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This Week in Sitcom History – May 7th-13th
Thanks to Chris Meservey for researching this week’s sitcom happenings.
May 7th, 1996: Dan Dies or Doesn’t on Roseanne
The season eight episode of Roseanne, “The Wedding,” aired on May 7th, 1996. In this episode, Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and David (Johnny Galecki) tie the knot, then Dan (John Goodman) collapses from a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. He survives, and life goes on...or maybe not.
In the original series finale, “Into That Good Night, Part 2,” Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) retcons everything that happened in a voiceover, revealing that the whole series was actually a book she was writing, and she changed certain details. Apparently, in real life, Dan actually died from the heart attack he had in “The Wedding,” and Roseanne fantasized all the subsequent events as she dealt with his death.
Confused? Well, hold onto your butts, there’s more. Apparently the reboot of the show in 2011 retconned the retcon, and everything Roseanne said at the end of the original run never happened. Oy vey, it’s a sitcom. Can’t we keep things simple?
May 8th, 1983: Laverne & Shirley Signs Off with Spinoff Pilot
The series finale of Laverne & Shirley (which at this point was just Laverne), “Here Today, Hair Tomorrow,” aired on May 8th, 1983. The episode served as a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff focused on Carmine (Eddie Mekka), which wasn’t picked up. That’s a shame.
May 9th, 1992: The Golden Girls Ends with an Emotional Exit
The series finale of The Golden Girls, “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest,” aired on May 9th, 1992. In this two-part episode, Blanche (Rue McClanahan) sets Dorothy (Bea Arthur) up on a date with her uncle, Lucas (Leslie Nielsen). When they don’t hit it off, Dorothy and Lucas decide to screw with Blanche by pretending they’re in love and getting married. While pretending to be a couple, they end up actually falling for each other, and Lucas proposes for real. Everyone makes plans for going their separate ways after Dorothy leaves the nest, and it culminates in a drawn-out, tearful goodbye. But fear not! A few of the girls came back in the spinoff, The Golden Palace, later that year.
May 13th, 1999: Carroll O’Connor Concludes His Career on Mad About You
Carroll O’Connor was best known for playing Archie Bunker in All in the Family and the spinoff, Archie Bunker’s Place, but he closed out his career with a recurring role as Gus Stemple, Jamie’s father on Mad About You. His last appearance on that or any TV show was in the season seven episode, “Paved with Good Intentions.” He made one movie appearance in 2000, then passed away in 2001.
Side Note: Carol Burnett played Jamie’s mother, Theresa Stemple, so Jamie’s parents were played by Carroll and Carol. What a cute coincidence!