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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 8 -> Episode 8.20

Semi-Decent Proposal / A Passing Fancy
Episode Details

Written by: Lori Kirkland [SDP] & Jon Sherman [APF]

Directed by: Katy Garretson [SDP] & Kelsey Grammer [APF]

Original US airdate: 15th May 2001

Original UK airdate: 25th May 2001 [SDP] / 1st June 2001 [APF]


Cast Information
Main Cast
Frasier Crane .... Kelsey Grammer
Niles Crane .... David Hyde Pierce
Martin Crane .... John Mahoney
Daphne Moon .... Jane Leeves
Roz Doyle .... Peri Gilpin
Recurring Cast
Lana Gardner .... Jean Smart
Claire .... Patricia Clarkson
Kirby .... Brian Klugman
   
   
Guest Cast
Neil .... J. Paul Boehmer
Cashier .... Irene White
Kirby's Friend .... Jonathan Ficcadenti
Matre d' .... Christian Aubert
Patry Guest .... Michael Rothhaar
Party Guest .... Lynndi Scott
Guy In Line .... Keith Rayve
Guest Callers

Episode Synopsis

Frasier and Niles are in an electronics store buying a DVD player, when Frasier takes a fancy to a lady in line but Niles manages to ruin his attempts at chatting her up. Just then, Frasier's high school prom queen Lana Gardner walks into the store and it turns out that the lady Frasier had his eye on is a friend of Lana's and is called Claire. Lana then spies Frasier and Niles and introduces them both to Claire, but the awkwardness of their meeting causes Frasier to rush off closely followed by Claire who wants Frasier to bring Lana to her surprise birthday party. Frasier is a little hesitant, bearing in mind the failed attempt at a relationship he had with Lana last year, but Claire convinces him.

As Frasier drives Lana to her party, she tells Frasier that her ex-husband is getting married the next day to his young secretary and the last thing she wants is to be around other people. Frasier then has to spill the secret birthday plans to get her to go, but once there Frasier then spends the evening wooing Claire but Lana keeps trying to push her towards a man named Neil. At the end of the party, Lana is lamenting her life and Frasier joins in by complaining he has missed out on his chance with Claire. Lana, though, has a proposal - tutor her son Kirby in American history and she'll arrange a date for Frasier with Claire.

Frasier begins keeping up his end of the bargain by tutoring Kirby, but finds it hard going as he seems disinterested. Learning that he broke up with his girlfriend, Frasier offers Kirby the chance to take Roz to the prom in return for studying hard - which he agrees to. Meanwhile, progress is slow for Frasier on the Claire front as Lana is waiting for just the right time to fix her and Frasier up - so when Claire meets Frasier by chance at Cafe Nervosa, he finds it hard to resist saying no to her offer of going to dinner with her. Things come to a head when Kirby and his prom friends come to the same restaurant as Frasier and Claire are dining at - especially when Lana arrives.....

Episode Title Cards
  • What Women May Or May Not Want

  • Tuesdays With Frasier

  • A Waist Is A Terrible Thing To Mind

Episode Highlights

- Niles believes Frasier is the technologically incompetent one:
Niles: You thought your CD-ROM drive was a cup holder!

- Claire wants to ask Frasier a question:
Roz: Saturday night, are you free?
Frasier: Only with a coupon (!)

- Roz has brought the Caddyshack DVD to watch:
Roz: Who's funnier than that gopher?
Daphne: Roger Rabbit!

- Niles reveals he once beat up a kid at school:
Martin: Wasn't that the kid with rickets?
Niles: Rickets and a smart mouth!

- Martin reveals his deepest dark secret:
Martin: Every time I watch 'The Sound of Music', I cry.

- Martin's reaction to Roz's darkest secret.

- Frasier begins to tutor Kirby:
Frasier: So, which chapter are you on?
Kirby: Woah, is that my book?

- Frasier tells his father he is tutoring Kirby in return for a date with Claire:
Martin: I remember when you used to tutor kids so they wouldn't beat you up - I guess this is progress!

- Lana reveals Kirby broke up with his girlfriend:
Kirby: Thanks for spreading that around.
Lana: Frasier doesn't care - he went to the prom with his brother!
Frasier: Thanks for spreading that around (!)

- Niles describes Daphne's sleeping habits:
Niles: She's like a tuna on a trawler deck!

- Kirby wonders how Frasier will get Roz to got the prom with him:
Frasier: You just leave that to me & Bruce Springsteen.
Kirby: 'The Boss'!
Frasier: No - Bruce Springsteen.

- Lana thinks Kirby's prom date, Roz, is a hooker:
Kirby's Friend: You're a hooker?
Roz: No!
Frasier: She works for me.
Kirby's Friend: You're her pimp?!

