Quite by chance, I caught the Will & Grace finale on Channel 4. I say ‘by chance’ because that is exactly how it happened. I was zapping, stopped on Channel 4, heard the announcer refer to ‘the penultimate episode of Will & Grace’, picked my jaw up from the floor, then decided to watch. I am struggling to recall promotional trailers for the last episode. Maybe some were scheduled and I managed to miss them despite watching the likes of The Simpsons, Smallville, Jamie At Home, 10 Years Younger, Without A Trace, Ugly Betty…all Channel 4 shows. For most of the 8th series run, Will & Grace has been shunted around the red-eye shift: start times of 12.35am, 12.05am, 12:30am and 1.05am became the norm. The penultimate instalment was at 12.05am with the finale following at 12.40am. I couldn’t believe it – 12.40am for a show that was once a permanent primetime fixture! Talk about a fall from grace…
For the uninitiated, gay lawyer Will (played by straight actor Eric McCormack) and interior designer Grace (Debra Messing) have an enduring friendship and were (supposed to be) the centre of the series. But that didn’t stop Will’s unapologetically gay mate Jack (Sean Hayes) and Grace’s alcoholic assistant Karen (Megan Mullally) from stealing the show week after week. In America, Will & Grace caused a primetime stir at first because of the gay factor. The first three or four seasons had smart writing, top-notch performances and cool cameos – it was in vogue, darling. How could anyone resist all the neuroses and bitchiness…and that’s just Jack (‘just Jack!’ Geddit? Oh well. Hardcore fans will).
The finale, like so many others I’ve sat through, was ultimately disappointing. Would Will and Grace raise a child together? Would Jack meet anyone who could love him as much as he loved himself? Would Karen ever find true happiness outside of a bottle of vodka? Would I find it in me to care? Not even the presence of Harry Connick Jr and Kevin Bacon could lift the farewell above ‘average’. Much of the panache and wit that characterised the first few seasons was absent, daft scenarios dragged on waaaay too long and certain plotlines stretched credibility further than the casting of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.
I’ll be the first to admit Will & Grace ran out of steam a couple of years ago. Funnily enough, that accusation can be levelled at many TV shows. I’ve lost count of the number that continued when they should’ve done a Fawlty Towers or The Sweeney and gone out at their best. Off the top of my head, Beverly Hills 90210 should’ve definitely called it a day after the gang graduated from College. My beloved Dallas was never the same after Pam’s infamous ‘dream’. The A Team’s final fifth season, in which the gang end up working for the government, is an embarrassment. CHiPs went downhill after season 5; Erik Estrada (Ponch) was occasionally replaced by Bruce Jenner and in season 6, Larry Wilcox exited stage left. Instead of ending the show, they struggled on with Tom Reilly. Happy Days, credited with spawning the Jump The Shark website, limped on for years after Ron Howard and Don Most’s departure (big mistake). Do I even need to mention the infamous and inferior Coy and Vance Duke seasons on the Dukes Of Hazzard? Probably not.
And so Will & Grace depart to sitcom heaven and endless repeats, joining the likes of Cheers, Fawlty Towers, Friends, Frasier, Only Fools & Horses, Rising Damp, Till Death Us Do Part et al. Although I’d personally never put it in the same class as any of the aforementioned, it had its moments.
*Message for (no name) who left a comment on 11 October at 13:12 asking about the times for House. Assuming that you are in the UK, you will find this excellent series weekdays on Five US at 9pm.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – ITV4 for its Sweeney night starring the late John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. "Get your trousers on, you’re nicked!" "Shut it!" "We’re The Sweeney son, and we haven’t had any dinner!" – brilliant.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – A terrible casting decision on The Tudors, the BBC’s period romp. Steven Waddington, the actor who played the Duke Of Buckingham, is a big, strapping, handsome man with red hair. His Duke Of Buckingham displayed flashes of the mercurial temper Henry VIII was renowned for. It’s glaringly obvious that he should’ve been cast as the young King. Why wasn’t he? My guess is that despite his role in the wonderful Last Of The Mohicans, he’s largely unknown to the American market…unlike Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Cynical. Very cynical.
MSN Editor Coops