Frasier (1993) s01e18 – And the Whimper Is…

“Frasier,” the show, has made a few references to the popularity of “The Frasier Crane Show,” the in-show radio program Kelsey Grammer hosts. At one point it seemed to be on the ropes, with Grammer and producer Peri Gilpin worrying they’d get cancelled, then it was getting better ratings than the sports show… but its popularity has never been explicitly described. But it’s got to be doing well because this episode has it one of four nominees for prestigious category at the SeaBee Awards (fictional radio awards).

It’s Grammer’s first year with a show. It’s Gilpin’s tenth year in the business without even a nomination. They’re hungry to win. The episode—written by Sy Dukane and Denise Moss—tracks them from pre-nomination, when Grammer’s pretending he doesn’t care and Gilpin’s driven to distraction waiting for the nominations to release, to preparation, when they’re planning how to bribe the nominating committee while John Mahoney watches in disgust, to the awards show, where they discover they may have been too successful in their bribing, about to take the award away from retiring Seattle radio mainstay John McMartin.

The episode finally gives Gilpin some time around the regular cast—she and Mahoney joyfully greet each other when she arrives at the apartment, even though they’ve only had one other scene together—and Gilpin gets to pal around with Jane Leeves. Harriet Sansom Harris guest stars as Frasier’s agent, Bebe, who invites herself along to the awards show (though doesn’t do much there except have some great reaction shots when Gilpin eventually melts down under stress) and Patrick Kerr’s back as annoying station co-worker Noel, who’s Gilpin’s date for the evening. Kerr does all right considering he’s just a punchline.

David Hyde Pierce has this great running joke about always getting someone a beverage, out of his element with the show business types, not able to find anyone interested in his hilariously withering remarks at Grammer’s expense.

It’s a very busy episode with a lot of people around most of the time and director James Burrows makes sure they’re interesting even when they’re not talking (you can perfectly track how things are going from Mahoney’s expressions in the background), with Gilpin and Grammer being the centers of attention.

It’s very good. Though the self-aware Maris joke may be too self-aware.

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