by Aprille Hanson
It’s been 11 years since the on-air antics of best friends Will and Grace have played out on the small screen. On Sept. 28, Karen’s string of questions sucked fans right back in: “What’s going on? What’s happening? Who won the election?”
NBC’s reboot of the popular late ’90s sitcom that brought gay characters to a mainstream audience, found Will (Eric McCormack), a gay lawyer, once again living with his best friend, Grace (Debra Messing), an interior designer. Jack (Sean Hayes), beloved for his flair, still lives across the hall and Karen (Megan Mullally), Grace’s rich assistant is still the snobby caricature of a politically incorrect socialite who is just as sassy and loved as ever.
The show opened with the foursome playing a game, but Karen has spaced out while holding a drink. One shake of her pill bottle and she’s back with that beloved string of questions.
The series ended in 2005 after eight seasons, with Will and Grace having significant others and children. Because the reboot wanted to erase the children, fans find out that finale episode was simply Karen’s daydream. As she pointed out, “Nobody wants to see you two raise kids.”
Instead of spending much time on what’s happened in the past 11 years – aside from the mention of Grace’s divorce and Jack’s string of failed entrepreneurial endeavors – it took aim at the big Cheeto leading the United States.
Almost the entire episode poked fun at President Donald Trump and though some fans were shocked and outraged that the typically light-hearted show got political, it was a stunning and hilarious episode. Despite its political humor, it never strayed from its roots.
Will winds up in the Rose Garden to protest a senator who is against environmental rights, but is just too cute for him to resist. As Jack points out, “You want to hook up with a power gay. It’s called an Anderson Cooper. It used to be called an Elton John. And before that an Abraham Lincoln.”
Jack was able to get Will in since, as most should know, all secret service agents are gay because “who better to read a room?”
Grace and Karen wind up in the Oval Office at the same time, as Karen gets Grace a shot at redecorating the Oval Office. Karen is of course a good friend of First Lady Melania, who called her during a night terror saying, “the hubster’s been pouting cause his office is a real dump.”
While Will and Grace both compromise some moral integrity, when the two discover that they’re both at the White House, a hilarious pillow fight ensues in the Oval Office.
It wasn’t deep or overly hateful humor per say, like Grace trying to find the perfect coloring for new drapes in the Oval by holding up a Cheeto to the curtain.
The most cutting joke came from Grace, who standing in the Oval says, “I am awed by the majesty of this office. Just think of the great minds that sat at this desk, shaped the course of history” and opening a box on Trump’s desk deadpans, “A Russian-English dictionary and a fidget spinner.”
In general, it was cutesy jabs that made absolute sense for these characters. The show could have easily returned with a few punchlines about the president, but the fully-loaded one liners were masterful. The show has never been for staunch conservatives and it was a chance for their fanbase to laugh in the midst of all the hate being spewed daily.
This episode was important, topical and on point, one that the writers should be proud to have written.
It will be a thrill to watch upcoming episodes that get back to that fun, punchy humor and maybe just a jab here or there at the leader of the free world. The writers seem to elude to that with the final scene of the episode:
Karen: “When you two talk about politics you get too preachy.”
Grace: “We should just be what we’ve always been.”
Jack: “A sad middle-aged lady. And Grace.”
by Julian Spivey
Even though it has become staid at times in the last few seasons, “NCIS” has always managed to do season premieres and season finales right. That’s pretty impressive 15 years into its run.
Season 14 ended on a major cliffhanger with NCIS Agents Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and McGee (Sean Murray) left behind in Paraguay on a humanitarian mission to save children from the Revolutionary Armed Council. The children were saved, but only Agents McGee and Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) reached the helicopter evac in time. McGee jumped out last second to not leave Gibbs behind alone. This is where season 15 picked up on Tuesday (Sept. 26).
Season 15 picks up two months after Gibbs and McGee are left behind. Hearings are ongoing because NCIS underwent the Paraguay mission without proper consent. The DOD has banned NCIS from investigating the matter further, but the team, now being led by Agent Bishop (Emily Wickersham) is, of course, doing so on the down-lo. We see that Gibbs and McGee have been kept prisoner for two months by the RAC and are about the meet the head honcho in charge of the group. The big boss wants something out of the agents, but are fearless heroes obviously aren’t going to give in. This leads to Gibbs being tortured via waterboarding.
Back in D.C. a drug mule has been killed while trying to contact NCIS and mysteriously his hair is falling out. It turns out he had radiation positioning. The team quickly finds out the drug mule was smuggling in uranium being made by the RAC in Paraguay. Yes, this is convenient, but that’s a network crime procedural for you.
