blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s04e21 – Are You Being Served?

When I saw William Lucas Walker on the script credit, I figured there were going to be some easy, probably sexist jokes and Walker does not disappoint in hitting his standards, but it’s a successful episode overall. The eventual plot—after getting through the intro where Kelsey Grammer thinks only riff-raff hug each other (not sure why anyone would go to him as a therapist)—is really good and gives Grammer and David Hyde Pierce a great Brothers Crane outing. Good direction too (from Gordon Hunt, who only did two episodes of the series, this one being his last).

So after the opening where Grammer implies the only reason Peri Gilpin’s comfortable hugging people is because she’s a slut, the episode moves on to Grammer and Hyde Pierce at the café, where they’re combination misogynist, fatphobic, and classist. The scene ends with a process server giving Hyde Pierce his divorce papers (he’d just been telling Grammer he was suggesting couples counseling and the papers are the estranged wife’s reaction).

Back at Grammer’s apartment, Jane Leeves and John Mahoney are busy with subplot involving a junk box Leeves wants to take down to storage but Mahoney wants to leave upstairs. It’s full of his “As Seen on TV” purchases, which leads to some very funny gags—very funny—but doesn’t really fit Mahoney’s technophobe character. Also in the box is an old research journal of Grammer and Hyde Pierce’s mom, which apparently contains observations about the brothers as children, such as Grammer being afraid to hug and Hyde Pierce being scared of women.

Hyde Pierce shows up to tell Grammer he’s sent the divorce papers back unsigned with a letter begging for reconciliation; once they read the journal however, Hyde Pierce decides he’s going to man up, break in, and get that letter back, leading to a hilarious sequence at the house. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Hyde Pierce’s house and it’s such a good set. There are a lot of good foils and laughs along the way; Walker’s really good at antics for Grammer and Hyde Pierce, far better than when he’s doing first act one-liners.

The resolution has an excellent twist and a lot of good laughs.

The episode’s a fine showcase for Grammer and Hyde Pierce’s chemistry and timing together, though Mahoney and Leeves’s subplot is decent too. It’s entirely in support of the main plot and cravenly leverages Eddie the dog being adorable, but there are some decent laughs to it.

I’m not sure if I’ll be less wary of a Walker credit going forward, but maybe. And it’s a bummer Hunt didn’t direct more “Frasier.”

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