Sometimes marathoning “hurts” a traditional broadcast show. They were meant to be watched weeks or months apart, with commercial breaks distracting and obfuscating tropes. They’re not meant to be strung together. But even with those caveats, it’s kind of weird “Frasier” did an episode about a dinner party right after doing an episode called The Dinner Party. Okay, this episode’s party is a cocktail party. However, it still involves Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce lying to Peri Gilpin to get her to attend to perform menial labor.
It’s also another “Frasier” familiar episode with a script credit for David Lloyd. He wasn’t on the last episode, but he did a riff on a series classic a couple ago. In this episode, he goes more general—though I swear parties going wrong at Hyde Pierce’s swank condo have happened before; there’s also a ridiculous screwball gag amping up one they used towards the beginning of the season… when Hyde Pierce was having a different party. So it’s a riff on a riff on a riff, and everyone seems appropriately resigned to it.
Especially since no one ever gets too much to do. There are plenty of guest stars, but none of them stand out; even when someone’s funny, like Bill Morey as Hyde Pierce’s most irate neighbor, he’s just funny, not really good. Part of the episode is a party game—Murder—and Grammer wants to play detective first. But there’s nothing to it, just a few minutes of filler until the next disaster. Wait, does it rip off an episode of “Fawlty Towers” too? Maybe. Or it rips off an episode “Fawlty” ripped off from someone else. It’s just a series of disasters, sight gags, and bad jokes.
The bad jokes are even a subplot—Hyde Pierce tries punning his way into the angry condo board’s heart.
The main cast is mostly on auto-pilot, particularly Grammer and John Mahoney, but they’ve still got their timing. Similarly, David Lee’s direction is passively nimble. He never tries, never tasks, and it all works out fine, so why bother doing any more.
Of the main cast, Jane Leeves actually gets the closest thing to compelling material, but it cuts away from her scenes before she gets to do anything with them.
“Frasier”’s seemed somewhat listless since Hyde Pierce’s divorce arc finished; this episode seems like they reenacted a combination clip and outtake show, stringing it all together with a skinny, new plotline. The show feels so incredibly lost all of a sudden.