Parents face tough choices, with one that could change the whole show

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Tuesday’s episode of “The Conners” was parents’ night, as Dan, Darlene and Becky make difficult choices relating to families, both present and future.

And, as the season’s second-to-last episode ends, Darlene (Sara Gilbert) faces a decision that could explode the entire dynamic of the first-season “Roseanne” spinoff, which centers on Darlene and her two children living under her widowed father’s roof. But more on that below.

“Don’t Shoot the Piano Teacher,” which is stronger in its more serious elements but has some good laugh lines, opens with Darlene gently trying to tell her children, teen Harris (Emma Kenney) and youngster Mark (Ames McNamara), that there’s a man in her life. The oh-so-savvy kids, who are being treated to lunch at the restaurant where Darlene’s sister, Becky, works, are way ahead of her.

“Yeah, we already figured that out because of all the recent neglect and everything,” precocious Mark says.

Darlene doesn’t miss a beat, responding in a way that would have made her mother, Roseanne, proud: “Oh, yeah. That’s my bad. I’ve always tried to maintain a steady level of neglect.”

At a nearby table, pregnant Becky (Lecy Goranson) is planning a baby shower with Aunt Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). Darlene wonders about the rush, since Becky’s “not even showing yet.”

Her cash-strapped sister responds: “I’ve got to get the loot now.”

Darlene’s boyfriend, Ben (Jay R. Ferguson), makes a winning first appearance at the Conner family dinner table, with a mild jab at Jackie earning a grin from Darlene’s dad, Dan (John Goodman).

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