Dark Victory has three writers—Christopher Lloyd, Linda Morris, Vic Rauseo—except Morris and Rauseo are a team and Lloyd is a solo guy usually so the disjointed flow makes sense. It’s the season finale, it’s got to get to some kind of season finale moment, except it’s a sitcom and it doesn’t have a cliffhanger. I can still remember the first season finale… and I remember it being a lot more successful. Not sure if the memory would’ve been as fresh at the time.
It probably doesn’t help they continually reference a previous season episode where Kelsey Grammer forgot John Mahoney’s birthday—this episode takes place at the next year’s make-up party and Grammer wants to make sure it’s perfect.
It is not, of course, perfect, with an eventual city-wide blackout markedly improving everyone’s experience.
The episode opens with a contrived but effective enough story about Roz (Peri Gilpin) being sad she couldn’t go home for her family reunion. Basically because she’s single and doesn’t have a good enough job for her relatives to think it makes up for her being single.
There are some good cheese puns (she’s from Wisconsin).
So Grammer invites her over to the Crane apartment for the evening’s festivities, but when he arrives home, he finds Mahoney and Jane Leeves in the middle of a huge argument. What’s the problem? Mahoney doesn’t want to do his physical therapy and he’s mean about it. So they’re yelling at each other. Then David Hyde Pierce shows up yelling at Grammer because of a work thing.
They calm down momentarily when Gilpin arrives for the party, only to descend again into yelling. Just as Gilpin’s slinking out away from the bickering Cranes, the power goes out.
At this point, we still haven’t gotten to the concept of the concept episode. See, Grammer’s going to therapist to each of the cast members and it’s going to put the season to bed. Except it’s still a sitcom so he’s basically helping them with the problems they’ve mentioned in this episode alone. Sure, there’s the characters’ ground situations, but they’re not significantly different from the previous season’s.
And, worse of all, Grammer has the least. It’s his show and when it’s his turn for the “share your pain” moment… it’s contrived filler.
Thank goodness they’ve got so much goodwill—and Eddie (Moose) the dog—to save the day.
It’s fine; it’s amusing and well-acted—James Burrows’s direction is oddly flat; it’s good. It’s just not great. It’s more concerned with being a season finale than a good episode.
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