New writing team (Elias Davis and David Pollock)—albeit one working together since the 1960s—and a new director (Alan Myerson) but it’s a close to quintessential “Frasier.” Though more in the “good jackass Kelsey Grammer” column than the “good exemplar episode” one, even though it’s not exactly Grammer’s episode. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It should be John Mahoney’s, but the script gives it to Grammer and just for the jackass moment. It’s kind of like a lower brow impression of a “Frasier” episode.
But really funny. Because Grammer’s really good as a jackass.
The episode does do a decent cast showcase, however. Peri Gilpin gets a decent bit where she shuts down Bulldog (Dan Butler)—it’s a syndication-era sitcom so while I remember last episode Butler trying to hoodwink Gilpin into bed and them fighting but it doesn’t seem to be an issue for them here. More, the show’s figured out a bit of Gilpin and Butler banter before it turns sour (and funnier) is good.
Jane Leeves and David Hyde Pierce both get to do some good support, with Hyde Pierce getting to go to basketball game with Grammer and Mahoney. See, Mahoney’s obsessing over solving the “White Lotus” murder plaguing him for twenty years (and since the pilot or second episode) with Leeves his Watson.
Davis and Pollock do a great job with the “‘Frasier’ bait and switch” plotting where the biggest physical set piece is just a segue into the actual important set piece. It’s not a particularly ambitious episode, given it all hinges on Grammer being foolishly pompous and whatever but it’s a nice exercise in effective plotting. And Mahoney’s really good no matter he loses focus instead of gaining it as the episode progresses. I mean, it’s his Retirement in the title but, hey, Grammer’s a good jackass.
Also, yay, Ron Dean cameo.
Oh, and Mary Steenburgen on the radio; she’s recognizable even if I didn’t quite recognize her during the call.