“Frasier” does indeed run into immediate problems with Jane Leeves finding out David Hyde Pierce has a crush on her (and has had one for quite some time). Leeves has her first moment of romantic interest—post finding out—and it’s when Hyde Pierce puts his jacket on her. They’re standing out on the balcony unraveling the plot-driving confusion. Leeves has spent the episode thinking Hyde Pierce is romantically interested in her again because he’s on the outs with girlfriend Jane Adams, while Hyde Pierce just wants to patch things up with Adams.
But they’re out in the cold Christmas air (it’s the Christmas episode), and when Leeves shivers, he offers his suit jacket. Why are they out on the balcony? So he can discretely ask her something (related to Adams), and while it’s awkward, it doesn’t require them to be outside. It’s just to set Leeves to get swept away by gallantry in an absurdly unnecessary situation.
Last episode—the “first part” of this two-parter, quotations because it’s not a real two-parter—neither Adams nor Saul Rubinek showed up. In this episode, Leeves initially thinks Hyde Pierce won’t confess his devotion because Rubinek’s around. Except Leeves has now got the “what ifs,” and it’s derailing the show. Or at least threatening to do it.
The episode begins an indeterminate time after last episode, which was a birthday episode (initially) for Kelsey Grammer. I’m vaguely curious if they do him having a birthday just before Christmas in other seasons, but I’m not willing to do the work. But some time has passed, only Leeves hasn’t seen anyone to tell them about the crush discovery. Anyone meaning Peri Gilpin, who becomes Leeves’s sidekick this episode, which is fine—they’re great together—but it’s strange and forced.
Pamela Fryman directs this episode (she did last episode, too) and does a fantastic job. Grammer’s got a Christmas party at work (Tom McGowan and Edward Hibbert briefly guest), and then he and John Mahoney have Christmas antics fun; Fryman does great with that stuff. And she does all right with Leeves’s, but she can’t make it work. The script—credited to Jon Sherman (who didn’t get the credit last episode)—just isn’t there.
To confuse Leeves, Hyde Pierce has an opening subplot regarding Maris, which means Adams’s most significant contribution is a brief harpy scene. Rubinek does slightly better, at least getting to have fun as Grammer’s Christmas party gofer.
It’s okay, but the problems are immediately showing. Not assuring.