I miss guessing when an actor will be directing an episode based on their character going out of town for the show. The episode opens with Kelsey Grammer rushing through one last call to the show—my “Frasier” ears are broken because I had no idea it was Jodie Foster and I tried on this one—before flying east to visit his son. I think they first mentioned these regular cross-continental visits in the first season, but I don’t think we’ve seen one until now.
Or not seen one. And, yes, indeed, Grammer’s directing. He picks a choice episode to do as well, all about Jane Leeves teaching David Hyde Pierce how to dance for his first date since his separation. At some point in the lessons—they have a week to prepare—the date cancels, putting Hyde Pierce into the position of having to give up the dance lessons with his dream girl, which leads to some good material for Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney. Having a break from Grammer and letting the supporting cast develop outside supporting him… works for the show. And Grammer’s direction is excellent.
The dancing’s good, the plot twists are good, Leeves and Hyde Pierce—so often paired together purely for punchlines—do great with the soft dramatics. There’s a lot of character development here for Hyde Pierce—and Grammer’s direction very capably, very intentionally showcases Hyde Pierce’s acting—and a funny subplot for Mahoney (he’s trying to prove Eddie the dog is smart; it doesn’t go well).
For an episode with a truly startling amount of credited writers—eight, including two writing teams, three regular solo writers, and then one new person—it’s seamless. Hyde Pierce, Leeves, Grammer, Mahoney, the eight writers, they create a stellar, lovely half hour of television.