Season eight of Roseanne is the one where everything finally began to truly come apart. This is not to say there aren't some good episodes, but you have to really pick through episodes full of fantasy, inane slapstick, and politically correct undertones to get to the truly good blue collar slice-of-life episodes that made up the majority of episodes in prior years. WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD.
The season opener, "Shower the People You Love with Stuff", very unceremoniously returns Lecy Gorenson as Becky Conner Healy, with Roseanne taking advantage of the sudden replacement with an inside joke by remarking that it seems like Becky's been gone for four years - exactly how long Lecy Gorenson has been gone from the show. The end of the show makes fun of the switch of actresses playing Becky even more with a clever imitation of the opening theme song of 60's series "The Patty Duke Show" in which Patty Duke played twin cousins. It is a good opener to the season, but it is not typical of what follows.
One problem with season eight is that Roseanne NEVER did fantasy episodes well during any season. Fortunately, past seasons had limited doses of them. In season eight, though, we get "Halloween: The Final Chapter", "The Fifties Show", "Springtime for David", and "The Getaway, Almost". Not all of these episodes are pure fantasy. Some of them, such as "The Getaway" are more politically correct slapstick than anything. However, they all seem like outrageous and disjointed half hour comedy skits involving characters who hardly know each other rather than part of a show about a middle class family trying to get by the trials that life throws their way. It was particularly sad to see what became of the Halloween episode this year, always a Roseanne staple. Gone are the outrageous costumes and the clever pranks of previous years. They have now been replaced by a circus of the absurd and the bizarre.
Episodes that seem to have been conceived for the sole purpose of preaching political correctness are "The Last Thursday in November", which is the Thanksgiving episode, "The Last Date" with Dan and Roseanne crashing a bar mitzvah, and the most outrageous of the three, "December Bride" in which Scott and Leon get married. The odd contradiction in "December Bride" is that Roseanne, who is supposed to be so open-minded and is acting as Scott and Leon's wedding planner, has decorated the room in which the wedding is to be held in outrageously bad taste using every stereotype in the book. This episode stands out as a real waste. It had the opportunity for several interesting things to happen - for Leon and Roseanne to finally bond and also to explore the prejudices against such unions in middle America (this was 1995 in small-town Illinois after all), just to name a couple. Instead we get another outrageous slapstick episode in which the most interesting thing that happens is Leon kissing Roseanne to figure out if he actually might be straight when he gets a case of the pre-wedding jitters.
There are some good episodes sprinkled through the season, but the best episodes are towards the end starting with Darlene's unexpected pregnancy, the result of a night of passion with David during the Conners' trip to Disneyland. However, Darlene and David have a plan figured out that includes marriage. Roseanne does some fine acting here, really showing the disappointment of a woman who realizes she married the right man perhaps too soon, now also realizing that both her daughters have followed in her footsteps and she is powerless to do anything about it. "The Wedding", which features David and Darlene's wedding, is much better viewing than the one featuring Scott and Leon. There is a great father-daughter moment between Dan and Darlene where Dan apologizes to Darlene for being angry at her and gives her a key to a bank box with some extra money. When Dan tells her not to put off her dreams because some day she'll realize that time and her dreams have passed her by, you realize Dan is really talking about his own life. Mark and David also have a great moment when David says that he wishes their parents were there. Mark suddenly comes out of the village clown mode he has been in since 1993 and wisely tells David that their parents really had no right to be there because they had never behaved as parents. The Conners had done what their own parents should have, and really were, in fact, their parents by action if not genetics.
Unfortunately, there is another life altering event that occurs that day that shatters the newlyweds' plans - Dan's heart attack. This is the subject of the last two episodes. Dan survives his heart attack, but when he comes home from the hospital he finds it impossible to change his ways. The season ends with Dan and Roseanne having a huge fight over Dan's resistance to a healthier lifestyle that concludes with a miniature Godzilla crashing into the Conners' television screen - a fitting metaphor for season nine.