blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s07e14 – Big Crane on Campus

Oh, “Frasier: Season Seven,” why do you continue to taunt me? This episode has Jane Leeves and David Hyde Pierce cooking together and being adorable for the first time since Leeves found out about Hyde Pierce crushing on her. It’s a good scene, with Hyde Pierce getting to more fully participate—previously and problematically, these scenes have been from Leeves’s perspective (way to get a big subplot: it’s entirely in service of the dude). Sheldon Epps directs the episode and knows how to make it work. It’s a regular “Frasier” scene, only a little different; Hyde Pierce isn’t the awkward one; now it’s Leeves.

If I’d been watching this episode in February 2000, I’d have been fully committed to the idea of them getting together. Best thing for the show.


Otherwise, the episode’s a Kelsey Grammer-centric episode. He’s just happened to meet his high school crush (a hilarious, brassy Jean Smart) and can’t believe she’s being nice to him. Once they actually start seeing each other (there are some great scenes with Smart teasing a blubbering Hyde Pierce), Grammer discovers she’s a little too brassy for his tastes. Except he can’t give up the prom queen, not with their high school reunion just around the corner.

Outside Leeves and Hyde Pierce’s kitchen moment, everything in the episode’s in support of Grammer (and Smart). She’s a relatively featured guest star, getting a lot more complicated scenes than Grammer’s girlfriends usually get. Peri Gilpin’s around to talk Grammer through dating for the wrong reasons; she gets a classic literature book club C plot, which comes back in the end credits sequence as a way to be shitty. It’s an unfortunate finish to a strong episode.

First and foremost, it’s an excellent showcase for Smart, who was only a few years from starting to be appreciated in 2000. Or closer to it than “Designing Women.” It’s also proof they can do a mythology moment well for Leeves and Hyde Pierce. Mark Reisman, another new-to-the-show-this-season writer, gets the credit. And, finally, it’s a solid outing for Grammer. It treads somewhat familiar territory but with a fresh enough angle. He tends to be really good with his guest stars, and Smart’s no different.

So, another good episode to convince me everything’s fine and we’re not driving toward a cliff in a Winnebago.

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