March 26, 1996 in Features

Family Crisis Stirs Plot On ‘Roseanne’

John Martin New York Times Syndicate
 

There have been problems with “Roseanne,” ABC at 8, for two seasons.

Ratings are down, and the once-brilliant comedy has lost its freshness.

Even when the series has attempted to pull off an episode that stirs playful controversy - the wedding of Leon Carp, comes to mind - the results have been less than spectacular. The recent two-parter in Walt Disney World was pointless.

Tonight, the show takes a turn that, presumably, is intended to shake things up.

Darlene (Sara Gilbert) asks David (Johnny Galecki) to marry her. She’s pregnant. Apparently when they were in Disney World, David visited the Magic Kingdom without taking proper precautions.

Roseanne and Dan (Roseanne, John Goodman) react to the news differently: She plays the good mother. He, typically, cannot hide his anger and disappointment.

Darlene is one of the most complex teenagers on television.

We’ve seen her go through a lengthy depression. We know she’s used - though probably not abused - drugs. She’s filled with anger toward just about everyone.

Now, she has a problem that will affect everyone in the family.

ABC did not make the episode available nor promote it much. In fact, it’s followed next week by a repeat from November.

As a “Roseanne” fan, I’d like to see Darlene and David’s crisis give the series a lift. But my hopes are guarded. Nothing seems to be working that well for the show.

Highlights

“John Grisham’s ‘The Client,”’ CBS at 8: Reggie (JoBeth Williams) finds herself in a jam when she’s convinced that her client (James Cromwell) is guilty of killing his pregnant daughter’s boyfriend. It gets worse when she may be obligated to get him off on a technicality.

Expect a little more altruism here than you might find in the real world.

“Weekend at Bernie’s II” (1993), FOX at 8: The expression “beating a dead horse” certainly comes to mind in this improbable sequel. The slapstick gets old quickly if you saw the original.

Jonathan Silverman (“The Single Guy”), Andrew McCarthy and Terry Kiser reprise their roles.

“Nova,” KSPS at 7: The slow-motion destruction of the Great Flood of ‘93, which devastated nine Midwestern states, is revisited. One question raised is whether the Army Corps of Engineers’ levee system created a false sense of security that lead to millions in flood losses.

“The Wrong Woman” (1996), CBS at 9: Nancy McKeon plays a woman accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Chelsea Field is the killer - a co-worker who makes sure the wrong woman looks guilty. CBS failed to make the movie available for review.

“Frasier,” NBC at 9: Frasier’s (Kelsey Grammer) enthusiasm for a handsome new chess set is dashed when he keeps losing to Martin (John Mahoney).

“Dateline NBC,” NBC at 10: Bob Costas interviews actor Steve Martin.

“The Wisdom of Faith,” KSPS at 9: Bill Moyers, a master of conversation, begins a chat with author and religious scholar Huston Smith that will air over five consecutive Tuesdays.

Cable Calls

“She Said No” (1990), LIF at 9: This fact-based melodrama sends a scary message to victims of sexual assault. Veronica Hamel plays a woman who is drugged and raped by her psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch). When he’s acquitted, he sues her for libel.

Hirsch lends a chilling performance to this above-average made-for-TV movie.

“The Quick and the Dead” (1995), SHO at 9:35: Sharon Stone plays a Clint Eastwood-like stranger who rides in to rescue a town from a bad guy played by Gene Hackman.

It doesn’t work. But fortunately for Stone, it didn’t do much to slow the rise in her career.

Talk Time

“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: Actress Sharon Stone and singer Harry Connick Jr. Repeat.

“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Phil Hartman (“NewsRadio”), 105-year-old race horse bettor Rose Hamburger and musical group The Band.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: Norm MacDonald (“Saturday Night Live”), comedian Harland Williams and musical guest Loudon Wainwright. Repeat.


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