Time has been good to “Roseanne.” After 17 years, the blue-collar humor of the classic series’ first season still feels fresh. And by the second episode, the writers have mastered the warmth that always underscored the Connor family’s wisecracks. That said, it’s too bad the show gets such slapdash treatment on DVD. The series may endure because it honestly portrays working-class people, but it deserved first-class treatment for its debut on disc.
The most unforgivable sin in this four-disc set — produced by Carsey-Werner and distributed by Anchor Bay — is that it packages the segs as they were edited for syndication. Up to three minutes gets cut from the original broadcasts, which can result in choppy storytelling. The syndicated credits even list the star as “Roseanne Arnold.” Fans will remember she was Roseanne Barr in season one.
Roseanne’s name isn’t the only thing that gets glossed over. The anemic features barely employ the star at all. There are no commentary tracks — just a few episode introductions and a so-called “candid interview.” But even there, Roseanne’s brief remarks are constantly interrupted by clips from the show. Any insight she might have offered about her success (or her legendary backstage brawls) gets traded for inoffensive soundbite patter. Surely she has more to say.
The other features are just as vapid. John Goodman offers little in his retrospective, but at least he gets some face time. Other co-stars are absent. And selections called “Season One Highlights” and “Wisdom From the Domestic Goddess” just repackage one-liners from various episodes as though they were new material.
The blooper reel does manage some surprises. Apparently, moppet Michael Fishman, who played little D.J., was a hellion. His scene-stopping antics are hilarious, and they imply he was really stretching to play the meekest member of the Connor family.
Ultimately, though, that limited insight is infuriating, because it suggests how much more could have been included here. Here’s hoping the second-season set truly offers the best of “Roseanne,” uncensored and edited.