Frasier (1993) s05e15 – Room Service

While this episode does a great job with Eugene O’Neill references—Kelsey Grammer at one point remarks to David Hyde Pierce they’re brothers out of an O’Neill play (because Hyde Pierce is suffering narcolepsy due to divorce proceeding stresses and Grammer is a sex maniac regarding ex-wife Bebe Neuwirth) and then the title cards all riff on O’Neill plays… it does have a gaff with Hyde Pierce talking about Freud. He’s a Jungian. Writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs, who turn in a fantastic script, gaff-included, hadn’t been watching the show apparently.

Or there just aren’t any good Jung jokes for after you sleep with your brother’s ex-wife.

Neuwirth is in town visiting Grammer after her marriage suddenly collapses—her husband leaves her for another man, which never gets too cringe vis-à-vis homophobia but does make a couple hard jokes at Neuwirth’s expense—and ends up canoodling with Hyde Pierce. The majority of the episode has them in her hotel room trying to reconcile their passionate night the morning after, with Grammer arriving to complicate things.

Most of the episode is just the one scene, which oscillates between screwball comedy (people hiding, Hyde Pierce’s narcolepsy causing trouble) and comedically minded dramatic conversation. Or maybe dramatically minded comedic conversation. The actors do a phenomenal job, with Hyde Pierce and Neuwirth quickly establishing a rapport—the “seduction” happens offscreen, with their initial meeting in the episode being humorously prickly—as they try to resolve the situation with and without Grammer’s involvement.

Grammer mostly gets to act the horny buffoon in the first section of the episode, grinding against Neuwirth as opportunity presents, unable to stop himself. It’s a funny turn of events given how unsympathetic Grammer gets in his lusting.

There’s only a little for the regular supporting cast, with Peri Gilpin and Neuwirth mini-bonding in the opening, then John Mahoney and Jane Leeves literally running out of the episode to avoid Neuwirth at the apartment. Mahoney comes off best—he’s at least got a gag, whereas Leeves is a passive sidekick to it—but it’s an exaggerated, easy joke, betraying a lack of effort towards character development in the script. It’s a rush to the main, morning after sequence, which is more than excellent enough to cover for the slightly bumpy opening.

Good direction David Lee, great performances from Hyde Pierce, Neuwirth, and Grammer. Also John Ducey as the room service waiter. Ducey’s essential.

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