TV viewers get used to bad news. Shows are cancelled or delayed; promises are broken.
So the flip side was a fine surprise: “Will & Grace” is back much earlier than expected; and its return (9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24), after a wobbly start, is hilarious.
NBC had said the show’s final, 18-episode season would start in 2020. The network seemed willing to wait for another great show (“The Good Place) to end, with “Will” taking over the slot.
Then came the bad-good news: Another comedy (the inconsistent “Sunnyside”) crashed instantly in the ratings. Last week, NBC announced that “Will: would take over the 9:30 slot. That provides a great pairing with “Good Place” at 9; it also provides a 9:30 alternative to CBS’ disappointing “Carol’s Second Act.”
Certainly, not all revivals have worked. Roseanne (now called “The Conners”) returned smartly; “Murphy Brown” was flat and feeble.
But “Will & Grace” has been sharp from the moment it returned two years ago. It’s sometimes too loud, too silly, too … well, too much. But it quickly bounces back with wildly funny moments.
That’s what happens in the season-opener. The first few minutes are extremely adult, but only moderately funny. Then Grace learns some key information and everything transforms.
In a neat twist, the show’s best scene puts her with a random stranger on a subway. Another great one follows with Will; it’s the sort of verbal misunderstanding that comedies thrive on.
Karen and Jack stir things some more. Amid all the commotion, there’s wit and warmth; there’s a dandy show, in an unexpected return.