I just realized we never get to see the undoubtedly hideous antique Kelsey Grammer is supposed to get from Marsha Mason. Mason’s John Mahoney’s new girlfriend (who the show’s established sons Grammer and David Hyde Pierce do not like because she’s too… earthy) . Grammer and Hyde Pierce get back from antiquing and Mason promises to bring over a new item for his collection; we don’t get to see it, which is a bummer. Though also immaterial because the episode’s so hilarious it doesn’t end up mattering.
It’s another Michael B. Kaplan credited script and it’s an excellent one. From the opening scene, the plots splinter with Grammer getting into a hallway decorating dispute with the condo board and Hyde Pierce and Mahoney getting into something else for a bit. Mahoney needs a place to have date night with Mason where they won’t be interrupted and so Hyde Pierce lends him his bachelor pad during opera night. Unfortunately, it’s a bad performance and Hyde Pierce heads home early to discover (offscreen) Mahoney and Mason. They’d forgotten to hang a tie from the door handle.
Meanwhile, Grammer’s trying to get evil condo board president Dana Ivey (who’s exceptional at dagger stares) to let him have his antique Japanese door knocker, leading to an impassioned speech from Grammer at the meeting. Grammer’s performance this episode’s outstanding; not just that first speech, but then when he’s running to unseat Ivey and doesn’t have the facts on his side, something the viewer knows, something the other condo residents know, and Grammer doesn’t.
Conflict with the homeowners’ association—condo owners’ association—had to have been a trope by the time they got to this episode, but Kaplan’s able to get some fine gristle out of it. Both Mahoney and Jane Leeves have pre-existing conflicts with Ivey (it occurs to me Mason would’ve been the perfect one to take on Ivey but Mason’s offscreen after the first scene), which complications things as the episode unfolds. Peri Gilpin pops in—literally coming over to do work on a Saturday just so she can get a scene and a joke (but good ones)—to offer Grammer her advice.
Hyde Pierce never gets looped back into the A plot, with he and Mahoney resolving their subplot early, though maybe Mahoney’s Mason-fueled enthusiasm for life fuels the final twist. Untied plot knots don’t end up mattering as Kaplan’s writing is so strong and Grammer’s delivery is so good; plus director David Lee’s pacing of the final scene, when Grammer gets an unexpected, unwelcome comeuppance.
Very fun cameo from Austin Pendleton, especially if you know Austin Pendleton.
It’s a really funny episode.