Frasier Online Episode Review

This is a one hour episode with an interesting history (see note below) that sees the return of Jean Smart. Eagle eyed viewers may recall that Jean Smart's character was called Lorna Lynley in 'Big Crane On Campus', but for legal reasons, the producers had to change the name to Lana Gardner. Either way, although Jean Smart plays her pretty well, Lana's screaming act continues - which still seems rather annoying, but thankfully there isn't much of it to endure. The first half of the episode seems a little slow at times while it sets up the story, and the DVD party followed by Niles, Martin, Daphne and Roz revealing their darkest secrets falls a little flat as it doesn't really lead to anything particularly amusing. Luckily, the second half is much better with better jokes, and a nicely farcical ending with insults traded between Frasier, Lana, Kirby and Claire. Taken as a whole, it doesn't match other hour long episodes such as 'Three Dates and a Breakup', coming across rather stretched with a plot that takes some time to get going and and is only fitfully amusing throughout.

Rating

74 %

Production History: There is an interesting footnote to this episode - it was originally conceived as 2 separate episodes, as you can tell from the completely different writing and directing teams for each episode. However, once filmed the producers felt that 'Semi-Decent Proposal' was a little light on plot, while 'A Passing Fancy' relied too heavily on having seen the previous episode to understand what was going on. It was then decided to broadcast the 2 episodes together in the States as a 1 hour episode, which explains the rather unusual credits - having the title of the episode and who wrote and directed it within the credits is something never before seen on the show. Also, when Channel 4 screened the 2 episodes over 2 weeks, the scene they showed over the closing credits (Niles escaping from Daphne's sleeping habits on to a bed on the floor) was the same on both weeks.

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 80.0%
Total Number of Reviews: 4


Mind them? I prefer it!, May 19, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


Like other reviewers here, I struggle to make up my mind on the merits of this two-parter. There's a much more sombre tone to the episodes overall, with less reliance on one-liners and more interest in developing the atmosphere of a scene, like little dramatic set-pieces. I don't inherently have a problem with this (and indeed, one could really say this is the start of a six-part episode that extends through to the end of "Don Juan in Hell") but it makes for an unusual viewing experience after eight seasons of "Frasier" as it exists.

First to the subplots. The secret-sharing scenes are rather sleepy and lightweight, although it is fun to see a moment of the characters just hanging around. Daphne's serious concern at her childhood secret is nicely played, as is the look on Martin's face when he learns of Roz's secret. (Peri Gilpin perhaps has the best line reading of the episode with her dismissive "I'd put that story on my resume!") Still, it's a clear example of end-of-season fatigue. The same could be said for the second episode's subplot of Daphne and Niles having sleep issues. There's actually nothing wrong with that, as we've all experienced some variation on the notion, and both Leeves and Hyde Pierce get some fun physical humour out of it. But more than any other season, I feel as if the writers had exhausted their possibilities, and were looking further afield for the drama and comedy to close out the season.

This comes in the form of the return of Lana (Jean Smart), and the introduction of her dopey son Kirby (Brian Klugman) and her fascinating good friend Claire (Patricia Clarkson). At first I was surprised by the return of Lana. Smart is a great actress but the world wasn't really crying out for a sequel to her last appearance. Still, I was impressed that Lana isn't really treated (in these episodes) as another love interest but as a genuine friend for our lead character. Her car ride with Frasier, and particularly her one-upping him in the second episode, showcases a type of friendship that Frasier has rarely experienced over the course of the series. If nothing else, the end of this season shows a real desire to open up the world of the show a little bit.

Unfortunately, the rest of "Semi-Decent Proposal" feels so calm and gentle. It's just nothing like the humour I'm used to from this show and in fact, it feels a bit like the characters of "Frasier" have been transplanted into another sitcom. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose - I mean, people evolve (these characters sure have come a long way from the pilot) and audiences age and grow with them. But the vibrancy of previous seasons has given way to a little series of dramas which occasionally have jokes.

Still, the supporting cast are good fun. Clarkson is particularly funny being the servant of two masters, when she has to feign equal enthusiasm during her wine tasting scene. Claire is almost laughably perfect for Frasier, but she also exposes the genuine side of his character. Sometimes, Frasier Crane gets caught up in the pretensions of his interest. The opera box seems more important than the opera. But he truly does love all of these interests, and it's so nice to see that come out. Meanwhile, Klugman's blank stare and earnest, puppy-dog line deliveries are really sweet, and when used sparingly, Kirby - like Simon Moon before him - allows the series to make jokes and contrasts with our characters that it usually can't do.

"A Passing Fancy" is, like "Semi-Decent Proposal", quite languorous but it reaches a decent climax with the confrontation at the restaurant. The "you promised him sex?" round is very funny, and I appreciate how everyone in the circle has a legitimate reason to be yelling. And the last gag with the Bruce Springsteen tickets is great comeuppance. Ultimately, I don't love the style of these episodes, particularly as they prefigure two even calmer, less funny episodes to end the season. But I'm glad to see the show opening up its world a little more, even if the ambition deserves more praise than the result.


Rating: 74%

 

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