Let me start by saying that this is not a biased review. I am not a regular viewer of this show and I haven’t been for years, having found that the characters lacked depth and much of the dialogue was usually pretty insipid. While that still holds true in this episode, it nevertheless had me in stitches.
Although I stopped being a big fan of this show a few years ago, I wanted to see how they managed to pull off a live performance. Part of the reason, I suspect, was the joy of seeing the cast members performing live.
This episode, the season premier for Will and Grace's 8th year, was broadcast live in front of a studio audience, with no chance for second takes, and no room for error. Due to the different time zones in the United States, the cast and crew had to perform the entire show twice, once on the East Coast and then later on the West Coast. I was lucky enough to be able to watch both the East Coast and the West Coast live feeds.
I preferred the East Coast feed because of the freshness of the delivery, the camera angles, and directing. It felt *live*. There were a few more flubs in the East Coast presentation than in the West Coast one. In fact, the boom microphone was clearly visible in several scenes.
One thing that made both episodes very special, and especially funny, were Jack and Grace having a hard time keeping a straight face during one of their scenes together. In the East Coast feed, Grace manages to say her lines, but in the West Coast feed she just couldn't do it. Whether she forgot the lines or not is a mystery, but she instead plays with her hair and tries not to giggle.
Despite the obvious challenge of performing a sitcom live, the West Coast feed was slightly more polished, the deliveries were smoother, and the whole episode felt more like a regular episode than a live performance. One thing that makes the West Coast feed superior, however, is the fact that Will changed several of his lines. The new lines were, in my opinion, much funnier (for example: In the East Coast version, after Karen announces she has webbed feet, Will says that he always suspected she has a tail. In the West Coast version, he says he suspected she could catch flies with her tongue.)
When this season comes to DVD, I hope that they can create an amalgam of the two episodes, keeping the best parts of each. This was a wonderful episode, and well worth watching both times!