“Frasier” went out on a high point and returns for its new season strong and assured—with a new writer to the series, Martin Weiss, and James Burrows’s ably directing as always. After a quick phone call to the show from James Spader, we get to the main plot. Or we get introduced to the main plot. It’s fall 1994 and Bridges of Madison County was selling like hot cakes and “Frasier” introduces an analogue, Slow Tango in South Seattle. Roz (Peri Gilpin) is so taken with the book she’s reading it during the show, which pisses off Kelsey Grammer.
Especially after he starts reading it—in that perfect Grammer voice—and mocks it. Only then he realizes he knows the author, played by a pre-J. Peterman John O'Hurley (how weird must it be to see O’Hurley during his soap career post-Seinfeld). O’Hurley was a drinking buddy at Cheers, though not on “Cheers” itself, and stole the story of Grammer losing his virginity (to his piano teacher at age seventeen) for the novel.
We don’t find out about the story stealing until a little bit later into the episode, after it’s established Jane Leeves is reading the book too. After everyone finds out–John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce fight with each other to get at Leeves’s copy—Grammer’s able to confront O’Hurley, who’s at the station doing a reading for a book show, only to discover he’s not getting the closure he needs.
The only way to get that closure—according to Hyde Pierce, who’s truly phenomenal in this episode, going above and beyond with his material—is to apologize to the piano teacher. After all, seventeen year-old Frasier skipped out on her—which leads to Leeves smacking him occasionally for being a shitty man and it’s hilarious.
The episode’s beautifully paced—Weiss gets in time with the family, time with the radio station (great scene for Dan Butler too), and then the resolution at the piano teacher’s house, presumably somewhere in South Seattle.
The conclusion, involving guest stars Constance Towers and Myra Carter, is absolutely hilarious and I can’t spoil.
Great dialogue, particularly for Mahoney and Gilpin. Grammer’s really good mixing the funny with the heart. Hyde Pierce’s physical performance is so good.
Very strong start for season two; also, turns out Weiss never wrote another “Frasier,” which is a shame because Slow Tango could definitely use A Thousand Seattle Streets for Niles.