Talk about your interactive premieres, Outsiders. “The Conners” started their fourth season on ABC and let the fans in on the fun.
The premise of their first show, titled (and take a breath first), “Trucking Live in Front of a Fully Vaccinated Audience,” was set early on. According to Variety, Mark, played by Ames McNamara, was doing some research on his distant relatives for a school project.
Now, this is where “The Conners” involved those they called during the show. The fans portrayed those family members as Mark looked to get additional information.
Fans did enter a contest to chat with the ABC sitcom’s stars. But they didn’t know who would be called. Likewise, the show’s cast members that included everyone but Lecy Goranson did not know ahead of time who they would be calling.
‘The Connors’ Character Mark Interacted With Fans Who Were Called By The Show
Thankfully for ABC censors, everyone was on their best behavior when Mark called them. This all was done on live TV.
First up was a fan in Tampa, Fla., and Mark asked him a very personal question. Like, what bad habits do you have that get picked on by your family?
“I do have one bad habit of chewing my fingernails, and I get picked on for that,” the Florida fan said. “But I watch a lot of scary movies, so that’s my excuse.”
Mark then asked a fan of “The Conners” named Lisa what mattered more to her: money or love.
“Money,” she said. “Because you can always buy love.”
His sister Harris, played by Emma Kenney, asked what tattoo Lisa would get.
“Probably a flower — just something generic and pretty that I could live with my whole life,” she said.
Their last call saw Mark ask a woman the same question as to his first call.
Sitcom Used Storyline From Previous Live Episode To Connect Shows
“Lots,” she said, and “The Conners” moved to finish out the scene. Mark told each caller before hanging up, “Thanks for being a Conner, bye!”
Now the season opener circles back to the first live show. On Feb. 11, 2020, the New Hampshire primary results were coming in on ABC.
ABC News actually would make calls on different races on live television, so other characters would react in real-time, too.
Other interesting sidelights to “The Conners” debut had Sara Gilbert running down along a path to get from one set to another.
But the episode ended on a somber note. All of the cast members present got around the family couch. John Goodman held up a sign. It read, “Dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague Norm Macdonald.” They said, “Here’s to you, Norm” and that was it.