Roseanne: The Complete Second Season

Sophomore seasons for television series are often murky territory, especially when the first season is a critical and ratings success (currently see season two of Desperate Housewives). Believe it or not, back in 1989, Roseanne was the number one series on television, with ratings bigger than even those gals over on Wisteria Lane. But the second season plays it smart, ditching the initial "plastic factory" work setting for Roseanne and sister Jackie, allowing a wide array of jobs for Roseanne (at a chicken restaurant, a hair salon, etc.) and an intriguing "Jackie becomes a cop" plotline that brings forth the comic tension that this series owned so well. Roseanne improves her acting chops with each passing week, obviously learning from her remarkable co-stars (John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, as husband Dan and sis Jackie, respectively). Watching the second season on DVD shows what a rare sitcom Roseanne was — one that continually improved over its run (except of, course, its final two seasons, which we shall choose to forget) and matured gracefully in syndication. Something else one notices is how honest a portrayal of lower class America Roseanne delivered. Often compared to Married… With Children, this series was far from the wacky, broad humour that series expressed. The revolving door of writers (including Buffy's Joss Whedon during this season) blended sharp dialogue with enough drama to express what a loving batch of dysfunctions the Conner family was. Dealing with "real issues" in a manner that never seemed tacky or "in your face," episode upon episode passes with little impetus to turn off your DVD player. Unfortunately, the extras are not much to phone home about. A tacky "DVD release party" clip show and a "candid" interview with John Goodman that seems like it's out of an interview on E! Television do not a good DVD boxed set make. However, the episodes are the original, uncut versions (the first season offered only the syndicated versions), which is refreshing. And even with the weak extras, the series speaks for itself. (Anchor Bay Entertainment)