Series Review: 9-1-1 on Channel 7

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Let’s be real here.  Those cop/doctor/fireman procedurals flooding the airwaves right now, would not really make for exciting watching if the emergencies they were attending were not of major grandeur.  A bomb in chest of a man, multiple plane crashes, a 20 story apartment building on fire with no fire exits….it’s rudimentary that the bigger the emergency, the bigger the show (no matter how outlandish) and that’s what new show 9-1-1 is aiming to do – except most of the emergencies featured in each episode are based off actual real-life events.

Created by the minds of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk  (American Horror Story, GLEE, Nip/Tuck)  this ‘first responders’ drama takes the most insane “what could possibly go wrong” horrors and amps them up ten fold to offer up some of the most skin crawling, “ewwww” ensuing and spine tingling emergencies.

Let’s just say a new born baby flushed down a toilet in the series opening episode (written by Murphy, Falchuk, and showrunner/co-creator Tim Minear and directed by Murphy series regular Bradley Buecker) isn’t even scraping the surface of what’s to come.

Along with the freakishly outlandish scenarios, 9-1-1 is fitted out with a dream cast of core characters including Angela Bassett as tough as nails cop Athena who is dealing with some home life dramas, Peter Krause as fire station captain Bobby Nash who is a recovering addict with a family secret he’s not telling anyone (well just yet), Connie Britton as 9-1-1 responder Abby Clark who is struggling to balance work and looking after her ailing mother and Oliver Stark as the rookie rule-breaker firefighter who may or may not be a sex addict.

The day jobs of these characters see them often intertwining with one another though Britton’s 9-1-1 call centre responder Abby Clark is virtually cut from any real involvement until she forcibly inserts herself into the life of young firefighter Buck.

Of all our heroes personal struggles, I found Krause’s Bobby Nash the most difficult to swallow with his former addict status sending him to the local priest to confess his sins on a regular basis.  It does takes five episodes of this sullen and private Bobby to finally reveal just what is causing him such depression and that reveal in itself is quite shocking and heart breaking but once revealed and dealt with, is quickly swept under the rug and never mentioned again.

For the most part, 9-1-1 seems to offer up a somewhat even balance between the  daily emergencies our heroes deal with and the personal struggles waiting for them at home though a note I took down while watching the first few episodes read “get back to the life saving action!!” – not to say that the home life aspect of our heroes was boring.

9-1-1 starts Wednesday August 1st, 8:30pm Channel 7.

 

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Could the Wave 2 FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls Be Any Cooler?!

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The first wave of FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls released back in 2016 remain a collectors favorite even though the wave has now been vaulted and prices on the secondary market have sky rocketed (around the $90 to $110 price point).

The original character releases were more character specific than episodic specific with Monica in her chef whites, Ross with pet monkey Marcel, Joey and Chandler with ‘chick’ and ‘duck’, Rachel in her Central Perk uniform and Phoebe with her guitar.

That’s all about to change with the recently revealed wave 2 of the FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls which are heavily episodic specific and perfectly iconic for each character.

First up in Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) from the season 10 episode 11 titled “The One Where the Stripper Cries” which offers an 80’s college-era flash back with Chandler rocking a Flock of Seagulls inspired hairstyle.

 

Next in the line, and from the same episode, is Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) also in flashback form with his tight perm and matching mustache holding an episodically identical pamphlet for their band “Way, no Way!”

 

Also from this very same episode AND flashback is the third in the line, Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) rocking high hair, garish outfit and plastic red drinking cup.

Moving onto a new episode is the next release, Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) from season 3 episode 2 (and one of my personal favorite episodes) “The One Where No One is Ready” where Joey, frustrated with Chandler’s antics, wears ALL of Chandlers clothing.

Season 9, Episode 24 “The One in Barbados: Part 2” get’s the Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) treatment with Monica’s god-awful braids, gotten in an attempt to deal with the high humidity in…well Barbados.

