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September 27, 2018 at 1:11 pm #1202642518
Some big casting news to report.
3:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
“The Conners”: Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis Join “Roseanne” Spinoff
Life goes on without Roseanne Barr.
Life will indeed go on for ABC’s Roseanne Barr-less “Roseanne” spinoff “The Conners.”
Juliette Lewis announced Tuesday that she has joined the ABC multicamera comedy, which will also welcome back star Johnny Galecki to reprise his role as David.
Lewis is said to be playing Blue, the girlfriend David told Darlene (Sara Gilbert) about during last season’s “Roseanne” revival.
It’s unclear if Lewis and Galecki will be in one or more episodes. For his part, Galecki is also juggling production duties on the final season of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” While Big Bang is created by Roseanne alum Chuck Lorre, the production last season was not willing to part with its leading man for more than one episode. (“The Conners” is also produced by a rival studio, which further complicates Galecki’s appearance.)
The news comes after “The Conners” added a new series regular to its central cast.
Relative newcomer Maya Lynne Robinson (Mom) is taking over the role of DJ’s (Michael Fishman) wife and Mary’s (Jayden Rey) mother, Geena Williams-Conner, replacing Xosha Roquemore in the role. The character was first introduced in a 1996 episode of the original comedy.
“The Conners” will premiere in October. Barr’s central character will be killed off after struggling with an opioid addiction, the fired actress said.September 28, 2018 at 6:36 am #1202642786
It’s a Griswold family reunion lolSeptember 28, 2018 at 12:58 pm #1202642952
I’m interested to see what they do with this but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be that good. Even when they had Roseanne it wasn’t that good so I doubt this group of writers can figure out how to make it work without her. I really don’t want to see this show take constant jabs at Roseanne, I know they’re going to make a joke about it, but just make a joke and move on from it, it’s too easy to do it repeatedly. Hopefully they actually do something good with the opioid thing and actually do a thoughtful story line with it. I also hope that with Roseanne gone the writers room doesn’t go totally left wing nuts in an attempt to really distance themselves from Roseanne. We have enough shows that are a half hour of bashing conservatives already this doesn’t need to become oneOctober 12, 2018 at 8:22 pm #1202651714
Reviews are starting tool trickle in. 81 with 6 reviews on Metacritic. I’ll post some of them shortly.October 12, 2018 at 8:55 pm #1202651721
Entertainment Weekly’s review:
“The Conners” does a good job replicating Roseanne without Roseanne: EW review
October 12, 2018 at 04:40 PM EDT
“Are we horrible for laughing?” asks Darlene (Sara Gilbert), early on in the series premiere of The Conners. She and her sister Becky (Alicia Goranson) are sitting in the familiar Conner kitchen, heavy with memories of their now-absent mother, and finding solace in dark humor, as this family has always done. “Laughing inappropriately,” replies Becky, “is what mom taught us to do.”
Will viewers feel horrible for laughing at “The Conners”? It will likely be difficult for most people to judge ABC’s new family sitcom—starring the former cast of “Roseanne,” minus Roseanne Barr — on its own merits, given the ugly and unfortunate pile of baggage that comes with it. But based on the first two episodes screened for critics by ABC (under the condition that reviews do not reveal how Roseanne’s character is written out), “The Conners” is an above-average family comedy with a strong cast and sharply-drawn characters that could very well exist for several seasons on their own—if, of course, the audience is able to let go of the past.
Though the first episode, “Keep on Trucking,” features several references to “Granny Rose” as the family moves on without her, there are no traces of Roseanne herself—Barr’s name appears nowhere in the credits (nor does she receive any financial benefit from the show), and her face seems to be entirely absent from the family photos on display in the Conner living room. As for that family, they are coping with their new normal as we would expect them to—and we do have expectations, because Darlene, Becky, Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe), Dan (John Goodman), and DJ (Michael Fishman) are characters we’ve known for decades. “The Conners” may be in a uniquely unfortunate position, having to escape the dark shadow cast by its former star, but it also has a unique advantage in characters who come fully formed, with a history and 10 seasons of story to draw from.
Turns out, it’s just as funny to watch Roseanne’s sister Jackie attempt to help the family by trying to set up a “work triangle” in their unorganized kitchen, even if Roseanne isn’t there to watch her do it. Jackie’s panicky spiral into uselessness (“There’s nowhere to put the corn holders,” she laments, standing in the middle of the even bigger mess she made) is a highlight of the first episode which, for reasons I can’t disclose, has its share of dark moments.
