by Julian Spivey
When Roseanne Barr completely blew up her career last summer it made me wish that “Roseanne” had never returned to television, despite the bad initial series finale in the ‘90s. When ABC canceled “Roseanne” after Barr’s controversial tweets it meant a second bad ending for the series. But, ABC didn’t really want to give up their cash cow and so they talked the remainder of the cast into returning for a spinoff series “The Conners” with the character Roseanne having been killed off due to a drug addiction to prescription pills that caused a heart attack.
I was skeptical of “The Conners,” but because I’m a fan of the characters portrayed by John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and others I gave it a chance. I’m glad I did. “The Conners” doesn’t have the iconic status of the early days of “Roseanne,” but it’s still one of the better sitcoms on television and is a nice way to continue the story of the rest of these characters.
The first season finale of “The Conners” aired on Tuesday, Jan. 22 and gave us a handful of cliffhangers to be resolved in what will almost certainly be a renewed second season.
In the penultimate episode of the season Darlene’s (Sara Gilbert) newest beau Ben, played by Jay R. Ferguson in the season’s best guest performance, has asked her and her kids to move in with him and to Chicago where his publication, that Darlene also works at, is relocating. It seems like a no-brainer for Darlene until the love of her life, but also in many ways the biggest disappointment David (Johnny Galecki) returns having broken up with his new girlfriend and wanting Darlene to take him back. What happens here is to be seen in a second season. It’ll be interesting to see if Galecki appears more or even as a regular next season with “The Big Bang Theory” ending this year.
The second cliffhanger resolves what has maybe been the best storyline of the first season of “The Conners” with Becky (Lecy Goranson) getting pregnant after a one-night stand with a co-worker after previously being told that it would be nearly impossible to get pregnant. After not wanting to have a relationship with the baby’s father, who is an illegal immigrant, things start to work out for the two until he’s caught up in an ICE raid and deported back to Mexico. Goranson’s performance in “The Conners” was one of the highlights and frankly surprising aspects of the show’s first season considering the actress really hadn’t been active in the 20 years between the end of the first run of “Roseanne” and it’s return last spring.
The best performance on the finale of “The Conners” came from Metcalf as Jackie showing off why she’s a multiple time Emmy winner. After realizing her boyfriend, played by Matthew Broderick in frankly a disappointing guest turn throughout the season, has been cheating on her and taking advantage of her – something Dan (Goodman) had warned her about – she has a drunken breakdown at the former Lunch Box restaurant (now a Chinese place) that really hits home the struggles she’s had with yet another failed relationship and the death of her sister. It was a tear-inducing performance by Metcalf, who could easily see another Emmy nomination for the performance.
I certainly wasn’t excited about how “The Conners” came about before the season began, but after a solid first season I’m glad this family has been given a chance to both move on from Roseanne and carry on without her.
by Julian Spivey
“Doctor Who” opted to forgo its annual Christmas special episode in 2018 and instead perhaps began a new tradition under the Chris Chibnall reign with a New Year’s Day special. The episode “Resolution” proved to be one of the more entertaining episodes of Jodie Whittaker’s first season as The Doctor (yeah, I’m going to consider this the real season finale since the season only wrapped up like three weeks ago).
There is a major disappointment in the fact that “Resolution” will be the only new episode of “Doctor Who” for the entirety of 2019, something that I just don’t understand. Any momentum the show has built up through Whittaker and Chibnall’s first seasons with the show could potentially be lost by the time the show is supposed to return sometime in 2020. The series runs the risk of almost feeling like it’s starting anew again after starting anew this fall.
Anyway, into the episode “Resolution.”
One of my biggest issues with the most recent season of “Doctor Who” was its failure to bring back any of the show’s classic villains. I understand new series runner Chibnall wanting to take the show in his own direction and in some ways make it his own, but there are certain things that “Doctor Who” as a show must have – and recurring classic villains is one of those.
“Resolution” doesn’t fail when it comes to this, bringing back The Doctor’s oldest foe the Daleks … just when The Doctor thinks they have finished them off for good they find ways to reappear. This time a Dalek reconnaissance scout from many centuries ago that was defeated, cut into three different parts and supposed to be guarded for the rest of eternity is able to reconstruct itself, in its octopus-like non-shelled form, and take over a human vessel.
The Daleks have always been one of the most ruthless villains on “Doctor Who” and Chibnall has seemingly made them scarier than ever, and the episode certainly provides the biggest body count of Whittaker’s era. One of the best scenes of the episode is the Dalek forcing its human vessel to construct its almost impenetrable outer casing, which harkened back to The Doctor doing the same with the sonic screwdriver in the season’s premiere.
There were moments during Whittaker’s first season playing The Doctor that offered up iconic Doctor moments, but none more so than in “Resolution” when she contacts the Dalek for the first time and gets the “I am The Doctor” monologue that has become tradition among each generation of Doctors.
The episode also marks Tosin Cole’s season highlight as Ryan, who lost his grandmother in the season premiere, and is reunited with his wayward father Aaron in this episode. Cole gives a truly heartbreaking performance in a scene where he lets his father in on all the things he’s missed in his life and how it made him feel he wasn’t deserving of his love.
Ryan and his grandfather by marriage Graham (Bradley Walsh) have become really interesting and good companions for The Doctor on the series, which brings me to a complaint I’ve had for most of Chibnall’s run thus far and that’s that he hasn’t really formed the third companion Yaz (Mandip Gill) much as of yet. This might sound like a small complaint being that this era of the show has only been 11 episodes, but you have to remember this is a show where companions often only last a season and are developed much faster. Chibnall has to develop Yaz more when the show returns in 2020.