STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $28.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 515 minutes
•  The Final Bow
•  The Last Words: Interviews With the Cast
•  Themed Featurettes
•  Blooper reel 
•  Commentary on final episode by Max Mutchnik, David Kohan, James burrows, Eric McCormack 

The Pitch

This ground-breaking show featuring gay characters finishes its eight-season run…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Humans

Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullaly, Sean Hayes.

The Nutshell

Will Truman (McCormack) is a gay New York lawyer.  Grace Adler (Messing) is his lifelong best friend who’s straight.  They’ve lived together for years and have seen each other through the ups and downs of each other’s personal lives.  Together with their wacko friends, Karen (Mullaly) and Jack (Hayes), they engage in hijinks that both the straight and gay will find amusing.

The Lowdown

The distinguishing characteristic about Will & Grace is that it’s essentially the first primetime network show to feature gay characters in prominent roles.  It ran on NBC’s Must See TV lineup for eight season from 1998 to 2006 and was a perennial ratings winner for the network.  It won numerous Emmys, including statues for each of the four principals, and a Best Comedy Series Emmy in 2000.  Not surprisingly, it was GLAAD’s Best Comedy Series for its entire run save one year.

Even in today’s climate, the show still got its share of criticism from both sides of the sexual orientation tracks.  Nonetheless, it’s doubtful that a show featuring gay characters could have lasted anywhere near as long as this show did, and rightly so.  I wasn’t a regular viewer, but I did catch an episode here and there, including the final episode and Will & Grace was both a very cleverly-written and superbly-acted sitcom, something I can’t say about even most straight sitcoms anymore. 

Stars Messing and McCormack had a palpable chemistry and their attraction, if not on the bedroom level, was nonetheless very noticeable.  It was hard to tell who was more screwed up about men, as they both went through their share.  In Season 5, their rock solid friendship went through a rough patch where they were planning to have a baby, but Grace reneged when she married Leo (Harry Connick, Jr.).  It then was up to Karen and Jack to get them back on track, which they eventually did.  You can tell from their performances all around that these were actors who truly enjoyed working with each other, which translated onscreen.

Although Messing and McCormack were the titular stars, Will & Grace was almost stolen from under them by Mullaly and Hayes as Karen and Jack.  These are two of the most uniquely-written supporting stars on any sitcom in recent memory.  They were essentially the Costanzo and Elaine of the piece, almost as iconically funny in their own way.  Karen was an acid-tongued tart and Jack was the uber-gay struggling actor who could put the collective homosexuality of the Queer Eye guys to complete and utter shame.  Hayes especially is noteworthy because he took an extreme stereotype and made it palatable.

Episodes in Season 8 included “Alive & Shticking”, the live season premiere, where Grace thinks about sleeping with a married man and Jack begins his new talk show.  Alec Baldwin, who was in multiple episodes, guest starred.  “Love is in the Airplane” found Will and Grace flying to London on the same airplane that Grace’s ex, Leo, was on.  In “A Little Christmas Queer,” Grace rekindles a relationship with Will’s brother, Sam.  Meanwhile, Sam’s daughter eyes Karen as a role model and Jack helps Will’s ten-year-old gay nephew organize a Christmas show.  “Cowboys and Iranians” has Will and Jack going to a cowboy-themed gay bar to meet Jack’s new boyfriend.  And in the series finale, “The Finale,” the characters jump back and forth across time to see how things turn out for them and answer questions about whether Will & Grace will find happiness together, whether Jack will find someone who loves him as much as he does, and whether Karen can go on without Stan.

The gay element was an important part of this show, but that aspect is almost secondary to how well the show was put together and acted.  This is one of the better comedy quartets in recent memory and Will & Grace was a well-done sitcom.

The Package

The episodes were shot in TV standard, but otherwise look okay, if a bit grainy at times.  Sound is in boilerplate Dolby Digital, but there are no subtitles and no other optional languages.  Features-wise, a couple of them are what was offered on the Will & Grace: The Final Episode disc from two years ago: The Final Bow, which is a 12-minute behind-the-scenes look at the last episode, and The Last Words, which is a 25-minute interview fest with the cast and crew.  Themed Featurettes are 12 mini-shorts highlighting certain aspects of the show.  These include For Love or Money, Out & About, 9 to 5-ish, Pop Goes the Culture, A Rose By Any Other Name, and Enter Stage Left, Fashion Quips, Rank & File, It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Joke is Told, That’s Called a Macaroon, Some People Say “Thank You”, and Lie, Cheat & Steal.  There’s also an eight-minute blooper reel of some pretty funny guffaws on set.  A newly recorded commentary By executive producers Max Mutchnik, David Kohan, James Burrows and Eric McCormack on the series finale round out the offerings.

7.4 out of 10