Despite some very silly—and funny (well, not really Paul Mazursky’s call, it’s Paul Mazursky after all)—opening shenanigans, it quickly turns into a very dramatic episode.
The opening antics involve station “Star Trek” nerd Patrick Kerr—weird how Paramount self-advertised its properties in the nineties—organizing a petition to get an homage to Peri Gilpin on “Trek.” It’s kind of lazy writing from Ian Gurvitz, but he makes up for it going forward. It’s funny, it’s just easy.
The main plot is Maris going missing, causing David Hyde Pierce to panic… after a delay; Maris not speaking to him for three days straight doesn’t raise any eyebrows. There’s a big scene at Hyde Pierce’s house with the family—Kelsey Grammer gets there last, John Mahoney is already phoning his cop buddies to put out a search—“thin, very thin; Caucasian, very Caucasian” is a great bit—and Jane Leeves gets to do her psychic thing for the first time in a while.
It’s a really funny scene (you’ve got to wonder how Maris not being an actual character affected the trajectory of long-term story arcs), culminating in Grammer butting into Hyde Pierce’s martial problems to offer some advice. Much to Mahoney’s chagrin, which is going to be a running subplot with a great punchline.
It quickly turns into a Hyde Pierce showcase and a very good one. Grammer—and Mahoney—still get things to do and there’s a fun small bit for Leeves, but it’s Hyde Pierce’s show in the end. Great supporting work from Irene Olga López as the maid too.
And although Philip Charles MacKenzie’s been doing a fine job directing most of the season’s episodes, this one is the first where it’s particularly well-done. The way the episode toggles from comedy to drama and back, sometimes in the span of a sentence or two, is outstanding.
It’s one of those exemplar “Frasier” episodes.
Oh, and the end credit bit is pretty great too.