which finally prompts David to grow a set, although it only lasts for one scene. It’s supposed to be a COMEDY. Infidelity and self-doubt are not exactly recipes for hilarity. However, a running gag with REALLY bad milk, which keeps getting put back in the fridge, is pretty damn funny.

– “Snoop Davey Dave”. David’s previous show of testicles collapses in a heap of tears on Dan’s shoulder. BE A MAN! Mark’s attempts to cheer him up are unsuccessful, but amusing (“See, she’s only gonna get worse,” he sagely advises, pointing at Roseanne). But it’s another Very Special Roseanne, as David narcs on the true extent of Darlene’s drug use, which apparently extends past the occasional joint into dropping acid on a semi-regular basis. I never buy that “I tried it and didn’t like it” crap. As Roseanne notes, if you tried it once and didn’t like it, why do it again? “I was curious” isn’t a valid excuse for breaking the law, especially when it comes to stuff like that. Roseanne, professional hypocrite, chastises David for being too possessive of Darlene, and then does the exact same thing before giving in to make herself look like the hero mom again. Darlene was really getting unlikeable at this point.

– “Girl Talk”. Mark and Becky are having marital problems, which quickly spreads through the gossip wire to Roseanne. Leon rules it here as usual when hearing of Dan’s toe-sucking fetish (“If I wasn’t gay before, I would be now.”) Roseanne wants Dan to talk to Mark about his issues in bed, but Dan correctly points out that men do not communicate that way. However, Roseanne gets to Fred first and EVERYTHING is out in the open as a result. This leads to all sorts of catty shots from the men, as they discover that sharing is BAD. A much better episode, especially the gender-reversal in the end credits.

– “Sleeper”. David continues the bonding with Becky that he began in the last episode, which sets Mark off. And we get all angsty again. David has a sex dream about what everyone assumes is Becky, but turns out to be Roseanne. This sets up a joke that shows the difference in the Sarah Chalke version of Becky, as Roseanne notes that all the teenage boys in the neighborhood have sex dreams about Becky. They would never make that kind of joke with the dorky Lecy Goranson version of the character. No one really knows what to do with the Roseanne sex dream, but luckily Dan explains it away as teenage boys being horny sex-crazed weirdos.

– “Skeleton In The Closet”. Leon decides to prove that Halloween is actually a gay holiday, by throwing a big gay party at the Lunch Box to out-do Roseanne. He also thinks Fred is gay, which becomes a thread that Roseanne of course has to pull at throughout the episode. As well, Bev may be bald, so Roseanne is on that case as well. Mark & David trying to explain homosexuality to DJ is one long awkward and funny moment. Roseanne’s costume this year: Prince. Martin Mull is of course up for anything, and goes as Hilary Clinton. Both storylines pay off with the joke being on Roseanne, just like the year before, in conclusions you could see coming from a mile away. Still, the “Fred is gay” gag makes for some funny stuff along the way.

– “Follow The Son”. David discovers that chicks dig mopey losers, which is good because Darlene announces plans to move in with The Other Guy, Jimmy, and he gets all mopey again. Jimmy, by the way, is an early role for Danny Masterson, aka Hyde from That 70s Show, looking totally different from that role. David pulls a great psyche job on Jimmy while trying to learn the scoop on their relationship, but as usual gets de-balled by Darlene in the end. And here I thought he might have learned a few things from Roseanne. Meanwhile, Roseanne wants DJ to have a job, but gets jealous when Dan hires him to work in the garage. See, she wanted him to work for HER, as the theme of her inability to let go of her kids pops up again. I honestly have no idea why David would keep chasing after someone who obviously doesn’t respect him and treats him like dirt.

Disc Two

– “Punch & Jimmy”. Roseanne wants to meet Darlene’s new boy, thus dooming the poor kid. Dan has no luck bonding with David, so he tries teaching DJ how to fight instead. DJ’s game plan: Cry, and then roll up into the fetal position. This is not only a great joke, but it’s paid off later as well. Dan is ready to nominate himself as Father of the Year for these bonding attempts, until DJ snaps and beats the crap out of David. Man, that kid just can’t get ANY respect. Mark, as usual, is there with his response (“What, did he catch you off-guard while you were knitting?”). A nice male-centric episode for once, where Dan gets to solve a problem without Roseanne.

