This is FAR from the greatest sitcom of my youth, but as far as finales are concerned, it showed the most creativity while avoiding cliche and still providing a sense of closure. Actually, as a kid, I didn’t really understand this show. My family structure more closely imitated that of Full House (keep reading for more on that show), so the anarchy and white-trashedness of Roseanne didn’t appeal to me in the same way as some of the more bubble gum sitcoms did. However, now that I’m older I can fully appreciate the crass, crude humor of the Connor family.
The show had a few defining moments (Dan’s heart attack, the family winning the lottery) that showed up again in the finale, and were explained a little more fully, putting some interesting retroactive recollections into play. In the last episode, we find Roseanne alone in her house (same structure as in all the previous episodes, but furnished differently), and it is revealed that the entire series has been Roseanne’s autobiographical/semi-fictional take on her own life. Everything that happened in the show was a product of Roseanne Connor’s typewriter. This twist would’ve made the final episode interesting enough, except…
Roseanne’s character altered the story to make it either more utopian in her own mind or to make it more interesting fiction. For example, the Connor girls in the “story” each dated the others boyfriend. Becky dated curly-haired David and Darlene dated the leather-jacket clad Mark (the second Becky, by the way—the one who’s on “Scrubs” now—was incredibly hot. Worth noting). These couples were obviously a lot more suited for each other, and there was even an episode where David and Becky showed romantic interested for each other. Also, Jackie was actually a lesbian, which explains her constant man problems and failure to ever marry one. DJ also turned out to be gay, but everyone saw that one coming (“When I say gay, I don’t mean in the homosexual way; I mean, ya know… the kind that’s bad at sports” –Steve Carrell, “The Office”).
In the show, Dan recovered from his big heart attack, but in real life, he didn’t survive it. That’s actually why Roseanne has the family win the lottery. Her own life went downhill after Dan’s death, so she used the money to severely fictionalize her life from there on out. Personally, I always thought that the Connors winning the lottery was a huge stretch for the show, but understanding WHY it was written that way completely justifies the decision to include it. The show ends with Roseanne turning off the lights in her basement, where it’s inferred she wrote the entire show, and walks through an empty house. A bit depressing, but completely original and well worth the number one spot.
The most-watched shows in the Brigham household in the early ‘90s were Full House and Family Matters. Interestingly enough, neither one got a final episode, and both were cut short before the writers were able to provide all the viewers with closure. This saddens me, so I feel it necessary to talk a bit about these two wildly popular shows to wrap up this Best of Forgotten Television column. What better way to finish my OWN series with baby Michelle and Urkel?
Few people know that Family Matters is actually a spin-off of another great Chicago-based sitcom, Perfect Strangers (think Balki Bartokomous and Cousin Larry… “Don’t be ridiculous!” If you missed it, you missed some great ‘80s comedy. Those of you who know Dale Coerper, ask him about Perfect Strangers. The response you get will be comparable to one of the many orgasms he claims to have had via intercourse with hundreds of buxom Latina women). Harriet Winslow was an employee at the same office as Larry, and though Perfect Strangers was great, Family Matters was even better, thanks to one Steven Q. Urkel (the “Q” stands for Quincy, by the way. In case you were wondering).
Actually, Urkel wasn’t part of the permanent plan when they started the show. He was just supposed to make an occasional appearance as a goofball neighbor, but obviously response for the kid was just too high to not make him the star of the show (I bet that pissed off the rest of the cast, eh?). In any event, the show took off pretty quickly, even if the middle daughter’s character didn’t. Jaimee Foxworth aka “Judy” was so upset she was forced into the porn industry. This actually isn’t a joke. She’s goes nakey for money.
The last episode has something to do with Urkel going into outer space and coming back home safely after, of course, severe complications. The show started getting goofier and goofier towards the end, as writers found it wise to clone Urkel to create a permanent Stefan Urquelle for Laura to indulge upon and recasting Harriet (did the original actress seriously think better work was out there for her? Who else could she have played but that character? Hell, even Carl Winslow played a damn cop in “Die Hard.”) It would’ve been nice to see things end on a little more settling note. Urkel did end up marrying Laura, but the show just kept GOING. I guess it would’ve been better for the show to just quit while it was ahead instead of spiraling into fantastic gobbledygook. Still, I look back upon this show and smile fondly.
Fellow TGIF lineup member Full House is probably my favorite cheese-ball sitcom of all time. As kids, my siblings and I would huddle around the warm glow of the television and enjoy 30 great minutes a week of Baby Michelle and her crazy tri-patriarchal parentage. Oh the antics that would ensue!
This was another show that got the axe too quickly. The final episode was actually the one where Michelle fell off the horse and lost her memory. I must’ve seen this episode 3 or 4 times before realizing it was the series finale, and I’ve got to admit that when I found out this was the case, I weeped a silent tear of regret for such things. Interestingly, it wasn’t the plan for the show to end there. God knows popularity and viewership wasn’t the issue. So what was it? John freaking Stamos. The same idiot that cheated on one of the world’s most beautiful women is the same guy that ended one of the greatest family sitcoms of all time (it’s got to be one of the most highly-syndicated shows on TV right now). He just didn’t want to come back for another season. He felt he was getting type-cast into pussy roles, and since he wanted to be much more of a badass (which he OBVIOUSLY was. Quick Paul Barman lyric: “I hate men who are too beautiful and too dutiful with their cuticles”), he quit. If I ever create a “Top Ten Biggest Idiots of All Time” entry for this blog, Stamos is going to be on it somewhere. I’m not sure exactly where he’ll fit amongst such greats as Jerry Krause and Michael Jackson, but rest assured he’ll be there.
I think I would’ve liked to have seen the show end with Becky, Jesse, and the twins finally moving out. Danny needed to get laid, so that would’ve been nice. Joey would need to venture out into the world and really test his talents one last time before he got too old. With DJ in college and Stephanie just about there, Danny wouldn’t need the help anymore. I mean, as the show’s premise dilutes, so should the show itself, right? Another season or two of the Tanners, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Consopolis (note: Jesse’s last name was Cochran for the first season, but they made him Greek starting in season 2 to fit better with the storyline and I guess diversify the characters a bit) would have been nice, just to allow things to wrap themselves up.
I say God Bless all of these old shows, for without them, I would’ve been forced to play outside. Today’s television has had some recent bright spots in Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends, but even these aren’t of the same breed as those shows that entertained us all so completely in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Thank you, and have a great night.