In Wednesday’s opener, Dan announces to the family that Wellman Plastics — the industrial Lanford behemoth that employed Roseanne and Jackie in the early days of the original Roseanne, and featured then-relatively unknown Clooney as their boss Booker— is embarking on a COVID-related hiring spree. The news immediately sends Jackie into reminisce-mode as she wistfully, meta-tastically recalls her former beau/supervisor “who looked just like George Clooney,” before cracking, “I should’ve hit that ’til I broke it.”
ABC’s top-rated sitcom went all-in on the throwback gag, queuing up a circa-’80s Season 1 Roseanne clip of Clooney’s Booker and Laurie Metcalf’s Jackie on a bowling date (watch the moment below). It was a rare instance of The Conners playing up its connection to the Roseanne Barr-led mothership series.
— The Conners (@TheConnersABC) October 21, 2020
Explaining the decision to draw on the franchise’s considerable history by using vintage Roseanne footage, showrunner Bruce Helford tells TVLine, “As soon as we decided that Darlene and Becky would work on the Wellman line like their mom and Jackie before them, we knew it’d be fun to pop in a memory of George. There’s such a rich history to this show and we have the unique gift to be able to flash back to earlier times with our characters, so we pick carefully.”
With Wellman Plastics once again a fixture in the lives of the Conners, Helford is not ruling out present-day Clooney making an appearance at some point. He’s also not holding his breath. “George knows there’s an open invitation to come visit the show, but we knew his schedule would be tough and even tougher in these times,” Helford says. “But who knows what the future may bring?”
In the meantime, Helford has no plans to introduce a new Wellman foreman, although the showrunner teases, “We are revealing some Wellman execs as we go… and some of [them] are very close to home.”
What did you think of Clooney’s “guest appearance” in the COVID-dominated premiere? And are you on board with the show’s decision to lean so heavily into the real-life pandemic in Season 3? Grade the episode and then elaborate in the comments.