The revival will premiere in fall 2017 with all four original actors reprising their popular roles.
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The Fab Four are back. And not much has changed.
We’re in a golden age of TV revivals. Gilmore Girls fans were able to finally hear the famed “final four words” of the series. Arrested Development is getting a fifth season at Netflix. And, now, Will & Grace is dancing back onto NBC Thursday (9 ET/PT, ** ½ out of four), and it’s already been renewed for a second season.
At its outset, the new version of Will & Grace appears to have trapped its four main characters in amber for the 11 years since it went off the air. Will (Eric McCormack) is single again, Grace (Debra Messing) is divorced and “temporary” roommates with Will, Jack (Sean Hayes) speaks with the same inflections and Karen (Megan Mullally) is still uber-wealthy, uber-selfish and working for Grace. The fast-paced dialogue, frequent pop-culture references and cast chemistry remain.
The feeling of being frozen in time is harshly apparent in the premiere episode, which is essentially a longer version of the “get out the vote” short the foursome made in 2016 that led to this reunion. It finds them all at the White House for outlandish reasons and uses the trip as an excuse to make tired Trump jokes that were better made by other entertainers. As exhausting as the Trump focus is, the bigger issue is that it throws away the events of what fans thought was the series finale in a rushed opening that explains why Will and Grace are once again living together.
However, the second and third episodes do a much better job re-introducing the characters. Rather than brushing over the events of the past decade, they lean into the ways even sitcom characters had to have changed in that time, whether that’s aging (a problem not even Karen and Jack can avoid) or Grace’s divorce from Leo (Harry Connick Jr.).
The second episode is a particular standout, homing in on the fact that the series follows a generation older and more established by…