Perspectives on Christmas is an exceptionally easy episode, starting with the title. There’s even a plot point about someone not trying hard enough with Christmas presents after making a big deal about trying hard with Christmas presents, which seems to be some kind of meta plea to be allowed an easy Christmas episode from writer Christopher Lloyd.
The episode is split into four parts, with John Mahoney, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, and Peri Gilpin all telling their masseuse what’s been going on the last couple days regarding Christmas. It’s an easy gimmick and sets up a bunch of good laughs, but they’re all exceptionally easy. Like Mahoney being bad at singing a note in a Christmas carol, Leeves thinking Mahoney’s dying, Hyde Pierce in a slapstick bit, Gilpin having a screaming match with Kelsey Grammer while she’s dressed as Mrs. Claus and he’s Santa, around a bunch of shocked kids.
It’s all very, very easy.
And some of it absolutely hilarious because the cast is great. But it always feels like Lloyd and director David Lee are getting away with something, leveraging the cast, leveraging the situation, instead of actually reaching for anything. There’s no attempt at being a great Christmas episode in terms of the “goodwill” vibe, rather everyone’s in one state of miserable or another, even though there’s very little specific to the characters outside Gilpin’s pregnancy causing a plot point. But there’s no discussion of Grammer’s kid, Mahoney’s girlfriend, Leeves’s family back home, or Hyde Pierce’s martial troubles. Again, it’s all very easy, which sometimes can up the antics—Leeves in hysterics over everything Mahoney says, Hyde Pierce and the slapstick, Santa and Mrs. Claus melting down.
There’s some vaguely interesting developments—well, at least one—we get to see how Leeves experiences Hyde Pierce’s doting, which is both wonderful and creepier. Mahoney gets an absolutely fantastic finale to his arc, which has him trying to hide his participation in a Christmas pageant from Leeves. Some of the deception leads to her thinking he’s dying, but it’s all very problematic when you consider she’s a trained healthcare professional.
Great performances from the cast; okay, easy writing and directing; it’s an often really funny episode, but it needs to be since Lloyd is going for three jokes a minute to cover for not having the story down. If it weren’t for the actors, they’d never be able to get away with this episode.