blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s04e23 – Odd Man Out

It’s not a great season finale. Not a good season finale. I’m low fine on it? So adequate. Not inadequate. Odd Man Out is a not inadequate season finale.

But this season has been great. It’s been the best season of “Frasier” so far; long stretches of consistence excellence. It didn’t even start falling apart until the last few. And the season finale really could’ve saved it; hence the low fine.

The problem is there isn’t an arc to the season. The episode—script credit to Suzanne Martin, who’s had better script credits on the show—is about Kelsey Grammer realizing he’s “single,” not “recently divorced,” which hasn’t really been an issue for him before this episode. The show often goes on about Grammer being miserably lonely and not having had dates in ages but he’s had dates every second or third episode this season. It’s worse now because David Hyde Pierce is back with unseen Maris, which sort of coincides when the season started having its big stumbles, and Hyde Pierce can’t be Grammer’s backup for Grammer’s surprise birthday dinner for Peri Gilpin who has plans because it was a surprise and can’t go. Jane Leeves can’t go because she has a date with some other unseen love interest, ditto John Mahoney because he’s got Marsha Mason (though she’s not in the episode). So it’s Grammer alone at dinner.

Where a little kid (Miles Marsico) befriends him because Grammer looks so lonely. Especially once everyone around him starts showing off their couples-based happiness.

It’s mildly amusing but… it’s pretty thin stuff.

The episode’s eventually going to hinge on a mystery caller leaving messages on the answering machine—she thinks it’s someone else, someone who needs to pick her up from the airport. Will Grammer eventually go to the airport and will it be kismet? I don’t think they say spontaneity ever in the episode; Grammer’s had “I need to be spontaneous” arcs twice this season. Here he’s got a moping arc. Looks like “Frasier” might actually be on an inverted Star Trek schedule with the season finales; first excellent, second blah, third good, fourth blah.

The episode being so unimpressive is immaterial and annoying, with a lot of the annoying coming from it being unimpressive immaterial to the show over all.

The ending doesn’t age well either; after the show’s prostrated itself to portray Grammer as a tragic, earnest, almost romantic figure, he does something shitty and predatory because it was the nineties and lying to women to get them into bed was the hero move. There’s even more to unpack with it, further contributing to the annoying.

Good enough performance from the surprise guest star but it didn’t need to be a guest star.

Not to mention the entire supporting cast is around to support Grammer on this lukewarm character arc. There’s a really well-acted apartment scene with full apartment cast (so minus Gilpin) but it’s purely functional to ease Grammer along.

For the trite emotional resolution, there are much better things they could’ve done. It’s not so much they thought it was gold but it was bronze… they didn’t even try for bronze. If it weren’t “Frasier,” it’d be troubling.

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