The Impossible Dream ages surprisingly well. Or, actually, maybe it doesn’t because you can imagine the exact same story being done twenty-five years later….
The episode opens with Kelsey Grammer waking up in a seedy motel, discovering a tattoo on his arm and a lover in the shower. The lover turns out to be Edward Hibbert (the radio station’s food critic). Grammer wakes up screaming. On with the show.
The dream becomes recurring and the episode covers the various changes as Grammer tries to figure out what it’s all about. He enlists David Hyde Pierce’s help (after unintentionally revealing his dream paramour to an amused Peri Gilpin) and they research the episode.
I think season four is where “Frasier” figures out how good Grammer and Hyde Pierce are together in various situations. They’re good while being competitive, but they’re also good working together and spitballing a problem. Lots of good banter, lots of desperate attempts to explain the dream.
After nothing works, Grammer decides it’s time to just cut to the chase—maybe he’s gay. There’s some aged terminology and concepts, but here’s where the show does all right with it, especially when he starts talking to John Mahoney about it. Mahoney’s been involved in the antics to a lesser extent throughout—he and Jane Leeves get a hilarious bit where they try to freak out their fellow condo residents in the elevator—but once it gets serious for a sustained moment, Mahoney and Grammer show off their dramatic chops.
Hibbert gets a good scene in reality and a bunch of good ones in the dreams, but after the setup, he and the radio station cast (Gilpin and Dan Butler) are done and it’s all Grammer and family cast working through it.
It’s a hilarious episode for Grammer and Hyde Pierce—Rob Greenberg’s script is real funny—so it doesn’t matter too much about the cast not getting balanced attention.
The end punchline dream is excellent and the credits bit is good too. It’s a really good episode. And very nice it’s still funny twenty-six years on.