Nov 7, 2010

[TV] Will & Grace: Season 3

Will & Grace: Season 3Character development in a network sitcom is hard to track. You have to admit, it's hard for characters to grow in any way because they deal with significantly new situations and end up returning as close to status quo as possible at the end of the episode. The "reset" nature of many comedy shows leaves us with unchanging characters faced with a constantly changing environment. It works to some degree but after a while it starts to get old.

Once a comedy sitcom manages to get past the first year or so of just surviving, only then are the writers are given a bit more leeway in terms of where to go with their stories. Thus we find out the characters still have parents who are alive with funny stories of their own, long lost children come out of the woodwork and comic relief characters suddenly have more story than just the running gag that they normally contributed to. It's just how network television works - secure your audience base first, then become more creative and return to step 1 in case ratings start to dip.

I had always felt that this show had demonstrated a lot of amazing growth over the course of its development, even as early as the first two seasons. However the third was certainly a key point in the whole process and it led to some pretty interesting character revelations and a shift in the status quo (and then some).

Will & Grace: Season 3 marked a number of changes for the show - whether they were good or bad is really up to you as a view to determine. As before, all episodes in the season were directed by James Burrows.

When we last left the zany family that is the Will & Grace host of characters, Grace (Debra Messing) was supposed to break up with her eccentric boyfriend Josh or Will's boss Ben (Gregory Hines). Jack (Sean Hayes) was officially divorced by Rosario (Shelley Morrison), who is Karen's (Megan Mullally) maid. And Will (Erik McCormack) was still Will, albeit no longer living together with Grace. Thus the season starts by quickly jumping into making sure Will & Grace end up living together again.

Woody Harrelson by David ShankboneImage via WikipediaThe season has a few key highlights that are definitely worth highlighting. This was the season with the two-part flashback episode as to how Will ended up proposing to Grace as he struggled with coming to terms with his homosexuality. Will gets into a relationship with a sports reporter named Matthew (Patrick Dempsey). Grace eventually gets into a relationship with the strange bum who lives a few floors above their apartment - this being Nathan (Woody Harrelson). And Grace discovers Will's dad is having an affair.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Jack finally figures out the identity of his biological father and eventually the fact that he has a son of his own?

This season was pretty big on two-part episodes. There were at least 3 of them in this season alone, plus the many deeply interconnected plots carried across episodes. This was certainly a big step for the show in terms of the flexibility given to the writers to explore more complex ideas and not just come up with new one-liners for Will and Grace and new insults for Karen and Jack week after week. I can imagine how big this was for the writers while at the same time being a bit of a pressure item.

Woody Harrelson made for a pretty interesting addition to the cast this season and it was nice how his zaniness worked well with Grace's own unique sense of behavior in the show. As a viewer, having those two together actually worked on so many levels an despite their supposed differences, it all sort of worked out. I wans't a big fan of Patrick Dempsey's character here (and not just because of him being a douche bag towards the end of this story arc) and so I didn't really mind seeing him go away. Although Will's eternal state of being single was getting a tad annoying.

The show featured a lot of soap opera style plot twists left and right (except for the evil twin - at least so far!) but it didn't feel like a soap opera. Despite some of the more serious topics here and there, it never felt like the show was getting bogged down during this season. Instead it remained consistently light, funny and pretty darned allowance.

Will & Grace: Season 3 is a great point for character development on the show and it features a nice expansion of the cast of characters. It gets 4 steamy romance novels written by Jack out of a possible 5.

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