The Fourth Season
In 1998 prime time television was hit with a remarkable new series, Will & Grace. After a very successful first season, the show became very popular and gained an enormous fan base. This is due to the unique comedy that the show provides. Will & Grace tells the tale of two best friends, a gay attorney and an interior designer, along with their friends Jack, an extremely flamboyant homosexual, and Karen, an overly wealthy alcoholic. The success of season one provided a platform for the show, during which the characters were developed and the format was setup. This fourth season provides the same hilarious comedy with some great chemistry between the cast we have seen before. It's pretty clear that if you've enjoyed any of the earlier seasons, then this one should hit the spot. For more details about this series please refer to my second season and third season reviews.
At first I thought this season was going to be a little dry. The first episode, while funny, just didn't leave me laughing myself silly. Fortunately I found the later episodes got better. The problem with the earlier episodes was the guest star Woody Harrelson (Cheers), who played Grace's boyfriend. While I love Harrelson in Cheers, he just didn't fit in well with the Will & Grace cast. It is more or less because he does not have the same chemistry with Grace, Will, Jack, or Karen that the four have together. It left some of the material with him feeling a little forced and the comedy was not as genuine as the latter episodes that really focus on the great chemistry between Will & Grace and Jack & Karen.
This season has quite a bit to keep you entertained, from great guest stars to simply funny episodes to a few good story arcs. For the guest stars, there were a lot. As earlier mentioned the first notable celebrity to guest star in this season is Woody Harrelson. While I did not think his character had a tremendous impact in the episodes he appeared in, there were still a few good jibes from him. The episode "Past & Presents" isn't a terribly funny episode, but it has Adam Goldberg (Eddie from Friends) and his character and Will have an interesting side story. In "Fagel Attraction", perhaps one of the funniest episodes of the season, Michael Douglas guest stars as a gay cop who has the hots for Will. Douglas gives an invigorating performance and just thinking about the episode still makes me chuckle. This episode also has Molly Shannon reprising her role as Grace's psycho and outright weird neighbor Val. Another hilarious episode guest stars Matt Damon. In " A Chorus Lie" he goes up against Jack for a spot in the Gay Men's Chorus. The catch is Damon's character isn't gay and when Jack and Grace try to get the truth, it is damn funny.
For story arcs, there are quite a few for this season. In the beginning of the season there is a story arc running about Grace and her boyfriend played by Harrelson, which is continued from season three. Also in the beginning of the season Karen runs into a life changing event. Her husband Stan is arrested on a federal warrant for tax fraud. The season continues with some drama and even more jokes about her newly found situation. For Jack, we get to watch him get to know his son Elliot (the product of artificial insemination and also from season three) and Jack trying to decide his career as entertainer or working retail at Barney's. There is also a story about Will dealing with his parents and their odd relationship. The final big story arc is about Will and Grace wanting kids. Let's just say when the last episode comes around, an hour long season finale "A.I.: Artificial Insemination", you will laugh yourself silly. In general the story arcs play a pretty big role in this season, but even if you are not accustomed to them the episodes should be just as funny with or without the full details.
Regardless, there are some outright funny episodes. One episode ties in elements from all the major story arcs and it is a riot. In "Moveable Feast", an hour long Thanksgiving episode, the cast go on one hell of an adventure. The opening sequence is handled well and really outlines how impressive the dialogue can be for this show. The later events are also quite funny with plenty of awkward and funny situations. "Dyeing is Easy, Comedy is Hard" is another funny episode with a brief appearance from Rosie O'Donnell. However she isn't what makes this is a funny episode. Instead it's the side story with Will and Grace going to Grace's ex-fiance's wedding. In "He Shoots, They Snore", Will plays dad for Elliot and takes him to a basketball tournament. It's great how the straight dads react when they find out he gay. In general the episodes in this season are quite funny and anyone who enjoys this series should have a blast.
Overall I thought this season turned out to be very funny. This cast is remarkable in the way they work together and deliver dialogue. They can turn some of the most cliched situations into something hilarious. This is a must for the fans.
1. The Third Wheel Gets the Grace
2. Past and Presents
3. Crouching Father, Hidden Husband
4. Prison Blues
5. Loose Lips Sink Relationships
6. The Rules of Engagement
7. Bed, Bath and Beyond
8. Star-Spangled Banter
9. Moveable Feast
10. Stakin' Care of Business
11. Jingle Bells
12. Whoa, Nelly!
13. Grace in the Hole
14. Dyeing is Easy, Comedy is Hard
15. A Chorus Lie
16. Someone Old, Someplace New
17. Something Borrowed, Somone's Due
18. Cheatin' Trouble Blues
19. Went to a Garden Potty
20. He Shoots, They Snore
21. Wedding Balls
22. Fagel Attraction
23. Hocus Focus
24. A Buncha White Chicks Sittin' Around Talkin'
25. A.I.: Artificial Insemination
The video is given in its original television aspect ratio, 1.33:1 Full Frame color. Overall, the picture looks very good, with a relatively crisp and clean feel. There are very minor color distortions that are the product of video compression and some traces of edge enhancement. Despite the minor imperfections in the picture, it is substantially better looking than what you would expect to see from broadcast or cable television.
The audio track that is included in this DVD release is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The dialogue throughout the feature is very easily heard, but a little flat which is expected from dialogue driven TV on DVD releases. As for channel separation, there is little distinction between left and right channels.
The first extra, found on disc 3, is the Season 4 Outtake Reel (6:33). The compilation has a few funny mishaps, but nowhere near as entertaining as the actual episodes. The rest of the extras can be found on disc 4 and as with previous season sets they are Themed Featurettes that run for 21:33. For those unfamiliar with this extra, the featurettes are simply a montage of clips from season four that cover the following "lets get physical", "fashion quips", "with a song in our hearts", "out and about", "the sounds of comedy", "everybody dance", "a rose by any other name...", "hugs & kisses", "9 to 5ish", "enter stage left", and "the little voice in my head". They can be fun for a watch because they generally do highlight some of the funnier moments and jokes from the season.
Like earlier seasons, this fourth season of Will & Grace is very funny. The cast continues to have a great chemistry together in the way they can turn some rather cliched situations into something remarkably funny. This season also has numerous guest stars and some of them add a great touch. Overall, this season is a must for the fans.