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How To Wreck a Fan's Viewing

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 22, 2005

I finally took a moment this afternoon to sit down with the DVD set of the first season of ''Roseanne,'' which is due in stores on Aug. 30.

And was quickly disappointed.

Make no mistake: I love ''Roseanne,'' at least in the early seasons. I touted it frequently as the best comedy on television at that time. It had a feel for day-to-day family life that most other shows didn't come close to achieving. And it was funny. On paper, too, the DVD looked promising, since it included several extras.

So even though a bunch of other things come out on DVD the same day, including the first season of ''House,'' I knew that ''Roseanne'' was going to be a front-runner for pick of the week in my Aug. 26 DVD column for the Beacon Journal.

But there was an almost immediate sign of trouble when I looked at the first episode on DVD. The credits listed ''Roseanne Arnold.'' When the show premiered, she was Roseanne Barr. That could have been a small change -- some modification for later replay of the show -- or it could have been something worse.

It was something worse. The first episode ran usually short for an '80s TV series, as if it had been edited for syndicated rerun (when a lot of shows are trimmed to make room for more commercials). One scene ended abruptly, also indicating a cut. And there was a scene I remembered from watching the premiere years ago which wasn't in this version.

A quick check on the Internet found some fans already complaining about this DVD including syndicated cuts. I put in a call to a publicist for the DVD, and he confirmed it. He said the distributor found out these were the syndicated versions late in the game and the company is "putting together a response'' to complaints about the cuts.

I hope that response includes a label on the DVD box about the content; my review copy did not contain any indication that these are the syndicated versions, and people planning to buy this deserve to know it.

Making this all even more painful is that, even in the syndicated cuts, the first episode of ''Roseanne''  launched a terrific show. But I don't know how many more episodes I want to watch in this form. I want to see the show, and own it, the way it was originally made.

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