Last up is Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) sporting her Supergirl outfit from Season 8, episode 6 titled “The One With the Halloween Party” where Phoebe causes the break-up of her twin sister Ursula’s engagement to Eric played by Sean Penn.

 

These new wave of pops are pretty epic with incredible detail for the hardcore FRIENDS fans though the only thing I can pick up on is with Monica’s hairstyle which is evened off at one length versus her varying braid length as seen in the episode.

Are these going to be on your must-get list?  Sound off in the comments section!

Watch this space for release dates and pre-order details!

PS – I’m totally devastated we still haven’t got a Fat Monica Pop! Vinyl who I think was much more iconic and memorable than corn-row Monica!

First Look: Barbie Signature X-Files Scully and Mulder Dolls

It’s been 20 years since Mattel released the first ever X-Files Mulder and Scully Barbie gift set featuring the spooky duo in conjunction with the very first X-Files movie, all the way back in 1998.

There were two versions of the gift set produced, the first and rarer version, was quickly pulled from shelves because it was deemed that Scully’s hair was too long and promptly replaced with a second release with shorter hair.

Fast forward 20 years later and the first images of new brand new Mulder and Scully Barbie Signature dolls have leaked online showcasing brand new sculpts of the duo made specially for this release.

Each doll is packaged separately and while not 100% confirmed, may seem to include some points of articulation.  Both are dressed in screen accurate outfits from the show along with ID and FBI badges,

Slated to release later this month, one of the Scully dolls has already appeared on eBay (where the images came from) so it can’t be too soon before we see them hit our local retailers!

Case Pre-Order now up at Entertainment Earth!

Same Same but Different for Cycle 24 of America’s Next Top Model.

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Cycle 3 winner Eva Pigford and Nigel Barker return this season of Top Model

Tyra is back ya’ll!  The face and name associated with America’s Next Model has snatched back the hosting gig out of the lingering grasp of last years host Rita Ora and is making a change (but not really a change) to the modeling competition reality show she has hosted for all but one of the 24 cycles.

Now onto cycle 24 (yes 24!!) Tyra is back and smizier than ever, joined by Paper Magazine editor Drew Roach , model Ashley Graham and celebrity stylist Law Roach as judges.

Kicking Rita Ora to the curb, Tyra set out to put together the ‘most diverse group of models ever seen on Top Model’, taking it back to an all female casting call, removing the age limit of 27, bringing in more than one plus-sized contestant and throwing in the ability for any girl to be cut at any time seen fit by Tyra and her co-judges.

From here, we’re back to the usual Top Model fare with the annual ‘casting session’ where a random selection of girls are trotted out, interviewed and are then to present the judges with one of their own photos from their over-filtered Instagram or a previous photo shoot.

Cut to an actual photo shoot on the grounds of Greystone Mansion in Los Angeles featuring some elaborate couture outfits where we get a quick glimpse at some of the girls who straight-up outshine the others, a quick cut of some of the girls who struggled and a runway walk to determine the 14 finalists making their way into the model mansion.

Once inside the mansion, our models true colors start to shine and the ‘normal’ girls are identified and hushed away while the cray cray ones are singled out for ‘editing purposes’ such as 19 year old Idaho native Liberty could have been our front contender for the ‘unstable one’ classification as the gushes about her political support for Trump, but it’s loose cannon Liz and sapsorrow Brendi who get singled out as the troubled ones in the season – and..as you will quickly see….rightfully so.

This cycle 24 offers a few ‘Flashback Friday’ feels to it with former judge Nigel Barker coming back for a shoot along with cycle three winner Eva Marcille (Pigford) returning to recreate one of her most memorable shoots from her cycle.  There’s also contestant Erin, who at 42 years of age looks flawless and brings all her 90’s model glam to each and every of her shoots.

In reality though, there is never going to be anything new within the world of Top Model.  We’ll pick our favorites, they’ll do some photo shoots, they may or may not make it to the finale, we’ll watch with glee as some of the girls literally meltdown right in front of our eyes and the group will segregate themselves into ‘bitchy’ and ‘not that bitchy’ groups.  There’s tears, tantrums, walkouts and Tyra – but did we ever really need anything more from Top Model for it to be classed as our guilty pleasure?!

