Conventional TV wisdom tells us viewing habits are hard to break. But CBS has effectively shattered NBC's iron grip on Thursdays especially at 9 pm/ET, where for good reason the absorbing CSI: Crime Scene Investigation regularly outdraws the increasingly cartoonish Will & Grace.
Recently, I noticed that my collection of unwatched Will episodes had grown (I'm among the CSI converts), indicating an unconscious avoidance of a show I'd once championed as a sophisticated, groundbreaking confection.
While screening them, I found myself pining for CSI's grisly corpses. At least they're easier on the ears.
Will's cast gives new meaning to the notion of a punch line as crude innuendos are delivered with sledgehammer obviousness. And is famed director James Burrows truly encouraging the much-honored Megan Mullally to accentuate so many of Karen's barbed jokes with breathless, hiccuping laughter?
The show can still produce pithy one-liners: describing someone as "a female version of Liz Smith," or Jack (Sean Hayes) making a dig at "Liza's new bride." Too often, though, Will settles for cheap vulgarity. When Grace (Debra Messing) fell for a convict in a typically inane storyline, we heard gags like "Did you give his shawshank a redemption?" Ick.
Wit takes a backseat to idiocy with alarming frequency: Grace moonlighting as a teacher and boring her students to death, Will (Eric McCormack) fawning over a garden gnome. The last straw: the "jump the shark" introduction of Jack's surprise son.
If it weren't for some inspired guest stars Matt Damon as a straight guy bluffing his way into a gay chorus, Michael Douglas as a gay detective clowning it up on the dance floor, Glenn Close as a lusty photographer groping both Will and Grace during a shoot this season would be an awfully sad misfire.
Turns out that not watching Will & Grace isn't the same as missing it at all.