Any Roseanne fans worth their salt know that the Halloween episodes were among the best this show ever did. Year after year, the creativity of the plots, the costumes, and the gags were stellar. It is a stroke of pure brilliance that this DVD features all seven Halloween episode in one collection along with audio commentary from Roseanne herself.
The episodes included on this disc are:
"Boo!": Becky is putting the kibosh on the Conner family celebration until she is inspired to get into the spirit herself with a really creative costume. The Conners welcome the neighborhood children by turning the first floor of their home into a house of horrors. This episode was nominated for an Emmy.
"Trick or Treat": A battle of the sexes lays the groundwork for this episode. Roseanne dresses as a lumberjack, and when she is taken for a man at the local bar, she learns what it is like to be one of the guys.
"Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down": Roseanne has a grand old time fooling her uptight new neighbor into believing she is a cold-blooded murderer, while Jackie gets a blast from the past when a past love re-enters her life at a Halloween party. Roseanne and Dan also put on a ventriloquist show for the party goers.
"Halloween IV": In my opinion, among a host of fantastic episodes, this one is the best, hands down. Roseanne loses her Halloween spirit, and the ghosts of Halloweens Past, Present, and Future show her the light. There is a particularly hilarious scene between a teenage Roseanne and Dan, and in the end, Roseanne gets her revenge on her friends and family, whom she has overheard gossiping about her.
"Halloween V": The diner is the setting for this Halloween as Nancy, played by comedienne Sandra Bernhard, is the target of a prank by Dan after she worries that Dan does not like her. Meanwhile, trouble brews between Darlene and her boyfriend, David.
"Skeleton in the Closet": Leon, Roseanne and Jackie's partner in the diner, and Fred, Jackie's husband, continue their animosity due to the fact that Leon is gay. Eyebrows are raised when Leon's friends appear to have more than a casual relationship with Fred. David and Mark, David's brother, try to explain homosexuality to D.J. Roseanne and Jackie fear that their mother secretly wears a wig. Be warned: Roseanne wears a dreaded "pumpkin sweater" in this episode!
"Halloween: The Final Chapter": This episode features an appearance by Ed McMahon as Roseanne and Dan's new son, Jerry Garcia Conner makes his entry into the world after Roseanne conducts a séance at the kitchen table.
Roseanne, especially in its early seasons, was a brilliantly written and expertly acted show. There was the caustic Roseanne as the centerpiece, the sarcastic, gum-cracking matriarch of a strictly middle-class, but tightly knit family with too many bills and and too many problems. Roseanne's husband, Dan, played by the absolutely endearing John Goodman, is a hard-working man who just wants to drink a beer and catch a good game on the weekends. Oldest child Becky, played by Lecy Goranson (whom you may recognize from Sex and the City or Boys Don't Cry), is the classic overachiever who is tired of taking responsibility for her two younger siblings. Darlene (Sarah Gilbert) is a mini-Roseanne, rude, crude, and completely on target with her observations of the world around her. Youngest child DJ is completely overwhelmed by all the female influences in his life. Roseanne's sister, Jackie, makes frequent trips to the Conner household, and she is always jumping from one job – and boyfriend – to another. In other words, there is plenty of fuel for the comic fire as the characters interact with one another.
What made the Halloween episodes so great was the fact that, despite their ever-present money problems – and I'm not even going to address the absolutely horrific season where they won the lottery – the family was so clearly delighted by the pranks and the hi-jinks, that the Halloween episodes were truly a visual delight.
With this collection, viewers are treated to all the great costumes: Darlene in a costume straight out of The Birds, DJ strapped to a hand truck, unable to move because he is dressed as Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, Roseanne as the Statue of Liberty and Prince, Dan as all Three Stooges at the same time, and Becky as a truly twisted flight attendant. The granddaddy of them all, however, is Dan and Jackie as Marie Antoinette holding her own head; it has to be one of the best Halloween costumes ever.
Then there are the tricks the Conners play on one another and those around them. No one is safe as they each try to outplay the other. Witness Roseanne teasing her hair in order to make it look as though she was just electrocuted by the toaster. Or Dan pretending to get his hand caught in the garbage disposal. Or Jackie sticking her head through the kitchen table to scare the neighborhood kids. For anyone who loves Halloween and Roseanne, this collection is a must-have.
As it was shown on television, the discs are offered in a full-frame 1.33:1 presentation. The picture and colors are good but not great. Having viewed these episodes many times on television, I can say that there is not much of an improvement in the transfer from TV to DVD.
This release offers a 2.0 Dolby Digital English language track. The sound is unremarkable, and while it does not detract from the viewing experience, it does not add anything to it either.
Roseanne makes an appearance to provide audio commentary on for the "Trick Me Up! Trick Me Down!" episode, and reveals great details about the Halloween episodes. For instance, she had to fight to even have one, based on the fact that the network was scared that viewers in the Bible Belt would be turned off by the topic of Halloween.
Roseanne's delivery is typically deadpan and self-deprecating, and she provides a great deal of insight, making fun of the fact that her last name was "Arnold" during this season, and that she was "pre-nose job" at this point. Viewers might be distracted by the way that Roseanne appears on screen each time she makes a comment. I thought it was effective, however, because of the fact that the volume of the episode is not turned down too low while she is speaking, as is done with many other commentaries. Overall, it is a fun addition, and it is well-worth watching. Just hearing Roseanne discuss her love of the holiday, as well as the gracious praise she heaps on her co-stars (even though she can't always remember the lesser-players' names), makes the entire viewing experience complete.
This disc is a must have for your DVD collection. Just as Little House on the Prairie has a collection of Christmas episodes out, because Christmas was a theme that played particularly well for that series, it is absolutely terrific that Roseanne fans can now own all the Halloween episodes on one DVD. May other shows be blessed with releases such as this one. Personally, I'm voting for Charlie's Angels to release all the Hawaii episodes in one collection!