And as always, the make-over episode is the one to watch!  It comes pretty early on this season too and will see one girl literately loose all her hair – and still look stunning.

America’s Next Top Model begins June 26th, 8.30pm on Fox8.

‘Evil Genius’ – Netflix’s Newest Must-Watch Crime Series

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Brian Wells moments before his untimely death – Netflix

The True Crime genre love that has been drawing in viewers for some time now from Making a Murderer to The Keepers and The Staircase among others, has a new must-watch show featuring one of the most bizarre cases ever documented.  Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist recently dropped on Netflix and the four part documentary has enough of all the right genre ingredients for it to be binged in a single sit and leave us wanting more.

At the very base of this case is the town of Eerie, Pennsylvania and a pizza delivery driver named Brian Wells who robs a bank with a working walking cane gun (it’s literally something out of James Bond), a note demanding $250,000 – and a collar bomb around his neck.

After obtaining less than $9000, Wells leaves the bank, is apprehended and while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive, dies when said collar bomb explodes in one very graphic and horrific scene that has traumatized me since viewing. Moments after Well’s shocking death, it’s discovered he was on a scavenger hunt, following a map and instructions in order to defuse the Saw like collar bomb.

The web of this case begins to expand when one of Well’s co-workers mysteriously dies only days later and two people – Bill Rothstein and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – enter the fray with a third dead body sitting frozen in Rothstien’s chest freezer.

This fascinating case features master mind criminals, red herrings, crazy theories and law enforcement bungles – just as others in the genre have – but unlike those, the focus on the judicial system is just a haze as the unusual circumstances within this case are just too outlandish to not be put front and centre.

Of the two criminals in this case, Diehl-Armstrong is the only one still alive and the only one to actively communicate with director Trey Borzillieri about Well’s case and the ever expanding landscape that surrounds it.

Check out the trailer below:

Evil Genius is streaming now on Netflix Australia/New Zealand.

p.s – for fans of the genre’, the compelling The Staircase is coming to Netflix along with three all-new episodes starting on June 8th!

Review : The Assassination of Gianni Versace

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Ray Mickshaw/FX

Taking the what-if around this murder as gospel, the follow up to The People Vs OJ Simpson is more flash than facts but is still a good watch.

I’m putting it out there front and center – the actual murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace is only a fraction of what is featured within the world of Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace so much so, the show would have been better titled The Delusional Life of Andrew Cunanan as Assassination delves into the world of Versace’s killer (played by Glee’s Darren Criss) more than Versace’s terrible fate as the title would suggest.

Opening with soaring operatic music and a flowing visual tour of Versace’s gaudy Miami mansion, Versace is dead even before the title credits.  However, the aim for Murphy wasn’t for us to follow those trying to solve this murder (hence the title) but in fact send us back in time and follow Cunanan and how he ended up with a gun in his hands aimed at the famed fashion designer.  Yes, Versace’s untimely death at the hands of Cunanan plays as the pilot episode’s main premise but that’s more to do with Versace’s celebrity status over Cunanan’s four other victims, who also get a look in during the shows eight other episodes in the form of time jumps.

Based off the book Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan, the Man Who Killed Gianni Versace by author Maureen Orth, Assassination is spread among three different lines – Cunanan and his victims, Versace’s loved ones (including Ricky Martin as Versace’s long-time partner Antonio D’Amico) dealing with the fashion empire pre and post murder and the bumbling FBI who can’t seem to get to grips with the ‘gay’ aspect surrounding the murders (it was the 90’s).

The source material also happens to blur the lines between truth and made-up and Assassination quickly becomes a show that will have you asking “did that really happen?” while trying to decide what is fact and what is fiction considering to this day, there is still no actual proof that Versace and Cunanan had even met prior to the murder.

