It’s producer William Lucas Walker’s first writing credit on the show. I wish it weren’t so obvious—it even sounds like the laugh track is louder and more persistent in the first half of the episode (which ends up being significant entirely for its guest stars)—but every line gets a laugh and they’re not very good lines. Jeff Melman’s direction keeps it in check and the actors manage to find the timing but it is a rough first act.
The episode opens with Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce out driving and seeing Peri Gilpin working on a road crew. They whisk her away after some mediocre but also some good banter; Gilpin’s got community service and it’s road crew or visiting the old folks. Grammer talks her into doing the old folks instead of the road and her first day, the resident dies on her. Second day, resident dies on her. The subplot for the episode is Hyde Pierce needing a date for an outdoor wedding, which turns into he and Grammer making fun of each other’s wives. It’s really easy jokes from Walker, who stays sex oriented for a recurring erectile dysfunction joke.
Thank goodness it all goes away once Grammer accompanies Gilpin to the old folks home for her final attempt to fill her hours (and not kill anyone).
While Gilpin goes in and starts bonding with fun old dame Lois Smith, Grammer finds himself meeting a super-fan played by… James Earl Jones. So about a quarter of the episode is just Grammer and Jones talking to each other with their perfect voices. Their plot line has to do with Jones being blind—Walker’s got the most original ideas—and it’s a fine enough structure, albeit obvious, for a good guest star.
But Smith’s great too. She gets the deeper role, telling Gilpin all about aging while they suck down cigarettes.
It’s an oddly assembled episode—Grammer and Jones’s bit is just filler, the Hyde Pierce offscreen but fret-worthy subplot is just filler—and Gilpin doesn’t get the biggest laughs, she gets the serious stuff and Smith (rightly) runs those scenes. Though Gilpin does get the entirely solid end credit tag.
Still, it’s a far more uneven episode than this season’s seen in a while if ever.