When the legendary NBC sitcom director James Burrows (Taxi,
Cheers) looks for a new hit show, he searches for two things; great
writing, and memorable characters. So when the script for the
pilot episode of Will & Grace found its way to his
desk, it was love at first site. He read it, liked it, and the
rest is history.
Even though NBC wholeheartedly embraced this controversial
project, there was still some concern that the subject matter
would cause some alarm. After all, Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom Ellen,
had just been cancelled because ratings had plummeted after
becoming "too gay." So it was unclear if a happy home
could be found for a show that revolved around the relationship
of a beautiful straight woman, and an openly gay man. NBC was
braced for disaster just in case the public wanted to storm the
castle. But an odd thing happened; nobody seemed offended. In
fact, the pilot was such a success; it was clear from the start Will
& Grace was destined to be a hit.
Because the show revolves around its superb writing and even
better acting performances, it's impossible to explain just how
funny this show is. One must really watch an episode to get a
feel of the chemistry these four actors have with one another.
Debra Messing plays Grace, a spitfire redhead who owns her own
interior design company. She's smart and feisty, but has a lot to
learn in the love department. This is where Will Truman comes in
(Eric McCormack). Will is the gay man in her life. Will is
Graces' stability, her pillar of support, and her conscious.
Will's best friend is Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes), a flaming
homosexual who has more one night stands than railroad engineer's
pet poodle. He's assertive, not too bright, and believes his
advice is always right. In short, he's hilarious. Grace's long
time assistant, Karen Walker (Meagan Mullally) is ridiculously
rich and self-indulgent. She's the queen of prescription drugs
and martinis. She's an awful employee, and has the keen ability
to attack anyone's outfit in a most unsubtle manner. When she and
Jack are together, there's no stopping the laughter.
Season One is certainly a memorable one for several
reasons. This is where we first get introduced to the characters.
We get to see Jack and Karen's first hilarious encounter, which
becomes the beginning of a beautiful albeit insane relationship.
We get to see Jack rehearsing for his one-man play, Just Jack! We
get to see Jack and Karen spend a hilarious Halloween night out
with a bunch of drag queens. We see Jack's gym membership in
jeopardy after not paying his taxes for several years. We see
Karen get obsessed with massages given by Jack. We see Grace's
mother try to convince Will and Grace to get married. And we get
to watch Will squirm to save Grace by going out with a potential
rich client to land Grace the opportunity of a lifetime. The
situations are endless.
Well, they must be doing something right as NBC executives gave
all four lead actors a brand new Porsche Boxter after the success
of Season One. (I can only hope they each received a
different color, as that would make for some very embarrassing
incidents in the parking lot after shooting) And several Emmy
nominations later, the show is still going just as strong as
ever. Will & Grace is hip, smart, and is full of
some of the freshest writing on TV. If you love the show, I
expect this purchase will be a no-brainer, but if you are a
curious newbie, I can't recommended it highly enough.
Will & Grace is presented in 1.33:1 full screen. For
a TV release, the video quality is very good. It looks better to
me than it did on TV, but then again, I don't have cable. The
picture is clean and free of any dirt or film debris, and is
absent of any major edge enhancement. There is some slight
pixelation, but it is not distracting. Colors are reproduced
well, showing just as much saturation as they did when these
episodes aired on NBC back in 1998. This is a fine transfer for
an excellent sitcom.
Will & Grace comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 track,
and given it's TV upbringing, I expected no more. I can say that
the show sounds better on a 5.1 system on this DVD than it did on
TV. The dialogue seems to have more punch, and the transition
music is clearer and crisper than when it originally aired. As
expected this is a dialogue driven sitcom, so audio quality isn't
all that important. But I am relieved that it sounds better than
it had to.
There are two special feature items on this set. The first is a
set of three interviews: The Creators - with
David Kohan & Max Mutchnick, The Director -
with the legendary James Burrows, and The Cast -
with Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, and Sean
Hayes. All the interviews are interesting to see, especially if
you're interested in how the show went from project to pilot, but
the most interesting is one is with the cast. It's clear that the
studio should have allowed a longer interview, because the cast
seemed like they could have gone on for over an hour if allowed.
Unfortunately the interviews are extremely short, and only give a
glimpse into the behind the scenes action.
The second feature is a collage of cleverly edited featurettes
that highlight a certain recurring theme on the show. These
featurettes were fantastic, and just as much fun to watch as the
episodes themselves. The themes are: Fashion Quips, With A Song
In Our Hearts, Out And About, The Sounds Of Comedy, A Rose By Any
Other Name, Hugs And Kisses, 9 To 5-ISH, Enter Stage Left, The
Little Voice In My Head, Everybody Dance, Let's Get Physical.
However, even with these great featurettes and interviews, I
wanted more. I wanted to see some deleted scenes, and I
DEFINITELY wanted to see some bloopers. These NBC season sets are
nice, but the studios really need to start catering to the
consumer if they want us to keep shelling out $45 a pop.
Will & Grace is always funny, and is at times
hysterical. If you're familiar with the show, then you know
there's a whole lot to love. If you've yet to experience it, then
the Season One set is the perfect way to get acquainted.
Oh, and Honey, I thought we talked about that outfit? Highly