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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Roseanne - The Complete Fifth Season
Roseanne - The Complete Fifth Season
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 12, 2006
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted September 18, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Fifth Season

Roseanne was a popular sitcom from the late eighties and its cast has been given numerous awards for their performances. The series is about a lower class family, living in Lanford, Illinois, struggling through that odd thing we call life. The show has an intrinsic cast and they are a hard bunch not to like. Roseanne looks at some of the most common daily situations from the home and the work place. In most cases these situations turn out to be funny. However unlike some sitcoms that rely on slapstick comedy to make ordinary situations a riot, Roseanneuses witty dialogue to get laughs. For more background information about the series please refer to my reviews of season one, season two, season three, and season four.

If there ever was a season that reflected the success and popularity of Roseanne, it is season five. In terms of public recongnition, Roseanne received lots of praise in its first four seasons, as well as was nominated for several awards and even won one (Metcalf, Emmy Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series). For season five, the show took home two Emmys, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Roseanne Barr, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Laurie Metcalf, and three Golden Globes, Best TV Series Comedy/Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series-Comedy/Musical, John Goodman, and Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series-Comedy/Musical, Roseanne Barr. And while watching season five, it is evident. There are two reasons for show's continued success. Firstly, the entire cast performs exceptionally well (not just the ones who got awards!). Secondly, the season five stories are racy, dramatic, and always contain some hilarious bits.

In season five, there are a lot of things happening with the Conner family and their friends, some of which is hysterical and others dramatic, from financial woes to relationships and marriage to homosexuality to domestic violence to con-men and swindlers. But no matter the direction of the plotlines, the cast does an admirable job playing off of each other and turning around some bleak situations into something quite fun. The opening of the season begins with two big plotlines. First of all, the custom bike shop business, Lanford Cycles, Dan and Roseanne opened up previously is going down the toilet, and Dan is forced to give up his dream. Life (financially speaking of course) is not looking good for the Conner's, as in the end of season four Roseanne lost her job at the diner. Neither Dan nor Roseanne have steady incomes, which becomes a story revisited throughout the season as they try to get back on their feet, which includes a run-in with a con man, minimum wage jobs, a search for the meaning of life, and so on.

The other big opening story centers around Mark and Becky. In the real world, Goranson headed off to college and the writers needed a way to put Becky out of the picture, but still available for the occasional visit. Well, since the bike shop closed down, Mark was without work in Lanford. However, he received a job offer job in Minneapolis. Becky does not want him to go, but of course it is what the best thing for him. On a whim, the two young lovebirds tie the knot and decide to move to Minneapolis together. It is a major headache for Roseanne, especially when Dan refuses to talk to Becky. What is really great about this story comes at the end, when Dan finally accepts Becky's decision. It is heartwarming moment and shows what a quality actor Goodman is.

With Goranson off the cast, Fishman took on a permanent role in the show to fill the void. Fishman plays David, Darlene's boyfriend, who is also Mark's younger brother. I have always liked David. He is a pushover and intermixes with Darlene's overly abrasive, sarcastic (but oh so funny) personality well. The two have some pretty fun moments together. The storylines include David moving into the Conner house, David and Darlene going to the prom, losing their virginity, and Darlene getting jealous over the new neighbor Molly (Danielle Harris) who has the hots for David. There is also a developing story arc about the two dropping out of high school to go to writing school, which becomes the main issue in the season finale.

Sandra Bernhard guest starred as Nancy in the past season as Arnie's girlfriend, and later the wife. In the end of season four, Arnie was abducted by aliens, or so he says, which was the final straw for Nancy. In season five, the two are no longer together and Nancy has declared she is a lesbian, which occurred in "Ladies' Choice". The episode was somewhat controversial for a 1990s program, and Barr talks about it in the video commentary. With Nancy's newfound sexuality, Morgan Fairchild guest stars as her girlfriend.

