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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Ned and Stacey: The Complete First Season (review)

There was a time, though it is little remembered now, when Debra Messing (The Wedding Date) wasn’t quite the desperately annoying woman-child of Will & Grace and was, instead, merely the mildly irritating stereotypical New York neurotic Stacey, who marries pompous ass Ned (Thomas Haden Church: Sideways) merely to live in his fabulous, rent-controlled apartment overlooking Central Park (he needs a trophy wife to advance his advertising career). This 1995 debut season of the sitcom that’s generally considered the predecessor to Will & Grace suffers from the standard plagues of American sitcoms — obviousness and crudity, for starters — but it is saved by Haden Church, who maintains a wicked cynicism throughout all 24 episodes that refuses to bow to the sentimental tendencies of the format. Still, it’s something like overkill that what is essentially a forgettable, throwaway diversion has been remastered for high-definition, as if it were the stuff of ages. The sparse extras are limited to audio commentary on the pilot and a 20-minute promo that includes interviews with Messing and Haden Church.


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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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