The Conners kicked off its fourth season Wednesday with a live episode that ended with a touching tribute to comedian Norm MacDonald, who died last week at the age of 61 after a long, private battle with cancer.
The episode ended with the cast, seated on the show's iconic sofa, holding up a sign that read, "Dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague, Norm MacDonald."
The episode itself, titled “Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Studio Audience,” began with star and executive producer Sara Gilbert announcing, "Oh, The Connors is live in front of a studio vaccinated audience."
"Wait, what?" added co-star Laurie Metcalf, appearing shocked, before the two of them joined the opening scene, already in progress.
One storyline featured Mark, played by Ames McNamara, the youngest son of Gilbert's Darlene, working on a school project in which he made video calls to distant relatives to collect information to determine how much of a role genetics play in a person’s decision-making. Those relatives were winners of a sweepstakes to appear on the show, but only found out they won when their phones rang, live on the air.
The premiere also continued one of last season's storylines, in which Darlene tries to navigate hurdles in her relationship with Ben, played by Jay R. Ferguson. Darlene, trying to salvage their relationship, proved her commitment to him by putting a deposit down on an apartment, which provided another opportunity to break the fourth wall, when the camera followed Gilbert as she ran from one set to the other to find him.
"Better run, it's a lot further than you think," warned Metcalf. "It's the set opposite Wellman's Plastics."
"Look at her go," co-star John Goodman added.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.