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.