– “White Men Can’t Kiss”. Jackie is disappointed that Fred doesn’t also hate Bev, as the Jackie-Mom relationship degenerates into cartoonish levels now. DJ refuses to kiss a black girl in his school play, and it’s another Very Special Roseanne as Dan worries that he’s teaching racist values to his kids. Race relations don’t tend to make good jokes, unless it’s Chris Rock or Dave Chapelle telling them. In the end, I’m a racist, you’re a racist, everyone’s a racist, next episode.

– “Thanksgiving ’94”. Roseanne taking on a horde of pro-life protesters outside a clinic is a great bit of evil to start the show. Dan wants Mark to play in his annual Thanksgiving football game, but now Mark is a super-idiot who doesn’t even know how many downs there are in football. Mark’s character varied wildly from one episode to the next. More pathos as Roseanne discovers that something might be wrong with the fetus and she might have to get an abortion (if only). Perhaps the pregnancy lasting 15 months when all was said and done might have been a better clue. A light-hearted discussion about abortion and a woman’s right to choose is RUINED by Roseanne’s bad mood. Geez, if you can’t laugh about abortion, what can you laugh at? Attempts to off-set all the deep and boring drama by inserting a new elderly boyfriend for Nana Mary fall very flat, as this one barely produced one laugh total.

– “Maybe Baby”. Things go from “Roseanne on her soapbox” to outright “Sledgehammer of Plot” here, as Roseanne waits anxiously to find out what’s wrong with her kid and treats everyone like dirt, especially Dan. Roseanne is at her selfish and loud worst here, totally shutting him out of the decision process and even grinding the episode to a halt at one point to give DJ a speech about how no man should ever make a woman choose what to do with her body. Okay, WE GET IT, enough with this plot already. And the baby is apparently going to be a girl, showing that life is full of surprises considering what came out of her later on. This one crossed from “Not funny” right over into “Uncomfortable to watch”.

– “The Parenting Trap”. Finally we’re back into funny stuff again. David finally starts dating again, a cheerleader named Dinah first of all who isn’t too bright. And speaking of dumb, DJ’s teacher wants to transfer him into a “special” class (Roseanne: “Like, as in the sporting goods store is having a special on dumbbells?”) because he won’t come to the board and show his homework. Roseanne is stymied, but Dan’s got this one figured out, and the answer proves to be puberty striking at the worst time again. Roseanne wants to talk it out with him, but sometimes the solution really is just a book in the right position, as demonstrated by DJ running away in horror at “The White Dress Story”. In the other plot thread, David is still pining for Becky, which has Darlene confused. Actually, dorky Becky would be quite a good match for David, it’s just that hot Becky is out of his league. It’s really weird how the character changed with the actress. And mankind at least gets one bit of hope, as Roseanne is forced to admit that Dan was right about something. Hallelujah! Best of the season.

– “Rear Window”. Continuing down the lighter side, the Conners are horrified to learn that their VERY elderly neighbors are nudists. But much like a Vince Russo PPV, they cannot look away from the trainwreck. Mark is getting paranoid about his brother’s relationship with his wife, and neither one is really denying anything. Becky stands up for David enough that he finally stands up to Darlene, and of course that’s when she clues into what she threw away. Roseanne tries to confront the neighbors over coffee, but even she’s at a loss for words and discovers there’s just no good way to bring that sort of thing up. In the end, she gets the last word, as usual. Another winner.

– “My Name Is Bev”. Bev gets picked up for a DUI and has to attend AA, which has everyone, including Bev, protesting that she’s not an alcoholic. However, she IS a drama queen, and quickly realizes how much attention she’ll get for having a disease, so she becomes a raging 12 step recovery machine, making sure to ban booze from the house when she’s around and lecturing everyone on finding their higher power and not using beer as a crutch. Her torture of Dan during a beer commercial is great (“Who drinks beer that cold? There’s ice all over the neck! And why do they pour it so slowly on TV?”) and causes him and Jackie to run off to the garage and get drunk. Is she really an alcoholic? We don’t really find out and I don’t think it’s brought up again.

