Thursday, November 4, 2010

All in the Family



She'd been on "Scrubs" for eight years or so before I realized I'd known her for much longer than that.

Sarah Chalke. The second Becky from "Roseanne." Sarah Chalke. Ditsy, adorable, blonde Dr. Elliot Reid on "Scrubs."

She was family.

As an extreme devotee of "Roseanne," which ran on ABC from 1988 to 1997, I knew nothing could go wrong with such a strong ensemble cast. Roseanne (Barr, Arnold, whatever) in the title role; hubby, John Goodman; sister, Laurie Metcalf; mom, Estelle Parsons.

When I watch the re-runs (which is often, on Oxygen, TVLand and Nick at Nite), I'm continually surprised about the talent that little show packed. George Clooney played Roseanne and Jackie's boss at the plastics factory in the late '80s and early '90s. Fred Thompson, ditto. Bert Parks, the ancient, original "Miss America" emcee, was a judge one season. Leo DiCaprio was cast as one of Darlene's school friends.

Bob Hope played himself on the show in the early '90s. Neil Patrick Harris took a turn as Dr. Doogie Howser. Raven Symone, Joan Collins, Chris Farley, Sharon Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Springer. I'm still awestruck at the talent that modest, working-class sitcom could cram into 22 minutes every week.

Then there were Roseanne and Dan's kids. I'd always liked Michael Fishman as DJ, although he started to wear a little thin when his voice changed and he hit teenage-hood. Sara Gilbert played Darlene in all her moods, and did a damn good ~ and hysterical ~ job of it.

But Becky ~ characterized by Lecy Goranson for six seasons ~ always bothered me. Until Sarah Chalke ~ the "new" Becky ~ came along, that is.

Goranson was just so whiny. And her younger sister, Darlene, seemed so much more "with it." According to Web accounts (back in the good ol' "Roseanne" days, of course, I had no Internet to keep track of all this), Chalke stepped in when the first Becky decided to go to college.

The change, I think was perceptible. Chalke's Becky could handle Darlene. Heck, she could handle Roseanne. And when Mark entered the picture, she seemed to be beyond his equal, too. I grew up, in a sense, when Becky Conner did.

When "Roseanne"celebrated its final season in 1997, I moved on, too. I took up with a new sitcom, a new ensemble cast, four years later, with "Scrubs."

For years, I just couldn't put my finger on why I liked Elliot so much. And I only figured it out last year. I guess it was because I'd welcomed her into Casita Scribe once before. She was already a member of my sitcom family.

16 comments:

Julie M. said...

Great writing Melissa! When I first saw the picture in my reader before clicking over I thought it was your family shot. I had to do a double take before i realized how much you looked like Roseanne!

paulakiger said...

I enjoyed this post! I did not realize all those famous people had wandered through the Conner home and community throughout those years! Another show that had good, catchy writing was Golden Girls. I used to watch it at the gym while riding the stationary bike and people probably wondered why I was about to fall off my seat laughing. :-)

BLOGitse said...

:) I remember Roseanne too! Time flies... :)

Jeanie said...

I really loved reading this. Roseanne is one of my all time favorite TV shows and you captured so much here of what made it so good.

Susie said...

I loved Becky because she reminded me of myself when I was her age. The way she would call Roseanne "Mother"....it sounded just like me!

parentingBYdummies said...

Watched every episode of Scrubs and never knew that. Probably because I've never watched an entire episode of Roseanne, but still I like knowing where my fave actors got their starts.

Amy said...

Few things on television are even remotely as good as Roseanne was.

Shell said...

Didn't they go back to the original Becky later? Or maybe I'm just imagining things.

JustMom420zaks said...

Nothing on television is good anymore. Where are all the sitcoms? I loved Darlene.

Donna said...

What a cast of characters! You went well beyond the call of duty. I learned so much. I love learning one new thing a day and sharing it. Thanks for sharing yours. You captured the cast's history and captured my attention.

Sarah said...

I like Dr. Elliot very much as well. I didn't know she was in Roseanne.

Stretching My Imagination said...

I liked reading this, especially since I've never actually seen the Roseanne show. One thing that stood out was how the single change of a cast member can shift the dynamics and effect of the show as a whole. I wonder, did you notice the episode trend/theme/feeling change when Sarah Chalke replaced the previous actress?

yonca said...

Great post Melissa! I remember Roseanne:)

Cheryl said...

What a great slice of Americana. I'd forgotten all about Roseanne and the wonderful regular and guest stars. Thanks for this brilliant reminder.

Lucy said...

I remember Roseanne and I enjoy catching the Reruns too. I agree the character and actress 'Becky' was annoying, a double whammy in my books (LOL). I enjoyed the character 'Darlene' and felt the actress nailed it!

Mister Teacher said...

I never watched Rosanne. But I always liked Dr. Elliot. Mainly because she's super hot. :)

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