I missed the writing credits at the beginning of the episode, so every time there was a particularly mean joke—usually at Maris’s expense—I got curious who wrote it. Anne Flett-Giordano and Chuck Ranberg, who’ve been the season’s sturdiest writers; outside the cheap mean jokes, they’re also saddled with a very “sitcom” sitcom episode, meaning it’s a situation only reasonable in a sitcom.
After a funny opening with Malcolm McDowell calling in as a guest on the radio show—a prominent psychiatrist (so Kelsey Grammers sucking up big time)—and a nice development when McDowell starts hitting on Peri Gilpin, we go to the apartment where the cast has gathered. David Hyde Pierce has a Maris-involved excuse for showing up, and a subsequently great scene with Jane Leeves, then John Mahoney gets home and duct tapes up his eyesore of a lounge chair, horrifying Grammer and Hyde Pierce.
After the aforementioned mean Maris jokes, Grammer gripes about the chair some and Hyde Pierce suggests they replace it in order to help Mahoney deal with his move from his own apartment to living with Grammer.
The replacement chair search is a very funny sequence and everything’s generally fine once Grammer makes the switch, until it turns out condo handyman and early nineties metal bonehead Phil Buckman threw out the old chair instead of putting it into a storage unit. The sitcom takes over here, with Mahoney enraged at Grammer for throwing out the chair; even though Grammer didn’t throw it out. It was an obvious accident and not even in Grammer’s direct control.
Mahoney then has a monologue about the chair’s importance, which is… fine. It ought to be better. But there are limits to credulity.
The resolution and chair rescue involve a fantastic guest star spot from Valerie Curtin, which is maybe better written than anything else in the episode, just all the moving parts. You could make a whole episode out of the last six or seven minutes.
It’s definitely a funny episode, but the jokes are usually easy or really easy.
Makes me wonder how it would’ve played had I known the writers during the show.