The new Conner dynamic means we’ll get a lot more Metcalf (always a good thing) and Gilbert, whose Darlene appears to be the unofficial lead—both of the family and the sitcom. Hardship has only sharpened Darlene’s caustic humor, which is always at its best when she’s launching her deadly deadpan at Becky. (When her sister says she can’t help with a family obligation because she has a date, Darlene snaps back, “Can’t you just stay vertical for one more day?”) Darlene’s history with David (Johnny Galecki) continues to be an ongoing storyline, as they co-parent their gender-curious little boy Mark (the fantastic Ames McNamara) and sullen teen daughter Harris (Emma Kenney). ABC also screened the Nov. 13 episode, “Tangled Up in Blue,” which features a wonderfully loopy guest appearance by Juliette Lewis as David’s girlfriend, Blue, a neo-hippie who’s eager to be a third voice in David and Darlene’s parenting pair. “I lived on a weed commune,” she coos dreamily, “and we all shared in the raising of the children.”
As for Goodman, both he and his character seem a little adrift in this new normal. Goodman always played the role of comedy back-up to his larger-than-life costar, and it looks as though it may take a while before the actor feels comfortable playing off his TV kids without his TV wife as wing-woman. That said, Dan and young Mark share several sweet moments in the premiere, and Goodman can still deliver the hell out of a down-the-middle punchline like “I forgot to eat right and exercise for the last 50 years.”
Will this be enough for viewers, queasy about what came before, to give “The Conners” a chance? For those on the fence, I’d say if you liked the original and its short-lived revival, this new incarnation will feel like a new—and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny—window into the lives of old friends. Grade: B
“The Conners” premieres Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.October 12, 2018 at 9:11 pm #1202651723
OCTOBER 12, 2018 1:30PM PT
TV Review: Roseanne Spinoff “The Conners”
by CAROLINE FRAMKE
To call “The Conners” one of the fall’s most anticipated shows is less a commentary on its potential quality than describing the sensation of steeling oneself against an oncoming train. The curiosity factor and difficulty levels are high with this one; there’s not much precedent for a show emerging from the ashes of losing its titular star because she couldn’t stop tweeting racist conspiracy theories. And despite the cast and crew’s insistence otherwise, the 2018 iteration of “Roseanne” could never be just a sitcom. Roseanne Barr’s real life evolution into a right-wing hero transformed a celebrated family comedy into a cultural flashpoint to the point that President Trump felt the need to publicly congratulate Barr on its monster ratings and sticking it to the Hollywood elite from whence they both came.
So how can this cast of characters continue without the woman that anchored it for so many years? Can “The Conners” believably escape the offscreen chaos, shake the specter of Barr, and distinguish itself as its own show?
Having now seen two episodes of “The Conners,” I can report that the answer is … well, yes and no. I can’t tell you (yet) how the show writes Barr off, or much of anything significant at all. But I can say that given everything it went through to become its own series, “The Conners” makes a solid case for itself by trusting its cast to sell the hell out of a particularly tricky situation—but there is just no escaping Roseanne, or Barr, completely.
The premiere (“Just Keep Trucking”) is understandably preoccupied with explaining “Granny Rose’s” absence, making it difficult to describe without being able to get into specifics. Still, it’s safe to say that “The Conners” does its best to acknowledge the enormity of losing Roseanne even just as a character. Every other Conner—most especially Dan (John Goodman), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf)—tries to figure out where they fit into the family now that Roseanne, once the glue that held them together, is gone.
The sudden nature of it all is unavoidably awkward, but the script from creators Dave Caplan, Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen manages to squeeze in a surprising amount of jokes for the occasion, and the accomplished cast is more than up to the challenge of landing them. Goodman, Gilbert, Metcalf, and Lecy Goranson as Becky are particularly sharp, finding ways to let their characters’ personalities come through their fog of grief. Goodman, who very often had to take a natural backseat to Barr’s high-octane performance, gets a few great moments to be his gruff best as Dan reels from his shock and shrugs on the role of reluctant nurturer. Metcalf leans into Jackie’s signature mania and shows exactly how good she is by not letting a single line or look go by without making a meal of it. And in the two episodes screened for critics (the premiere and an episode airing further into the season), guest stars like Mary Steenbergen, Juliette Lewis, and Justin Long each bring something new and interesting to the table.
Maybe the most revealing moment, however, comes when Becky and Darlene clash on how to deal with their loss. Becky, terrified that she might come undone, insists that Darlene is better suited to take the lead. “You’re the obvious choice to take over for Mom,” she says. “You already live here, and you’re also a scary little tyrant.” Darlene doesn’t totally agree (though she of course takes “scary little tyrant” as a compliment), but Becky might as well be talking about the show itself.
