Originally picked up in January for a 10-episode limited installment, the Emmy-winning comedy this morning got its first season return tally bumped up to 16 episodes, as well as an entire second season.
“For the last year it’s been a confusing time,” star Debra Messing told TV critics, calling the series return “a beautiful crazy thing.”
The new, ninth season of Will & Grace, which quickly emerged as one of NBC’s top assets for the coming TV season by reuniting original stars Eric McCormack, Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes, stemmed from the surprise election-themed reunion mini-episode released September 26. Done without NBC’s involvement, it immediately triggered talk of a series revival.
Co-creator/executive producer Max Mutchnick was behind the project, bringing the cast together and getting the original set re-assembled in the basement of the lot where the NBC series filmed. As Mullally described today, Mutchnick emailed the actors about doing the anti-Trump video, and all four had said yes within 45
minutes. Mullally said she emailed Mutchnick asking, “Why can’t we do the show again.”
“He said, ‘We can’.”
McCormack said they were pleasantly surprised by the “big response” they got to the reboot idea, not just from viewers, but the “non-cynical, non-judgmental response” from the TV critics who were in the room.
But not all of the TV critics were clapping their hands happily.
One, for instance, wondered how the creators would move the franchise forward and reunite the gang without them looking “sad.”
Co-creator/EP David Kohan said the first series finale had been a “fantasy projection into the future.” Plus, he noted, what viewers missed about the comedy series was not that projection into the future, but the dynamic among the four leads.
They all got happy endings, but that was not funny, McCormack said – so they’re taking that out.
Mutchnick said they will re-establish the show by re-setting the rules, irrespective of the finale. “We want to hold off on telling you exactly what that is, because it will take away some of the fun, but it is not anything that will surprise you,” he assured.
Another TV critic sniffed that the characters’ relationship was not a healthy one. And that, in the finale, Will and Grace wanted to be living on their own.
“We don’t care about healthy,” Messing shot back, while Kohan went with an argument that, as you get older, the prism shifts on your perspective – which was the same thing.
Another critic wondered if a comedy series credited with paving the way for LGBT characters on TV, featuring the first openly gay lead characters on a primetime network series, would seem dated in 2017.
“I don’t think you can have a transgender ban in the military and say gay issues are dated,” McCormack shot back.
It will, however, be more challenging to be topical in a world in which a White House communications director can last just 10 days in office and POTUS can flip-flop on a topic in hours.
Still another skeptic asked Mutchnick and Kohan how they could bring back a series over which they had sued NBC in 2003. In the suit, the creators accused the network of selling the rights to the show at ”tens of millions of dollars” below fair value by selling future and current rights to itself, without engaging in “good-faith negotiations” with rival networks.
Bob Greenblatt’s NBC is very different from the Jeff Zucker’s NBC, Mutchnick said, adding, “and we are very very happy to be part of Bob Greenblatt’s NBC. He’s a tremendous advocate and we’re here because of him.”
“As far as I’m concerned the lawsuit went the way of the finale. It never happened.”