blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s02e18 – The Club

It’s a quintessential “Frasier” if only because it plays with some very familiar, very ingrained snob tropes. Writers Elias Davis and David Pollock did another episode earlier this season—and The Club is their final contribution to the series, unfortunately—and have a great handle on the characters. The successful “guest” writers (i.e. not also an exec, co-exec, assistant, co-, or assistant co-producer) who are able to write a great “Frasier” are in some ways more interesting than the regular excellent scripts; they end up showcasing how well the pieces of “Frasier” work together.

For example, the joke here isn’t just brothers Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce) competing to join a stuck-up men’s social club, but also with Grammer having to bring Jane Leeves along as his date and Hyde Pierce having to additionally contend with that development. When the brothers start fighting, Peri Gilpin is on the sidelines and gets to participate. There’s time for a touching—well, sitcom touching—moment between John Mahoney and Grammer. It’s just a well-constructed half hour show and a fine showcase for the series and its adaptability. Specifically the cast’s adaptability.

And even though Grammer gets the big character development moment and we follow his arc, he’s really in the more reserve position this episode. The initial club stuff is a Hyde Pierce moment, the first visit to the club with Leeves gives her the best material (and reminds we don’t get to see Leeves in action enough), and then the finale is all Hyde Pierce’s. It’s such a well-balanced show.

There’s some fun Crane brothers banter before they get mad at each other, cute Eddie stuff, Gary Sinise being the guest-caller, and a truly fantastic last minute twist to get an even stronger finale.

And there’s even an “Eddie's muffin” (versus Chekhov’s gun), a familiar device the show uses often with jokes but either hasn’t lately or I haven’t noticed.

So The Club. Very good showcase episode.

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