Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! As you know, Sitcom Tuesdays have been looking at the original Will & Grace (1998-2006, NBC), a Must See TV staple from the turn-of-the-century. We’ve been discussing what it means to have been one of the “MSTV” series; among NBC’s frequently employed stunts was the use of “supersized” episodes — extended broadcasts of hit Thursday shows that the Peacock Network deployed during Sweeps, starting in the 2000-’01 TV season, to not only deflate the competition, but also to temporarily remove underperforming hammock shows from the schedule so ad prices could be set with higher-rated efforts.
This would mean, for example, that instead of a two-hour block consisting of half-hour episodes of Friends, Cursed, Will & Grace, and Just Shoot Me!, there’d be a two-hour block featuring 40-minute episodes of Friends, Will & Grace, and Just Shoot Me! That was the most frequent supersized strategy, but sometimes episodes would be extended by just a few minutes — to take away ad time for lesser series — and after this stunt was introduced in February 2001, it became a recurring device during Thursday’s Sweeps periods starting in the 2002-’03 season.
The total number of supersized Will & Grace episodes is in the double digits. Fortunately, I have the majority of these special broadcasts — the only notable one I’m missing and would like to have is the original showing of Season Six’s “Strangers With Candice” (let me know if you have it). So, I want to share a pair of these with you — from May 2003, the last two episodes of Season Five, simply titled “23” and “24,” which initially included approximately five and seven minutes, respectively, of extra footage not seen since in syndication/DVD/streaming.
For subscribers interested in obtaining copies of these episodes — which may be highlighted in next week’s post on the best from Season Five (stay tuned) — as they were first seen in their original supersized broadcasts, please comment below to alert me of your interest!
Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more Will & Grace!