When the revival first premiered in March, it quickly became clear that Gilbert’s Darlene would be as much of a lead as Roseanne herself. Her plotline of having to move back into her childhood home with two kids and no job was the most immediately dynamic, or at the very least, the basis of a sitcom setup as classic as they come. Roseanne was still the reigning matriarch, and let everyone know it every chance she got, but Darlene’s story was the one that connected everyone else’s and pushed the show forward. It’s both natural and smart that “The Conners”—both the show and fictional family—would turn the focus more squarely on her once Roseanne left the picture.
But the show can’t ignore Roseanne forever. As the sentimental premiere acknowledges and even insists, going from revolving around Roseanne to excising her completely just isn’t a realistic option. And yet it’s beyond bizarre to watch the characters remember her with fond “man, she was stubborn” chuckles knowing about the offscreen mess that made this reboot of a revival necessary. Going forward, “The Conners” will likely split the difference, mentioning her in passing while continuing to have the Conners live their lives. As it stand now, the series has a fighting chance of becoming great on its own terms—but for that, the “Roseanne” audience will have to actually care enough beyond their basic curiosity to stay tuned and find out.
Comedy, 30 minutes. (10 episodes, two reviewed.) Premieres Tuesday October 16 at 8 pm.
Cast: John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, Jayden Rey, Maya Lynne Robinson.
Crew: Executive producers: Tom Werner, Sara Gilbert, Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen, and Tony Hernandez.October 12, 2018 at 9:29 pm #1202651728
Hollywood Reporter’s review:
“The Conners”: TV Review
2:20 PM PDT 10/12/2018 by Daniel Fienberg
No Roseanne? No problem.
Without Roseanne Barr, ABC’s “Roseanne” spinoff puts the spotlight on John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, and Laurie Metcalf, who deserve endless credit for making the show work.
If you’ve come to this review of ABC’s “The Conners” looking for details about how the Roseanne spinoff dispatched with Roseanne Barr’s character, you’re out of luck.
ABC screened two episodes for reporters and critics with the specific proviso that we “not discuss, imply, or in any other way reveal what happens to the character of Roseanne Conner.” This lines up well with ABC’s promotional strategy for the show, which has focused heavily on making a mystery of a thing that the series’ disgraced former star has already discussed in interviews.
Not being able to reveal a thing that’s revealed in the first five minutes of the October 16 premiere of “The Conners” will probably make this a fairly short review and it also probably does a fundamental disservice to the reality that “The Conners” is a TV show capable of standing on its own two feet. In fact, had Roseanne not effectively blown the show and its good name (and her good name) up, there would have been no need at all to feign a new title or brand identity. “The Conners” is Roseanne without Roseanne Barr and granted that this will probably be a hindrance for some viewers, it’s sure to encourage at least as many.
When I wrote my positive review of the return of “Roseanne” in the spring, a review I came to regret when I saw the sour tone of several episodes that hadn’t been available to critics, my enthusiasm was based primarily on three factors: John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are both well-established TV comedy treasures and Sara Gilbert’s tremendous comfort in this format makes her an underrated treasure as well. With those elements comfortably in place, the two screened episodes of “The Conners” (the season’s first and fourth episodes) are nothing if not proficient and comfortably in the rhythms of the original show—though rest assured that a certain percentage of right-leaning viewers will rage against Barr’s departure and absence.
So what can I actually tell you about “The Conners” within the terms of the embargo? Well, I can say that the character of Roseanne’s exit from the series is handled in a way that’s far more dignified and honorable than Barr-the-producer’s exit from the show. It dominates the first episode and still lingers in the fourth episode and that’s not spoiling anything about the tone of the Roseanne-shaped void, because maybe in the world of the show Roseanne Conner decides to, um, go on a globetrotting world tour and all of the other Conners are, um, consistently happy for her? Yeah. Maybe.
What “The Conners” evolves into almost immediately is what it really was at its best last season and probably always was at its best: a blue-collar family sitcom that has become a blue-collar sitcom about an interestingly varied blue-collar family composed of several generations and a selection of exes and only-occasionally-present spouses all just trying to make the best of a messy situation in a midsize Illinois town. The idea that “Roseanne” was the only comedy on TV tackling blue-collar issues was already a ridiculous piece of myopia that ignored “One Day at a Time,” “Shameless,” “Speechless,” “Superstore,” and several other great pieces of TV. This is but one blue-collar comedy on TV, and it’s a decent one.
