Roseanne Season 10 Episode 5 Review: Darlene vs. David

Written Demanding More Shelf Space by Bridger Cunningham.

Weaving in returns to a bloated cast is a chore indeed, especially with Roseanne already struggling to keep its cast members front and center.  Darlene vs. David was tasked with adding two more seats in the Conner living room for returning favorites Johnny Galecki (David Healy) and Estelle Parsons (Beverly Harris).  This episode nailed every beat with Bev's abrasive, intrusive presence immediately taxing daughters Roseanne (Roseanne Bar) and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf).  In a fitting return, octogenarian Bev gets the boot after another slew of sexual encounters left her not only with her pants down and homeless, but the source of the retirement community's recent STD outbreak.  Appalling, indeed, and right in character.

Image result for estelle parsons 2018Sage viewers can chuckle as the episode paid homage to the Season 6 episode where Bev broke her pelvis during a tryst, closing the episode which a dominatrix clad Bev fishing a set of handcuffs.  Parsons enjoyed two solid scenes of banter, followed by a window-dressing ensemble closing scene during a cake eating contest.  Galecki's return, however, felt stifled among the chaos.  Although David's entrance through Darlene's window paid great homage to the Season 5 episode "It's A Boy," the pacing sped through the cameo faster than a cocky teenager.  Inside two tenuous scenes, David and Darlene briefly made up and rekindled their relationship, then broke apart in a double pace.  Galecki interacted with few characters, with Roseanne ironically receiving the most layered scenes vs. Darlene.

Image result for roseanne 2018 becky drinkOther highlights included an entertaining visit to the grocery store, Becky starting the evening early drinking vodka neat with a celery stick and Jackie and the grandkids sparsely decorating each scene like a houseplant for prop.  Although this episode was entertaining, there is still much to explore with so much story to tell and so little space for the cast.  The last half of Roseanne featured several characters notably absent, and it appears this trend followed the revival without resolve.  In the five episodes displayed, Michael Fishman has been absent for three episodes.  Grandchildren Harris (Emma Kenney), Mark (Ames McNamara) and Mary (Jayden Rey) all missed episode 4, and Jackie has been little more than a scene stealer since the pilot episode.  Roseanne showrunners may want to flesh out creative ways to weave the large ensemble into stories, even if only in an opening and meaningful scene.

Cast space aside, the episode delivered the same crisp dialogue and allotted Roseanne some of her most heartfelt lines of the season.  The brightspot of Galecki's cameo is Roseanne is one of David's continuing champions, playing true to season 4-9's dynamic the two possessed.  Laurie Metcalf and Estelle Parsons crackled with their passive aggressive mother/daughter relationship, and more light is shined on Becky's woes and potential character direction as a lost woman.  Nods to life's simple experiences like a grocery store trip are welcome and may present an ideal returning backdrop.  This episode is the weakest of the season, yet outshines several later seasons' episodes.

Episode Score: 6 out of 10.

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