Oy from all this TV exhuming. Can’t once-great shows rest in peace anymore? “Twin Peaks” is returning, on Showtime, later this month, “Will & Grace” will be back on NBC next season, and “Gilmore Girls” and “Arrested Development” have already been revivified on Netflix.
Next up: “Roseanne.”
The project, an eight-episode limited series, has been brought to the marketplace, according to Deadline. “Roseanne” originally ran on ABC, but rights to run the new episodes will go to the highest network or streaming bidder. Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, and Sara Gilbert are already attached to star, with others such as Laurie Metcalf and Johnny Galecki on the to-be-signed list, and original executive producers Tom Werner, Barr, and Bruce Helford will be joined by Gilbert and Whitney Cummings.
Over the weekend, Barr tweeted this: “of course I want to do a reboot of Roseanne — new political reality in our country will make for some great jokes!” Indeed, with Donald Trump in office, the story of middle American family struggles in Illinois could have timely resonance — if the writing is smart, of course.
The classic series, which ran for nine seasons from 1988-97, was one of TV’s best family sitcoms in which money, and the lack of it, were integral parts of the story line. The scripts incorporated the kinds of class and cultural issues that so many domestic sitcoms had ignored up to that point. In the blue-collar Conner family, both parents — Roseanne and Goodman’s Dan — worked outside the home, and neither was attractive or fit by magazine beauty standards. The ratings were very strong — until they weren’t: “Roseanne” was consistently in the top 10 before it started sinking during its last two seasons. It left the air 20 years ago this month, on May 20, 1997.
About that series finale: In it, the show’s writers turned the entire last season, during which the Conners had won the lottery and become rich, into a dream of sorts. The lottery win was revealed to be all fiction, written as therapy by Roseanne after Dan died of a heart attack. The episode was one of the worst series finales ever brought to the small screen, and it left a sour taste in the mouths of many loyal fans. The it-was-all-a-dream twist generally comes off as a writers’ lazy cop-out, and only the “Newhart” finale, which had Bob Newhart wake up in bed beside his previous TV wife, Suzanne Pleshette, has managed to pull it off with wit.
So how will the show return with Goodman in tow, if his character is dead? Will he be a member of the undead? The “Will & Grace” revival will face a similar question, since the series finale leaped ahead decades to show us how Will and Grace had been estranged until their children fell in love as adults. Barr has some solutions, apparently. “I’ve already written the scenes about Dan’s death — don’t send me more suggestions,” she wrote on Twitter.
Get ready for more open-ended series finales when popular shows end; TV series can no longer truly be considered finished.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.