Gianni’s sister Donatella (played with startling verbal similarity by Penelope Cruz) has claimed the series as “a work of fiction” while the programme itself carries the disclaimer: “Some events are combined or imagined for dramatic and interpretative purposes. Dialogue is imagined to be consistent with these events” and that’s because the main players within this world are….well, dead.

Cunanan’s prior interactions (or lack thereof) with his victims – Versace (Édgar Ramírez), Jeffrey Trail (Finn Wittrock), David Madson (Cody Fern), Lee Miglin (Mike Farrell) and William Reece (Gregg Lawrence) – is somewhat pure speculation so while the work is based off fact, it is done so with much “let’s assume this is what happened“.

That aside, the character study of Andrew Cunanan is a rather intriguing one and is explored heavily within the series.  Cunanan’s ability to seamlessly morph into any given situation or social standing and flee when his lies have all been revealed is quite remarkable though giving so much focus on his life, his lies and his troubled youth feels like we’re being forced into empathizing with Cunanan in light of the fact he is/was a notorious serial killer.

Part of this comes down to how star Darren Criss brings the killer to life, playing Cunanan as mysterious yet suave with an air of charm, a believer in his own lies and the false world around him that he has created while trying to decide just how much of his true self he needs to reveal.  One could only presume by the middle of this series, much more freedom for Criss was enabled with Cunanan as this is where most of the fact/fiction lines become very blurred.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Assassination is the glaring fact that unlike season one’s OJ Simpson story, there is no real hero to root for.  While we all knew the end result, Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark still had us backing her to go and get hers in a male dominated environment yet in Assassination, that task is less male dominated environment and more gay acceptance.

That job is pretty much left vacant even though it may feel like we’re being forced into believing it should be Cunanan who, while never ashamed of his sexuality, understands how being gay can be perceived by those less educated on the topic.

The missing hero however is through no fault of anyone’s as there just was never one in this story to begin with.  It could never have been Cunanan (regardless of his childhood), the FBI, as it’s shown, were a bunch of bumbling bigots who couldn’t have cared any less about Cunanan’s victims and others such as Versace or even Lee Miglin’s wife Marilyn (played wonderfully by Judith Light) were so far removed from the central story line it would have meant stretching the truth even further to find that hero.

On the whole, this tale of Andrew Cunanan is a worthy watch and while lacking in the suspense and law and order that drove American Crime Story’s first season of The People Vs OJ Simpson there is still enough substance to dig in and make your own mind up about how much truth is actually found within this series.

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace begins Thursday May 24th at 8:30pm AEST, on Foxtel’s showcase.

 

Review: Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You – Part One

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Image credit: Channel Seven

At some point during the two hours of this part one Olivia Newton John bio, A young Olivia Newton John (played by Morgan Griffin) finds a review about her album with the now infamous quote “If white bread could sing, it would sound like this.”….

Needless to say, that white bread is what we’re being delivered up in the first part of this ONJ biopic that literally speed-balls through two decades of her career within the blink of an eye, bypassing the darker, meatier topics that could have added a bit of wholegrain to the loaf.

Hopeless Devoted to You opens with one of ONJ’s most iconic film moments, the transformation of Sandy in Grease with her ink black leggings, figure hugging corset and hair tizzed within an inch of it’s life singing ‘You’re the one that I want’.  She’s riding a wave of praise with the world at her feet at the movie’s premiere wondering “how did I get here?” before we’re thrown all the way back to Melbourne 1965 with 16 year old ONJ  (Morgan Griffin) about to get her first break with boyfriend TV presenter Ian Turpie (Will Ewing) by her side.

A move to London, a failed attempt with her first single and movie plus a new boyfriend in Bruce Welch (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) from the band ‘The Shadows’ and suddenly ONJ is 22 years old and she’s beginning to make a name for herself with thanks to her boyfriend and manager Welch.  There’s a slight hint within this first part that attempts to look at Welch’s jealousy of ONJ has her career begins to soar (he left his band to manager her) but because that might delve a bit to deep into the dark side it’s quickly brushed aside and ONJ moves on.

White bread.