Roseanne and Jackie's mother Bev is also at the fore in a couple of stories. She makes more appearance than in previous seasons. She sold her house and moved to Lanford to be closer to the girls, which produces some tension for the Conner's, but at the same time helped them out. Bev, having recently sold her home, had a lot of cash and was able to bail out the Roseanne and Dan on a couple occasions. Bev also goes into business with Roseanne, Jackie, and Nancy to open the Lunchbox, a diner specializing in loose meat sandwiches.

In perhaps the most dramatic story of the season, and definitely most compelling, deals with Jackie, her new boyfriend, and domestic violence. In the early portions of the season, she started dating a younger guy named Fisher. At first the drama in their relationship was about the age difference. She initially lied about how old she was and with the help of Roseanne, she came clean about her age. Fisher had no problem with it and they decided to move in together. Life is roses and daffodils with these two, or at least we'd hope it would be. Further into the season, we find out Fisher is not a good guy. He had been hitting Jackie and it is a very dramatic story. How both Metcalf and Barr perform in their dramatic, serious roles is wonderful. They are convincing and handle the frightful subject well.

Overall, I felt that season five was particularly strong. When I first sat down to watch season five, I had meant to watch an episode or two, but before I knew it twenty-five episodes (approximately nine and half hours) had passed. I thought season five was a lot of fun with a great mixture of comedy and drama, storylines that were not only funny, but engaging, as well as some great performances from its cast. Bottom line, season five of Roseanne is must own season.

Episode Guide
1. Terms Of Estrangement - Part 1: Dan and Roseanne try to look on the bright side while their business is going downhill. And Becky elopes with her boyfriend Mark.
2. Terms Of Estrangement - Part 2: Roseanne is trying to cheer Dan up after the loss of their motorcycle business, as Becky returns back home to face her parents.
3. The Dark Ages: During a blackout at the Conner's, Darlene gets accused of spending the night with her boyfriend.
4. Mommy Nearest: Roseanne and Jackie's mother gives them a little financial assistance after giving them some shocking news; she's moving to Lanford.
5. Pretty In Black: After Roseanne throws Darlene a nasty sweet sixteen party, Darlene is out for vengeance and decides to dye her hair black.
6. Looking For Loans In All The Wrong Places: Roseanne and Jackie are attempting to receive a bank loan and it's not working out. So they are forced to go to their last resort for help, their mother!
7. Halloween IV: For the first time Roseanne is not in the Halloween spirit. So she Is visted by the Ghost of Halloween in an attempt to change her mood.
8. Ladies' Choice: Roseanne and Jackie learn about Nancy's lesbian lifestyle.
9. Stand On Your Man: Arnie comes back in to town for Nancy and has yet to hear about her new lifestyle. Meanwhile, Jackie wants the girls to sign up for a self defense class after Roseanne is threatened at work.
10. Good Girls, Bad Girls: Darlene is left ditched at a rock concert, when her friend leaves with a guy.
11. Of Ice And Men: DJ wants a position on the hockey team so Dan comes to the rescue.
12. No Place Like Home For The Holidays: The Conner's are left apart from one another for Christmas because of a terrible snow storm.
13. Crime And Punishment, Part 1: Dan has an appointment with DJ's principal after DJ is caught with obscene reading material, which actually belongs to Darlene.

