‘The Connors’ Premieres (Sans Roseanne) To Strong Ratings

Last night saw the highly-anticipated premiere of the Roseanne spin-off, The Connors, on ABC.

Roseanne Barr’s rebooted sitcom was cancelled earlier this year after the comedian tweeted racist messages about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Barr eventually agreed to step away from the show and characters she helped create so dozens of jobs associated with the sitcom could be saved.

And so, we have The Connors.

(Warning – Spoiler alert)

As previously reported, Roseanne’s character was killed off in the debut episode via an opioid overdose. Longtime fans of Roseanne have seen the show tackle several controversial issues, like the current opioid epidemic, over the years.

The issue was treated with the seriousness and gravity that it deserves.

The episode opened three weeks after the passing of Roseanne’s character and the family members are still pretty much in shock. Especially husband, Dan, played by John Goodman.

When the cause of death is revealed, Dan remains in denial saying he knew he’d flushed Roseanne’s prescription pain killers.

But a pill bottle belonging to a neighbor (played by Mary Steenburgen) is soon found in a coat pocket. It seems the uninsured neighbors traded prescriptions occasionally to help each other out.

Dan initially blames and shames her for giving the pills to Roseanne, but soon even more hidden stashes of pills are found.

“She was going to do what she was going to do,” admits Dan in a line that easily could have been directly about Roseanne Barr herself. “She never listened to a damn person in her life.”

This being network sitcom-land, the family comes to a landing of sorts by the end of the half-hour, but not before the always dependable Laurie Metcalf delivers the “moment” of episode. Her affecting, layered, measured performance is definitely worth the watching.

For her part, Barr, who earlier had told the world she would move to Israel rather than stay in the U.S. for the premiere, tweeted in classic Roseanne fashion, “I AIN’T DEAD, BITCHES!!!!”

Later in the evening, in a lengthy statement issued through her longtime friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Facebook, Barr called the decision to kill off her character with opioids in “The Conners” debut episode “grim and morbid.”

“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character,” the statement read in part. “That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.”

According to CNN, the premiere of The Connors drew about 10.5 million viewers, which is on par with the last four episodes of Roseanne last season.

Writing for Vanity Fair, television critic Sonia Saraiya praised the evolution of the show and its characters.

The Conners felt richer, after one episode, than the revived Roseanne season did after nine. Barr’s personality took up a lot of space on the Roseanne set. Without her, the cast and the characters have a chance to breathe. And the result is an unlikely, appealing family sitcom with a motley crew of characters all held together by the same loss.

In advance of the premiere, the producers of The Connors released this featurette yesterday.

What do you think, readers? Do you plan on watching The Connors?

ABC Considering Revamp Of Cancelled Reboot Of ROSEANNE

The cast of “Roseanne” (image via ABC)

According to several sources, ABC is considering a revamp of it’s now cancelled reboot of Roseanne.

In the aftermath of cancelling the sitcom after Roseanne’s racists tweets last week about Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, the network is said to be looking at reshuffling the show to shift the focus to the character of “Darlene” played by out actress Sara Gilbert.

Gilbert, who has been acting as an executive producer for the reboot, has apparently been reaching out to the show’s cast members about interest in continuing with a revamped show.

TMZ reports that John Goodman is “very interested.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC is scheduling a confab later this week to explore other options for the show.

One caveat: Any new format would “have to be without Roseanne Barr, and the actress and former head writer of the sitcom would not be able to financially benefit from any new incarnation of the series.”

In that Roseanne was a creator of the original show, I’m not sure how you could utilize the same characters without compensating Roseanne.

What do you think, readers? Would you watch “Darlene?”

Official Trailer For Upcoming Dan Savage Sitcom – “The Real O’Neals”

The first official trailer for the new ABC sitcom The Real O’Neals, exec produced by Dan Savage dropped today.

Deadline describes as “A contemporary take on a seemingly perfect Catholic family, whose lives take an unexpected turn when surprising truths are revealed. Instead of ruining their family, the honesty triggers a new, messier chapter where everyone stops pretending to be perfect and actually starts being real.”

“The Real O’Neals” stars Martha Plimpton as Eileen, Jay R. Ferguson as Pat, Noah Galvin as Kenny, Mathew Shively as Jimmy, Bebe Wood as Shannon and Mary Hollis Inboden as Jodi.

Religious and conservative organizations and their leaders, including Tony Perkins and Brent Bozell, of The Media Research Center and Family Research Council respectively, vigorously campaigned against the series.

They lost.

ABC Picks Up New Dan Savage Comedy The Real O’Neals

ABC has announced the decision to pick up new comedy, The Real O’Neals, executive produced by Dan Savage.

From Deadline:

The O’Neals, about a family in the aftermath of a son comes out, had been an internal ABC favorite. Its fate was put into question when religious and conservative organizations started a campaign against the project over the involvement of outspoken gay activist Savage.

The comedy was originally going to be based on his life growing up but that changed during the development of the pilot, with the story evolving in a different direction. The O’Neals marks the return of Raising Hope‘s Martha Plimpton with another comedy starring role.

ABC Greenlights Sitcom Based On The Early Life Of Dan Savage

ABC has green-lit a new sitcom based on the early life of Dan Savage (It Gets Better Project, Savage Love):

The untitled Savage comedy is a single-camera semi-autobiographical entry based on the LGBT activist/boundary-pushing columnist’s life. It centers on a picture-perfect family that is turned upside down when the youngest son comes out of the closet. What seems like the end of their idyllic life turns out to be the beginning of a bright new chapter when everyone stops pretending to be perfect and actually starts being real.

Savage is listed as one of the producers on the project.

(via Hollywood Reporter)

TV: “666 Park Avenue” to return to ABC for summer run

“666 Park Avenue” may still be canceled, but ABC is not done airing the series yet.

ABC has decided to air the remaining episodes of the series starring Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams with another cancelled drama, “Zero Hour,” on Saturdays this summer for a two-hour block of supernatural TV.

The “Zero Hour” return was previously announced and begins June 15 with a two-hour premiere. “666” returns the following week, on June 22, when “Zero” airs in its regular 8 p.m. ET time slot leading into the remaining episodes of “666” at 9 p.m. ET.

(via Zap2It)

New series: 666 Park Avenue

 ABC has officially ordered 666 Park Avenue to a series for the 2012 – 2013 season. 

The series will star Terry O’Quinn (Lost),
Vanessa Williams, Dave Annable, Rachael Taylor, Mercedes Masohn, Robert
Buckley, Helena Mattsson and Erik Palladino in the show.

The series is about The Drake, an apartment building on Manhattan’s
Upper East Side that is owned by Gavin Doran (O’Quinn) and his wife
Olivia (Williams) and whose residents who are unaware that they’re under
the effects of dark supernatural forces. All the residents think that
their dreams are coming true but find out they’re making what feels like
a deal with the Devil.