Frasier (1993) s05e23 – Party, Party

Despite last episode’s big changes for at least one of the characters (not to mention a party plot line), this episode does the same thing. Well, not big changes for anyone, just another party plot. This time it’s Kelsey Grammer’s birthday and he’s stuck trying to get out of two parties so he can go on a date with Lisa Waltz before she leaves town for a month.

One of the parties has David Hyde Pierce trying to impress his new girlfriend, Marcia Mitzman Gaven (Gaven lives in Grammer’s building, which allows Grammer to go up and down the elevators between parties), and Grammer tagging along so they can get into some elite club. As they’re wont to do, amusing complications ensue.

The other party is the birthday party. There are a bunch of people from work (including Dan Butler and Patrick Kerr) and Grammer’s constant attempts to blow everyone off again lead to complications. There’s a particularly good sequence where they’re playing charades and Grammer gets stuck with John Mahoney and Butler and, well, they’re not the best guessers.

The episode’s setup—Grammer missing dates with Waltz—establishes that plot line as the main, with everything Grammer ends up doing to get out of the parties tied to it. But there’s not much meat to the plot; David Lloyd has writer credit on the episode and the entire setup is a protracted, then delayed setup for a punchline in the finale. The episode’s excellent moments come from the incidentals at the party, particularly Hyde Pierce’s subplot with Gaven; there’s no plot running through the birthday party other than Grammer trying to get away. The final punchline is good, but it’s nowhere near as good as anything else in the episode. It’s like they came up with the setup, came up with the finish, then worked harder on everything connecting them.

It’s all very competent—with good direction from Jeff Melman—but not very exciting. It’s one of those episodes centered around Grammer and unable to make him particularly interesting. Tends to happen with the ones where the object of his affection doesn’t really factor into the plot.

There’s a really nice credits sequence for Hyde Pierce and fellow party guest James Harper, who’s got some highlights through the episode and after the somewhat pat punchline, it’s a nice reminder of the higher points.

Party, Party is good but a rote good.

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