The emphasis that “Roseanne” put on politics in several early episodes last season is basically gone, but everybody involved with the show last year tried to emphasize that “Roseanne” was not now, and never really was, a show about politics. It’s absolutely still a show about ideology or world-view, but it’s that without ever saying “Trump” or “Clinton” or “Democrat” or “Republican” once. The questions are about how you pay for medical bills or how you raise children or how you handle difference.
Bruce Helford remains at the creative helm, and anybody who claims they can recognize any big changes in voice, at least once you get past the thing that can’t be revealed in this review, is projecting. The show’s heart still lies in Dan’s (Goodman) bluster and exasperation, Aunt Jackie’s (Metcalf) frazzled distractions, and the withering and loving scorn directed by Darlene (Gilbert) at, and occasionally back at Darlene by, siblings Becky (Lecy Goranson) and D.J. (Michael Fishman). The cast expanded last season to included Darlene’s kids Harris (Emma Kenney), a Conner woman through-and-through, and Mark (Ames McNamara), whose challenging of gender norms represented the most progressive thing the show did last season.
If you ever thought those characters and their lived-in relationships worked, you probably still will. If anything, I think Metcalf seems more comfortable returning to Jackie’s skin this time around and my only two laughs in the premiere came from her attempts to redecorate the Conner kitchen in predictably obsessive ways. Goodman, capable of elevating the smallest grunt or eye-roll, had some of his best moments with McNamara’s Mark last season and that’s the case in these early episodes as well. And I continue to wish more people used this show’s return as a chance to reflect on how generally great Gilbert is. She helps anchor the vein of drama that flows through this season, continues to deepen the increasingly important bond with Harris and it’s a pleasure to watch her interactions with Johnny Galecki, whose David returns in the fourth episode.
I continue to think that Fishman is, regrettably, a weak spot and that the D.J. side of the story, which also includes Maya Lynne’s Geena and Jayden Rey’s Mary, is the one the show is least able to commit to.
The two episodes I’ve seen lean pretty hard on guest stars, especially the fourth episode that features Galecki as well as Juliette Lewis, as the same loopy free-spirit she now seems to play in everything, and Justin Long. Mary Steenburgen appears in the premiere and makes as strong an impression as one could possibly make in a three-minute, one-scene role. Steenburgen is such a natural fit with this show’s tone and world that I’d root for Helford and company to try to find a way to bring her back frequently.
I can’t say if I’ll be tuning in regularly for “The Conners,” but let the main takeaway of this review be that even without Roseanne Barr, the spinoff doesn’t miss a meaningful step. And why would it? The best elements of the old show are the best elements of the new show. If you were a “Roseanne” fan who couldn’t bring yourself to laugh at or around Barr last season, you may want to check back in now. And if you’re an angry Roseanne Barr fan who vowed not to watch again after how ABC treated her last season? Well, my review wasn’t going to convince you to come back anyway.
Cast: John Goodman, Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman, Lecy Goranson, Emma Kenney, Ames McNamara, Jayden Rey, and Maya Lynne Robinson
Showrunner: Bruce Helford
Airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, premiering October 16.October 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm #1202652477
Wow, this show is actually being acclaimed, I did not expect that.October 14, 2018 at 12:42 pm #1202652478
We know why all the liberal media are so nice to it but read Deadline’s review. It’s the most unbiased review of them all and quite objective.October 14, 2018 at 2:23 pm #1202652520
<p>We know why all the liberal media are so nice to it but read Deadline’s review. It’s the most unbiased review of them all and quite objective.</p> <p>‘The Conners’ Review: ‘Roseanne’ Spinoff Lacks A Lot More Than Just Fired Star</p>
Even this one is still somewhat positive and calls it an enjoyable show.October 16, 2018 at 4:08 am #1202653641
Episode Title: “Keep on Truckin'”
Synopsis: A sudden turn of events forces the Conners to face daily struggles in a way they never have before.
Discuss.October 16, 2018 at 7:36 am #1202653723
I am ready for this 🙂 Can’t wait to see Gilbert and Goodman together againOctober 16, 2018 at 11:07 am #1202653886
I’m still skeptical about the quality of this show. Not just because we NEED Roseanne (though she was THE show) but because the first season of this revival was not very good. It was more like late series Roseanne than early series Roseanne in terms of content. I don’t have hope that this new season will be any different.October 16, 2018 at 5:40 pm #1202654100
Well that was much better than I thought it would be. And it was better than anything the revival had to offer last season. I don’t know if the show has legs, but time will tell. And Laurie Metcalf? That scene in the kitchen with Sara Gilbert was absolutely perfect.
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