“Will & Grace” premiered on NBC in 1998 and was an instant success. Living in New York, Will (Eric McCormack) is a successful gay lawyer and his best friend is interior designer, Grace (Debra Messing). The series did a great job focusing on Will and Grace’s friendship as the duo leaned on each other while going through relationships, career choices, and every day moments. While the series centers around the relationship between Will and Grace, two standout characters include their friends, Jack and Karen. Jack (Sean Hayes) is an aspiring actor who has very little focus, but lots of hilarious energy and wealthy Karen (Megan Mullally) works with Grace, though she doesn’t work so much as show up whenever she wants because she doesn’t need the money. McCormack and Messing are the perfect pairing as Will and Grace, just as Hayes and Mullally were perfect at playing off of each other throughout the series eight season run.
Two new compilation DVD’s offer a decent selection of episodes from all eight seasons. While some compilation DVD’s feel like a letdown, these each manage to offer 16 best-of episodes that deliver. In “Will & Grace: Best of Love & Marriage” DVD, there are definitely some stand-out episodes including the “Pilot” episode that does a fantastic job at introducing the characters. In “Ben? Her?” Grace starts dating Will’s boss, Ben (Gregory Hines), much to Will’s dismay. In “Love Plus One” Jack is desperate to impress Matthew (Patrick Dempsey), but can’t find the right words. He asks Will to feed him things to say, which ultimately leads Will to Matthew. In “…And the Horse He Rode In On” Grace meets Leo (Harry Connick, Jr.) who she can’t stop thinking about, even though she’s supposed to be having a baby with Will. This is the episode the really changed the direction of the series and the relationship between Will and Grace. Grace and Leo’s two part wedding episode is also included here. There are several great episodes here, most of which include standout guest stars such as: Debbie Reynolds as Grace’s mom, Sydney Pollack and Blythe Danner as Will’s parents, Lesley Ann Warren, Edward Burns and more.
“Will & Grace: Best of Friends & Foes”
This collection is full of guest stars in hilarious roles. Some standout performances/episodes include Matt Damon in “A Chorus Lie” where Damon competes against Jack to land a role in a chorus group that tours Europe. In order to be in the group, Damon pretends he’s gay only to be proven otherwise by Jack. Molly Shannon stars as Will and Grace’s neighbor who starts to replace Grace when she has to work overtime in “Grace, Replaced”. In “Bacon and Eggs”, Kevin Bacon stars as himself. Bacon hires Jack as his assistant and sends him on a mission to find out whose been stalking him -- turns out, it’s Jack. It must be said, though, that the best episode included here is “Alive and Schticking” with guest star Alec Baldwin. This is the first live episode of “Will & Grace” and by far one of their funniest in the series. It’s not only because of the material, but the element of performing live seemed to bring out a silliness in the cast that sometimes tripped them up (which only made them funnier and more endearing).Other guest stars included here are: Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears, Wanda Sykes, Minnie Driver, Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, Barry Manilow, John Cleese, Jennifer Lopez, Kristin Davis and more.
Both "best ofs" are 2-DVD set with 16 episodes each.
VIDEO: Episodes are presented by Lionsgate in 1.33:1 full-frame. The picture appeared mostly crisp and clear, save for a few slightly softer moments. No flaws were seen with the source material, but a couple of light traces of pixelation and edge enhancement were seen infrequently. Colors looked warm and bright, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: Crisp, clean 2.0 audio.
EXTRAS: Special Features on Best of Love & Marriage: “The Pilot” episode includes commentary with Debra Messing and Eric McCormack. The commentary is great for fans because Messing and McCormack remember a lot. They talk about getting their parts, working with the creators, costume choices, the changes that occurred throughout the series and so much more. This is definitely worth a listen for fans of the show.
Special Features on Best of Friends & Foes:
Included here are five short vignettes that features themed moments from the series set to music. You can choose to play them all together, or watch individually. Collections include, “Let’s Get Physical” featuring some funny physical moments from the series, “My Breast Friend” features several of the breast jokes from the series, “The Little Voice in my Head” focuses on the voices and accents the cast/characters made throughout the series, “With a Song in Our Hearts” featuring moments where the characters broke out in song, “The Sounds of Comedy” is a collection of little noises the cast/characters made. While not a particularly interesting feature, fans might enjoy seeing some memorable moments linked together.
Final Thoughts: With a memorable cast and great writing, “Will & Grace” continues to deliver on the laughs. The two “best of” DVD’s offer more than your average collection, including the Pilot and the first live episode. Recommended for fans who don't already own the season sets (which are also available.)