blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s07e01 – Momma Mia

The season’s off to an excellent start with this episode, which also inadvertently shows how much “Frasier” has changed getting to season seven. First is with Kelsey Grammer directed episodes; Grammer’s first couple efforts didn’t have him around—I think he was entirely absent in one, and showed for the intro in the other—but he’s front and center for most of Momma Mia.

The second development is more subtle and also possibly a result of an already full episode—David Hyde Pierce isn’t low-key lusting after Jane Leeves in their scene together. Leeves has only got one scene (it’s going to be a full episode, after all), but gets to be in on the first reveal of the episode’s punchline—Grammer’s dating a woman who looks just like his mom (guest star Rita Wilson) and doesn’t know it.

Except Hyde Pierce sees it right away and talks to Leeves about it. Dad John Mahoney’s going to have to wait for a little while later into the episode so they can build more tension.

While the episode opens with Grammer’s meet-cute of errors with Wilson, which involves Peri Gilpin’s fix-up not showing up for him, then Gilpin telling the wrong lady she’s caught Grammer’s eye, the episode’s all about Mahoney’s birthday weekend. Grammer and Hyde Pierce are taking him to the family cabin—“Frasier” has gone to many a family cabin and I’m pretty sure none of them have been the same cabin. This cabin is a rental, however, so they get a continuity pass.

Though it doesn’t make sense why they’d rent a cabin when they’ve already got their… never mind.

Hyde Pierce and Grammer quickly start bickering once they arrive, which seems like obvious Crane boys drama in the script—credited to Rob Hanning—but it’s actually all set up. They’re children, with dad Mahoney, and lady who looks like mom Wilson. Leads to some very funny scenes. The episode’s got a lot of laughs, both deliberate ones the script sets up, but then also a bunch of physical material for Hyde Pierce. He’s afraid of the bugs, you see. They even do an absurd bit where he’s got a suitcase with nothing but different kinds of bug repellant. It’s too broad but at least quick.

By the end of the episode, they’ve gotten past all the laughs for some sincere family moments for Grammer, Hyde Pierce, and Mahoney. Despite Mahoney and Hyde Pierce sharing a plot thread, observing Grammer on his separate one with Wilson, there’s even a nice moment for Mahoney and Grammer. It’s an extremely well-constructed episode.

It’s really funny. There are a couple hiccups—the suitcase of bug repellant is the stand-out—but there are a dozen really good laughs. Leeves and Gilpin don’t get a lot of screen time, but they’re very good with what they do get, especially Leeves.

Season seven’s looking good.

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