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Image: Channel Seven

It’s a full 45-odd minutes before the Delta Goodrem version of ONJ re-appears just as she’s about to sing her first mega hit “I Honestly Love You” with new boyfriend by her side, Englishman Lee Kramer (Todd Lasance) who, also happens to be her new manager.  And very much like before with lover/manager Welch, ONJ finds herself struggling with the jealousy of Kramer as her lover/manager as her career continues to keep going higher and once again, she lets him go before we get into the meatier parts of their relationship.

White bread.

The nitty gritty of this part one is that there is none.  It’s simply white bread and in all honesty there is really nothing wrong with it as it makes for a nice and pleasant viewing filled with some hit songs and a couple of broken hearts.

As a young ONJ, Morgan Griffin shines, giving us the doe eyed soft spoken Aussie girl about to take on the world with her music though as this is the Delta Goodrem show, she’s brought in to play ONJ in her early 20’s and that may not have been the best move as Goodrem is too present, too self aware, too…well…Delta Goodrem.

Sure Delta and ONJ both embody the ‘good girl next door’ image but the similarities between the two end there and I had to remind myself constantly that this wasn’t a Delta singing singing ONJ’s greatest hits special and that’s through no fault of her own.  Delta is just too big a name, face and brand to easily morph into someone else – someone just as well known in the form of Olivia Newton John.

When you compare this to 2014’s Michael Hutchence/INXS biopic, Luke Arnold, while known, did not have the same status as Goodrem which allowed the actor to become Hutchence to a point the two were eerily alike but then again, there was more substance and darker, personal material being explored in that movie.

Part two, which airs the following week, delves into the more recent(ish) and more tabloid ONJ era with crazed stalkers, the Xanadu years, battle with cancer and a lover missing at sea.

Don’t expect too much depth from this part one, if we’re talking white bread it’s a cucumber sandwich made to look like a cheese sandwich but we still can clearly see it’s a cucumber sandwich.  Enjoyable but sadly not satisfying that hunger.

Olivia Newton John: Hopelessly Devoted to You – Part one airs Sunday, May 13th at 8:30pm on the Seven Network.

The MKR Grand Finalists Have Been Revealed!

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Image – Channel 7

After 5 long months (including a 4 week hiatus for the Commonwealth Games), we finally know which of the 16 teams have made it through to the My Kitchen Rules grand finale airing this Sunday night on Channel 7.

Victorian mums Kim and Suong who have powered through with their cyclone-in-a-kitchen traditional Vietnamese cooking, will battle it out against Gold Coast couple Alex and Emily who have proven strong with their Mexicali fusion cuisine, for the $250,000 winning prize.

The road to the finale has been a tough one for viewers with the ousting of fiery friends Hadil and Sonya after their abusive outburst while fan favorites Henry and Anna, along with Olga and Valeria failed to impress the judges enough to make it through to the semi-finals.

Leaving just four teams to cook off, brothers Nic and Josh and friends Stella and Jezzey both missed the final hurdle leaving the last two teams of Alex and Emily and Kim and Suong to cook off on Sunday night.

Who will win?  Find out this Sunday on Channel 7 and leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Sonya and Hadil Revealed as MKR Booted Contestants.

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Hadil goes on the attack in tonight’s MKR.  Image: Channel 7

“Assholes!”  It’s the final vitriolic word screamed out across the table from My Kitchen Rules contestant Sonya before judges Pete Evans and Manu Fidel stepped in to defuse the situation by finally kicking Sonya and Hadil from the Ultimate Instant Restaurant table.

That shocking moment had been milked for advertising the show by the 7 network even before the current series had started back in January of this year and was the final blow up event that had been building up between the Jordanian besties and sisters Emma and Jess over the course of the year.

After a minor altercation the night prior at Henry and Anna’s ‘super instant restaurant’ in Tasmania, tensions between the two teams came to an explosive conclusion when Sonya and Hadil went on the attack once again, with their sights set firmly on the sisters.

