Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD)

Number Seven is one of the weaker seasons of “Roseanne” since most of the season basically focuses on the less interesting characters and places a great emphasis on the endlessly irritating romance between Darlene and David. For a good portion of season seven, actress Sara Gilbert spent time acting in theater and going to college, so she’s pretty much a non-presence for a quarter of season seven, while the writers miss the boat by focusing more on Chalke’s Becky, choosing to turn her in to a mere side character who appears periodically. Instead, the writers make the misguided choice of placing a good focus on the storylines on DJ’s life.

As well as the relationship between David and Mark. The two characters garner much dysfunction and have a troubled life filled with resentment and hatred, but their arc is pointless and incredibly boring. This is time that should be filled devoted to developing Becky and Darlene, and instead there’s just a deeper and strong look at the dynamic between brothers Mark and David. To add more confusion to the mix, there’s the stunt casting of Traci Lords, who appears for a number of episodes as a walking talking plot device and disappears once the show gets back in motion with Sara Gilbert and Sarah Chalke coming back as the characters they originally played.

Lords is quickly tiresome as an employee of Roseanne and Jackie’s who is introduced just to initiate conflict in a show running out of ideas. Her presence makes Mark contemplate an affair, gauges David’s affections, and initiates a stir with Jackie who realizes she’s not happy married to character Fred, which causes them to split near the end of the season. Lords is required to do nothing but look sexy and spout idiotic one-liners, and as quickly as she’s injected in to the show, she’s suddenly never seen again. There’s also the exit of likable character Fred, Jackie’s only real consistent male partner who leaves the series after a long repetitive storyline with Jackie. Sadly, the character worked as a sane foil to the Conners but also was written out once the show came to a close. Season Seven does have its highlights though with the hilarious Halloween episode “Skeleton in the Closet” revolving around the suspected homosexuality of Jackie’s husband Fred who Roseanne begins to investigate when she learns he garners many homosexual friends.

“White Men Can’t Kiss” examines the programmed values of the Conners and their inadvertent racial issues when DJ refuses to kiss an African American girl in a school play. DJ’s refusal due to his fellow student’s skin color causes Roseanne and Dan to question whether or not they’re actually racist, and they find out a lot about themselves when they dig deeper. There’s also the return of Nana Mary in “Thanksgiving 94” which involves Mary’s new husband, a revelation about Bev’s past with abortions and her stance on abortion, and a great running gag involving David teaching Mark how to play football. It’s the beginning of the potential death of Roseanne’s baby when they learn there may be complications with the pregnancy. There’s also the great “My Name is Bev” in which grandmother Bev’s admission in to AA begins to wreak havoc on the family, especially when Dan tries to have a Superbowl party that she crashes. Season Seven has its highlights, but it’s a definite sign of the show running out of ideas and trying to concoct storylines during the absence of two characters that once fueled many of the series’ primary storylines for a very long time.

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