Roseanne & Tom fans get a double dose of double chins this month. Compared with Fox’s Oct. 11 biopic of the comics, NBC’s “Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes” seems like a masterpiece. In truth, this one is not without problems, but the results are respectable — and, considering the rush job and the subject matter, that’s no small accomplishment.This vidpic concentrates on the couple’s relationship, from first meeting, through the first time they “do it” (at a Hollywood motel, where neither has the $ 27 to pay for the room), through to the divorce. Tom Arnold is portrayed as fun but misguided — if anything, a victim of cocaine. According to this telling, Roseanne is wronged and, for her own good, she’s gotta let him go: it’s like “Funny Girl,” with Tom Arnold substituted for Omar Sharif. Production gains points for humor and style. Exec producer Brian Pike, producer John Thomas Lenox and the web have put together a classy looking package, and director Richard Colla and scripters Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner show the characters’ funniness, and sometimes wittily comment on the events. It’s nearly impossible for an actor to impersonate someone who’s so embedded in the national consciousness, and Patrika Darbo doesn’t look much like Roseanne. Still, it’s an honorable job by a good actress. As the lower-profile Tom Arnold, Stephen Lee is excellent — capturing the mannerisms, tics and rhythms, but going beyond that to create a real character. It’s a terrific performance. Fox’s telefilm was so non-committal on the events, it seemed like weblet lawyers wanted to make sure no one was offended. This version seems like NBC was determined to make Roseanne happy: According to this vidpic, her first husband was a jerk, Roseanne never courts publicity, and apparently she is the only one on the “Roseanne” set to worry about artistic integrity. But the biggest problem is the nagging question: With issues of celebs’ right to privacy, and the extensive tabloid coverage of the couple, is this a story that was crying to be told? Twice?
(Mon. (31), 9-11 p.m., NBC)
Filmed by Brian Pike Prods. and NBC Prods. Exec producer, Brian Pike. Producer, John Thomas Lenox. Director, Richard Colla; writers, Eugenie Ross-Leming, Brad Buckner.
Camera, Michael D. Margulies; editors, Terry Stokes, Steve Mirkovich; production design, John T. Walker; sound, Bill Teague; music, Craig Safan.
Cast: Patrika Darbo, Stephen Lee, Jan Hoag, Nancy Youngblut, Robert Neches, Andrew Hill Newman, Steven Anderson, Stephen Mendel, Scott Harlan, Ria Pavia, Dave Powledge, Tom Ormeny, Heather Paige Kent, Harvey J. Alperin, Lily Mariye, Connie Sawyer, Beatrice Colen, Luise Heath, Susan Christy, Kyndra Joy Casper, Christine Hinojosa, Jamie Haas, Sean Moran, Nancy Katlin, Neal Lerner, Lisa Kaseman, Kathleen Marshall, Jody Price, Jeanne Wolf, Garrett Glaser, Jerry Penacoli, Edwina Moore, Tiiu Leek, Nina Blackwood.
Data provided by:Nielsen Media Research (Preliminary Results)