ABC’s “Roseanne” revival has been the most talked-about oddity of the current TV season ever since it was announced last year.
Everyone knows how much TV has changed since the old “Roseanne” ended its run in 1997, to say nothing of how much it has changed since the show first premiered in 1988.
And yet here comes this old show, with its values and original furnishings still intact, as if they had been preserved under a vacuum seal somewhere with a sign on the door that said “Do not open until 2018.”
With a style and pace that was the standard for TV sitcoms in the 1980s and ’90s, the new/old “Roseanne” takes its place Tuesday night on an ABC lineup full of modern-day comedies that at first glance would seem to be worlds away from it.
But take another look. The ABC comedies encompass a diverse array of families -- “Modern Family,” “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “The Goldbergs,” “The American Housewife” and “The Middle.”
Plunking a new “Roseanne” down into the midst of its other comedies turns out to be a no-brainer for ABC.
And the new “Roseanne” turns out to be much more than just some old show that ABC decided to bring back in order to test the waters for similar revivals subsequently (although that is probably part of the plan).
The new “Roseanne” is a revelation. The premiere episode, which ABC provided for preview, has as much to say about contemporary American life as any other family comedy on ABC or anywhere else.
In fact, because of its age and its pedigree, “Roseanne” has the benefit of age and experience. When this show talks, it is worth listening to.
While everything looks the same in the Conner household, the family has changed. Naturally, everyone is older. And the Conner children are grownups with issues and families of their own.
Despite the passage of the years, nothing too surprising happened to any of them. They have all evolved according to the way you might imagine they would have. And so have their relationships.
Credit Roseanne Barr for knowing just what to do with this revival of her old show. She was always among the shrewdest personalities in the television business for knowing exactly how to push the right buttons to create the best possible reflection of the way a great swath of her audience lives their lives.
For example, in the sitcom, Roseanne Conner voted for Donald Trump. Her more liberal sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), voted for Hillary Clinton. And so it goes.
Cynics may have derided this “Roseanne” revival idea as a nostalgia play -- bringing back a beloved show’s cast, and then taking it for granted that audiences will welcome them back warmly no matter what the show is like.
The good news here is that the new “Roseanne” is much more than that.
“Roseanne” premieres Tuesday (March 27) with two back-to-back episodes starting at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.