Despite the unfestive title, RDWRER is the third “Frasier” in a row to do a holiday. Two episodes ago, it was a birthday episode (sort of) for Kelsey Grammer, then last episode was a Christmas episode, and now this episode is the New Year’s. There’s no specific mention of the new elephant—Jane Leeves knows David Hyde Pierce had a crush on her, but he doesn’t know she knows. Instead, it’s a Crane Boys episode; Grammer, Hyde Pierce, and Mahoney go on a wacky adventure.
The episode starts with Grammer and Peri Gilpin talking about their respective New Year’s. Grammer’s requires a flashback (and the entire episode). He and Hyde Pierce’s plans have fallen through, so they finagle an invite to a Wine Country party; they just need to get there. Good thing dad Mahoney’s custom plates—RDWRER (Road Warrior, sound it out)—have just arrived for his Winnebago. After a short scene with Leeves (she gets one bit then exits), it’s a road trip episode, with Grammer and Mahoney never letting Hyde Pierce drive.
New-to-the-show-this-season credited writers Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil do a great job, and Grammer delivers on the directing front. As per usual, he showcases his fellow actors over himself—Leeves’s outburst about late Christmas cards, Mahoney getting into it with a rural cop, Hyde Pierce convinced he’s been kidnapped. Then Grammer lets himself have a great showcase talking to Hyde Pierce—telephonically—about the kidnapping. It’s an “event” holiday episode, much more than the preceding two. The show’s not letting the mega-plot get in the way of an episode this time.
There are a couple fun and weird bits. First, Mahoney’s obsessed with Austin Powers, even though Grammer assures him he’s missed the pop culture moment. It’s silly and ages awkwardly—if they were really betting on Mike Myers being ubiquitous, they bet wrong—but it gives Mahoney some absurd lines to deliver well. Then Rebecca Schull guest stars. She was on “Wings,” which takes place in the same universe as “Cheers.” I can’t remember if there was ever any post-“Cheers” crossing over with “Frasier,” but… it’s a good bit part. She and Anthony Zerbe are an old couple also on the road in a Winnebago.
I think there was an episode of “Wings” where Schull had an evil twin. Maybe she’s playing the third sister here.
Excellent episode. Clock’s ticking, though. The clock is ticking.