Starting off with under-the-breath-but-loud-enough-for-all-to-hear quips about the sisters still being in the competition it wasn’t long before Emma and Jess had stopped biting their tongues and bit back leaving other teams stunned silent.

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Pete and Manu were clearly unimpressed by the antics.  Image: Channel 7

Stella, Jazzey and Josh even attempted to step in and call out Sonya and Hadil for their poor behavior before finding themselves on the receiving end of a tongue lashing resulting in Sonya stating “I will come for you, and you and you” pointing her witchy poo finger at the three.

Meanwhile, poor Kim and Suong, the night’s cooks, are left standing in the kitchen unable to serve their quickly cooling mains as the drama unfolded.

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Kim and Suong are forced to wait to serve their mains.  Image: Channel 7

It was only when Jess had excused herself from the table and Sonya began to call everyone a bunch of “assholes” that judges stepped in and removed Sonya and Hadil not only from the table, reminding the teams that the focus should be on the cooking and not the drama.

So will Sonya and Hadil be back for the next Ultimate Instant Restaurant?  Find out on the next episode of My Kitchen Rules!

Sound off in the comment section about your thoughts on Sonya and Hadil’s booting from MKR!

 

Review: Roseanne Revival Coming soon to Network Ten

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Adam Rose / ABC

We’re strong into the era of the ‘reboot’ where the feelings of days gone by nostalgia is breathing new life into shows long forgotten.  Sometimes it works a treat and sometimes it leaves us with a nasty sour taste in our mouths.  Will & Grace came back with a force, molding itself into modern era culture and The X-Files continues it’s bumpy sci-fi ride traipsing through aliens and government conspiracies.  2009’s Melrose Place reboot lost viewers the moment anything relating to the original series was thrown out the window while Gilmore Girls Netflix revival seemed to have lost it’s quip and heart.

So where does Roseanne sit on the reboot/revival scale?  

Well, the ‘working class’ family comedy that debuted 30 years ago was biting in its humorous take on the less than glamorous, shining a light on everyday family problems from teenagers to low income, unemployment and health care though its final season embraced ‘jumping the shark’ culture with the Connor family winning millions in the state lottery and killing off Roseanne’s husband Dan (John Goodman) with a heart attack.

This Roseanne revisit needed to fix the wrongs of the past and does so using familiar techniques as seen very recently with Will & Grace, using one line quick quips to glaze over what we knew and wipe the slate clean for those old enough to remember how things left off.

This cleanse leaves us with a Connor family at war within itself in 2018, some of which being the result of the diabolical political state America is currently enveloped in.  Jackie (Laurie Metcalfe) has been pushed aside after a voting clash with Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has moved back home as a recently divorced mother of two, DJ (Michael Fishman) has returned home after a stint in the army over in Syria and brings with him his young daughter and Becky (Lecy Goranson) is a struggling single who can’t seem to keep away from her childhood home.

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Familiar and new faces in the Roseanne revival

In general, almost everything looks the same about Roseanne from when we last saw them (albeit older and including a sweet nod to ‘other Becky’ Sarah Chalke, who guests in the first few episodes) though there are some minor ‘token’ attempts to pull the show into current times with DJ’s bi-racial daughter and Darlene’s gender fluid son Mark, who takes center stage in the revivals’ second episode that features some semi-touching moments pinched between some grimacing looks from Dan early on in the piece.

In a move similar to that of the Will & Grace revival, Roseanne’s first episode back is a very politically charged episode, commenting on the current landscape with Trump in charge but unlike Will & Grace, Roseanne proudly voted for Trump and plays as the reason why she and Jackie have had a falling out.  Thankfully though, politics seem to take a back seat for the next few episodes and putting that topic in the hip pocket allows the show finds that magical stride, balancing brutal cutting humor with heart warming touching moments the show was known for.

So again, where does the Roseanne reboot sit on the scale?

After a heated first episode that feels unfamiliar and a questionable second episode, Roseanne settles in nicely to produce one of the more welcome returns to television after being revived from the crypt.

The Roseanne revival begins with a double episode starting Sunday April 30th on Channel 10.

 

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