Frasier (1993) s01e21 – Travels with Martin

This episode is Linda Morris and Vic Rauseo’s first as the credited writers. Most of the show’s teams as men and women couples; I wonder if it’s intentional or coincidental. But I didn’t catch the writer credits again this time and was curious because Travels With Martin is a quintessential “Frasier”. As in, one to watch when you’re not marathoning. The Crane Boys plus Daphne (Jane Leeves) in a Winnebago trying to find America? It’s fantastic.

After Roz (Peri Gilpin) shames Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) about his selfish one week vacation to a spa while she takes her mom to Ireland or something, Grammer gets the idea he’ll take dad John Mahoney anywhere he wants to go. Turns out Mahoney wants to get in a Winnebago and see the sights, starting with Mount Rushmore. It was going to be Mahoney and the mom’s retirement trip, but she died, so Grammer feels like he has to get over his Winnebago apprehension and go. But he still wants brother David Hyde Pierce to come along and provide a buffer. At the same time, Mahoney’s trying to convince Leeves to go along.

Hyde Pierce is a no until Leeves is a yes, which becomes a constantly amusing subplot as he gets less and less able to control himself in an enclosed space with her. Big kudos to “Frasier” in not making Hyde Pierce ever seem the slightest bit dangerous, though it’s more like only Hyde Pierce could do this part and make it work. It’s his most character defining trait at this point; we do get a Maris story this episode, but it’s just about her pilgrimaging to the original Neiman Marcus in Dallas. It’s funny, especially since Hyde Pierce has thrown his back out carrying her luggage, but it’s not his bit. The Leeves crush is his bit and it pays off over and over this episode.

Actors, script, and James Burrows’s direction all add up to a great episode. It even gets in the heart at the end when Grammer and Mahoney finally get their chance to bond. Also they bring along Eddie the dog. It’s a magnificent twenty-four minutes.

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