Today, we look at how the classic Frasier episode, “The Ski Lodge,” had an extreme level of difficulty, but somehow pulled the whole thing off.
This is “All the Best Things,” a spotlight on the best TV episodes, movies, albums, etc.
This is a Year of Great TV Episodes, where every day this year, we’ll take a look at great TV episodes. Note that I’m not talking about “Very Special Episodes” or episodes built around gimmicks, but just “normal” episodes of TV shows that are notable only because of how good they are.
I feel a bit weird about doing this one, since I wrote about this episode just two months ago in a Pop Culture Theme Time about the best constructed TV farce episode, but when I went to pick a Frasier episode, it just doesn’t make sense to NOT do this one first, as it’s sort of the Platonic ideal of a Frasier episode, really.
Written by Joe Keenan (who will have at least one more Frasier episode mentioned this year) and directed by David Lee, Season 5’s “The Ski Lodge” is one of the most difficult to pull off plots in Frasier‘s history, and yet Keenan pulls it off beautifully.
The concept is that Frasier ( wins a trip to a ski lodge (well, he wins a TV, but he then TRADES it for the ski lodge trip, which was another prize), and he brings along his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce), his father, Martin (John Mahoney), Martin’s physical therapist/Frasier’s housekeeper, Daphne (Jane Leeves) and Daphne’s friend, Annie (Cynthia LaMontagne), a swimsuit model. Once there, they meet a handsome French ski instructor named Guy (James Patrick Stuart).
Everyone but Martin is planning on using their night at the ski lodge to have a romantic encounter with another one of the single people at the lodge, but the thing is that no one is interested in the person that is interested in THEM. Frasier has his eye on Annie, but Annie has her eye on Niles, who has his eye on Daphne (and has since Season 1), but Daphne has her eye on Gui, who has his eye on Niles.
Now, this sort of thing is not that unusual, of course, but the trick is that Martin has recently had a blockage in his ear that is messing up his hearing, so he inadvertently tells everyone involved that the person that they are interested in is also interested in them. Therefore, all six of the people at the lodge are not only having a comic misunderstanding (Martin isn’t understanding what anyone is telling him, and he, in turn, is misleading all of them), but it is a totally REASONABLE misunderstanding on all of their parts.
So, at night, they all make their moves at the same time and, well, hilarity ensues…
If there’s one SLIGHT issue I have, there’s a great bit at the end where Frasier has a nice bit of moping over the fact that in all of the hormones bouncing around that night, and people chasing after each other, that no one was chasing after him. However, Daphne somehow doesn’t figure out that Niles was after her that night, so she, too, believed that no one was chasing after her. A minor point, but it is a bit of an odd aspect of that Frasier speech.
Okay, if I’m going to have 354 more of these, I could use suggestions, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!