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Will & Grace - Season Five


TITLE: WILL & GRACE - SEASON FIVE


Info:

DVD Release Date: August 29, 2006 (Lionsgate)
Color/2002-03
MSRP: $44.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 23
Running Time: Approximately 500 minutes
Running Time of Special Features: 24 minutes 15 seconds
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; No Subtitles and No Closed Captioning.
Special Features: Outtake Reel and Featurettes


Introduction:

The complete fifth season of Will & Grace is now on DVD. And it’s downhill from there. That sentence has multiple meanings, which will be covered throughout this review. For starters, while this season has some of my most remembered episodes, and some of my favorites, it also contains some of my least favorite episodes.

If you’ve never seen the show ­ where have you been since 1998? Anyway, Will & Grace was a popular sitcom here that focused on Will Truman, a gay lawyer, and his best friend Grace Adler, who runs her own interior design firm. Of course, by a few seasons in, Karen ­ a rich socialite, and Jack ­ a struggling actor for who seems to be an embodiment of the effeminate gay stereotype ­ take over comedically, become the pillars that keep the show funny in the later years.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

In the season premiere, a dazed Grace meets Harry Connick Jr.’s character while on the way to a fertility clinic for her insemination with an impatient Will. Meanwhile, Karen can’t make up her mind on whether to cheat on her husband or not. The next episode is the hilarious episode “Bacon and Eggs”, in which Jack stalks Kevin Bacon. In “The Honeymoon’s Over”, Karen is booted from her Palace Hotel digs, and winds up moving in with Will ­ mistake. Meanwhile, Jack fears that the “Gay Mafia” has it out for him. I love this episode. In “Dolls and Dolls”, Karen is still looking for a place to live ­ only to wind up rooming with someone as self-important as Karen is. Meanwhile, Will gets addicted to painkillers. In “May Divorce Be with You”, Karen discovers that Will is Stan’s lawyer, not hers. This leads to the episode simply titled “23”, in which Karen learns that Stan is dead. In the final part of the arc, 24”, federal agent Jack Bauer…wait, wrong 24. No, in THIS “24”, Karen and the gang set sail on her yacht to scatter Stan’s ashes in the Caribbean, while Leo is flying to Guatemala with an attractive co-worker.

Will & Grace was a show that relied heavily on star power, particularly later on. Anyway, Guest Stars include Harry Connick Jr., Rip Torn, Kevin Bacon, Reginald VelJohnson, Gene Wilder, Katie Couric, Debbie Reynolds, Elton John, Rosanna Arquette, Demi Moore, Madonna, Macaulay Culkin. Deborah Harry, and Nicolette Sheridan.


Packaging:

If you’ve read my previous W&G DVD reviews, you pretty much know exactly how this will read. Outer box, with a digipak inside. Outer box has the show title at the top, with the “Season Five” text below it. In the center is a cast picture. Below that is the alternate “W&G” logo, complete with the text “loaded with extra features”. You’ll learn why that’s funny soon enough. On the spine is the show logo, with a lighter purple 5 at the top. On the back is the same cast photo, cropped into a circle, with the tiny special features (wow, 4x3 aspect ratio is a special feature?), and the minute sell text on the back. The bottom half is reserved for show credits. And nowhere on the box does it list the runtime. In order to find a completed runtime, I had to turn to the internet. My own math is close enough, and the runtime provided is a close, rounded figure, so I ran with it. Amazing that’s what it took. By the way, the color scheme for this set? Purple. Yeah.

The front cover of the Digipak should look familiar…as it’s identical to the front cover of the outer box. The spine of the digipak (when folded) should look familiar…as it’s identical to the spine of the outer box. The rear isn’t identical ­ there’s no sell text or “features”, however, the REST is the SAME. Unfolding the digipak provides episode photos and information on each of the unfolding panels, as with previous releases. The area behind the disc holders is solid purple, while the discs are black & white, with a cast member photo on the left, and disc info on the right. See breakdown below for more.