In Paraguay, Gibbs and McGee devise a plan to take control of their dire situation though the audience isn’t privy to this leading to a moment where you wonder if a plan is in place or if Gibbs and McGee are really at each other’s throats after spending two months held captive together.
The plan succeeds and Gibbs and McGee reach el jefe and take control of the situation. In another convenient, but what are you going to do moment, Bishop calls a satellite phone number and it’s answered by McGee. The team is thrilled to hear he and Gibbs are still alive. They devise a plan to get Paraguayan military to the top of the ship where the two have been held captive. The only problem is Gibbs and McGee must get to the top deck without being killed by the terrorists of the RAC.
I was a little bit surprised that “NCIS” decided to wrap this storyline up in one episode. It seemed like one they might draw out to two episodes and honestly, I wouldn’t have been bothered by that one bit. This series has always been at its best during multiple episode arcs.
The relationships among characters on the show have always been one of its highlights and it’s nice, but not surprising, to see McGee – who’s newly married and expecting a baby – would put his life in danger to save his longtime boss and mentor Gibbs. Harmon and Murray really were the stars of this premiere.
Really the only awkward part of the season premiere was the writing off Jennifer Esposito’s character Quinn, the rare one-season-and-done “NCIS” character. Esposito announced she was leaving the show over the summer and the show wrote her off with a one-sentence explanation about how she left to take care of her sick mother. CBS shows are having somewhat of a bad premiere week when it comes to writing off characters as sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” took some heat for killing off Erinn Hayes’ character (the way of Kevin James’ lead) with an emotionless one-sentence reveal about how the show has moved forward a year.
by Julian Spivey
The fall network television season is upon us and thus far the critics don’t seem too highly on it. Some critics have been referring to the new fall slate of television as the weakest in quite a while. But, there are still a few shows debuting this fall that have my interest piqued.
Here are the top 5:
1. “The Good Doctor” (ABC)
It’s been an awful long time since there has been a network medical drama that I’ve enjoyed and I hope ABC’s “The Good Doctor” can feel that void. “The Good Doctor,” starring Freddie Highmore (who was fantastic in the recently ended and underrated “Bates Motel”), is about a young autistic doctor with savant syndrome who goes from a small, country hospital to a big city one. The series is from producer David Shore, who successfully led Fox’s “House” to a long tenure. “The Good Doctor” premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m.
2. “Me, Myself & I” (CBS)
CBS is usually the least creative when it comes to sitcoms, but a few years ago debuted “Life in Pieces” which uniquely told the story of one family in vignettes. This fall comes “Me, Myself & I,” which similarly will show the life of one man – Alex Riley – through three periods of his life. Jack Dylan Grazer will portray Riley as a 14-year in 1991, recent “Saturday Night Live” alum Bobby Moynihan will portray the modern-day Riley and award-winning TV vet John Larroquette will portray the retired Riley of the future. Moynihan and Larroquette are actors I greatly enjoy and on that alone makes me look forward to this one, which premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m.
3. “Ghosted” (Fox)
“Ghosted,” premiering on Fox on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m., is another unique idea for a sitcom as it takes on the world of the supernatural. The series stars television sitcom veterans Craig Robinson (of “The Office”) and Adam Scott (of “Parks & Recreation”) as polar opposites who are recruited to investigate paranormal activity in Los Angeles. The two series leads also co-created this series, which should mean they are completely invested in making it a hit.
4. “The Mayor” (ABC)
ABC has a good track record when it comes to successful sitcoms and the network, as well as myself, are hoping “The Mayor,” which premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3, will be the next big hit. “The Mayor” stars relative newcomer Brandon Michael Hall as Courtney Rose, a struggling hip-hop artist who runs for mayor of his hometown to promote his latest mixtape. Of course, Rose somehow wins the election and I’m sure hilarity will ensue from there. “The Mayor” will also co-star “Glee” alum Lea Michele and “Community” alum Yvette Nicole Brown.
5. “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” (NBC)
I’ve admittedly never seen a single episode of any of the “Law & Order” crime series, which is quite the feat as the multiple series have totaled 1,105 episodes (no kidding). However, the new ‘True Crime’ take from producer Dick Wolf inspired by the popularity of FX’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” from 2016 has me at least somewhat interested. ‘The Menendez Murders’ tackles the case of Erik and Lyle Menendez accused of the 1989 murder of their parents and the ensuing trial. The eight-episode limited series stars the talented Edie Falco, Julianne Nicholson, Anthony Edwards and Josh Charles in various roles.