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TV Review: 'Real Roseanne' catches the chaos behind her comedy

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Roseanne Barr re-enters the public eye with a series that joins the sadly growing pantheon of train- wreck TV, shows that follow disturbed people whom the audience just can't help but watch.

Roseanne Barr has parlayed her cooking/lifestyle show, "Domestic Goddess," on ABC Family into a reality series, "The Real Roseanne Show" for ABC.


"The Real Roseanne Show"

When: 9 and (9:30 tonight on ABC

Starring: Roseanne Barr

"The Real Roseanne Show" is a step above "The Anna Nicole Show," but it's not far up the same staircase. This is a "reality" show without games or contestants, unless you count the head games played by Roseanne. And I suppose the people she hires are stand-ins for contestants, given that she had a penchant for firing everyone in sight on the sitcom "Roseanne." Her employees may be waiting to get kicked off this new series -- actually, both of Roseanne's new shows.

ABC's "The Real Roseanne Show" chronicles the making of "Domestic Goddess," a Barr-hosted cooking/lifestyle show slated to air this fall on ABC Family. Ah, the beauty of corporate synergy.

In tonight's back-to-back episodes of "The Real Roseanne Show," executive producer R.J. Cutler ("American High") makes hay with the collection of oddballs who orbit Roseanne, including her first ex-husband, who works as her handyman, and his second wife, who works as Roseanne's assistant.

But it's her son Jake and son-in-law Jeff who are the dumb and dumber clowns of "The Real Roseanne Show," which owes a debt to "The Osbournes" in some of these scenes. Jake and Jeff are supposed to be producers on "Domestic Goddess," but they've never produced any television. Instead of trying to learn the craft, they fight with toy swords and show up late to meetings.

Roseanne has no ability to be decisive. Faced with making a decision on whom to pick as executive producer of "Domestic Goddess," she throws up her hands. Her vision for the series: "I want to eat, cook, meet famous people and make fun of them."

The politically incorrect Roseanne of old peeks out on occasion. Of her manager, she says, "I remember meeting Reza and knowing that's what I needed, an Arab!"

Still cursing a bleeped blue streak, Roseanne is trying to mellow with the help of a cadre of rabbis, including one who uses "face reading" to help the star pick her new executive producer.

Her choice doesn't inspire much faith in her hangers-on. He envisions "Domestic Goddess" as a show "about war and poisoning the Earth and child abuse and class consciousness and racism and stuff like that."

"Can it be funny that way, though?" asks Roseanne's writer, Drew.

I'm not sure how, but there are at least a few laughs at the expense of the woman who was once queen of ABC's prime-time schedule.


Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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