Steven Levitan wrote this episode. Levitan’s one of the few sitcom people whose names I recognize. I didn’t realize he’d done “Frasier.” Turns out this is his first of four episodes. Recognizing the writer (though not remembering he hadn’t contributed a script to credit level before Seat), I paid the writing a lot of attention. Even when there are distractions like trying to identify the celebrity caller (it’s Macaulay Culkin, it’d be concerning if anyone could recognize him in 1994 when it aired) and then a somewhat funny Roz (Peri Gilpin) scene. It’s Gilpin’s only scene in the episode; it’s memorable enough, I guess.
And it does bury the proverbial lede. It’s going to be a Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce episode and it’s going to involve Hyde Pierce confronting his childhood bully. I’m not sure if the Crane boys going to public school was always canon (it almost seems like it wouldn’t be), but it’s definitely what the episode goes with. The episode’s theme—Levitan gives it a theme—is about the Crane boys trying to feel more manly even if they are snobs with European cars. After John Mahoney heckles Grammer for not being able to fix his own toilet, Grammer and Hyde Pierce give it the Crane Brothers go.
So we get this hilarious scene of Grammer and Hyde Pierce trying to do home repairs—including the first look at the apartment’s gigantic master bathroom (because they need pacing room)—but it’s just a bit on the way to the main event. The plumber turns out to be John C. McGinley, who bullied Hyde Pierce in elementary school.
Hyde Pierce goes through a very physical, very funny meltdown while Grammer tries to contain him. Hijinks and complications and hilarity ensue. It’s a great episode. Nice developments for Grammer, Mahoney, and Jane Leeves throughout. Hyde Pierce gets a bunch of spotlight moments, which the rest of the cast shares. They’re really good together (it’s an apartment-based episode so everyone’s around).
James Burrows’s direction is good. It’s always good. Sometimes you can just tell it’s one of his episodes though, based on the pacing of the actors.
It’s another good exemplar episode.