blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s04e16 – The Unnatural

It’s a fathers and sons episode, both for Kelsey Grammer and guest star Trevor Einhorn and then Grammer and John Mahoney. There’s also some nice stuff for Dan Butler—implying the possibility of character development, which hasn’t really been present before—and then David Hyde Pierce gets a hilarious subplot. Both Peri Gilpin and Jane Leeves get functional roles to play, which makes certain jokes easier but brings more attention to Leeves never being in on all the jokes because of the Hyde Pierce crush more obvious. Or maybe it’s a female director (Pamela Fryman) doing a great job with it—they really do win with Einhorn though, he’s a good sitcom kid actor—and so it stands out. Michael B. Kaplan script, which increases its high points all the way to the end.

Actually, wait, there is a “reward” of sorts for Gilpin in the end credits tag, which is a single gag, but full of good implication.

The initial conflict in Kaplan’s script is Grammer trying to get a Microsoft campus tour for he and Einhorn, which requires him to ask Gilpin to contact an old boyfriend. Concurrent, Gilpin and Butler have a station softball team—did every business from the 1970s and 1990s have a softball team—subplot. The plots will collide when Gilpin gets injured and Butler—trying to be nice (it’s a very weird scene because Butler’s trying to be nice instead of pretending to be; weird and good) lies to Einhorn about Grammer’s softball skills. Einhorn decides he’d rather watch Grammer play softball than tour Microsoft.

You know, Grammer would make a good Ballmer.


Of course, anti-jock Grammer presumably isn’t and good at softball and he’s got to figure out what he’s going to do not to disappoint Einhorn. He’ll bring Mahoney into it for this layered father and son hopes and disappointments arc. Lots of good acting from Grammer and Mahoney. The show has these touching family scenes and they almost always happen in the apartment; getting them away—as they do in this episode—livens things up a bit and forces the actors to adapt to new settings.

The softball arc is always pretty serious—it’s probably funniest when Butler’s kicking it off, making it worse every sentence—so the big laughs come from Leeves’s subplot with Einhorn and Hyde Pierce. Einhorn’s got a crush on Leeves and everyone thinks it’s adorable but Hyde Pierce is convinced Einhorn’s a rival. Lots of really good laughs and some great acting from Hyde Pierce.

The episode is really good. The show doesn’t waste its recurring guest stars.

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