Fall From Grace Shrill Times for NBC's Campy Comedy
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.