×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography

In its telefilm version of the life of tabloid fave Roseanne Barr Pentland Arnold, Fox has chosen a bold, daring and unthinkable approach: It's taken the story seriously. Fans of such films as "Valley of the Dolls" and "Mommie Dearest" should set their VCRs: This one's a keeper.

With:
Cast: Denny Dillon, David Graf, John Walcutt, Judith Scarpone, Joycelyn O'Brien, Sara Melson, Dawn Zeek, John Karlen, Terren Baltes, Danielle Harris, Sandra Kerr, Morgan Roth, Jessica J. Smith, Jamie Renee Smith, Christopher Snyder, Jandi Swanson, Ian Patrick Williams, Alison McMillan, Beau Billingslea, Matt Landers, Christopher Holden, Karen S. Gregan, Richard Domeier, Carl Lee Magnuson, Johnny Cocktails, Michael Matthys, Karen Stone, J. Patrick McCormack, Lee Spencer, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Dan Spector, Rebecca Gilchrist, Sherri Bonnie Russavage, Steve Monroe, Ava Dupree, Elaine Summers, Rob Steinberg, Anthony Barnao, Carl Wuco.

In its telefilm version of the life of tabloid fave Roseanne Barr Pentland Arnold, Fox has chosen a bold, daring and unthinkable approach: It’s taken the story seriously. Fans of such films as “Valley of the Dolls” and “Mommie Dearest” should set their VCRs: This one’s a keeper.

According to “Unauthorized Biography,” Roseanne’s life story is yet another example of A Talented Gal Whose Life Wasn’t Easy But She Had a Dream, with the tale flashing back and forth among various periods in her life.

Was Tom Arnold a stabilizing force or a leech? Did her father abuse her? Is she irrational or just under a lot of pressure? Vidpic raises all of these issues in a sentence or two, but never explores them: The fingerprints of the legal department are everywhere on this project, including the title.

Pic was rushed on the air to beat NBC’s version, which is skedded to air Halloween night — supply your own punchline here — and “An Unauthorized Biography” sometimes looks so hurried, it seems like the producers simply filmed the rehearsals.

The vidpic covers all the big events. Teen Roseanne gets hit by a car, with the hood ornament embedded in her skull. She joins a commune, but she and hubby Bill leave when they are reprimanded, “You guys are bogarting the bathtub.” After being told, “You know, you’ve got a good sense of humor, Roseanne,” she begins standup comedy.

The last third of the pic entails tabloid stuff: backstage battles on the sitcom, the reunion with a daughter she gave up for adoption, allegations of incest and the separation from Tom Arnold.

There are several comic highlights here, including a pour-her-heart-out session with her shrink, and a climactic wrestling match between Tom and Roseanne.

At one point, Denny Dillon, as Roseanne, chews gum; at another moment, David Graf, as Tom Arnold, shakes his leg. Other than that, there are no real attempts at imitating the well-known celebs.

In a role that requires her to go from rage to fun loving to anguish, Dillon displays an amazing range of brown wigs.

Show was written by Karen Harris, directed by Paul Schneider, produced by Carol Trussell and exec produced by Patrick Faulstich. Heck, they’re trying to make a living, so there’s no point in dwelling on the artistic merits of their work.

There is one hilariously brazen moment: As Roseanne and Tom watch TV, she laments, “Did you ever figure out how they get this crap on the air?” You can supply your own punchline here too.

Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography

(Tues. (11), 8-10 p.m., Fox)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by DDF Films. Exec producer, Patrick Faulstich; producer, Carol Trussell; director, Paul Schneider; writer, Karen Harris.

Crew: Camera , Yuri Neyman; editor, Andrew Cohen; production design, Okowita; music, Scott Harper.

Cast: Cast: Denny Dillon, David Graf, John Walcutt, Judith Scarpone, Joycelyn O'Brien, Sara Melson, Dawn Zeek, John Karlen, Terren Baltes, Danielle Harris, Sandra Kerr, Morgan Roth, Jessica J. Smith, Jamie Renee Smith, Christopher Snyder, Jandi Swanson, Ian Patrick Williams, Alison McMillan, Beau Billingslea, Matt Landers, Christopher Holden, Karen S. Gregan, Richard Domeier, Carl Lee Magnuson, Johnny Cocktails, Michael Matthys, Karen Stone, J. Patrick McCormack, Lee Spencer, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Dan Spector, Rebecca Gilchrist, Sherri Bonnie Russavage, Steve Monroe, Ava Dupree, Elaine Summers, Rob Steinberg, Anthony Barnao, Carl Wuco.

More TV

  • Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor

    Disney Channel Fires 'Andi Mack' Actor Arrested for Plotting Sex With Minor

    Disney Channel has severed ties with “Andi Mack” actor Stoney Westmoreland following his arrest for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. “Stoney Westmoreland, an actor working on the series ‘Andi Mack,’ was arrested in Salt Lake City today,” a Disney Channel spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “Given the nature of [...]

  • Russian Doll

    TV News Roundup: Natasha Lyonne's 'Russian Doll' Sets Netflix Premiere Date

    On Friday’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for “Russian Doll” and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Brexit” film has a premiere date on HBO FIRST LOOKS Showtime has released a new teaser for the upcoming comedy series, “Black Monday,” which will premiere Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars and is executive produced by Don [...]

  • Vanity Fair Review

    TV Review: 'Vanity Fair'

    There’s something comforting about the predictability of a period piece novel adaptation in the Masterpiece Theater tradition. Knowing the story, or even just the rhythms of the genre, there are rarely many surprises. The women will toss off witticisms and cry careful, pretty tears; the men will steel their jaws and declare their love, ideally [...]

  • FILE - In this April 5,

    CBS Claims Commitment to Ending Harassment. Its Actions Say Otherwise (Column)

    At this point, a new breaking sexual harassment case at CBS isn’t exactly a surprise. Over and over again, powerful CBS company men from producers to executives to the ex-CEO himself have made headlines for propagating decades of harassment and abuse, with dozens of witnesses affirming that the pattern was business as usual. But as [...]

  • Willow ShieldsVariety Portrait Studio, Beautycon Festival

    'Hunger Games' Alum Willow Shields Joins Netflix Drama Series 'Spinning Out'

    Willow Shields has been cast in a series regular role in “Spinning Out,” the upcoming ice skating drama series at Netflix. She joins a cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario, who was announced as the series lead on Thursday, taking over the role originally held by Emma Roberts. Shields will star as Serena, Kat Baker’s (Scodelario) [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content