Special Features: Season 7 Outtake Reel and Themed Featurettes
The seventh season of Will & Grace is now on DVD! The seventh season took place during the 2004-05 TV season. I’ll level with you right up front: season seven is EASILY my least favorite season of this show, by a mile. As with many long-running shows, the series was at its worst in its penultimate (next-to-last) season. The celebrity appearances were...not interesting, and the show seemed to border on self-parody at times.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
Like I said, this season is EASILY my least favorite, and I had to struggle to find some shows to discuss. However, as any writer faced with a writer’s block -- the Internet is my friend. In this instance, I ventured over to TV.com -- which actually is not a bad site most of the time. I think some folks just strongly miss TV Tome. I do too.
Anyway, I ventured over to TV.com and looked for episodes with a score of 9.0 or better -- usually a sign that the majority of folks who watched who were motivated to vote REALLY liked a show. Unfortunately, not a single episode of season 7, as of this writing, has a score greater than 9.0. The closest one has a score of 8.9 – “The Fabulous Baker Boy.” This episode, show 18 of the 7th season, can be found as the 5th show on disc 3 in this set. Karen wants her pastry chef fired. Will initially agrees to this, however, Will ultimately has problems bringing himself to do it when feelings get involved. All sorts of crazy feelings, involving the chef. And Will. And Karen. And Rosario. And Tic Tac Dough (That’s a game show, for those of you who don’t know). Meanwhile, if that wasn’t enough, Grace gets Jack to help launch boyfriend Nick’s writing career -- Jack, however, shatters Nick’s dreams.
Also scoring 8.9 is the episode “Queens for a Day.” Vince’s mother injures her leg, and as such won’t be able to make her traditional Italian Thanksgiving...Will to the rescue, however. Except that Vince’s mother refuses to give Will any credit whatsoever. Off elsewhere, Jack interacts with Vince’s sister, who’s keeping a secret from some folks. Meanwhile, Grace and Karen also wind up involved in the dealings with Vince’s family too. You know, I never quite got how when something happened to one person, all three others always got dragged along for the ride. I mean, Will and Grace I understand, but plot-wise sometimes it just didn’t make sense for Jack or Karen to be there. But then again given that Jack and Karen are why I like the show in the first place (particularly the latter), perhaps that’s not a bad thing.
In terms of guest stars...hoo boy, does this series have guest stars. Excluding recurring characters (such as Harry Connick Jr. as Leo, Debbie Reynolds as Grace’s mom Bobbi, etc.), you have: Jennifer Lopez as herself in the season premiere “FYI: I Hurt, Too,” Janet Jackson as herself in episode 2, “Back Up Dancer,” which also features Will Arnett -- not as himself. SNL-alum Molly Shannon is Val again in “One Gay at a Time.” Actor Roscoe Lee Brown, who guest starred on pretty much every show of the 1980s and 1990s, is in “The Newlydreads.” Rip Taylor, who *I* know best as host of The $1.98 Beauty Show (yet another game show that most of you reading this have probably never heard of), is in the episode Saving Grace, Again -- Part 2. Jamie-Lynn Sigler -- Meadow on The Sopranos -- plays Vince’s sister Ro in “Queens for a Day.” Jeff Goldblum guests in “Dance Cards & Greeting Cards.” Luke Perry guests in “The Birds & The Bees,” Sharon Stone guests in “The Blonde Leading the Blind,” Alec Baldwin appears in “Friends With Benefits” along with Seth Green. Baldwin reprises his role in the next episode, the season finale, entitled “Kiss & Tell.”
Standard issue for Will & Grace DVD sets. Outer box with a digipak inside. Front cover has the 4 cast members in a photo in the center, with the show title on top and the “Will & Grace” on bottom. Outer box is silver this time. Rear cover features the 4 cast members posing inside little circles. Consistent with the style theme set up by previous DVD sets. Digipak art is the same as the outer box, however, each of the interior panels contains a photo and details for episodes on various discs. Each of the four discs has as its artwork, the same circle photo for each individual cast member as used on the rear cover, appearing in a slightly pinkish-tint black and white. Like always, the disc art breakdown goes Will-Grace-Karen-Jack. The photo of Karen seems to have a slightly stronger tinting for some reason.
