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Roseanne: Season Eight
The Eighth 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, Roseanne uses witty dialogue to get laughs. For more background information about the series please refer to my reviews of season one, season two, season three, season four, season five, season six, and season seven.
Season eight is another season of change for the Conner family. One of the biggest changes is the return of Lecy Goranson in the role of Becky. During season five, Goranson's character was slowly written out so that she could attend college. Throughout season five Goranson made brief appearances. In season six, actress Sarah Chalke took over her role and continued into season seven. Season eight sees the return of Goranson, although Chalke returns in season nine and makes a few appearances in season eight. This change was handled well and there are some fun gags about Goranson having been gone for three years. Other big changes this season include the new Conner baby, marriages, new job opportunities, relationships, and health issues. In addition, season eight comes with a new title sequence that shows the main cast members aging over the series' run. All in all, season eight has the same fun tempo found in earlier seasons with Roseanne and company giving good performances.
In season seven Roseanne decided that she wanted to have another baby. This issue was a big source of drama, as Dan was not keen on the idea at first. Roseanne and Dan also faced problems actually getting pregnant. But in the end they were able to conceive. The baby storyline plays a minor role this season, mostly in the beginning with a wacky baby shower and the birth of the newest Conner member Jerry Garcia.
Dan has had a good and stable job working for the city running a shop that repairs city-owned vehicles. Chuck and Bob, Dan's friends, come to him in "Construction Junction" to ask him about going back to working construction. The city of Lanford is building a prison on the outskirts of town. And it is open season for contractors to put a bid on the project. It is a great opportunity for Dan and company to make money. However, it means giving up the stability of his city job. Roseanne and Dan have to decide if it is worth the risk.
David and Darlene's lives undergo some big changes. The first is career-oriented. After a minor scuffle with Dan and Mark, David comes to realize it is time for him to move on and get his life started. He agrees with Dan it is time to get a real job and move out of the Conner household. This realization comes with a fun episode "Springtime for David". David gets a job at a theme park, where he is brainwashed. Roseanne fights to get him back. Darlene is also given a great opportunity to start a career. The only catch is that it means quitting college. She is offered thirty grand a year to work as a media consultant in advertising. The news shocks the Conners, as it is a great opportunity and she turns it down. The Darlene-David relationship also moves ahead in "Another Mouth to Shut Up". Darlene informs David she is pregnant and proposes to him. They get in married in "The Wedding", which is both dramatic and comical.
Marriages do not stop with David and Darlene. Reoccurring character Leon has been in a relationship with male companion Scott (Fred Willard) for years. They had even tried to get married years earlier, but Leon got cold feet. Now, Leon and Scott are trying it again. The only problem is that they do not have the time to plan the wedding or money to hire a wedding planner. Roseanne, with purely good intentions, offers to help out. She plans their wedding and makes it too flamboyant in "December Bride". It is a fun episode. Scott reoccurs throughout the season. He appears in strong episodes like "Out Of The Past". Roseanne invites Scott and Leon to Dan's poker game. The male-couple turns the "manly" game into a discussion about discrimination and racism. While a serious subject, the characters put in a few good jabs to lighten the mood.
Becky and Mark run into some serious problems with their relationship. Last season, Mark and Becky moved into a trailer park. At first, Becky seemed happy with the change and direction their life was heading. In "Becky Howser, M.D.", Becky admits that her life is not going as planned. She begins to doubt her marriage and wonders what life would have been like if she had gone to college instead of getting married. She decides to reapply to college and try to realize her dream. Mark feels threatened by the sudden desire for more and fears that Becky will not love him.
Other happenings this season include "The Thrilla Near the Vanilla Extract", a classic episode with Roseanne v. Jackie, "We're Going to Disney World" and "Disney World War II", the Conner family goes to Disney World, "Morning Becomes Obnoxious", Roseanne's cynical attitude gets her on television, "Heart & Soul", Dan suffers a heart-attack, and "Fights and Stuff", Dan tries to survive the aftermath of the heart-attack, i.e., a new diet.
Overall, Roseanne's eighth season is another fun adventure with the Conner family. The show continues to tackle dramatic issues and incorporates a fine-level of comedy into the situations. This season has a lot of good moments and will keep fans of the series laughing and smiling.
1. Shower The People You Love With Stuff: As the baby's birth approaches, the Conner family makes plans for the new arrival.
