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The next batch of episodes will again reunite original castmembers Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Alicia Goranson and Michael Fishman. Other past castmembers are expected to make infrequent visits, as they did during this latest run. There was no immediate word whether the network plans to have it ready for fall, but sources say the order has been increased from nine episodes to 13.
The wild success of Roseanne cannot be stressed enough. In a climate where TV reunions, particularly on the sitcom front, are a popular way to cut through the clutter, Barr’s show did one better. Its March 27 premiere was the highest-rated scripted broadcast of the season, and the highest-rated sitcom in more than three years. The hourlong opener took a 5.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 18.1 million viewers in one night alone. Time-shifting has already driven the episode to 21.9 million viewers and a 6.1 rating after only three days of additional viewing.
Those numbers should see advertising rates climb for the upcoming return. These episodes were already able to command a strong $175,000 for 30-second spots, and the unexpectedly strong ratings will drive that number even higher.
It’s a huge and much needed win for ABC. The No. 4 network, which trails the rest of the broadcasters in large part due to its lack of live sports, did not start its midseason on the most auspicious of notes. The annual Academy Awards telecast, the marquee night of ABC’s calendar, hit a record low. And even though the revived American Idol has been a consistent performer, it’s not lighting ratings on fire. But now the network will finish the broadcast season with TV’s No. 1 new drama, previously renewed The Good Doctor, and the season’s No. 1 series overall in Roseanne.
“We’re thrilled that America has welcomed the Conner family back into their homes,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey. “The show is as fresh and relevant today as it was when it left the air 21 years ago. We can’t wait to see what the Roseanne team has in store for next year.”
Both the cast and showrunner Bruce Helford went into the premiere saying that they were hoping for a second season of the revival, No. 11 for the comedy overall. “I don’t know that we’d ever go to a 22-episode season,” Helford told THR, stressing that a traditional broadcast season seems unlikely. “That’s a lot. John and Laurie have movie careers. Everybody has things that they’re doing, so it might be hard to get 22 episodes in. But I would love to do another 10 or 12 on a yearly basis.”
If there are indeed longer-term prospects (and continued ratings success) for Roseanne, it could take some of the stress off the potential end of ABC flagship comedy Modern Family. The longtime network darling is renewed through the coming season. And while there has been no confirmation that No. 10 will be the show’s final season, few expect it to go beyond that unless the Disney-Fox deal changes the situation.
Roseanne is produced for ABC by Carsey-Werner Productions. This new batch of episodes saw writer Whitney Cummings and actress Gilbert join Barr, Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner and Helford as executive producers.
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