US TV critics have been given previews of 2 episodes of The Conners, but prohibited from spoiling the fate of the Roseanne character, following the controversial exit of Roseanne Barr.
Here’s a snapshot of what they had to say:
The premiere (“Just Keep Trucking”) is understandably preoccupied with explaining “Granny Rose’s” absence, making it difficult to describe without being able to get into specifics. Still, it’s safe to say that “The Conners” does its best to acknowledge the enormity of losing Roseanne even just as a character. Every other Conner — most especially Dan (John Goodman), Darlene (Sara Gilbert), and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) — tries to figure out where they fit into the family now that Roseanne, once the glue that held them together, is gone. The sudden nature of it all is unavoidably awkward, but the script from creators Dave Caplan, Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen manages to squeeze in a surprising amount of jokes for the occasion, and the accomplished cast is more than up to the challenge of landing them. Goodman, Gilbert, Metcalf, and Lecy Goranson as Becky are particularly sharp, finding ways to let their characters’ personalities come through their fog of grief.
Not being able to reveal a thing that’s revealed in the first five minutes of the October 16 premiere of The Conners will probably make this a fairly short review and it also probably does a fundamental disservice to the reality that The Conners is a TV show capable of standing on its own two feet. In fact, had Roseanne not effectively blown the show and its good name (and her good name) up, there would have been no need at all to feign a new title or brand identity. The Conners is Roseanne without Roseanne Barr and granted that this will probably be a hindrance for some viewers, it’s sure to encourage at least as many.
Like Two and a Half Men without Charlie Sheen or The Who without madman drummer Keith Moon, what The Conners noticably lacks most of all is a bit of the crazy. Without the rightly so disgraced Barr providing that frenzied tension that orbits everything she’s ever done, the spinoff stays pretty much in the middle of the road. Which, let’s be brutally honest, is a pretty dangerous place to be if controversy is the currency of the media landscape in 2018.
Gilbert is at the center of much of “The Conners” premiere, as the show’s characters all deal with Roseanne’s absence in different ways. Aunt Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) can’t stop cleaning and organizing the house; Dan (John Goodman) lashes out at someone (guest star Mary Steenburgen) whom he blames for the situation; Becky (Lecy Goranson) continues to navigate being a functional alcoholic; and D.J. (Michael Fishman) still deals with being the odd man out — even though his wife Geena (Maya Lynne Robinson) has just returned from combat in Afghanistan, giving the show its only traditional family unit.
An Australian broadcaster is yet to be announced.