Disc Three

– “Bed and Bored”. Roseanne is laid up in bed and unable to meddle in everyone’s lives, leaving Dan as the savior of the house. Bev very nicely volunteers to babysit Jackie’s baby, but Jackie’s irrational hatred of her mother grows to truly cartoonish levels, beyond all proportion. This was the period where I really stopped liking Jackie as a character. David learns that Roseanne is faking her “illness”, which should be to the shock of no one. Dan sets Jackie straight (“If you could read the instructions on a box of condoms, you wouldn’t even have a kid!”) and then gets his revenge on Roseanne for good measure. Jackie finally has her confrontation with Bev, but the more mature relationship between them would be forgotten right away as they would revert to childish fighting in the very next episode. Next much substance here.

– “Sisters”. DJ is spending way too much time at the Jackie house, and is getting weirder by the show. Now he’s eating cardboard. Dan schemes to get Becky and Darlene back together again so they can be loving sisters like Jackie and Roseanne (Darlene: “No problem, I’ll just sleep with every guy in town and Becky can gain 400 pounds.”) Everyone breaks up, but DJ has a nice explanation and the rifts manage to mend. And Roseanne manipulates her way to the top again.

– “Lost Youth”. Traci Lords returns as bimbo waitress Stacy, using her charms on Mark and David, which has them fighting over her despite Mark being married and all. Mark again swings from drooling idiot to alpha male, as the writers require. Jackie is bored with Fred, as he has reached the beginning of the end of his usefulness to her and the show. Dan explains it to him: Men love being in the rut because that’s what they’re striving for during dating and they’re happy there. Mark and David get into a big fight and the situation between them is never really resolved, as we have another downer in a series of them. The payoff for the sex-on-the-table jokes in the credits is BRILLIANT, however.

– “Single Married Female”. Stacy drags Jackie out to a club for some dancing, which has Fred all lonely and jealous and stuff. This innocent clubbing leads to less-innocent dating of another man, as Jackie sinks yet another level. Mark swings back to raging retard here. Fred, to his credit, doesn’t want to play along with Jackie’s childish cry for attention, but that’s not what perpetual high school girl Jackie is all about. And so Fred moves out. Good for him. Not such a funny episode, but Roseanne’s cameo in the credits, explaining her absence and the birds and the bees, nearly saves it.

– “The Clip Show: All About Rosey”. Well, at least they warn you in the title. The idea is that it’s an hour-long episode, divided into three smaller sections: 1965 Roseanne (played by DJ in drag) sees a fortune teller to learn her future, then 2025 Jackie reminisces about DJ’s past, and finally Roseanne consults with sitcom wives of the past in a funny bit. Luckily they picked the FUNNY clips, which makes this show one of the funniest of the very depressing 7th season.

– “Husbands & Wives” Roseanne cons Darlene into cutting her own allowance in a great bookending gag. The main plot sees Roseanne trying to get Fred and Jackie back together using various schemes like a live skit with Mark and Becky, and then the awesome nagging power of Bev. But after all that time and Fred finally coming around and forgiving his wive, Jackie decides that she doesn’t want him back after all,and that’s pretty much it for their relationship. What a bitch she turned into.

Disc Four

– “Happy Trailers”. Thank God, Darlene has finally cut her hair and started dressing like a normal person again. Roseanne and Dan are stressed because of baby costs in a subplot that’s ALMOST bordering on the stuff that used to be funny about the show, while Mark and Becky buy a trailer, thus completing their destiny. Really, it’s just a way to get Sarah Chalke off the show again and thus out of the house, and we get the usual trailer jokes, like the horny southern idiot next door (played by Sharon Stone in this case). The kids are happy enough, but Dan feels guilty about the community spigot and broken pipes. And did you know that you can save half on burgers by getting “ground meat” instead of beef? Nice mix of funny and sweet here, although they abandoned the health care plot way too early.