2. Let Them Eat Junk: An Oreo cookie leads Roseanne and Jackie into a major argument over parenting issues.
3. Roseanne In The Hood: A new restaurant opens up across the street from the Lunch Box and, while Jackie is worried sick, Roseanne seems unconcerned -- that is until she learns they have a luncheon special that's a direct rip-off of her loose meat sandwich.
4. The Last Date: Dreading the prospect of "baby jail," Roseanne insists Dan go out with her for one last Saturday night "date" before their baby arrives.
5. Halloween - The Final Chapter: The Ouija board makes this Halloween the weirdest and the happiest one of all.
6. The Fifties Show: Roseanne tells the audience that they are about to see the original pilot for the "Roseanne" show.
7. The Getaway, Almost: While Jackie, Roseanne and baby Jerry head out for the outlet mall, Dan seizes a rare opportunity to have the house to himself.
8. The Last Thursday In November: The Conner family shows up to watch D.J. perform in his school's Thanksgiving pageant and are bored -- until the pilgrims pull out weapons and gun down the Indians "Pulp Fiction" style.
9. Of Mice And Dan: Dan questions the meaning of his life when the band he used to sing with returns to town, and sends him tickets to a performance.
10. Direct To Video: Feeling it's important for the new baby to know what the family was like when he was born; Roseanne makes a video to give him on his 16th birthday.
11. December Bride: A cast full of special guests appear for the campiest, wackiest wedding of the century!
12. The Thrilla Near The Vanilla Extract: Jackie discovers her hidden talent as a salesperson when she and Roseanne take jobs at a grocery store handing out samples.
13. The White Sheep Of The Family: Bequeathed several hundred dollars from her Aunt Harriet, Roseanne takes the whole Conner clan out for a very fancy dinner.
14. Becky Howser, M.D.: Knowing that Becky is felling a little depressed about Darlene's big job offer, Mark invites the Conners over for a surprise get-together to cheer her up, which only makes things worse.
15. Out Of The Past: One of Dan's poker party turns into a heated debate about race and sexual orientation.
16. Construction Junction: Dan is torn between the security of his job, and the possibility of making big bucks as part of his friends' construction crew at the new prison being built just outside of town.
17. We're Going To Disney World, Part 1: Leaving the garage, Dan gets a pension check and decides to take the Conner family on a big vacation.
18. Disney World War II, Part 2: The Conner family makes the most out of the four whole days in Disney World.
19. Springtime For David: Although he hasn't any skills or experience, David is determined to find a job and move out of the Conners' home.
20. Another Mouth To Shut Up: Now that David has a job in Chicago, he and Darlene discuss living together. Then, Darlene suggests maybe they should get married... since she's pregnant!
21. Morning Becomes Obnoxious: During a man-on-the-street interview on "Wake Up, Chicago," Roseanne speaks her mind.
22. Ballroom Blitz: With Jackie officially divorced she is ready to mingle. Meanwhile, Roseanne seizes the opportunity to get huge amounts of free food and merchandise.
23. The Wedding: It's Darlene and David's wedding day and, in true Conner style, nothing's unusual.
24. Heart And Soul: Dan suffered a heart attack at the beginning of Darlene and David's wedding reception.
25. Fights And Stuff: Drama ensues when Dan decides to go on a diet and become healthy.
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.
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 supports closed captioning.
For extras there is an interview featurette and video commentaries for two episodes. The interview featurette "Roseanne: Working Class Actress" (8:14) stars Roseanne Barr. She talks about the angle she tried to achieve with Roseanne, using her life as its foundation, having two Beckys, Laurie Metcalf and her role as the overzealous sister, and other related aspects. The video commentaries cover episodes "The Fifties Show" and "Springtime for David". Both commentaries feature Roseanne Barr and Michael Fishman. Video commentaries are similar to audio commentaries. The difference is that side-by-side video is shown of the episode in question and the individuals being interviewed.
Roseanne's eighth season is nearing the end of the series, as the second-to-last season. In it, there are several big changes for the cast from the return of Goranson to new babies to new marriages to new careers. The changes tend to be dramatic, but there is always a fine subtext of humor included. Roseanne and the rest of the cast do fine jobs keeping the content humorous. Fans of the show will enjoy this season to the fullest.