blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s05e14 – The Ski Lodge

It’s a very fun riff on Midsummer Night’s Dream with confused romantic intentions at a ski resort weekend. There’s a very quick setup with Kelsey Grammer combination guilting and bartering Peri Gilpin’s ski weekend prize away from her—as she’s pregnant and can’t enjoy the weekend, Grammer’s passive aggressive reasoning goes, wouldn’t it be better for someone else to have the weekend instead. It’s initially a very unlikable bit, but does have a decent resolution once Gilpin catches on to Grammer’s machinations. She’s out of the episode after that first scene, with Ski Lodge quickly on its way to being a family only episode.

Well, family only but with a couple important guests—in order to get David Hyde Pierce to go on the ski weekend, Grammer’s got to let Jane Leeves bring her friend along. Her friend turns out to be swimsuit model Cynthia LaMontagne, who Grammer salivates over—which would probably be more problematic if Grammer were in the episode more instead of straight man because he’s trying to manipulate LaMontagne into the sack–and then there’s French ski pro James Patrick Stuart. Stuart’s not French but does a great over-the-top lascivious Frenchman.

Leeves likes Stuart a lot.

Only Stuart likes Hyde Pierce, who’s decided it’s finally time to tell Leeves how he feels. Except LaMontagne is all about Hyde Pierce.

There’s also Stuart thinking LaMontagne and Leeves are lesbians, which thankfully barely factors into anything—nothing plot-wise and just a couple conversations—because it’s entirely based on LaMontagne and Leeves giggling off screen at one point.

John Mahoney’s along to make hot buttered rum in the kitchen while his ears are plugged up from a cold so he can’t understand anyone and keeps mishearing people so he gives other people incorrect advice. The scene where Stuart’s impressed at Mahoney being okay with Hyde Pierce being gay is a standout. But even more than Grammer, Mahoney’s just around for a comedy prop. Grammer at least gets to work his way through the adjoining bedrooms of confusion, leading to some really funny reveals.

Good direction from David Lee—there’s a lot of big movement during the confused bedtime sequence, as people change rooms, confuse rooms, and then try to find their way to their presumably intendeds’ beds. Joe Keenan gets the script credit; outside the occasional zinger, the script’s strength is in getting all the pieces moving. Hyde Pierce gets to play Ulysses, traveling from room to room, picking up temporary passengers on the arc until everyone’s in play and present, so the episode can give it a nice, tidy, very funny resolution.

The Ski Lodge is a great episode, albeit one leveraging the cast’s comedic abilities over their dramatic ones—it’s screwball after all, and screwball doesn’t need drama in thirty minute doses.

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