February 24, 2018


(ABC, September 8, 1990-August 11, 1991)

Little Rosey Productions, Nelvana Ltd.

Kathleen Laskey – Little Rosey
Noam Zyberman – Buddy
Tabitha St. Germain (as Paulina Gillis) – Tess
Lisa Jai (as Lisa Yamanaka) – Nonnie, Tater
Judy Marshak – Mom
Tony Daniels – Dad
Stephen Bednarski – Jefferey, Matthew

            In the early 1980s, Roseanne Barr became a prolific stand-up comedian. Her routine was centered around the working-class housewife whom she referred to as a “domestic goddess.” After appearing on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman, Barr landed an HBO special called The Roseanne Barr Show which earned her an American Comedy Award for “Funniest Female Performer in a Television Special.” When Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner of Carsey-Werner Productions sought to make a show centered around a working mother, they gravitated towards Barr’s unique “in your face” voice and offered her the lead role.

            Roseanne aired on ABC from October 18, 1988 to May 20, 1997. It centered on the Conners: an American working-class family struggling to get by. Barr played Roseanne Conner, the outspoken matriarch of the family. Critics found the show notable as one of the most realistic depictions of a blue-collar family, and that the heavyset nature of the lead actors were never the target of jokes. The show was a hit, becoming the most-watched television program in the United States from 1989-90, and spending its first six seasons in the top five highest-rated shows. Its popularity remained strong enough that after years of discussing a possible revival, ABC greenlit one for premiere in 2018—over two decades after it left the air.

Tess, Rosey and Buddy.

            With Roseanne doing well and Barr’s popularity on the rise, ABC was looking to expand her presence on the network while she and then-husband Tom Arnold sought to expand her overall brand. It was decided that since Roseanne was already dominating primetime, they would try their luck introducing Barr to a younger crowd. As Barr was including elements of her personal life into the stories of Roseanne, she figured a cartoon focusing on stories from her childhood would be ideal. 

Rosey's parents and Tater.

            Enter: Little Rosey. Animated by Nelvana, the show focused on the adventures of 8-year-old Roseanne (Kathleen Laskey, doing an impression of Barr), her sister, Tess (Tabitha St. Germain), and best friend, Bobby (Noam Zyberman) as they dealt with the events of everyday childhood by using their imaginations to overcome difficulties and problems. Other characters included Roseanne’s parents (Judy Marshak & Tony Daniels), her baby brother, Tater (Lisa Yamanaka), and identical twin science nerds, Matthew and Jeffrey (both Stephen Bednarski), who served as Roseanne’s nemeses. Barr would serve as the co-host of ABC's preview special, along with the cast of Family Matters, introducing the new Saturday line-up and her show.

Rosey and her friends pretending to be super heroes.

            Little Rosey debuted on ABC on September 8, 1990. It was developed and story edited by Peter Sauder, with Barr and Arnold serving as executive producers through the production company they founded, Little Rosey Productions. The series’ music was written and composed by Marvin Dolgay, Glenn Morley and Kevin Staples for Tambre Productions, Inc. The theme song had additional lyrics written by Carole Pope and Peter Gilboy, and was performed by noted rock and roll performer Ronnie Spector. The series ran for a single season of 16 episodes, with most of them containing two segments. Sean Roche, J.D. Smith, Taylor Grant, Julianne Klemm, Tony Marino and Meg McLaughlin served as the show’s writers, along with Sauder. 

Rosey as Rapunzel.

            A second season was planned for the series, with Barr coming in to take over the role of her character. However, the executives at ABC felt the show needed some changes to improve it and bring it more in line to what they felt their audience wanted. Barr and Arnold disagreed with ABC’s stance and fought against the changes. ABC ultimately cancelled the show citing bad ratings, leaving one episode unaired until August the following year. That episode, “Not Rosey, Roseanne,” saw Rosey imagining her future set to a parody of Roseanne. Several episodes would be released to VHS in countries outside the United States.

Rosey and Buddy at the mercy of The Powers That Be.

            In 1992, Barr and Arnold financed their own animated special called The Rosey and Buddy Show that could serve as a potential pilot for a new animated series, as well as provide a subtle jab at the network over the cancellation of the last one. The special, again animated by Nelvana, starred Rosey and Buddy, voiced by Barr and Arnold, with significantly different designs. The special saw them travelling to Cartoonland to produce their show, but a group of weasels all with the surname Power (aka, the Powers that Be) refused to let them do the show they wanted to and sought to do away with any cartoon character that wanted to simply entertain for comedy. The special featured parodies of various shows and genres, as well as cameos from notable cartoon characters such as Droopy Dog, Strawberry Shortcake, Tom and Jerry, Archie Comics characters Betty & Veronica, and a colorized version of Alice from John Tenniel’s illustrations in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Nelvana properties The Care Bears (with Dan Hennessey reprising his role as Brave Heart Lion) and the animated Beetlejuice (with a different color scheme, voiced by Stephen Ouimette) also appeared. It aired on ABC on May 15, 1992 during the network’s TGIF block.

“Farewell, My Dolly / Super Rosey (part 1)” (9/8/90) – Rosey leads a desperate search for her lost doll. / Rosey imagines herself as a superhero.

“The Baby of Baghdad / Explorers” (9/15/90) – Rosey and her friends find a genie that grants them wishes. / Rosey and her friends go on an adventure to magical places.

“Land of the Lost Toys / Magic Woods” (9/22/90) – Rosey discovers where all the lost toys end up. / Rosey and her friends head to the Magic Woods and discover a bunch of unusual things.

“New People / Flower Garden” (9/29/90) – Rosey and her friends don’t get along with some new people. / Rosey decides to plant a garden outside her house.

“Pirates / The Snowman” (10/6/90) – Rosey and her friends imagine that they’re pirates on the high seas. / After it snows, Rosey tries to build a snowman.

“The Cake / Super Rosey (part 2)” (10/13/90) – Rosey learns how to bake a cake. / Circumstances call for the return of Super Rosey.

“I Did It Without Decimals / Spelling Bee-Hemoth” (10/20/90) – Satisfied she’ll never need them, Rosey refuses to learn decimals. / Rosey is nervous about competing in the spelling bee.

“War of the Rosey” (10/27/90) – Matthew and Jeffery interrupt Rosey and her friends pretending to save the Earth from an alien invasion.

“If You Grow It, They Will Come / Of Mice and Rosey” (11/3/90) – A new girl needs lessons in playing baseball. / Rosey tries to keep the mouse she brought home a secret from her parents.

“The Pumpkins are Gone!” (11/10/90) – Rosey and her friends try to solve the mystery of who’s been stealing vegetables from her mother’s garden.

“It’s Under the Bed” (11/17/90) – Rosey’s friends try to convince her that there isn’t a monster under her bed.

“It’s Really Big Out There” (11/24/90) – Rosey and her friends use their imaginations to discover what’s beyond the sky that they can see.

“The Buddy and the Rosey” (12/1/90) – Rosey tries to prove she’s as good at everything that Buddy is.

“Try Not to Lie” (12/8/90) – Rosey’s parents try to teach her the consequences of lying.

“Tater’s Tots” (12/15/90) – When Tater gets really sick, Rosey and her friends search for a Leprechaun to grant him a wish.

“Dad’s Coming” (12/22/90) – Rosey dreads her father’s arrival after she’s sent to the principal’s office.

“Not Rosey, Roseanne” (8/11/91) – Rosey daydreams what life would be like when she grows up, sending her to the virtual world of Roseanne.

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