Disc Breakdown:
Disc 1: Episodes 1-7. Cast Member on Cover: Will
Disc 2: Episodes 8-13/14. Cast Member on Cover: Grace
Disc 3: Episodes 14/15-18/19. Cast Member on Cover: Karen
Disc 4: Episodes 19/20-23/24. Cast Member on Cover: Jack

After reading the breakdown, you may have HAD a breakdown. Trust me, the numbering I just used makes sense in terms of the release. You should have figured out problem number 1: The episodes are numbered up through 24 (the last two episodes even being called “23” and “24” ­ yet there are 23 episodes on the disc. That’s simple: The disc lists the “Marry Me a Little (More)” two parter as one episode (but has both episode titles). Hence, there are only 23 episodes, but officially, there are 24.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Menus are easily the nicest part of the release. Bubbles go by the purple background, while each cast member has their head in a pink bubble around a center bubble that plays video clips. Below that is the logo and menu. The bubbles in the background are of course animated. And the menus? Purple. Clicking the episode selection menu causes the 4 cast bubbles to animate, and go to the selection menu. Each episode has a still in a bubble, with the episode title to the side. The indicator for a selected episode is a large white circle around the bubble that looks a bit shoddy given the quality of the rest of the menu system.


Video and Audio Quality:

The colors are faded, the picture is compressed ­ it’s not the best video. Yep. There’s interlacing issues too. The video is faded, somewhat grainy, somewhat compressed, and chopped down to fit the syndication window. It’s a shame. The audio is a decent Dolby 2.0 stereo track ­ The laugh track is nice and clear, the vocals are loud enough, and the music sounds about right. Chapter stops at the end of each scene. No subtitles or captioning. Several of the episodes were “super-sized” in original airing, but have diminished runtimes, indicating syndication episodes in at least places.

Breakdown:

Disc 1:
…And the Horse He Rode in On: 21:03
Bacon and Eggs: 22:17
The Kid Stays Out of the Picture: 21:29
Humongous Growth: 21:04
It’s the Gay Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: 21:22
Boardroom and a Parked Place: 25:31
The Needle and the Omelet’s Done: 21:22

Disc 2:
Marry Me a Little/Marry Me a Little More: 44:48
The Honeymoon’s Over: 21:26
All About Christmas Eve: 21:22
Field of Queens: 21:19
Fagmalion Part One: Gay it Forward: 21:24
Fagmalion Part Two: Attack of the Clones: 24:24

Disc 3:
Homojo: 21:26
Women and Children First: 21:25
Fagmalion Part Three: Bye Bye, Beardy: 21:10
Fagmalion Part Four: The Guy who Loved Me: 20:56
Sex, Losers, and Videotape: 21:24

Disc 4
Leo Unwrapped: 21:26
Dolls and Dolls: 21:19
May Divorce be With You: 21:16
23: 21:26
24: 21:20

Again, several episodes were super-sized, and yet, only two Attack of the Clones, and Boardroom and a Parked Place, come CLOSE to the requisite runtimes. Shame.


Special Features:

We have an outtake reel and featurettes.

Disc 3
Outtake Reel. Finally ­ Disc 3 before ANY special features turn up. This is a sign. The outtake reel lasts 7:04. Some of this is pretty funny.

Disc 4:
Themed Featurettes. You know, I dislike that word. I’m too used to seeing that word used with shoddy quality “features” that have no actual value. These, however, are actually decent. Clips set to a common theme.

Hugs and Kisses: 2:16
Fashion Quips: 2:25
The Little Voice in my Head: 1:58
A Rose by Any Other Name: 2:09
For Love or Money: 2:17
9 to 5ish: 2:03
With a Song in Our Hearts: 1:44
Enter Stage Left: 2:20

Total Features Runtime: 24:15


Final Comments:

I know I haven’t seemed very positive about this release ­ that’s really just due to the set’s mediocrity more than anything. It’s an OK set, with OK video, OK audio and OK features. The menus are great, but the blatant syndication edits are horrible.

In terms of improvement of the set ­ first of all, the syndication prints have to go. There is ZERO excuse for using syndication prints on a show from 2002 ­ none at ALL. Not checking amounts to laziness ­ especially when there’s a YEAR between releases. Also, surely someone from the show has to be willing to come in and do commentary. And there has to be promotional material, etc., lying around being unused ­ or even specials related to the show that Lionsgate can obtain the rights to.

If you’re a fan of the show, chances are you already have this. If you’ve been on the fence, I’d probably hold off, and just watch the shows in syndication. But, exercise your own judgment.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Final Score: 3/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/29/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000G1R3A8/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=184138


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