Despite the presence of Ellen DeGeneres as guest star, "Roseanne" turns in a rare, below-par episode. Good gags in Laurence Broch's script keep the show above standards of most sitcoms, if noticeably below its own. Two members of the Connor family are absent: daughters Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Sarah Chalke). Though they're missed, that's not the problem; what is, is that the episode lacks the warmth that ties the Connor family together in the face of adversity.

Despite the presence of Ellen DeGeneres as guest star, “Roseanne” turns in a rare, below-par episode. Good gags in Laurence Broch’s script keep the show above standards of most sitcoms, if noticeably below its own. Two members of the Connor family are absent: daughters Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Sarah Chalke). Though they’re missed, that’s not the problem; what is, is that the episode lacks the warmth that ties the Connor family together in the face of adversity.

Main plot finds the Connors’ son, D.J. (Michael Fishman), off to his first school dance, paired with a new girlfriend, Lisa (Ashley Johnson). Shrill and bossy, Lisa cows male members of the Connor household, though Roseanne likes her just fine.Argument follows between Roseanne and hubby Dan (John Goodman) as to whether relationship is healthy. He’s against it; she figures it’s about time women started asserting themselves.

Meanwhile, Roseanne’s sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), and Jackie’s husband, Fred (Michael O’Keefe), are having problems; she drags him to a marriage counselor. In her one scene as the therapist, DeGeneres acts pretty much like the “Ellen Morgan” character on her own show — hyperactive, fluttery and jokey (“If it’s all right with you, I’d like to record the session … I kinda like to play the tapes for my friends.”). The shrink, though, is better dressed than Ellen Morgan the bookstore owner.

While DeGeneres is fine, previous “Roseanne” stunt casting — David Crosby, Traci Lords, Bonnie Bramlett Sheridan — has been far more unconventional and less obviously ratings-oriented. Gail Mancuso’s direction and other tech credits are fine.

Roseanne the Blaming of the Shrew #

(Wed. (3), 8-8:30 p.m., ABC)

Production

Videotaped in Los Angeles by Full Moon & High Tide Productions in association with the Carsey-Werner Company. Executive producers, Roseanne, Eric Gilliland, Tom Werner, Marcy Carsey; supervising producers, Kevin Abbott, Miriam Trogdon; producers, Michael Borkow, Tim Doyle, Dusty Kay, Sid Youngers, Al Lowenstein; consulting producer, Rob Ulin; co-producer, Barbara Stoll; director, Gail Mancuso; script, Lawrence Broch; lighting design, Daniel Flannery.

Crew

Editor, Joe Bella; production designer, Garvin Eddy; sound, Richard Masci; music, W.G. Snuffy Walden.

Cast

Cast: Roseanne, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Sarah Chalke, Michael Fishman, Michael O'Keefe, Johnny Galecki, Glenn Quinn, Ashley Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres

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