I missed the writing credit on this episode and I’m glad I did. Seeing it’s Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano is icing. Candidate’s the team’s first script this season (they did a bunch last season) and it’s great. It’s also a bit risqué for a network sitcom as far as politics goes, especially since—I’m not sure it was widely known at the time—star Kelsey Grammer’s a conservative and Frasier Crane is very much not. Yes, Grammer and brother David Hyde Pierce are liberal, intellectual smooth talkers but the show’s very careful to show they’re not on the wrong side of the issues.
Grammer just ends up endorsing the wrong guy, because the guy—guest star Boyd Gaines, who’s so perfectly straight-faced for it—believes he was abducted by aliens, which Grammer finds out while recording a television commercial supporting him.
The only reason Grammer wants to throw his celebrity weight into the ring is because dad John Mahoney does a TV spot for the Republican candidate. The additional joke of the conservative being played by Sydney Pollack (albeit telephonically) reminds what a thin rope shows had to walk just to do this kind of episode at all.
Of course, even with Grammer’s confounded television spot, nothing can compare to Mahoney’s, which has him showing off the scar on the back of his thigh, trousers down; it becomes a great running joke.
Luck Hari is back as the coffee shop barista who suffers through some of Grammer’s White liberal guilt (as it relates to appropriate places to support coffee grounds from); she hasn’t been around since last season finale, when she was the protagonist. It’s a good scene.
Some great Dan Butler, some great Peri Gilpin—including her telling Grammer to knock off the slut-shaming—it’s just a really good episode.
About halfway through I started sustained laughing and didn’t stop until the end. Nice James Burrows direction too.