This episode has two celebrity guest callers—Judith Ivey is the patient and Joe Mantegna as part of the plot. Mantegna is a Seattle Times newspaper columnist who can’t stand lead Kelsey Grammer’s show. Grammer has a couple great monologues where he reads from the articles and rants about them. Mantenga calls up during the second one and challenges Grammer to a fist fight outside the coffee shop, which causes a whole lot of grief for Frasier and family.
See, dad John Mahoney of course wants Grammer to fight. Mahoney hasn’t lived down the first time Grammer ran away from a fight, when he was ten. Meanwhile, Niles (David Hyde Pierce) stays out of it until the actual fisticuffs are about to kick off and then he’s more interested in hiring the mariachi band—the fight has live music, children with balloons, and people on their lunch breaks.
The episode introduces Mantegna and his column in the first scene, when Hyde Pierce shows up for dinner—and is quite taken with Jane Leeves’s eau de parfum… ranch dressing. It also leads to one of those great “Frasier” layered jokes from writer Christopher Lloyd. The first shot in the scene—before Hyde Pierce even arrives—sets up the eventual punchline for the scene. It’s fantastic.
And there’s some more great stuff from Grammer as he reacts to Niles’s gawking at Leeves. Mahoney’s endless grace is great too.
It’s Grammer’s episode though, with Hyde Pierce and Peri Gilpin around just as tertiary supporting. Mahoney’s got a scant subplot about looking into an old case, which leads to Leeves doing a psychic read on it and a great punchline once Grammer comes in.
The episode also features Hyde Pierce and Gilpin’s first onscreen meeting, though they’ve met at least two times before but Hyde Pierce can’t remember those times. It’s a really funny sequence, with Lloyd getting in a couple big laughs. Hyde Pierce is so good. His quipping ability is bar none.
While the episode does lean a little Grammer-centric, it is his show and his monologues are fantastic. Especially when Mantegna’s column is spot-on. No one indignantly pontificates like Grammer.