blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s01e05 – Here’s Looking at You

It’s a very good episode overall—script courtesy Brad Hall, with able direction from Andy Ackerman—and an even better one for Jane Leeves. She’s gotten to do a lot of comedy to this point, but when it comes time for the heart part of the episode, it’s all her.

This episode also feels like the show’s moved past the establishing rhythms. You could watch it in any order in syndication and not worry about where it fits in air order. It’s basically subplot free, with David Hyde Pierce’s storyline about having to entertain his wife’s aunt, Kathleen Noone, while Maris has (predictably) come down with an ailment getting raveled into the main plot. The opening call, main plot, Peri Gilpin’s single significant anecdote, main plot.

Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) has gotten worried dad John Mahoney is too lazy. He gets concerned because of a similar situation from the opening caller (a very enthusiastic Jeff Daniels) and Gilpin telling him how her mom is the attorney general of Wisconsin doesn’t help him feel better. Gilpin’s mom being so prestigious throws Grammer for a temporary spin and him shaming Gilpin for talking to her mom about sex a few episodes ago has an echo. Not sure if it’s a nice echo exactly, but it gives Gilpin some nice passive character development at least.

Grammer’s solution for Mahoney is a telescope, which quickly turns into Mahoney communicating with a similarly aged, similarly telescope peeping woman in the apartment building across from them. Only it turns out Mahoney isn’t so wild about taking the next steps with the woman, for reasons Grammer can’t figure out and ones Leeves intuits. Mahoney gets a great scene talking to Grammer about said reasons, then Leeves gets that even better one talking to Mahoney about what she’s figured out. Excellent stuff.

There’s also the scene where Hyde Pierce brings Noone over to the apartment to meet Mahoney, which does not go well. In fact, it goes hilariously poorly. Hall’s script has that just right combination of layered jokes, immediate laughs, and heartfelt third act.

The episode does have Frasier talking on the phone to son Frederick for the first time—complete with a good Lilith joke—and establishes Frasier does indeed fly out to visit and isn’t a bad dad. Makes you wonder if episode five was enough time to get some notes back on the series after it started airing.

Regardless, it’s a good detail and gives Grammer a different bit of gristle. Because, again, strong script from Hall.

It’s another winner episode and a very nice first-in-series flex for Leeves.

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