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Will & Grace - Season Three



DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004 (Lions Gate Home Entertainment)
MSRP: $49.99
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 22 (2-Parters Counted as 1 Episode w/ One Exception)
Running time: 530 Minutes
Duration of Special Features: 40 Minutes
Languages and Subtitles: English; No Subtitles/Closed-Captioning
Special Features Include:
*Blooper Reels for Seasons 1-3
*Themed Featurettes with various clips from Season 3

Review (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4.6/5
Audio Quality: 4.9/5
Special Features: 4.2/5
Menu Style & Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.7/5


Eric McCormack & Debra Messing star in this crazy sitcom about two longtime best friends living together. They both love French films, poker night with the guys and George Clooney. They are the perfect couple -- except that Will is gay. Also in their crazy little world exists Jack, Will's flamboyantly gay friend, and Karen, who is Grace's rich socialite secretary. The comedy gold that results when their lives intertwine is the stuff that has kept this show on the air now into its seventh season.

There are quite a few memorable episodes in this season; in fact, the entire season is quite good. There ARE a couple of episodes really worth mentioning though. “Lows in the Mid-Eighties,” which takes an in-depth look, through flashback, at Will & Grace's past, and “Sons & Lovers,” in which Jack prepares to meet his estranged father, only to be greeted with a little surprise of his own. These are just two memorable episodes in an entire set of good shows. There's really no glaring weak spot in the quality.

Will & Grace Season 3 went a little light on the star power, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. They did have a few noteworthy guest stars through the course of the season. Of course you have to start with Debbie Reynolds' return as Grace's mother Bobbi, in the 2-parter “Lows in the Mid-Eighties.” Episode 53, “Gypsies, Tramps, and Weed” has two noteworthy guests, The Practice star Camryn Manheim...and Cher. Cher guest stars as herself, which Jack mistakes for a drag queen. Sandra Bernhard guests as herself in show 58, “Swimming Pools...Movie Stars.” Episode 61 features a guest appearance by Ellen DeGeneres, playing an enterprising nun that buys Grace's uncle's jalopy, only to have Grace want to buy it back. In 2 of the last 3 episodes in the season (one show in between was shown out of production order), Woody Harrelson guests as Nathan, Grace's new neighbor and possible romantic interest.

Packaging is your standard unfolding 4 Disc/5 panel set, inside a cardboard sleeve (The same type of packaging used for more than a few TV DVDs). Each of the fold panels has part of the list of shows on each disc. With the way the setup unfolds, however, you may have to shuffle around to find the various episodes listed in order. In addition to a little synopsis about each episode, the panels contain 1-2 promotional and/or still images from the show. Front picture is the standard smiling together, holding, etc. cast picture, and others include the cast on a carriage, as well as Will squirting water at Jack, and other assorted still images from the show. The disc art is a simple red-tint headshot of each individual cast member (Eric McCormack (Will) is Disc 1, Debra Messing (Grace) is Disc 2, Megan Mullally (Karen) is on disc 3, and Sean Hayes (Jack) is on Disc 4.

The menus of the discs themselves are quite well-done. While a loop of the main theme plays in the main background, animated circles containing either red or blue, or various episode clips dance around in the background, while one large circle rotates various clips. The actual menu is in a blue button itself, with the Play All and Episode Selection options (and a Special Features option on Disc 4). The transitions to each subsection are done nicely, with the circles sliding away to show a clip, which is then replaced by a menu featuring. The sub-menus are static shots of Will & Grace standing in front of a split red/blue background to the left, with either a red or blue circle and the episode title surrounding a circle containing an image of the episode to be chosen.

Episode selection menu on all 4 discs follows that format, although the clip in the transition changes disc to disc. The special features menu on disc 4 is somewhat similar, with a transition clip, followed by a static shot of the full cast in front of the FULL version of the aforementioned shot used for the episode selection addition to having Will in front of the red and Grace in front of the right, it has Karen in front of an orange background to the left of Will, and Jack in front of a Green background to the right of Grace. The Outtakes and Featurettes options are simple text inside a faded red circle. The submenus for each of those features are similar, with a text listing of each available option, with a couple of small circle still shots thrown in for good measure. The featurette menu uses the red motif with Jack and Karen, while the outtakes use a blue version with Will and Grace.

Episodes themselves are shown in 4:3 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital Surround sound. Episodes are arranged on the disc in airing order, which causes one problem; “Cheaters, Part II,” which aired in the summer of 2001, between seasons 3 and 4, is not included in the set. More than likely, the season four set will include the episode, however, its omission is rather glaring if you want to watch the season complete, as it was meant. For what it's worth, the reason the episode isn't on the set is almost entirely due to NBC's irregular airing, not because of any goofs of the DVD set itself. All other 2-part episodes are shown in their original, 1 hour, format, without the end/open credits between, which is a really nice touch. Video quality is quite good, especially for a DVD set with average 3-4 hours of material per disc. While that tends to cause digital compression artifacts to appear on most sets, this set appears relatively free of them. Audio is, of course, a nice, though expected, Dolby Digital Surround setup.

Disc 4 is the home of this set's special features. And though there are only two types of special features, they still make up almost 40 minutes of bonus footage. Contained in this set are themed featurettes (various clips from the season, approximately 2-3 minutes each, revolving around a central theme) as well as outtake reels from Seasons ONE, TWO, and three. There are ELEVEN featurettes, ranging from 1:30 in length, upwards to just over 2:30 for the longest featurette. In addition, there are outtake reels for seasons 1 through 3, at around six minutes each. Total of 40 minutes of special features, all of show-related clips (Themed clip packages, outtake reels, etc). 40 minutes isn't that bad of a total, considering that there aren't commentary tracks anywhere in the set, one flaw I DID find.

Overall, it's a great set, with a couple of problems.

Firstly, there's Cheaters, Part II. Lions Gate *really* needed to go back and get this episode to put with Part I. Yes, it aired after the 3rd Season finale, BUT, it did air before the season 4 premiere, and, it IS part of Season 3's continuity. Also, there aren’t alternate language tracks, no subtitles, nor is there a closed captioning option. This means that if you speak an alternate language OR have hearing problems, buying this set will probably be a waste of time/money. Also, there's no commentary. It would have been great to hear various cast/crew talk about working with Cher, or that whole 80s Flashback 2-parter, or just various behind-the-scenes stuff, but, it wasn't meant to be, at least on this set. For season 4, I'd honestly just hunt down various other show-related extra materials, throw on a couple of commentary tracks, and be sure to include closed-captioning. Other than those few errors, however, it's a good set, and I recommend it for anyone who may already be a fan of the show, OR those who are just looking for several solid hours worth of great comedy.

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/19/04

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