Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pilot Review: The Conners

The Conners (ABC)
Premiered October 16 at 8pm

What we have here is a unique situation: a show brought back two full decades after it ended to experience incredible ratings and then be swiftly cancelled within hours of its title star making deplorable comments on Twitter. Even crazier is the fact that this series is pretty much an exact continuation of the reboot without Roseanne. At first, it seemed like Roseanne was going to be dismissed like Charlie Sheen was on “Two and a Half Men,” but her heart attack turned out to be something much darker: an overdose on prescription drugs, something that was previously foreshadowed when Dan first realized that she was dependent on medication. It’s hard to figure out if this show is trying to say something about drugs in America (and health care, etc.), especially with Roseanne and her political views out of the picture. Much of this pilot, which shouldn’t really be considered a brand-new series launch since it directly continues from the tenth season of the original series, is about moving on, which most profoundly affected Dan and Jackie. Dan coming to terms with his grandson being gay was a positive step, and it was funny to see Jackie start a five-day couch-cleaning process and try to improve the geometric equilibrium of the coffee maker in relation to the kitchen. Becky and Darlene arguing over their joint responsibilities was entertaining too. I was only watching the original because of its awards potential, so I guess I have to decide whether this show is likely to be a stronger contender without its problematic former star.

How will it work as a series? The opening credits started showing up at the very end of the episode as if to declare, “Look, we do it!” and congratulate this show on being its own story without Roseanne. It was fine and fun, and I think it should be more than capable of generating moderately enjoyable episodes.
How long will it last? The reviews are good, which is a positive, and the ratings were quite strong too. There’s no way that, without Roseanne, this show was going to deliver the same audience numbers as last year’s return, but without that enormous expectation, this debut should be considered a success. I’d look for a renewal announcement very soon.

Season grade: B

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