Frasier (1993) s01e14 – Can’t Buy Me Love

It’s a packed, but never frantic episode–Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano are the “Frasier” all-star writers right now and they’ve got a lot of inventive work here, both the plotting and character arcs. Every development is combination delight and surprise.

The episode starts with Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Roz (Peri Gilpin) dreading having to return to the studio because Bulldog (Dan Butler) has already started his show and makes whoever’s in the room get on the air with him… so Butler can humiliate them. It’s all setup for the next scene, when Grammer’s dad, John Mahoney, asks him to arrange for Butler to volunteer at a charity bachelor auction.

In the great family scene—Hyde Pierce is there with champagne, celebrating Maris going out of town—Mahoney has to backpedal a bit and also invite Grammer to participate in the auction. So, great setup.

Only the bachelor auction is offscreen, we’re just in the green room, towards the end of the night, as Grammer and the other bachelors (including football player Brett Miller) listen in terror to the screaming female bidders in the auditorium. Butler’s not worried, of course, because he’s sure he’s going to be a prize item.

The auction doesn’t go as expected—pleasantly for some, not pleasantly for others—and then it’s time to skip ahead to the actual date nights. We don’t get to see Miller’s, unfortunately, but it also wouldn’t be appropriate for television….

Grammer’s date goes wrong, leaving him babysitting petulant teen Ashley Bank, while Butler’s sports and limo-centric date goes all wrong, even though his date is getting super drunk. She’s even able to make him sympathetic, she cuts so deep with her barbs. Great writing on that scene in particular. It seems like it’s going to be a one-off but turns out to be a nice little recurring subplot for the rest of the episode.

The standout performance this episode is Jane Leeves, who finally gets to show-off her comic skills. Grammer does well with Banks, which gives him a look into his future as a parent—and provides Mahoney some great material when talking about Grammer’s own childhood development.

And the end credits scene is a hoot.

No celebrity caller this episode but consulting producer and former “Cheers” writer and producer Ken Levine is the off-screen M.C. of the charity auction, albeit uncredited.

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