blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s03e17 – High Crane Drifter

This episode’s got an outstanding last scene, which basically makes up for the rest of it. And the last scene is outstanding because of David Hyde Pierce as a showcase for his mix of physical and dialogue comedy, nothing else. It’s a bit of a deus ex machina just because Hyde Pierce hasn’t had anything to do for the majority of the episode, except occasionally play off a ranting Kelsey Grammer.

Grammer’s mad because no one’s got any common decency or courtesy anymore. It starts, rather amusingly, with him being late to his radio show because someone took his spot. Peri Gilpin has to fill in, which gives her a nice scene, and there’s a decent—albeit insensitive—punchline.

But the more Grammer goes about his day, the more discourtesy he experiences. The episode’s fairly tone-deaf—script credited to Jack Burditt—especially when Grammer and Hyde Pierce are standing around waiting for a table whining about their lives as upper middle class (or are they lower upper class) white men who can’t get a table after their four hours of hard work a day. The table becomes the big plot perturbation, when fellow privileged white guy John Cygan steals their table and Grammer loses it–getting cheers from the rest of the restaurant.

Because they wouldn’t have had the courage to fight for their own tables, even though they may have gotten them without waiting appropriately. No deep thoughts.

Anyway, Grammer quickly becomes a hero to the people of Seattle and a crusader against discourtesy, which makes Hyde Pierce jealous and John Mahoney proud. Mahoney fawning over Grammer the tough guy makes those scenes. Hyde Pierce being dejected not so much.

There’s a funny laundry subplot with Jane Leeves, including a great resolve in the end credits sequence.

But yeah, Hyde Pierce saves the day and the episode it turns out. There’s just something way too easy (read: lazy) about Burditt’s script. It’s a generic sitcom script with some “Frasier” trappings but not enough.

And the callout to How Green Was My Valley—part of Grammer getting fed up involves his pursuit of a VHS copy, little does he realize his video store only stocks Paramount releases (because Paramount produced “Frasier”)—is an odd one. Maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve seen it. But it doesn’t seem like the right reference.

Anyway. Yay, Hyde Pierce. Eh, Burditt.

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