A funny thing happened during the final minutes of last night's change-of-pace Will & Grace. Nobody was laughing. After discovering that Grace had broken their no-boyfriends pledge (by canoodling on the side with special guest star Harry Connick Jr.), a wounded Will ordered Grace to move out! Is this the end of the line for TV's favorite gay-straight duo?

According to exec producer Jhoni Marchinko, viewers shouldn't look for a quick resolution — especially considering some of the hateful (if not true) things that were said during Thursday's brutal confrontation. Then again, Will & Grace is a comedy about two best friends. "It's not our intention to keep these people apart," she assures TV Guide Online. "But we want to make the fight real, and then we want to earn the make-up.

"Our whole plan this year was to get inside these characters and see what's underneath and shake up their relationship in a way that we really hadn't done before," continues Marchinko, who, along with Jeff Greenstein, assumed control of the Emmy-winning sitcom this season from W&G creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (the duo behind NBC's new Good Morning Miami). "We always found ways to put their friendship in jeopardy, and some were successful and some were just fake. We really wanted to get to a place where it was actually real and the threat was actually real."

In other words, expect more high-stakes story arcs a la Friends's Joey/Rachel/Ross triangle. Might this new, more serious Will & Grace be a response to critics' grumblings that the show was rapidly devolving into a cartoon? "We felt that," she confesses. "Even before [the negative reviews] were coming out, as writers, we felt like we were getting stale.

"We can always turn out one of the funniest episodes on television," she concludes, "but I want to leave people feeling something afterwards."