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[THIRD Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Humor; Television programs -- Will & Grace; Social criticism & satire
Author: Gilbert, Matthew
Date: Nov 17, 2002
Start Page: N.1
Section: Arts / Entertainment
Abstract (Document Summary)

The continued quality of "Will & Grace" this season bucks a trend whereby a top show bottoms out once its producers use their network clout to launch other series. The year that David E. Kelley moved on to "Snoops" and the half-hour "Ally," for example, his "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice" began their descent into mediocrity and worse. But despite the fact that creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan have embarked on "Good Morning Miami," "Will & Grace" has vigorously continued to hit its marks in the hands of its new show runner, executive producer Jeff Greenstein. And hitting its marks is the right phrase, because the sitcom is meticulously choreographed to suit the elastic physical comedy of its leads, particulary Sean Hayes's [Jack].

Naturally, this season finds "Will & Grace" indulging its bottomless obsession with pop culture. The Sandra Bernhard of sitcoms, it is built as an ongoing comic narrative on the sort of in- the-know information that fuels the sidebars of Entertainment Weekly. The references to E! Entertainment Television, Anne Heche, and Pink's "Get The Party Started" fly fast and furiously - so fast that a second viewing of "Will & Grace" sometimes reveals little gems in the repartee, such as when [Karen] says to Jack, "Who are you to judge, Judy?"

Eric McCormack and Deb ra Messing are the show's backbone, and they still give their characters more dimension than Kohan and Mutchnick probably ever hoped for. They have made their gay- straight relationship into a sexless love affair that is as supportive as it is oppressive. They rank with some of TV's classic couples, including Sam and Diane and Oscar and Felix. Like Hayes and [Megan Mullally], McCormack and Messing are doomed to be pigeonholed as their characters on "Will & Grace," an inescapability that is a sure sign of a show's creative success. Alas, the cast of "Seinfeld" has seen that sign all too clearly since its finale.

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