– “The Blaming of the Shrew”. Jackie and Fred decide to try therapy to save their failing marriage, while DJ starts out at the other end of the relationship spectrum with his first date. I don’t know if that juxtaposition was intentional, but bravo if so. At any rate, the former Chrissy Seaver from Growing Pains plays Lisa, a REALLY bossy girl who Roseanne of course immediately loves. Ellen Degeneres is the babbling therapist, in the days before she was more famous for what she was than who she was, and Jackie continues her slide into bitchery. Maybe they’re just writing her to be more like her mother, I dunno. Roseanne in a nutshell: “I WAS listening, but then I stopped talking and it got really boring.” Jackie and Fred realize that they’re totally different people and try to build on it, but the end is near.

– “The Birds and the Frozen Bees”. A weird plot that goes nowhere sees DJ bringing frozen bees back to life. This has nothing to do with anything and isn’t even mentioned again. What the HELL? The actual story for the episode has Darlene behaving like a human being instead of a robot for once and realizing that she still has feelings for David. Back to moron status for Mark again, although it’s funny when Roseanne scores easy points off him by making him go home and call her before visiting. David insists on free will and tries to date other people, but once Roseanne has her mind set on making something happen, it’s like a bass solo at a Van Halen concert — you might as well just sit down and listen, because there’s nothing you can do about it. And finally Darlene treats David like a person instead of her plaything, and gets him back for good.

– “Couch Potatoes”. It’s the final months of Roseanne’s incredibly drawn-out pregnancy, and her tyranny is interrupted by a selection from Nielsen as a ratings family. This is of course the culmination of her life’s work, but hormones and over thinking mean that she decides to watch nothing but PBS all the time to screw with them and prove that white trash are smart too. A broken couch leaves the Conners in debt to Bev again, but at least with a nicer couch. However, Roseanne freaks out and hates it, which prompts Dan to stupidly blame it on hormones. (OUT LOUD.) Oh, you never wanna do that. And finally, over a quiet dinner and without so much as a whimper of protest, Fred exits Jackie’s life and the series with a simple “I think it’s over”. If only this show would have gone as quietly.

– “Sherwood Schwartz: A Loving Tribute”. Not the most likely subject of a season finale, but somehow fitting for a season as meandering and uneven as this one. David graduates high school to finally give them a diploma in the family, but he wants to spend a month in Europe and Darlene is having none of that. Dan’s boat from season one returns as he’s also pining for the fjords, and so we get a fallback of this show when they run out of ideas: Silly fantasy sequences. In this case, it’s the Roseanne gang playing the Gilligan’s Island gang. However, they mix together self-aware deconstructive humor (like Roseanne playing Ginger) with dumb slapstick from the 60s, and the result is a mess. Back in the real world, Roseanne allows Dan his boat to set an example for Darlene, but David still ends up working at the pizza place and wearing a hair net.

As you can tell, this is the worst season thus far, and the quality continues to slide at a dramatic pace in the final two seasons.

The Video

Pretty much standard TV fare, as it doesn’t look like Anchor Bay made any great effort in remastering this for DVD. Colors are pretty washed out and there’s lots of obvious noise issues with the transfer. Given the age of the show it’s tough to expect much more, but I’ve definitely seen better.

The Audio

Just plain old stereo, although it’s rarely actually used. Dialogue is clear, however, so it serves the purpose needed.

The Extras

Now apparently, and I might just be thinking of something else here, but I’ve heard that when you buy a TV show on DVD, a lot of times they give you bonus materials that I like to call “Extras”. These can be documentaries, commentary tracks, interviews with the cast and crew, blooper reels, or even a preview of the next season on DVD. I’m just mentioning this as a point of interest, not because you actually get anything on this set.

The Ratings

The Show: **1/2

The Video: **1/2

The Audio: **

The Extras: DUD

The Pulse

With Roseanne’s total takeover of the creative aspect of the show complete (and glaringly obvious), this was definitely the season where I started to lose interest in the show. Many episodes were little more than man-bashing personal vendettas by Roseanne, or wink-wink breaking of the fourth wall wastes of time, or blatant attempts to win an Emmy by piling on the Movie of the Week drama. Sometimes it was still funny, but it’s getting harder to find those moments as we near the end, and that’s why it’s getting harder for me to slog through these sets and write these reviews.

Recommend for fans only.