Well, Candace Bergen appears to have been written in as another temporary substitute for Roseanne Barr in The Conners Season 3 Episode 7, but she ain’t Roseanne.
Obviously, Bergen is a talented actor, backed by an illustrious career, and her own very successful sitcom (until its depressing reboot, anyway), Murphy Brown.
And she isn’t posited into The Conners here as a replacement, really.
But using Bergen is another example of introducing a popular female personality to draw attention away from the network and the producers’ choice to end Barr’s career.
It just doesn’t work.
Katey Sagal has been a wonderful choice for this sort of feat.
Her character is not remotely similar to Roseanne Conner, but even so, her presence only reminds us of the huge void that remains the series’ biggest problem.
You remind me of somebody. If you told me I’ll never amount to anything, it would be downright eerie.
Bergen’s Barb (Ben’s mother) comes across as a rich, hoighty-toighty version of Roseanne: crass and mean — but not as loveable.
Having said that much, let’s dig into the episode itself.
But dang, there really is not much to discuss about this episode other than the celebrity guest spot. The laughs are sparse. I only legitimately laughed twice, and both times were — of course — Jackie lines.
The two arcs are: Becky and Emelio becoming closer yet still not dating and Ben’s cold mother accidentally sharing with Ben after his father’s death that his dad was not his biological one.
Neither is very interesting.
While Ben is a regular character on The Conners and has been for some time now, I don’t consider him essential.
He doesn’t seem important enough to make us care about his life, even though it’s a shitty story with which we ought to empathize.
Darlene sort of sits around and makes the poor guy feel worse — it all just rings wrong. Everything about this episode is wrong.
By the way, is it me, or has Darlene’s edge worn off? This might be the first episode in which she brought not one laugh.
Sometimes the truth only makes things harder. You remember how devastated I was when I found out my mother was, you know, actually my real mother.
I don’t buy the Barb/Ben mother/son relationship at all.
I don’t buy that — throughout Ben’s entire life, until now — Barb managed to keep this huge secret from him, and then one fricking drink with Darlene after only knowing her a couple of hours opens the floodgates.
The theme is one that many clearly and unfortunately have to deal with in everyday life: a father taking his anger towards his deceitful wife out on his bastard son.
The Conners doesn’t do the topic any world of justice. It comes across as thrown together by a freshman group of television writers.
Regarding the other arc, Becky is a favorite character, for sure. But, gee, way to suck the life out of her by slowly building on this weird non-dating relationship thing she has going with her baby daddy.
Darlene, while you’re in there, try and talk him out of the beard — it makes him look like a Bolshevik.
It’s an uninteresting plot point, one that brings The Conners still further into monotonous sitcom limbo than ever before.
Even the jokes have regressed. And with Dan and Jackie taking a back seat in this installment, The Conners Season 3 Episode 7 relies on the Bergen appearance to carry it and that, sadly, does not.
Remember when Roseanne, the series, was rebooted — oh man, what a magical time in television that was. The humor — boldly mixed with the addressing of glaring and divisive issues in our country — was edgy, spot on, and weirdly unifying.
When The Conners debuted after “Operation: Kill Roseanne,” it managed to maintain some of that edginess, but only a little. Still, that little amount was enough to keep many of us tuned in.
Since then — especially with failure episodes like “A Cold Mom, a Brother Daddy and a Prison Baby” — the series has been plummeting in entertainment value.
I think it’s time to either suck it up and bring the central figure of the show back, or call it quits.
Even for nostalgic purposes, it’s getting harder to watch.
I don’t think it’s hopeless, though, as much as I miss Roseanne. Moving away from highlighting boring characters like Emelio, Ben, and Harris could once again raise the series to, at least, kind-of-funny status.
Bring back the other minor characters we love, let them play larger roles. At this point, we are likely sticking around for nostalgia, so please, milk that for us.
I’m sorry to be such a downer aboutthe show right now, but this weak return from hiatus is such a disappointment. And here, it’s my first time reviewing for The Conners.
Do you fanatics out there feel the same way? I know there are gobs of Roseanne fans who refuse to watch The Conners. Some of you might watch, though, without admitting it. I still watch; it sometimes still makes me laugh.
But The Conners can do better. It used to. Right now, it feels like every other dumb sitcom.
Roseanne always used to make a difference. The Conners seems to make lots of indifference — at least currently.
I will continue to watch, in the hopes that it will return to relatively comedic. But really, what we need is the return of the Queen. Without that, I don’t foresee many of us staying aboard.
Watch The Conners online and let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s hope future episodes are better-ish.
Kerr Lordygan is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.