The laugh is back.
Roseanne, that stalwart foundation of ABC's long-ago schedule, returns to prime time March 27 at 7 p.m. Roseanne Barr, that slayer of national anthems who is quick with the wit, returns along with the rest of the cast, miraculously including both actresses who played oldest daughter Becky: Lecy Goranson and Sarah Chalke.
It's as if the Conners never left. And they dispense with the nonsense of the last season back in the day quickly.
Dan Conner (John Goodman), awaking fitfully: "Why does everybody always think I'm dead?"
Roseanne: "You look happy. I thought you'd moved on."
Each actor slips right back into character, as well-worn as the iconic couch where so many of the family's working-class travails centered. That's counting even the ones so young when the show started in 1988 that one might suspect they didn't know what character was. (Ahem, Michael Fishman as D.J. Conner.)
The show returns with a full hour. Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has moved back home with her son Mark, who has a unique way of dressing, and daughter Harris, who is Darlene all over again. D.J. visits for family dinners with his daughter in tow; his military wife is in Syria. Becky has moved out, but not necessarily up, and waits tables at a Mexican restaurant. Roseanne's sister, Jackie, is now a life coach. And Dan and Roseanne still get in everyone's business while trying to keep the lights on in Lanford, Ill.
Roseanne was always a love letter to America's working poor — and a sharp critic of it and every
other class during its nine-season run. It comes back a little scattered in its efforts to take off running. In the three episodes available for review, commentary abounds. The show hits and runs on topics as if it were a rapid-fire round on a quiz show: healthcare; the political divide; gender identity; gun safety; multi-generational housing; the opioid crisis; and layoffs.
And money, honey. Always money. Close your eyes sometimes and it's Good Times, set in a different neighborhood. I kid?
The show has retained almost everything from its original incarnation, including its brassy humor designed to appeal to the the everyman about everything. It's comfort food.
Get ready for a feast.
And the list keeps getting longer of old television shows masquerading as new ones.
Heathers is already here and even darker than the original cult-favorite film starring Shannen Doherty and Christian Slater. Will & Grace, which returned in 2017, has already gotten an order for another third season. American Idol didn't even wait a year. The trailer for Lost in Space, which will debut on Netflix in April, makes dark of a light romp through sci-fi.
R.I.P., Dallas 2.0 and 90210.
Dynasty is crossing the TV streams by casting Nicolette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives). She's late of a nighttime soap from the same era: Knots Landing. She's soon returning to TV as one of its most indelible characters from one of the same ones: Alexis Carrington.
There are more in the hopper than I care to list but some notable ones either on the way or rumored to be include: Miami Vice; Cagney & Lacey; Mad About You; Roswell; Get Christie Love!; The Twilight Zone; Magnum, P.I.; Charmed; The L Word; and The Office.
Don't call them reboots. Call it a sequel, a continuation ... a revival.
There's one decade in particular that's getting most of the love and it's the same in music and some fashion: The '90s are all the rage. Theory? It was the last decade with sing-along theme songs. Theory two? Blame it on the success of Netflix's Fuller House.
In one week, Murphy Brown; Sister, Sister; and Party of Five got the call back up to the big league. Meanwhile, Queen Latifah confirmed that her Friends-inspiring Living Single was in talks to return.
Roseanne is following the formula, not even bothering to change the way the show opens. It's as if viewers are dropped into the show mid-season, rather than starting over again. That might not be a good thing if the network is looking to court new fans. Barr's name conjures images of baggage: see national anthem; public missteps; politics. Goodman's name conjures that of a serious man acting in some serious projects (or Linda Tripp on Saturday Night Live, you pick 'em).
But Barr is a seasoned comedian who can hit a punchline with the best of them, and Goodman is an accomplished actor who doesn't mind laughing at them. Their shoulders are still strong enough to hold up Roseanne. While laughs don't come as fast, they do come.
As a revitalized Dan says in the rebooted Roseanne, and it seems to be the hope of TV executives everywhere that it's true: "Classics really do hold up."