Retro Rerun Review: Roseanne

The Show: Roseanne 

Ran for:  222 episodes from 1988 to 1997. (Oh, and then 8 episodes in 2018. Not sure if you heard about that, though.)

What it’s about: A gruff-yet-lovable family living an unremarkable existence in lower middle class America. Also, loose meat sandwiches.

My relationship with it: I have seen every episode at least once, and a majority of episodes multiple times. (It is a scientific fact that Roseanne is being shown at every given second of every day somewhere on television.)

This Episode: Season 4, Episode 6, “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down”

A lady is approaching Roseanne’s door. It is open a crack, and you can hear Dan and Roseanne, household members, screaming inside. It is very clear that Roseanne is murdering Dan. Whoa! The lady enters the house and says, “it’s Kathy,” and now we know she’s Kathy. And yep. There’s Dan on the table with his guts hanging out. Kathy freaks out, understandably. And here’s Roseanne creeping up behind her! And she’s covered in blood and holding a butcher knife. I think Kathy is about to mess herself. Dan gets off the table and offers her some liver. She knows she’s been had. She storms away angrily and Dan and Roseanne laugh about it.

After the cold open, we’re back in the kitchen. Becky comes in— it’s the first Becky, by the way— and tells them she’s going out tonight. They mention dinner and, once again, offer up the liver. This liver has paid for itself already and we’re like, 3 minutes in. Darlene comes in and gets a soda. Roseanne asks Darlene if she is doing something cool and Halloween-ish and Darlene says no, I’m staying home. And then here comes DJ, and he’s dressed like Ed Grimsley, I think. Wait, no, he asks who he’s supposed to be, and he’s actually dressed as Alfalfa.

Anyway, he’s pissed because he wants to be the Terminator, natch. He runs off in a huff. Roseanne and Dan commiserate because Halloween “used to mean something.” Jackie, Roseanne’s sister, comes in and Dan tells her to take the insides out of the pumpkin he’s been cutting because he needs to go get the tubing for their costume. He won’t tell her what it is, though, and she’s mad. They’re all going to a party later, and Jackie is going stag. They talk about the dates she TRIED to get for the party that night, and it’s pretty good dialogue. Then DJ comes in and he’s dressed kind of like the Terminator, but still with elements of Alfalfa. Roseanne calls him the Alfalfinator, which is a pretty lame joke, actually.

Now we’re at the Elk’s Lodge and a knock-off version of “Monster Mash” is playing and that’s super disappointing because I unironically and unapologetically love that song. Jackie is dressed like Morticia from the Addam’s Family, but minor character Crystal is WEARING THE SAME THING! Jackie goes over to give her the what-for, but, as they talk, we realize that Crystal, who is a bit dim, I think, thinks she is dressed as Elvira. So, that solves that. Jackie says, “what does it matter who you’re supposed to be, we still look like The Judds from hell.” Man, I miss Judds’ jokes. Also, weird side-note— Jackie as Mortica? Pretty damn hot! Who knew.

Tom Arnold shows up as the ghost of Elvis (I think?) and he pulls Jackie aside and says, “I came with Nancy tonight, so you can’t be coming onto me. Forget you ever slept with me,” and Jackie shudders. I guess I forgot they ever slept together.

So then a reluctant emcee introduces that night’s entertainment at the party, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s Dan and Roseanne. He’s some sort of dead guy, and she’s his creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. Pretty good costume! Their act is very elaborate. Lots of jokes, a song. It feels weird to me that they had the time to rehearse something so complicated. Roseanne’s singing is painfully godawful.

In the next scene, we learn that they won the costume contest and $50. Someone astutely points out that they spent more than that on their costumes. (I’d also throw in the bit about the time they spent rehearsing because of the old adage about time being money.) Anyway, then they see their neighbor—who earlier thought she’d happened upon a murder— across the lodge. Roseanne is convinced that the neighbor and her husband are just out to get them back.

Jackie comes over and tells Roseanne she has fallen for a man in a moose costume. Roseanne, fixated on her neighbor, is only paying half attention. She hatches a plan.

Now Jackie is talking to the moose. She is explaining that she is a trucker, so, we’re at that part of the series. She finally convinces him to take off the head AND IT’S CERTIFIABLE HOT-ASS GEORGE CLOONEY, HER OLD BOSS FROM THE FACTORY! Jackie is mad to see him, I guess, but he seems to suggest that she called him and invited him. I’m confused.

The man-neighbor comes over to Dan who is sitting at the bar. Their light banter lets us know that they are not out to get one another. Their female counterparts, however, are another story.

Anyway, Jackie and George Clooney are talking and he wants to know why they broke up. (She dated him, too?! Wow.) She says it was another man.

Now we’re back with Roseanne and Kathy, the neighbor. Roseanne is convinced that Kathy is plotting her revenge; Kathy acts like she couldn’t care less about Roseanne, so, this all feels a little one-sided. Kathy explains in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t care about getting Roseanne back, that she’s better than that.

Later, Roseanne is in the mirror taking her dummy makeup off. She is angrily asking Dan why Kathy wasn’t interested in getting her back. Dan’s like, “maybe she’s above it,” and Roseanne is STILL like “nope.” They go to get into bed, and GAHHH!!! The bed is filled with writhing snakes. They are both afraid, obviously, and the kids are downstairs now wondering what’s happening. Roseanne says, “she’s gone too far this time!” which is a bit odd as I’m not sure there was a before time. Anyway, you know where this is going. Becky says, “what do you mean? Kathy’s not trying to kill you, WE’RE trying to kill you.” And then Roseanne and Dan are happy even though their bed is still undulating with a terrifying sea of snakes.

With one final minute to go, we find Dan and the guy neighbor out on the porch. Dan is rigging it so that a pitcher of blood will dump on Roseanne’s head when she answers the door. He explains to the guy neighbor that Roseanne will think it’s Kathy, and all will be right in the world. Seems like a bit much! Anyway, they set the trap, but she knows what’s up when she comes to the door, so she says, “Becky, it’s for you!” and, like that, the circle is complete.

Would I Watch Another Episode?: Of course. Even though this was one of Roseanne’s weaker Halloween episodes, it’s still Roseanne. And most Roseanne Halloweens are aces. I just inadvertently picked a weak one.

Grade: 7/10