‘Will & Grace’ Finds a New Friend as David Schwimmer Darkens Season 10

Grace Adler (Debra Messing) is getting political as “Will & Grace” opens season 10. No, she isn’t helping fulfill the grand promise to “make America gay again” she made at the start of season 9. She is running for president of the New York Society of Interior Designers, and starts her campaign fully stumped. She redesigned the lobby of the building she lives in, but apparently follows her own blueprint. Grace barely recognizes her neighbors, even the ones who’ve lived right downstairs from her for a generation, sometimes helping her with the most intimate crises she’s faced in her live.

Everybody knows Mrs. Timmer (Livia Treviño) without her having to tell anyone who she is, let alone erect a life-size cutout. Grace’s roommate, GBF and the series’ titular partner Will Truman (Eric McCormack) knows her well enough to give the impression he is married to the campaigning lobbyist. Will and Grace’s self-absorbed yoga-addicted, sometimes acting coach Jack (Sean Hayes) can spot her a mile away, from behind, without even looking. But not Grace, her public outreach only goes as far as her own designs.

Grace has designs on Noah (David Schwimmer), known throughout the city as the West Side Curmudgeon because of a bitchy blog he writes. Noah doesn’t particularly like Grace upon meeting her in hopes of some free finger foods, and tweets a wry observation. That she’s running for president of the dumbest made up thing ever. It’s not really that bad a tweet, it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of the Twitter war Murphy Brown had with President Trump on the opening of the “Murphy Brown” reboot. But the idea that someone who people recognize and look up to might not like Grace is too much for the neurotic New Yorker.

Grace walks away from her initial contact thinking Noah is like a dog who growls at everyone but runs up and licks her until his last lick threatens to go viral. His character is like most columnists, once they’ve given their public opinion, like a Yelp rating or a Ripoff Report posting, they don’t take that back. That’s their schtick and Schwimmer does it well. The actor has been on the receiving end of quite a few barbs from critics. He was on one of the most popular sitcoms of its time, but he didn’t have Jennifer Aniston’s hair or Matthew Perry’s sidelong delivery.

Noah doesn’t like Grace’s vision for a beautified city. Who wants to live in a world where there are more cupcakes shops than porno theaters? New York still needs Little Mike’s, Lincoln Cinemas and vice so conveniently obtainable you can get it at one of the thousands of Duane Reades which have appeared on every intersection. The pre-Disneyfied New York is gone and “Friends” was part of the problem. Taking on the must-see TV comedy night slot, it took the premise of a groundbreaking show about nothing, “Seinfeld,” fueled by casual irreverence and New York nihilism, and made it about something: A group of young, needy New Yorkers no one in the city would personally give a shit about, especially the one with the hair of the week. So it is with “Will and Grace,” which plays into every easy stereotype and passes it off as empowering, a show that begs a million questions no one wants to ask.

Will and Karen (Megan Mullally) have the best repartee of the night. Will is Karen’s lawyer in a fashion war and is supposed to have her back, and a little up front and maybe some off the top. If you can’t trust Satan who can you trust? The perennially needling pair are clearly uncomfortable with each other in a very comfortable way, even if Will’s attempts at clever wordplay are unimpressive to the wealthy drug-addled Karen.

The best physical humor comes during Jack’s adventures with his cell phone. Worried that he is beginning to look his age, Jack trowels enough skin cream on his face to schmear a bagel before he realizes it causes facial numbness. The scene is reminiscent of Eugene Levy’s dentist office altercation with Tom Hanks in the landed mermaid comedy “Splash.”

Grace notes Noah’s character is only truly comforted by the thought that every moment wasted with her brings him a second closer to death. The season 10 opener of “Will and Grace” brings all its viewers thirty minutes closer to death.

Will & Grace” season 10 premieres on Oct. 4 and airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.