Frasier (1993) s01e20 – Fortysomething

I immediately recognized Reba McEntire as the caller this episode, which is strange because I’m pretty sure I based it entirely on who they could be having as a guest in 1994 with an accent like McEntire’s. Though I suppose it’s possible Tremors is burnt deep into the grey matter.

McEntire’s call, which has a considerable punchline, sets up Kelsey Grammer for the “senior moment” of forgetting Peri Gilpin’s name. In the twenty-five years since the episode aired, we now know “senior moments” happen all throughout life and you just don’t ascribe particular meaning to them until you’re worried about getting old. So when Grammer freaks out—and Gilpin gets in some great jokes at his expense (very good Sy Dukane and Denise Moss script)—it kicks off an episode of mid-life crises for Grammer.

Mid-life, as David Hyde Pierce later points out, because he’s in his forties and is he really going much past eighty?

Grammer does get a little more sympathy from John Mahoney, who’s already been through the mid-life crisis and recovered. Or survived. But when a shop girl (Sara Melson) half his age flirts with him at the department store, Grammer starts buying a whole bunch of expensive pants for the attention. Mahoney dismisses it as Melson trying to make the commission but when Melson’s delivering Grammer’s pants to him at the station, she asks him out, setting him into internal turmoil.
Grammer’s turmoil has the added tension of knowing 1994 might not be far enough along for them not to just do Frasier and his teenage girlfriend, but the episode resolves perfectly. Melson’s fine but not distinct. Dan Butler’s got a good scene; he thinks Grammer needs to grab Melson and hold on. Though there is a gay joke about Butler, implying he’s projecting the macho. I think slash hope it’s a reference to Butler actually being gay….

It’s a more introverted episode and a good one. Dukane and Moss crack it and Grammer does well; he’s got to drag out the kvetching for long enough to get to the shop girl introduction. He makes it happen.

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