Menu Design and Navigation:
This season features a slightly more....sedated...menu than some past sets. Show logo appears at the top. Silver bars at the top and bottom, with a blue-ish bubble theme in the center. Five bubbles animate -- four being the same as the ones on the back cover/discs, the fifth featuring video of various clips. Main theme plays on an endless loop in the background. Play All Episodes and Episode Selections are the menu options, with the option to pull up the special features appearing on disc 4 only. Choosing episode selections causes the menu to animate out and then into the episode selections menu. This menu features a similar theme, with no animations. Each episode features a still image inside a bubble, with the title below it. The episode selected is indicated by a small blue circle overlapping part of the bubble.
Video and Audio Quality:
As fans of the show no doubt know, and have complained about endlessly, previous season DVD sets featured edited versions on some episodes -- mainly episodes that aired as either super-sized (40 minutes) or hour-long (60 minutes) on NBC. The former usually featured the edited-down versions used for syndication, while the latter also used syndication edits -- broken down into two split episodes.
The episodes are in full frame. 1.33:1. Will & Grace, I can confirm 100% absolutely, was broadcasting in Widescreen (HD for that matter) by no later than episode 11, Christmas Break. If the first 10 shows were in full frame and the rest in widescreen, I’d understand. But the rest of the episodes are in full frame too, and this bothers me. The video here does look fairly nice -- no flaws I can find, aside from the lopped off edges on the shows that should be widescreen. Audio is a crisp and clear Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with no audio defects. Chapter stops are placed at the end of each scene.
FYI: I Hurt, Too: 31:02
Back Up, Dancer: 21:20
One Gay at a Time: 21:02
Key Party: 21:18
The Newlydreads: 21:17
Will & Grace & Vince & Nadine: 21:17
Saving Grace Again, Part 1: 21:16
Saving Grace Again, Part 2: 21:21
Queens for a Day: 41:33
Christmas Break: 21:49
Board Games: 21:17
Bully Woolley: 21:19
Dance Cards and Greeting Cards: 21:19
The Birds and the Bees: 21:19
The Fabulous Baker Boy: 21:18
Sour Balls: 21:15
The Blonde Leading the Blind: 21:01
It’s a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World: 21:43
From Queer to Eternity: 21:17
Friends with Benefits: 21:18
Kiss and Tell: 21:10
Again: I can positively attest that the episodes from “Christmas Break” onwards aired in widescreen, so their appearance in full frame is disappointing.
Outtake Reel (7:35): This is what it is. This is a nice montage worth of bloopers.
Themed Featurettes (approx. 35 minutes total): This, as always, is Lionsgate way of recycling the same content again in order to produce something new and different. A grand total of 16 themes are presented, and a clip montage to each theme plays.
HDTV sales were still rather low in 2004 and 2005, so I guess they were just counting on not many people knowing the difference. The problem is that this is 2007 -- almost 2008 -- and as the show DID air in widescreen for at least part of the season, you need to have those episodes in widescreen on the DVD. For all the talk of unedited episodes, I was saddened to see full frame video, I really was. The video that’s there DOES look quite good. It’s just missing it’s left and right sides.
Next season the show goes live -- whenever the show went live, the show was performed live for both the east AND west coasts. Hopefully Lionsgate makes sure to include BOTH versions in the DVD, as they DID differ in several respects. Also make sure they’re in widescreen next time. And would it kill them to actually produce unique special features? Commentary tracks? Cast and crew interviews? I can’t stand “themed featurettes” -- heck, I don’t even like the *word* “featurette.” Just include some proper bonus features.
This is an average DVD set for a show that was rather weak at this point. I can only recommend to the die-hard fans of the show, and no one else. If you’re new to the show, this probably isn’t the season you want to start with. Buy an earlier season instead.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 1.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Final Score: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 12/13/07
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