The episode opens with a car chase sequence, with Kelsey Grammer and John Mahoney in one car and David Hyde Pierce in the other. There’s some outdoor shooting (seemingly second unit) and lots of banter during the actual driving—not just Mahoney and Grammer, but Hyde Pierce (via car phone) as well. It’s a great, distinct start to the episode, complete with general setup. Hyde Pierce is trying not to be seen because his wife took away his car in the divorce, and he’s in a hatchback. It’s awesome.
It eventually works out into a Crane boys episode—Lori Kirkland Baker gets the script credit; she’s not just distinguishing herself, in general, this season, she’s doing Crane boys episodes, which require delicate balance. The episode’s got to be simultaneously sympathetic to Hyde Pierce in his fantastical money woes while still making fun of him, often from Grammer and Mahoney’s perspectives, but also making a little fun of them too. It works out. Outstanding writing for all of it, leveraging Hyde Pierce’s physical comedy as well as dialogue banter. Pamela Fryman directs; no big swings like the opening car chase, but excellent direction throughout. It’s an exemplar “Frasier.”
Some of the episode has newly broke Hyde Pierce crashing at Grammer’s apartment, but they avoid the creep potential of having him around Jane Leeves, instead focusing on how much he annoys Mahoney and Grammer. There’s a great setup for that joke, starting in dialogue then moving into sight gags and physical comedy. Fryman’s got a wonderful sense of pacing and spends just the right amount of time building to punchlines. Again, it’s an exemplar episode. Even before they get to Hyde Pierce having to look at shitty, divorced dude apartments.
Most of the laughs for that subplot come during a tour with one of the apartment managers, Michael McShane, with the episode continuing on in more dramatic territory. Grammer, Hyde Pierce, and Mahoney all get to do character development as the finale progresses, and there are a couple divine concluding punchlines.
There’s scant but good material for Leeves and Peri Gilpin. No room for the girls in a Crane boys episode (Gilpin’s scene continues she and Grammer’s overarching unemployment arc, and then Leeves can’t be around Hyde Pierce too much, it’s not a romance episode after all).
Outside missing them, it’s a delightful episode; Fryman and Kirkland Baker are quickly becoming a new “Frasier” dream team.
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