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We're in for a treat today! Jeff Greenstein, the extraordinary showrunner/writer (Dream On, Partners, Will & Grace, Jake in Progress...) has been persuaded by this very blog to compile his favorite episode titles of the ones he has written. I adore this list and I thought you all might enjoy it too!
"Lows in the Mid-Eighties." A flashback to 1985: Will and Grace have been dating for six weeks, and Will is increasingly certain he's gay. When he finally comes out to Grace, it nearly ends their friendship. David Kohan told me at the wrap party he thought it was the best title we ever had. Certainly it was one of the few that didn't contain a gay pun.
"Polk Defeats Truman." My very first W&G, with a suitably smarty-pants title. A hubristic Will Truman cuts loose all his faithful clients in order to service wealthy Harlan Polk (serendipitously, the character was already named that when I got there!); shortly thereafter, Polk cuts Will loose, and Will's business collapses. I even Photoshopped the famous photo for the script cover. These are the sorts of things you do when you're in a new job and are trying to impress people.
"The Weekend at the College Didn't Turn Out Like They Planned." This was the last of my Dream Ons, the longest episode title in the history of the series, the longest episode title I've ever seen, and a cool steal from a Steely Dan lyric (it's from "Reelin' in the Years"). When Martin and Judith take son Jeremy to visit Ithaca College, Martin and Judith end up sleeping together, rekindling their relationship; meanwhile, Jeremy thinks a hot coed has blatantly offered to sleep with him, but she definitely, definitely hasn't, and much embarrassment ensues.
"One Ball, Two Strikes." Also Dream On. Martin's obnoxious boss Gibby (Michael McKean) is convinced that all of his failures with women stem from the fact that he has only one testicle. Seriously. One of the funniest scripts I've ever been involved with (and the whole thing was David Crane's crazy idea). "It makes them ill, you see -- the thought of a man with only one plum in his lunch sack."
Dream On had lots of great titles, many of them smart parodies: "Three Coins in the Dryer" (Martin finds romance in the laundry room); "The Rocky Marriage Picture Show" (a photo album prompts Martin and Judith to revisit scenes from their stormy relationship); "The Trojan War" (Martin and a girlfriend debate whether to get an AIDS test so they can stop using condoms); "The Undergraduate" (Martin dates a college girl, then falls for her mother)...
All the Partners episode titles were questions, an idea I stole from a Garson Kanin novel, Cordelia? Hence gems like "'Why are the Blumenthals living in my house?" "Who's afraid of Ron and Cindy Wolfe?" "Soup or a movie?" and the inevitable series finale, "Will you marry me?"
The much-discussed Friends "The One..." bit initially hamstrung any writer's attempt to make a title interesting, but once Jeff & I entitled an episode "The One with the East German Laundry Detergent," all bets were off. And I loved that they called their hundredth episode "The One Hundredth."
Thank you, Jeff! Well, gentle readers, I think I'm going to have to work on a similar list myself! Stay tuned!
Lunch: the "kung pao spaghetti" from California Pizza Kitchen