Monday, April 02, 2018


I wasn't planning on bringing up the revival of Roseanne, but as the show's become a phenomenal hit, I thought I'd discuss it.

In general, I don't like the idea of reviving old TV shows.  They tend to be of a time and place, and it's hard to recapture the magic. It's usually just sad when they try.  But it's being attempted a lot lately because, I guess, network ratings have been going down for years, and even the lower ratings these old hits used to get are looking pretty good.

I did watch the old Roseanne when it first aired.  Roseanne Barr herself was a standup comedian who came out of nowhere to be huge, and the sitcom version of her life did the same.  It debuted in 1988 and was in the top three for its first five years, and remained top ten for its first seven years, reaching numbers that are essentially unobtainable today--often getting more than twice as many viewers as the revival has gotten.

I thought the show was pretty good.  Though it was built around Barr, it wasn't a vehicle, it was a true ensemble.  As the years went by, though, I watched it less and less (though I did go to a taping of a later episode written by some friends).  I stopped watching a few years before the show went off the air. (By the way, I noticed one episode of the misbegotten final season had Roseanne meeting First Lady Hillary Clinton, though she was played by an actress.)

As much as I don't like revivals, I watched the debut of the new Roseanne (and it was two half hours, back to back) just to see how they'd pull it off.  In some ways, it was nice to see the gang back, but overall, I wasn't impressed.  The jokes seemed strained, and the politics--which everyone seems to be talking about--seemed forced.

The old show could be political, but was rarely so on the nose.  The new show had debates about Trump versus Hillary in ways that I don't think All In The Family would have even tried.

Also, the show seems tired already.  Sure, the characters are older, but it's more than that--it just fells like we've seen this before, no matter how "modern" the plots are (surrogate motherhood, a boy who dresses like a girl).

Much has been written about how Roseanne (the character, as well as the person, I suppose) supports Trump.  I admit it is odd to see anyone saying good things about Trump on a mainstream show.  Trump fans--who after all, are about half the country--are used to relentless hatred from network shows.  Perhaps this is part of the reason the premiere did so well (and note the show isn't even taking sides, it's just showing someone who thinks Trump is okay), but I think conservatives are exaggerating the effect.  Mostly people wanted to see an old show they loved back on the air.

It's ironic, by the way, to see conservative backing the show.  There original show often got the support of leftists, who saw it as a blue collar call to arms.  But then, times were different--white blue collar voters were Democrats, and rich whites were Republicans.  Somehow, that's been switched.

It is nice that all the main characters have shown up--Roseanne, Dan, Jackie, D.J., Darlene and even the two Beckys.  Word is Johnny Galecki will even come back for an episode. (I wonder who thought back then that he'd become so big?)

The balance has changed, though.  Originally, they were all unknowns, and Roseanne was the name.  Now, John Goodman is the bigger star, I'd say--he's certainly done a lot more than Barr has since the show went off the air.  For that matter, Laurie Metcalf--if just for her work on The Big Bang Theory and her Oscar-nominated performance in Lady Bird--is better known to the modern audience than Barr.

I was going to say I don't plan to watch the new Roseanne again. But I might, at least for a while, since it's become a lead-in to a show that is on its final legs, but, unlike Roseanne, a show about an average family in the Midwest that I watched all the way through nine seasons, The Middle.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I've seen talk that the success of Roseanne has Fox thinking of bringing back "Last Man Standing," which was canned by ABC even though its ratings were the highest sit-com ABC had. I never watched Roseanne, but read about it. I guess the last two season became quite surreal, with Roseanne becoming rich, Dan dying, then the suggestion these events were all fever dreams and best disregarded.

By the way, is The Middle ending up well? We'll have to buy the final season, because we fell behind and ABC makes it too hard to catch up on missed episodes.

7:49 AM, April 03, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I think The Middle is keeping up its standards, though it's outlived its premise, with the kids going to college and getting jobs. I think they're tying up a few loose ends (though they're playing out the Sue Heck romance way too long) and will be ready to go.

If Roseanne is such a hit, you'd think ABC would want to bring back Home Improvement.

9:08 AM, April 03, 2018  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

True, but I'm pretty sure Tim Allen has had it with ABC. But is it likely ABC owns the rights to Last Man Standing and wouldn't let anyone else revive it?

12:14 PM, April 03, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'm not sure who owns Last Man Standing--I think it may be 20th Century Fox. It's rare but not unheard of for shows to switch networks.

I don't know how Tim Allen feels about ABC, but if he wants to do a show (and make a lot of money for doing a show), why should he care where it's aired?

2:58 PM, April 03, 2018  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it clear they're making the Sue romance the big finale?

6:19 PM, April 04, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Clearly they're leading up to the big ending with Sue, but they've done the so-close-but-just-missed so many times between two people who are crazy for each others that it's gotten tiresome.

6:56 PM, April 04, 2018  

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