In her new incarnation as a daytime talkshow host, Roseanne is a legitimate heir to Dinah Shore’s couch. Finally, she’s moved beyond her personal travails to give us rea-son to remember why Roseanne’s domestic goddess oeuvre hit so big when the Denver housewife-cum-standup-cum-sitcom star arrived on the national landscape at the tail end of the Reagan era.
For some time now, Roseanne has insisted she would make a killer talkshow host if she was just given the chance to speak directly (read: without network and studio interference) to her hard-core audience. She was right. The multifaceted star has the goods for daytime TV, even if it may take a while for host and producers to figure out how all the parts should fit together.
At her best, Roseanne’s humor has always revolved around the truism, so often overlooked by showbizzers, that the American public is infinitely hipper and funnier than most TV writers give them credit for. For the assembly line nature of daytime talkshows, Roseanne is all-purpose: part showbiz celebrity, and part earthy mom, one who was pushing the notion of girl power long before the Spice Girls were even in puberty.
As a real-life mother of five, Roseanne comes across as genuine in the de rigueur human interest segs about teen traumas, welfare mothers, dads who fight drug dealers et al. The tearjerker segs are handled deftly, but for the overkill on the gift-giving side.
Hands down, though, Roseanne is funniest in her celeb interviews, which have been better, and longer, than the average chatshow sesh. What’s not to like about a host that puts John Waters through a series of Rorschach tests, or gives Kirstie Alley her very unpolitically correct opinion of Scientology.
Roseanne stands out from the rest of the yak pack by serving up sassy, heartfelt opinions, usually with punch lines. She’s not diplomatic, or even particularly polite, and doesn’t pretend to be. Some days she’s dressed as if she just stepped out of a chic Melrose Avenue boutique; other days she dons a drab gray sweat suit.
With all the promise displayed in the first three weeks of “The Roseanne Show,” the shows also have frequently been uneven, from a creative standpoint, as if the producers were still searching for ways to make the last 20 minutes as interesting as the first 20 minutes. The wobbly feel seems to be the result of on-air experimenting to find the right standing features and elements to rely on when there’s no A-list star to carry the bulk of the hour. Whether the host and her producers can find the right groove for the ups and downs of the booking cycle may well be the key to “The Roseanne Show’s” long term survival.
Production credits on the big-budget hour are top-notch, without exception. Tech credits all sparkle.