Will & Grace: Season 7
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Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes, Shelley Morrison
24 episodes on 4 DVDs.
What is this; Seinfeld
? Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer have nothing on Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack when it comes to acting self-absorbed, vain, and downright rude in this penultimate season. But unlike that other New York quartet, Will, Grace, and company are allowed the occasional, redemptive vulnerable moment, as in the season opener, when Grace must decide whether to forgive her cheating husband, Leo (Harry Connick Jr.). In this comparatively lackluster season (its 15 Emmy nominations notwithstanding), Will & Grace
seems to be scratching its own seven-year itch. For gay Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and his lifelong straight best friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing), dealing with their self-diagnosed "toxic" codependent relationship has become stale even to them, as they tell their therapist in the episode "The Blonde Leading the Blonde": "Blah, blah dysfunctional, blah, blah, blah, psychologically crippled; we've been over it so many times, we have it on coasters." So why analyze? Will & Grace
, this season, is gag-centric Family Guy
-funny. We may not recognize the characters at times, but they make us laugh in their own inimitable style. Sean Hayes' in-your-face, get-used-to-it Jack, especially, has been reduced to "a moron," as Will so bluntly calls him at one point. But at least the writers finally found him a job that brilliantly serves his character. He is hired as an executive at a new gay network, Out TV, giving him license to create such shows as the Punk'd
, with an unsuspecting Will as its first victim. Grace's love life is as lorn as ever. In "Partners," she is set up with the spank-happy husband (a gleefully demented Buck Henry) of Will's boss (Lily Tomlin). In the season cliffhanger, she is drawn to a former college boyfriend (Eric Stoltz) who, turns out, is married. Karen (Megan Mullaly), whose own marriage lasted all of 22 minutes, finds herself the target of a former high school classmate bent on ruining her life (Jeff Goldblum). Will, for once, has the most romantically stable relationship with sensitive lug of a cop Vince (Bobby Cannavale, honored with an Emmy this season), but more arresting is his late-season career change that happily (for viewers) finds him rather suspiciously employed by the mysterious Malcolm (Alec Baldwin in what was perhaps a dry run for 30 Rock
Season 7 is a typically star-studded one, but the personages who appear as themselves (Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson) do not fare as well as those who portray characters. Sharon Stone displays her comedic instincts as a no-nonsense therapist who sparks a rivalry between Will and Grace. Molly Shannon makes a welcome return as the unstable Val. Kristin Davis appears as Nadine, Vince's own "Grace," who hates Will until Grace sets her straight. Alan Arkin also appears as Grace's emotionally distant father. How much fun would cast commentary have been? The next best thing is the bonus outtake reel that captures the ensemble's genuine chemistry that redeems even the most obvious of jokes. --Donald Liebenson