It was a big, gay evening on network television last night. Oh, yes. Let's get to it:
While some might argue that the second-ever live episode of "Will & Grace" constituted a "stunt," I don't see how it was much of a gimmick. This is a show in an extended swan song that is not looking to be picked up for next season, and which is not even in a sweeps period where it could adjust its ad rates to capitalize.
To me, it was a sign of a cast and crew that have grown comfortable with the idea of walking a tightrope without a net. So once again, they went live, sending their audience an early Valentine.
And they made it almost all the way to the end before the cast crack-ups began (for the East Coast feed, anyway), as opposed to the season premiere. The plot was almost incidental, but it involved the gang going to Karen's birthday party and finding out that she had held such parties for herself the previous 10 years without their knowledge. This precipitates an argument about whose fault it was that Karen would be so embarrassed by them, leading to an elaborate toiletry fight.
[Watch video – 4:06, WMV format, high bandwidth]
[Watch video – 4:06, WMV format, low bandwidth]
Switching over to ABC, I caught the series premiere of "Crumbs." Fred Savage of "The Wonder Years" plays Mitch Crumb. Mitch is a little like Michael Bluth of "Arrested Development," in that he is putatatively the sanest member of a family that is spiraling out of control around him. (Is it a coincidence that Savage's character shares a first name with Mitch Hurwitz, the creative mind who gave life to the Bluths?)
But Mitch is actually struggling with at least two secrets: Back home, only a girlfriend from high school knows that he is gay. And he is also not the screenwriting success that he is believed to be.
As George Costanza might say, "worlds collide" when Mitch returns home to Connecticut from Los Angeles to tend to his mother (Jane Curtin) as she transitions out of a mental institution. She had been there ever since she tried to run down her ex-husband (William Devane) in a car after he ran off with a younger woman.
Mitch's first scene on camera had him answering the phone in bed. When I saw a big lump under the covers next to him, I thought we might be going where "Will & Grace" never dared to go. But then his boyfriend (with a twist) emerged from the bathroom in a bathrobe, toweling off his hair. No nookie for you, Kevin Arnold!
Truth be told, I was disappointed in the premiere. I found it uneven and rudderless, with jarring attempts at drama interspersed with the comic antics. There might be time for growth and improvement, but networks aren't known much for their patience.
It is always good to see more gay characters on television, even if they're closeted. Too bad this one probably won't be around for long.
[Watch video – 4:26, WMV format, high bandwidth]
[Watch video – 4:26, WMV format, low bandwidth]