Now where were we before we were so rudely interrupted?
Grace and Will were playing Guess the Celeb, Jack was on Grindr and Karen was in a daze sipping martinis.
Yes it’s been 11 years since Will & Grace left our screens, but in the newly revived series it’s as if they never went away. They are living in the same apartment (the producers kept the sets in storage), the creators Max Mutchnick & David Kohan are back and the legendary veteran James Burrows, who directed e.v.e.r.y. single episode across 8 seasons is on board.
And dammit Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally & Sean Hayes all look positively FABULOUS. Seriously these 50-somethings (Mullally is an outrageous 58) have barely added a pound or a grey hair, doubtless with a little thanks to Hollywood treatments, in the intervening decade.
For those of you wondering how the writers get around that “fast-forward” scene that saw Will & Grace as seniors I won’t spoil it, suffice to say it is dispensed with before the opening credits roll. We are here for 2017 gags and there are plenty of them, multicam style.
What has changed since we were last here is gay marriage, Donald Trump, social media and fake news. All of which is rich material for queens with a pithy punchline. It doesn’t take long for Mutchnick & Kohan to get to the politics, all the way to the Oval Office no less, and did we mention Karen’s (Megan Mullally) guy won?
The gags fly thick and fast, with 4 zinger actors with impeccable timing. Famous names are regularly repurposed as a merciless punchline: Anderson Cooper, Caitlin Jenner, Shonda Rhimes and Melania. There’s a reference to “Just Jack” but no talk of Beverley Leslie (Leslie Jordan) nor Grace’s (Debra Messing) mother Bobbi (Debbie Reynolds). Housemaid Rosario (Shelley Morrison) reportedly did not want to return.
There’s no escaping that multicam sitcoms have also diminished in their sex appeal over the past decade. Where once they reigned almighty (The Big Bang Theory still holds the crown) critics and audiences have certainly embraced single-camera comedies. The playing style here is theatrical. It’s loud. It faces front. It stops while the audience belly laughs. But laugh they do. In the hands of James Burrows, you have to embrace this American tradition or get steamrolled in its path.
With talent like McCormack, Messing, Mullally & Hayes who are we to argue? Revivals never come as good as this. I just hope as 15 more episodes roll out that we will still be laughing as hard.
Will & Grace returns Friday on Stan.