Frasier (1993) s06e22 – Visions of Daphne

I was zoning and missed both the writing and directing credits, which turned out to be good. The first distinctive joke in the episode is John Mahoney talking about spying on a woman’s cleavage through security cameras. Rape culture Martin Crane continues. And the opening scene was more amusing than jokey. Peri Gilpin’s getting David Hyde Pierce a present and wants Kelsey Grammer’s take on it. Confusion and regifting reveals ensue. But there’s nothing distinct about it.

Only then, after the Mahoney bit, the episode starts getting really funny. There’s a lot of drama–Visions is a “Mythology” episode, entirely about Hyde Pierce’s crush on Jane Leeves going back to the first or second episode—but there are also these amusing recurring bits. There will be character development for Hyde Pierce, funny-to-tough scenes for Grammer, Mahoney, and Leeves, and a great set of episode punchlines. There are three, two with some dramatic kick, one pure silliness.

And so, given the good material, I wasn’t surprised to discover Lori Kirkland Baker had the script credit. I also wasn’t surprised to see her sharing it with Janis Hirsch, whose last outing with Mahoney also made him into a lech. But it’s also got a new-to-the-series director with Robert H. Egan. Egan does an excellent job with the drama. See, Grammer and Mahoney have discovered Saul Rubinek’s plans to propose to Leeves. They don’t want to ruin the surprise—or, presumably, have Mahoney’s peeping tom security guard bro get in trouble—and so they’re going to hide it from Leeves. Then they realize they’ve got to hide it from Hyde Pierce too.

There’s a whole arc for Leeves, who has her own issues with Rubinek proposing, and one for Hyde Pierce, who’s got to balance his humanity against his desire. The episode contorts itself into a very sitcom problem, then unravels it and explores it with some very dramatic sensibilities. It’s downright lovely, especially once Grammer and Mahoney can empathize with Hyde Pierce instead of cajole him, but also with the Crane boys having to interact with Leeves. She gets some fantastic blow-up scenes this episode, surfacing previously unexplored character development. Again, downright lovely.

And the episode hits its bittersweet notes just right too.

Great direction from Egan. Great performances from Leeves and Hyde Pierce, with excellent support from Grammer and Mahoney. And if you ignore that one shitty joke, great work on the script. It’s an exemplar “Frasier,” including the silly and adorable Eddie the dog joke.

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