After some missteps in the first season, I was hoping that the “Roseanne” spin-off’s second season would find its footing after adjusting to Roseanne’s controversial exit after Season 10 of “Roseanne,” but things aren’t all that much better. Sara Gilbert’s Darlene ostensibly steps into the family matriarch role but this Darlene is not the charismatic audience favorite we know from the ’90s; instead she’s a dour, humorless cypher dispassionately performed by an actress who seems like she’d rather be doing something else. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf do their best as Dan and Jackie respectively, but the writing is so consistently subpar that they’re left to flounder as faded photocopies of their former selves, while Lecy Goranson’s Becky remains a constant distraction thanks to Goranson’s atonal, amateurish performance. Along the way there are some nice touches here and there but most of them are predicated around nostalgia for the original show – including recurring guest characters like Estelle Parson’s Bev – which doesn’t exactly bode well for the show’s individual identity. “The Conners” hasn’t quite managed to find its own footing and heavily relies on its audience’s residual good will without delivering a whole lot on its own terms, and though it’s not quite an all-out failure, it’s just not that good either. If I did half-stars it would end up with two and a half, but I’m rounding it out to three… but with an asterisk.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)