The title of this episode, A Lilith Thanksgiving, is simultaneously accurate and not. While the episode does indeed guest star Bebe Neuwirth and does indeed take place at Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving is tangential to the plot and doesn’t involve Neuwirth at all. The episode does one of those “Frasier” forecast and switches, where the opening introduces the idea the A plot is going to be Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, and John Mahoney going to Hyde Pierce’s luxury cabin to celebrate the holiday, with Neuwirth accompanying she and Grammer’s son, Trevor Einhorn. It’s Einhorn’s first appearance of many as the kid; he’s good.
The first scene has Hyde Pierce on the phone with the caretaker while Peri Gilpin and Jane Leeves have quick scenes—Leeves is going somewhere else, Gilpin is house-sitting the apartment. There are a bunch of good one-liners for everyone, even if it’s obviously a way to get Leeves and Gilpin out of the action so we can just enjoy Mahoney being miserable around Neuwirth.
Grammer gets a phone call and it turns out they can’t go to the cabin, they all have to go to Boston—Grammer and Neuwirth have to go to an entrance interview for Einhorn to go to a shishi poopoo private school on Thanksgiving morning. It’ll be Thanksgiving in Boston.
While Grammer and Neuwirth are at the interview, Hyde Pierce is in charge of cooking the turkey and Mahoney’s babysitting Einhorn. Despite the continent-trotting, it’s a very contained episode—there’s the apartment at the beginning, Neuwirth’s kitchen, then the large living room of school headmaster Paxton Whitehead. The present action is a few hours, as Neuwirth and Grammer fret over how they’ve done in the interview and continue to pester Whitehead, even crashing his Thanksgiving dinner.
Meanwhile, Hyde Pierce and Mahoney are breaking the very delicate Einhorn with baseballs, refrigerator doors, and anchovies.
Whitehead’s a perfect guest star, especially for the intensity of Grammer and Neuwirth, who are even more outrageous when acting in unison than against one another. It’s a great guest spot for Neuwirth, whose presence tempers the entire cast and they all get to react against it in different ways. She and Grammer are superb together.
Excellent script, credited to Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano—Gilpin and Leeves have a wonderful moment bonding over Grammer being so difficult—and fine direction as usual from Jeff Melman.
It’s not a “Lilith Thanksgiving” or even much of a Thanksgiving episode, but it’s still a hilarious episode with great performances from the guest stars and the regular cast.