The reboot of Will and Grace has been so successful that the producers have given fans a Christmas present a bonus episode that airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
Titled A Gay Olde Christmas, the half-hour follows the shows quick-witted quartet as they romanticize a bygone New York when they cant get into a trendy restaurant for their traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Cue the whining. Will (Eric McCormack) leads everyone outside before Grace (Debra Messing) has had a chance to use the ladies room.
The quartet ends up in the Immigrant Historical Society (which keeps strange hours), wondering if Grace can use the facility. The owner wont let them unless they take a tour. They have no choice.
Karen (Megan Mullally) thinks its going to get ugly as old New York was a time before face lifts, but Will, leafing through a book of photographs, is more optimistic. Imagine how great New York was back then, he says, dreaming of horse-drawn carriages and carols sung by candlelight.
Hes in for a rude awakening. They enter the fully preserved tenement of Irish widow Karolyn OSullivan as she faces a poverty-stricken Christmas, circa 1912. OSullivan is played by Mullally, who, dressed in an apron, spectacles, and a frumpy skirt, wakes up to a roomful of hungry children. I had the nicest dream, she says in an Irish brogue. None of you were here.
Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan work their political commentary on this countrys policies on immigration, the poor and gay life in a series of deft and funny scenes in which Karolyn meets a new boarder, sailor John Patrick McGee (Hayes), who sympathizes with her plight when her smug landlord (Eric McCormack) shows up to collect the rent and his eyes take a walk all over McGees muscular form.
Sensing the landlords secret nature, the sailor convinces the desperate widow to let him seduce the landlord in exchange for the months rent.
The jokes, many of them clever and sexual in nature, come fast and furious , delivered by a smart cast that keep getting better and better. When Karolyn feigns great shock that her boarder has lain with men, the sailor responds, Ive had sex with men yes but only on a boat.
On his second visit to the apartment to collect the rent, the landlord brings his sex-starved wife, Fanny (Debra Messing), who is festooned in a massive gray velvet cape. The widow borrows a page from Karens book and says, 1888 called and theyd like their drapes back.
Fanny is shocked that the OSullivan children hide in the closet to avoid the landlords prying eyes. Whats wrong with living in the closet? McCormack says.
When the quartet ends the tour, rose-colored glasses fallen away, they realize how good they have it in 2018 and Grace launches into a horrifying rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, for which she is rewarded with a snowball, thrown off-set, smack on her forehead.
To celebrate the shows success, the producers show outtakes of the actors blowing their lines and goofing round on set.
Nostalgia may not work when touring a tenement museum but it has served NBC well. Bringing back Will & Grace is one of the best ideas any network president ever had.