For an obligatory Woody Harrelson finally guest stars on “Frasier” episode, they do all right. There’s a good mix of Harrelson with the regular cast–including some of the regular supporting cast—and there’s a little bit of an unrelated B plot. Station engineer Noel (Patrick Kerr) is trying to woo Peri Gilpin while everyone drops “Star Trek” jokes because he’s a nerd Trekkie. Or Trekker. I think he talks about it (but not on this episode). There’s additional synergy because it’s all Paramount—including directly making a William Shatner joke (but at Kerr’s expense). And it gives the script something to do besides make “Woody is dumb” jokes.
There are a lot of “Woody is dumb” jokes.
Rob Greenberg gets the script credit. Other than not knowing what to do with David Hyde Pierce—he hangs out with Kelsey Grammer and Harrelson for their bar buddy reunion, but since there’s nothing for him and Harrelson to interact on, Hyde Pierce just makes reaction shots to the “Woody is dumb” jokes. At least John Mahoney appears to be enjoying Harrelson doing the schtick. He’s beaming during some of the shots as he watches the energy buzz of Harrelson. Harrelson is genuinely great at playing a lovable buffoon.
Unfortunately, the episode can’t think of anything to do with Peri Gilpin (Harrelson’s happily married, though there could’ve been a fantastic baby bonding thing), so she’s only in it long enough to set up an offscreen gag for Grammer, Kerr, and Edward Hibbert. It’s okay—they all go to karaokeing offscreen, and then Grammer and Harrelson talk about it later, letting the audience imagine Kerr and Hibbert’s performances. There’s a reward for it too, so it does work out. But it’s a bit of a detour.
Because the crux of the plot is Grammer feels like he’s outgrown Harrelson and “Cheers” and wants to ditch him but can’t. Harrelson’s in town for a wedding, which never comes up after the first six minutes, even though it seems like it should. It’s an okay plot—a little meta with the now erudite Grammer unable to pal around with his working-class former regular bartender Harrelson; the writers’ room just gave up—and it’s funny. There are maybe too many of the “Woody is dumb” jokes but not too too many. Enough you remember why Harrelson couldn’t have led a spin-off plus one, but not so many a couple last-minute ones aren’t just fine.
Good direction from Pamela Fryman.
It’s a successful very special guest star episode.