But this much is clear: John Goodman’s character, Dan Conner, won’t be dead when the show returns. That’s a change from the finale, when it was revealed that Dan had died of a heart attack. The finale also revealed that Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) was a lesbian, and that Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and Becky (Lecy Goranson, and later, Sarah Chalke) actually had the opposite’s significant other.
It turns out that some of that, at least, may not be canon, just as NBC’s “Will & Grace” reunion is also ignoring aspects of its finale’s storyline. But in this case, “Roseanne” may find new ways to explain some of its ender away. (Star Roseanne Barr has hinted in the past, for example, that perhaps Dan faked his own death.)
“I’m not going to talk too specifically” about the storyline, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told reporters on Sunday, who said the show isn’t necessarily “ignoring the events of the finale.” But she did confirm that “Dan is very much alive.”
That’s not too much of a surprise, as Goodman was part of the “Roseanne” revival announcement in May, and has been publicly involved with the reboot since then.
As previously announced, Barr, Goodman, Gilbert, Metcalf, Goranson, and Michael Fishman (D.J.) are all set to return, while Chalke “will also appear in another role.” Negotiations continue to also bring back Johnny Galecki in some capacity.
The show’s writers room recently opened, under the oversight of executive producers Bruce Helford and Whitney Cummings, with Barr also deeply involved. “Roseanne” will begin shooting in front of a studio audience this October, to air in midseason.
“We’ve now heard the broad strokes of the creative for these eight episodes,” Dungey said. “I’m confident it will return to the show we knew and loved.”
“Roseanne” was critically acclaimed for most of its run, although was dinged in its final season, which shifted focus and tone as the Conner family won the lottery.
“It is very much tonally similar to the original show,” Dungey said of the “Roseanne” update. “It’s unflinching, it’s honest, it is irreverent at times and it’s also really really funny.”
Dungey added that the show will be “very topical,” but it won’t address current political figures – like Donald Trump – by name.
“We’re not talking specifically about the universe we’re living in, in that way,” she said. “We’re addressing issues like foreclosure, how difficult it is for people to get health insurance. We’re talking topics in a bigger, broader way, but not necessarily talking about occupants in the White House.”
Barr and Gilbert are also executive producing, along with Carsey-Werner’s Tom Werner, whose independent studio was behind the original series.
Asked whether she was concerned about Barr, who notoriously battled with her staff (and with the press) during the show’s original run, Dungey noted that “she is very excited about the show and wants to be focused.”
Barr is very vocal on her Twitter feed – even as transfer of her social media oversight has gone to her son. Asked whether she’s concerned about whether that might impact “Roseanne,” Dungey said, “I try to just worry about the things I can control.”
At its height, “Roseanne” was the No. 1 show in the nation (tied with “The Cosby Show”) and also earned several Emmy awards, including three supporting actress in a comedy awards for Laurie Metcalf, and the outstanding lead actress in a comedy Emmy for Barr in 1993.