Frasier (1993) s06e16 – Decoys

This episode starts as a Crane boys outing—David Hyde Pierce has just found out he’s gotten a lake house in his divorce and is taking brother Kelsey Grammer and dad John Mahoney up for the weekend—and ends up being a light screwball comedy of errors. Hyde Pierce has brought Peri Gilpin up in hopes of getting her to seduce Saul Rubinek away from Jane Leeves while they pretend to be on their own romantic rendezvous, so Grammer doesn’t spoil the whole thing.

So basically, Hyde Pierce and Gilpin are really shitty, and they’re only going to get away with it—not sabotaging the relationship because it’d be too shitty for a sitcom–but get away with it in terms of not being tarnished characters if they learn enough of a lesson. Or at least eventually get enough of a chastising from the proper authority. Along the way, there are some excellent laughs and good direction from Pamela Fryman—the episode does the character X doesn’t see character Y because someone went through a door at just the right time ad nauseam. The joke is in the buildup, which is a fine enough device.

I mean, “Frasier” has already used it in other episodes. Including other episodes involving weekends away in cabin or lake house settings. The episode plays as a reliable standard, though there are some particularly nice moments. The first one is Hyde Pierce and Gilpin having a bonding moment in the coffee shop; the two actors took quite a while to share scenes and have never had an adventure together before. Usually, it’s just snippy banter. Here they’re collaborators. They’re good. It’s not a great plot, but they’re good.

And there’s a charming bit where Mahoney forces Grammer to go duck hunting. After promising the episode would feature Mahoney, he’s just around for scene setups and wise old man monologues. The duck hunting scene gives him a decent enough monologue, and Mahoney’s able to act the hell out of it. He does wistful quite well and watches Grammer process things through quite well.

Rubinek’s really likable in his few scenes—I’m also pretty sure it’s the first time we meet baby Alice; the real baby doesn’t get a credit, but I assume she’ll be back. Hyde Pierce is able to get Gilpin on board helping because Rubinek wants a family and getting back with Gilpin has a readymade one. Fryman can do a lot with the pace, but it’s troublesomely gross when the episode slows down enough there’s time to think about Hyde Pierce’s plan. Even for a nineties sitcom.

So, the very cute Eddie the dog bit during the end credits lightens things considerably.

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