Saturday, October 28, 2017

REVIEW: NBC's 'Will & Grace,' 'Great News' and 'Chicago Fire' (October 22-28)

Various reviews from NBC shows for October 22-28, 2017:

NBC's Will & Grace - Episode 9.05 "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying"
NBC's Great News - Episode 2.05 "Night of the Living Screen"
NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 6.05 "Devil's Bargain"

In 2017, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage of various shows, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on NBC from October 22-28, 2017. Enjoy!

Will & Grace - "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying"
Grace tries for her biggest job yet: decorating a string of boutique hotels for an obnoxious mogul. Will is surprised at his reaction to making Senior Partner. Beverly Leslie discloses his secret to Karen. Jack owns half of a winning lottery ticket. Written by Alex Herschlag and directed by James Burrows

I've learned recently that the show is filming its subplots separately and closer to the airdate of each episode in order to include more topical humor. That's how we've gotten stuff like Karen throwing paper towels at Tony and Karen making a joke about Harvey Weinstein. And yet, it feels like a very disjointed way to film a show like this. Yes, there's a uniformity in director. James Burrows is helming each episode this season just like he did on the original show. But this episode feels especially scattered. There's no big unifying theme. It's four stories that barely have anything to do with each other. At only 20 minutes, it means that none of them can really handle the depth that highlights the show at its best. Each episode has been an improvement over the last so far this season. This one bucks that trend and leaves me a little worried just like the premiere did. I want to see these characters interacting with one another. Yes, it can be amusing to have Karen and Jack dealing with various people they dislike. But there's no real substance to those stories. Meanwhile, Will's existential crisis about his job doesn't feel grounded in anything. He's freaking out just so the plot can build to that moment in the end where he and Grace decide to go into business together. They think it's a smart idea because of the new contract Grace has landed. And yet, it feels like a terrible idea. It's terrible because the show basically wastes Max Greenfield. He does nothing in this actual story. Meanwhile, what would a business partnership between Will and Grace actually entail? How do a lawyer and decorator work in the same company in a way that is beneficial to both? It just seems like a ton of setup in order for there to be more tension between them. As such, it feels too complicated to be all that effective. Plus, how can the show tell a Harvey Weinstein joke in the same episode where the plot revolves around Grace trying to pimp Will out to land a client? That's very off-putting. D+

Great News - "Night of the Living Screen"
Katie realizes that while she has been working her way up at MMN, her friends have been getting married, having kids and buying houses in New Jersey. Feeling pressure to impress them on Instagram with the hip New York City lifestyle that she has chosen instead, she lucks into going to a very cool Halloween party with Portia. Chuck has been asked to use a new smart screen on the show, and in an attempt to get out of this seemingly impossible task, tries to convince Carol that it is possessed. Written by Robert Padnick and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.

This episode is very effective because of how completely absurd and ridiculous it is. It's fun to see the escalation of events happening in the main story. Yes, it's the show embracing a quality with Katie it has done before. She is desperate to be liked and ends up embarrassing herself in a public way. But the execution here really is delightful. Her friendship with Portia is always an amusing story. Portia has this life away from the show while the show defines the lives of everyone else. As such, Katie wants to be a part of Portia's world. It's a very specific world. One that gets more and more crazy with every line that comes out of Portia's mouth. One that also has the potential to bankrupt Katie as she tries to chase the appearance of an extravagant life in the city. But it's then terrific that Portia is the one to reveal the deception going on in this Instagram war Katie is having with her former childhood friend. I'm not sure Cecily Strong gets a whole lot to do in this role. The outcome is pretty predictable because the audience knows that it's impossible to be that perfect. But it's still fairly amusing in the execution because of Portia and Katie's reactions. Meanwhile, it's great to see how Carol genuinely believes that everything can be haunted during Halloween. She's very superstitious and freaks out everyone else in the office. Chuck exploiting that to get out of learning how to operate a new piece of technology is fitting for him as well. Plus, it's great to see both Chuck and Carol reflect on their actions as of late because of the few words that this touchscreen monitor is telling them. They go on this wide array of emotions and ultimately land in a place where they can resolve to do better. It's very funny and epically wild to watch. B+

Chicago Fire - "Devil's Bargain"
Casey and Severide find themselves at odds over the best way to save a teenager entangled in barbed wire. When Casey looks to Boden for help smoothing out the situation, he comes to the realization that he will have to fix it himself. Otis tries to convince Casey to participate in the beta test for an expensive piece of new firefighting equipment imported from Japan. Kidd and Hope come to blows over a payroll issue. Brett goes on a date with a doctor she meets during an ambo call. Written by Michael Gilvary and directed by Jono Oliver

It's clear that the show wanted some tension in the Casey-Severide relationship because of Casey's promotion to captain. They are no longer on equal footing in the firehouse. As such, they have a difference of opinion on a call. And yet, it all feels very manufactured. There is no genuine reason for this tension to go on for as long as it does. There's no reasonable explanation for why either of their strategies could have led to a more successful rescue for this guy trapped in barbed wire. It's likely that he would have lost his leg no matter what. So, why is this tension between them such a big deal? It mostly just reaffirms that Casey is in a grumpy headspace right now. He's been that way since his promotion because of all the new responsibilities. But it also feels like it has been awhile since he has just been happy. That's a problem because this show strives to be more optimistic than the others in the franchise. Casey's awkwardness can only be chalked up to a learning curve as a captain for so long. He's not suddenly in a leadership position after being a follower for a long time. He should know better than he seemingly does. Meanwhile, I wonder if there should have been more ambiguity to the story of Kidd's missing paycheck. Kidd is right to question if Hope did something to it in order to make her seem like a hero in the end. It's very manipulative and a way to hopefully endear herself to the firehouse even more by showing how far she'll go for the person who actively hates her. Brett questions it as well despite being Hope's biggest defender. That's only because of the awkward story of her going out on a date with a married man. That story has no purpose other than to say Brett is too trusting. That's not a bad thing at all. But here, it is positioned as such. And then, the show confirms that Hope really is devious. I'm just curious if that was the right call. Would it have been better if the audience didn't have an easy answer to this story as well? Maybe. Either way, it basically signals that Hope isn't destined to stay in this job for very long. B-