“A Cold Mom, a Brother Daddy and a Prison Baby”shines a spotlight on Ben in an otherwise indifferent episode.
This recap of The Conners season 3, episode 7, “A Cold Mom, a Brother Daddy and a Prison Baby”, contains spoilers.
What is The Conners without Roseanne? That’s a question probably worth asking both about the titular family unit and the show itself, a show I mostly really enjoy but almost never think about when I’m not watching it. (That great Halloween episode was an exception.) It’s also a question brought a lot more immediacy in “A Cold Mom, a Brother Daddy and a Prison Baby”, which casts Candace Bergen as Ben’s mother, Barb.
On the one hand, Barb is nothing like Roseanne, personality-wise, but fulfills a similar function, and the jokes that highlight it aren’t by accident. She’s present because Ben’s father, with whom he maintained a cold and distant relationship, has suddenly died, which is actually a decently interesting premise, especially once she has a few drinks and reveals to Darlene that Ben was actually sired in a one-night-stand with a stranger, with both she and her husband knew about but Ben remains ignorant of.
Ben is a regular character, if not a main one, so I was happy to see him get some focus here, and pleasantly surprised by how little it was actually informed by his relationship with Darlene. She was present, obviously, and she was the one saddled with the revelation, but she never had to tell Ben – Barb did that herself, and the story remained about a resentful man taking out his frustrations on an undeserving child.
In the other arc of The Conners season 3, episode 7, Becky and Emilio found themselves getting on rather well, leading the latter to assume that they were heading in a more romantic direction than Becky seems ready for. I like both characters and I think they work relatively well together, but this entire subplot feels eerily like the kind of thing that sitcoms wheel out when they want to buy time.
As a return from a relatively brief hiatus, “A Cold Mom, a Brother Daddy and a Prison Baby” would have probably better served the show if it had been a bit more wide-ranging, maybe tackling the fallout from Harris acting out and such, but the relatively narrow focus here worked in large part for the Ben plot, at least in my opinion. But the rest of it remained a little indifferent.