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‘Roseanne’ Makes Departure In A State Of Confusion

Fri., May 23, 1997

If you caught the last 15 minutes of ABC’s “Roseanne” Tuesday night, you may now understand what the star had in mind this season.

Or you may not.

In an apparent attempt to go out with an existential bang, a la “St. Elsewhere,” Roseanne disclosed:

That Dan (John Goodman) actually died of the heart attack he suffered toward the end of last season. (The weight loss and the beard apparently came later.)

That she thought her daughters should switch husbands (or maybe that they DID switch husbands - I couldn’t figure it out, either).

That this season - with Roseanne’s $108 million lottery win, her visits to a spa and her dalliance with James Brolin - was just a figment of Roseanne Conners’ imagination. Typing away in the writing space Dan fixed up for her in the basement, she’s been rearranging the lives of her loved ones on paper.

That Bev (Estelle Parsons) isn’t really gay (some surprise), but her daughter wrote her that way this season because she’d always wanted her to be less submissive. (And here we thought she was just trying to steal a little thunder from “Ellen.”) What wasn’t made clear is how much Roseanne knew about what a disaster the show had become this year - and when she knew it.

Was Tuesday’s finale the plan all along, or was this season, which veered wildly from the show’s once rock-solid reality, just a miscalculation, and this her attempt at a last-minute course correction?

Not even ABC seems to know for sure.

“She was tweaking it right up until the weekend,” said a spokesman who saw the last segment for the first time Tuesday night.

But a spokesman for Carsey-Werner, which produced the show for nine seasons, said Wednesday that there were indications as early as last summer that this might be the direction “Roseanne” was heading.

“It certainly wasn’t last-minute,” he said.

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