First yay, Lily Tomlin as caller cameo. Second yay, writer Dave Hackel (a seasoned sitcom vet who only will end up writing this one episode) knows how to give Peri Gilpin some great material. Very different from last season—she’s not desperate here, she’s just enthusiastically sexually active.
Third yay… the episode’s all about adorable dogs, whether it’s Jack Russell Terrier Eddie or all the Jack Russell Terrier puppies he unintentionally fathers… it’s wall-to-wall adorable dogs.
The accidental fathering, leading to Kelsey Grammer trying to get rid of a box of puppies, including hawking them on air, is just the setup for the main plot. Eddie runs away after Frasier (Grammer) takes him down to get the boys cut off; dad Martin (John Mahoney) follows Grammer down, they get in a fight, Eddie runs off.
What’s really nice about Hackel’s script is how much he sets up the eventual heart-to-heart between Grammer and Mahoney; from the first scene, he’s laying out Eddie muffins (what you call a Chekhov gun in “Frasier”). Just little things. Even Mahoney being exasperated with Grammer, just in Mahoney’s banter with Jane Leeves are Grammer’s sock ironing requirements.
There’s also time for a couple really nice David Hyde Pierce scenes, one with Leeves, another with Mahoney and Grammer while they look for Eddie. Hyde Pierce’s second scene involves him just doing voice work for the majority of his time there and he’s absolutely fantastic. Voice work, physical work, Hyde Pierce never walks away with “Frasier” and the show never spotlights him to the extent it’d ignore another actor but it can’t help being a showcase for him. He’s so good.
And Hackel does an excellent job with the heart-to-heart. Mahoney doesn’t go in for the psychiatry stuff, which causes some major resistance to Grammer wanting to make observations but once they get talking, things get worked out and quite nicely. There’s even a cute resolve with Eddie.
Before the subsequent funny end credits scene.
It’s a very good episode; Rick Beren’s direction is strong; I wish Hackel would’ve written another.