Almost a year to the day since the cast reunited for what was then a one-off election special, Will & Grace returned to US screens last night for its eagerly-anticipated second bite of the TV cherry.
Over a decade after the show’s original run wrapped on NBC following eight seasons of camp, cutting comedy, the iconic foursome of Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes) were back together again – but did season premiere ‘Eleven Years Later’ live up to the hype?
After quickly explaining away the events of the season 8 finale, which saw Will and Grace drift apart after marrying and having kids, via the medium of *spoiler alert* Karen’s drug-addled day-dreams, it was clear that nothing had changed as the highly-politicised episode saw Grace getting asked to re-decorate President Donald Trump’s Oval Office.
While critics seemed split on the opening episode, with many deeming the political comedy forced, pretty much all agreed that the core four hadn’t lost any of their original chemistry, and that episodes two and three mark the real return to form.
Check out some of what the critics made of Will & Grace’s return below:
“Once this James Burrows-directed revival gets some Donald Trump outrage out of the way, the new Will & Grace comfortably slips back into the relentless and tapered wordplay that characterized the best of the show in the past. Of course, being that it is 2017 there are Melania Trump night terrors, Shonda Rhimes wisecracks, smartphones and dating apps in the mix. There also a swiping dismissal right off the top of what was thought to be the series finale at the end of Season 8 in 2006. Add to that Hayes being in top form as the still-acting, fame-seeking Jack, and you have the whole sparkling enchilada… In an age when Big 4 sitcoms often seem intent on self-propelled extinction, there is also a charm to the returning Will & Grace that shows the new kids and the hangers-on how to do it right.”
“What ultimately remains unchanged – and ensures the revival, which has already been picked up for a second season, will be a surefire success – is the camaraderie between Hayes, Mullally, Eric McCormack and Debra Messing. It’s a tall task asking viewers to pretend Will and Grace never went their separate ways or had kids, and surely there were ways the creators, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, could have stuck to their original finale and still produced a fitting revival.
“But it works mainly because the foursome is as sprightly and dynamic as ever, especially when onscreen together, exchanging wisecracks and wordplay. If the first episode is everything you wished the reboot wouldn’t be, give it some time. After all, even classics like Will & Grace need some time to shake off the rust.”
“If you’re an American comedy in 2017 with ambitions to take on the current administration, you’re automatically at the tail-end of a very, very long and angry queue. You should spend your time sharpening your claws and your teeth for the kill. In this episode, Will & Grace did the exact opposite. A toothless start doesn’t immediately doom the entire comeback. And anyway, the majority of the audience will be tuning in because of their affection for the characters. If you thought they were adorbs then, you’ll think they’re adorbs now.”
“Will & Grace” tries to navigate a delicate line, seeking to be topical and relevant — almost 20 years after its premiere, and more than a decade since its end — while still maintaining its broad comedic signature. For the most part, the revival pulls that off, returning to NBC in the equivalent of midseason form.
“Fans should be able to slide right back in — a lot fewer of them than during the show’s “Must-See TV” heyday, almost surely, yet enough that NBC’s pre-premiere Season 2 renewal doesn’t seem quite so much like a premature declaration of victory.
“Beneath the pile of strenuously topical pop-culture references — Shonda Rhimes, Kellyanne Conway, Ryans Gosling and Reynolds — that fly like wigs in a Drag Raceturf war, the DNA of the show remains essentially unchanged. Its loopy charm still rests on deft physical comedy, shrewdly cast guests (including Dear Evan Hansen’s delightful Ben Platt as the ADHD-riddled millennial so oblivious to gay history that he thinks Stonehenge is where the movement started), and, of course, the giddy push-me-pull-you chemistry between the original four.”
“The appeal of this weekly semi-sexually fluid rom-com has nothing to do with what really happens in the lives of actual gay and straight New Yorkers. It was and is about spending time in this utterly silly, farcical corner of fantasy Manhattan, with these particular dysfunctional gay and straight people. Maybe we don’t need them to take on Trump, but right now, a lot of Americans may need the refreshing break from reality that Will, Grace, Jack, and Karen provide. It’s nice to have them with us again.”
So there you have it. Seems like despite a few bumps, Will & Grace still has the spark to ensure that both upcoming seasons won’t detract from the legeacy of the show’s original run. All it needs now is a British broadcaster…
Will & Grace continues next Thursday at 9pm on NBC.