“Will & Grace” returned for Season 10 on Thursday night, bringing onboard former “Friends” star David Schwimmer for a new season of quips and mishaps. The Season 10 trailer teased a burgeoning love connection between Grace and Schwimmer’s character, who’s decidedly less charming than the Ross Geller of ’90s. But the true star of the episode was Jack (Sean Hayes), whose slapstick comedy garnered more laughs than Schwimmer’s highly-anticipated appearance.
Grace (Debra Messing) is running for the presidency of an interior design association, a pursuit that nobody else really cares about but will definitely take up too much time this season. At an election event she meets her Twitter crush, the West Side Curmudgeon, in a protracted meet-angry that spans the entire episode. The West Side Curmudgeon is guest star/new love interest Noah (Schimmer), a washed-up writer who’s like Ross, if he lost Rachel, his kids, and what little shreds of optimism he had in the ’90s. That’s it. It’s just cranky Get-Off-My-Lawn Ross.
I don’t understand what the draw of his character is. He’s got a great name (cmon, who wouldn’t want to be known as the West Side Curmudgeon), but he’s got no dateable qualities besides a talent for insulting people. We’ve got some more time with him, as Schwimmer is guest starring in multiple episodes this season, but they’ve got to give him some sort of redeeming quality to actually sell the love-angle in all this.
And then we get to the other pitfall of the season opener: we need more Karen! It’s no secret that Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) is one of the main reasons the show was renewed. Who doesn’t love watching the hilariously terrible Karen walk into a situation and make it so much worse? However, she’s at her best when she’s interacting with Jack, and there was no Jack-Karen kiki on screen during Thursday night’s premiere. Karen does mention a catch-up with Jack offscreen (was the scene cut for time?), but alas, she doesn’t get to call Jack her “poodle.”
Instead, Karen comes to Will (Eric McCormack) after seeing a woman walking down the street…with her breasts. Turns out that a plastic surgeon has named his new boob job the “Karen Walkers.” Her subsequent meltdown was all too quickly solved by Will, who simply makes a call to the doctor and sorts things out. I know we’re supposed to be focused on Get-Off-My-Lawn Ross, but the entire premiere could’ve been about the Karen’s knock-off knockers, with potential for much bigger laughs. This was punting the ball, not a grand slam.
But as always, Jack manages to bring out the most memorable jokes of the episode. The actor, still happily engaged to Estefan (Brian Jordan Alvarez), is nervous about meeting his beau’s parents for the first time. It may be over Skype, but Jack’s still worried about keeping up appearances. The obvious solution? A little nip/tuck, just like so many of Will and Jack’s friends have treated themselves to over the years. In a last minute prep for his doctor’s appointment, Jack squirts analgesic cream all over his face and promptly loses feeling…everywhere. The ensuing bit is something right out of “I Love Lucy,” and it’s honestly too amazing to describe. Watch it below:
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That faceplant into the table. Give this man the Golden Globe already! This was the only running gag that genuinely made me laugh, and it’s right in line with who Jack is: loud, too much, and campily comedic. The disaster continues when Jack, nervous about missing his Skype call, dials with his nose and attempts to greet his in-laws, only to find out that Estefan’s father just had a stroke. With Jack’s numbed tongue, it sounds like he’s mocking him. The scene reiterates why fans continue tuning in; a classic comedy of errors rarely falls flat, and Hayes always knows how to soar. The jury’s still out on the West Side Curmudgeon, but the gang still knows how to play to its audience.
The verdict? Season 10 of “Will & Grace” is still bringing us the quips and physical comedy their fans fell in love with, but they’re by no means remaking the wheel. If you loved David Schwimmer in “Friends,” you might enjoy his stint as Get-Off-My-Lawn Ross on the series; for the rest of us, it’s more of the same.