Judge Elizabeth Skipper appreciates a show in which "a gay old time" means exactly that. Unlike The Flintstones, in which Fred and Barney kept things on the down low.
Our reviews of Will And Grace: Season One (published March 2nd, 2004), Will And Grace: Season Two (published May 13th, 2004), Will And Grace: Season Four (published August 22nd, 2005), Will And Grace: Season Seven (published February 6th, 2008), Will And Grace: Season Eight (published December 19th, 2008), and Will And Grace: Series Finale (published June 21st, 2006) are also available.
"I do not know where you got the idea that I am your wife, but let me tell you something—if that's true, we've got big marital problems because Mrs. Truman's getting a lot of action on the side."
The biggest complaint I've heard about Will & Grace is that it's not "gay" enough. And, sure, Will almost never dates and same-sex intimacy is rare, but if words were actions, W&G would be more flaming than Queer as Folk. They may not show much homosexuality, but they sure know how to write one-liners about it.
Facts of the Case
Season Three of Will & Grace takes place over 22 episodes:
• "New Will City"
• "Fear and Clothing"
• "Husbands and Trophy Wives"
• "Girl Trouble"
• "Grace 0, Jack 2000"
• "Love Plus One"
• "Gypsies, Tramps, & Weed"
• "Lows in the Mid-Eighties"
• "Three's a Crowd, Six is a Freak Show"
• "Coffee & Commitment"
• "Swimmin' Pools…Movie Stars"
• "Crazy in Love"
• "Brothers, a Love Story"
• "My Uncle the Car"
• "Mad Dogs and Average Men"
• "Poker? I Don't Even Like Her"
• "An Old Fashioned Piano Party"
• "The Young and the Tactless"
• "Alice Doesn't Lisp Here Anymore"
• "Last of the Really Odd Lovers"
• "Sons and Lovers"
This season of Will & Grace is not much different than the second season, which was not much different than the first season. In fact, I've been watching the seventh season every Thursday night, and it's not much different either. Why mess with a good (enough) thing?
And that's exactly what W&G has always been to me: good enough. It's not the best sitcom I've ever seen, not even close, but it's much further away from being the worst I've ever seen. It consistently makes me laugh (even though I try not to out of a principled protest of the laugh track), and, at least while I'm watching, I actually care about the characters a little. I suppose what really keeps me coming back, though, is my own version of affirmative action. W&G is a "gay" show, and I'll always give those the benefit of the doubt. It may not be creatively groundbreaking in the way that, say, Scrubs is, but it's socially groundbreaking, which is just as important.
You might protest that W&G has become redundant in the wake of edgier dramas like Queer as Folk and The L Word, but those shows play a different role. W&G is not here to make us think or to tug at our heartstrings with alternating tragedy and romance; no, it's here to make us laugh. And, for the most part, it does its job successfully.
This third season steps up the show's use of the gimmick, started in Season One with Debbie Reynolds as Grace's mom, that W&G is now known for: the celebrity guest star. With appearances by Natasha Lyonne, Gregory Hines, Patrick Dempsey, Cher, Debbie Reynolds, Martina Navratilova, Sandra Bernhard, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Harrelson, and Molly Shannon, it's obvious that W&G has found a formula that works. And while guest stars are always a little awkward on any show, they are somehow less so on W&G. Perhaps it's that the show is so campy and outrageous on its own that the addition of a campy and outrageous guest star doesn't seem as out of place as it does on other shows. Whatever the reason, W&G treats its guest stars well and makes them look good, so they keep coming back for more, to our benefit.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and full-frame video are, as in the previous two seasons, much better than expected for a sitcom. Except for the laugh track, which I discussed in my review of Season One and which should be eliminated from the face of the earth, I am quite pleased.
Season Three continues another trend with its inclusion of 11 "themed featurettes." They are not actually featurettes at all, but merely minutes-long clip shows. They're cute, but a cop-out bonus feature. But this set, unlike the previous two, also includes the welcome addition of outtakes. Because they weren't included on the other sets, gag reels for all three seasons are offered here. I assume this means they'll be a regular feature on successive seasons, which still doesn't excuse a lack of commentaries, but it's a start. And a funny one at that.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's not gay enough. It's too gay. It doesn't accurately portray the lives of gay men. It's offensive. The characters are unrealistic caricatures. Jack is too flaming. Will is not flaming enough. The show increases awareness. The show gives homosexuality a bad name.
Did I miss anything?
Even with the addition of outtakes, the extras on this set are meager enough that I wouldn't recommend that you buy it. You can watch the episodes in syndication, and DVD-quality transfers aren't really a selling point for a sitcom.
Lions Gate has learned slightly from its previous mistakes and included outtakes on this set, so I will waive the three strikes rule at this point. If it doesn't continue to make improvements, though, it will find itself back in my courtroom again next year.
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Scales of Justice
• Themed Featurettes: "Fashion Quips," "It Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Joke is Told," "With a Song in Our Hearts," "Out and About," "The Sounds of Comedy," "Everybody Dance," "A Rose by Any Other Name...," "Hugs & Kisses," "9 to 5ish," "Enter Stage Left," "The Little Voice in My Head"
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