14. War And Peace, Part 2: After hearing disturbing news about Jackie's boyfriend, Dan takes matters into his own hands and ends up in jail.
15. Lanford Daze: The Conner's are all running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but they are all left with a memorable Lanford Days Celebration.
16. Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home: Roseanne is let with the world on her shoulders when her father passes away.
17. First Cousin, Twice Removed: Roseanne's snobby cousin makes a surprise visit and leaves after causing a feud at the Conner's.
18. Lose A Job, Winnebago: The Conner's take a trip to Hollywood to attend a taping of The Jackie Thomas Show, while Dan tries to persuade Roseanne to have another child.
19. It's A Boy: Roseanne and Darlene are left with convincing Dan to let Darlene's boyfriend move in with them.
20. It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...: Roseanne surprises Dan with a sexy photograph for their 20th anniversary, but Dan's surprise leads to some conflict.
21. Playing With Matches: Roseanne decides to play cupid when she learns that her mom made a new friend at the retirement home.
22. Promises, Promises: Darlene and David's relationship is headed down a different path after Darlene surprises him with a hotel room after prom.
23. Glengarry, Glen Rossy: Roseanne and Dan are going through financial problems and are close to losing their house. Lucky for them Jackie saves the day and decides on burying their house.
24. Tooth Or Consequences: Darlene is faced with a huge predicament; her boyfriend or school in Chicago. Meanwhile, Dan accidentally leaves Roseanne toothless before an important meeting with a health inspector.
25. Daughters And Other Strangers: Roseanne and Dan decide on letting Darlene go to school in Chicago but what bout David? Also, DJ becomes a man after a birthday party.

The DVD

Video:
The video is given in its original television aspect ratio 1.33:1 full frame color. Overall, the picture looks decent. The transfer is a little dirty with a noticeable grain and other imperfections (minor aliasing, rough edges, and compression artifacts). It is an acceptable transfer and shouldn't ruin the viewing experience.

Audio:
The audio track included with this release is English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The sound quality is good with dialogue consistently audible. It is an average TV on DVD track. It is dialogue driven and as a result remains pretty flat and has very little distinction with channel separation. This release does not come with subtitles, but it is closed caption enabled.

Extras:
The bonus features included with this set can be found on disc 4. They include two video commentaries and a featurette. The video commentaries cover the episodes "Ladies' Choice" and "Lanford Daze". Both commentaries feature Roseanne Barr providing comments about the episode, characters, and show. The video commentary format runs with the entire episode toggling between full screen and a smaller size screen paired with a reel of Roseanne as she gives her commentary. Occasionally facts/information is printed on the screen. For an example of what the video commentary looks like, please refer to the extras section in the season four review. Note: the DVD covers list the commentaries as audio, which is clearly a misprint.

The featurette is "Top 10 Questions", which stars Roseanne answering fan mail. It runs for approximately five minutes. It is also important to note that only eight questions are addressed. At the very end of the featurette, the title screen pops up, the 10 is crossed out, and replaced with an 8. As a personal gripe, I do not like misrepresentation and advertising something is something it is not, just isn't cool. Well, here are the ten eight questions. Note the questions are word-for-word from fan mail.

1. What was the obsession with corn during the first season?
2. What was the big deal with "the chicken shirt"?
3. When filming the show did you try to go out and try to be controversial and try to push the envelope?
4. I read some where everyone on the set is really close. Is that true?
5. After the show ended who got to keep all the special props?
6. Being a working mom is hard enough, but it's got to be two fold when you're a celebrity when did you make time between your kids, producing, acting and other numerous things so that you did no go crazy?
7. In the episode "Ladies Choice", Nancy comes out of the closet to you and Jackie. Did the studio give you any resistance to this?
8. Was a lot of what ended up being aired actually not even in the script and just ad-lebbed? A lot of what Roseanne said sounded so natural as if she just made it up right then-which was great!

Additionally, there are trailers for 3rd Rock From the Sun and Grounded For Life.

Final Thoughts:
I am not sure if I was in the mood for Roseanne or if the season was just all-around better than previous seasons, but I loved this season. The stories contained the usually Conner family goofiness and drama, but it seemed to be taken up a notch. The plotlines tackled some fairly serious stuff and the actors/actresses handled it extremely well. The comical aspects were also great, with the entire cast working great together. In the end, I believe Roseanne: The Complete Fifth Season is a great watch and any fan of the series or sitcom-goer should pick this set up immediately. It comes highly recommended.

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