blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s01e11 – Death Becomes Him

I’ve got to stop being so surprised when Kelsey Grammer basically gets an episode to himself. It’s his show, it just happens to have a phenomenal supporting cast. I was going to say scene-stealing but they aren’t. No one crowds anyone out in “Frasier,” it’s exceptionally balanced.

This episode is all about Grammer getting neurotic about death because, after the family finds out John Mahoney hasn’t been going to his doctor, Grammer takes him to see a guy in David Hyde Pierce’s building. Only the doctor dies and sends Grammer on a spiral of death preparations, like his will. Only he doesn’t know what everyone wants so he gives them labels so they can affix their names to wanted items.

Leading to a running joke through the rest of the episode about Grammer finding everything Hyde Pierce has already claimed.

It also leads to a nice conversation between Grammer and Mahoney, where Mahoney gets to do a reasonably dramatic scene but then get in a good punchline. Good script from Leslie Eberhard.

The episode resolves with Grammer crashing the dead doctor’s shiva and bumbling his way through as he bullshits. He’s pretending he knew the doctor, trying to figure out why the guy—who was the same-ish age as Grammer—has died.

It’s during Grammer’s visit with the widow, Stephanie Dunnam, where everything in the episode clicks, thanks to Eberhard’s script, and Grammer gets an excellent moment of acting and character development.

Peri Gilpin gets a good scene dealing with Grammer during his ranting with a nice punchline about why they talk about her sex life as opposed to his. Then Hyde Pierce has this running joke about trying to appear buff for Jane Leeves’s benefit, which is predictably ludicrous. Some very good laughs with that one. There’s some amazing physical comedy from Hyde Pierce this episode—he’s got to open a jar for Leeves and you can feel his muscles strain and suffer at the effort.

So, excellent episode. No surprise. Though I guess a little surprise because I forgot Grammer could protagonist excellent episodes on his own.

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