By Henry Goldblatt
August 30, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Roseanne: ABC/Photofest

Roseanne: The Complete First Season

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In Roseanne, tired and sardonic, Roseanne Barr stomps around the kitchen in her sitcom’s pilot, spitting jokes like artillery fire. Some land with precision (on her daughter’s food drive for ”poor people”: ”Tell them to drive some of that food over here”). Some ricochet off the dishwasher before flying out the window (duck!) and diving into the dirt outside (to her shoe-tying-impaired son: ”Wear loafers”).

That was the beauty of Roseanne’s nine-year series: The fearless comedienne seemingly transferred every thought she ever had into a script. During the show’s strongest season — 4 and 5 — the results were mesmerizing. In its first year, they were fascinating and wildly uneven (the highlight: Daughter Darlene, a precious Sara Gilbert, hates having her period). As the 23 episodes unfold on this four-disc set, a great sitcom emerges: The cast begins to crackle, Roseanne’s boring factory job disappears (as does a young George Clooney as her boss — talk about precious), and the star’s acting improves, something she admits in a new interview. ”You can see how I went from standing there and saying lines to getting that… the joke is a scene.”

A few more jokes — and some of the star’s trademark candor — on the extras would be nice. Roseanne skirts the issue of the well-documented tumultuous first season: ”It was a fight for a very long time. After the end of the first season, all that was done.” John Goodman’s new interview is bland, and the three haphazard clip packages represent the type of corporate cynicism Roseanne would have railed against.

Roseanne: The Complete First Season

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  • Roseanne: The Complete First Season
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