A very enjoyable episode, fulfilling several necessary plot functions but doing so in a stylish 22 minute package.
Frasier Crane has been unlucky in love for 11 years, and the series has managed to get great comedic and dramatic mileage out of this fact. Finally, the series needs to deal with this. Martin is moving out (although I don't think the series has explicitly mentioned this yet) and Niles has found love; even Roz seems happy with her life. So "Miss Right Now" has to both bring this back to the fore and also continue the plot of Laura Linney's Charlotte. Frasier is so terrified of his ability to flirt with Kim (Jennifer Tilly, who previously played a date of Frasier's in an early episode of "Cheers") in a scene that is perfectly modulated, both from a writing and acting standpoint. Tilly is such an individual performer that she makes every line sing. (The script is amusing although many of the lines are only moderately funny - saved in the hands of the actors.) What "Miss Right Now" gets right is how to tell both sides of the story. Frasier getting his apartment ready, and gradually having his date trumped by every character on the show (""I've met more people in this apartment than I did at the bar") is slick and broad, as are the little character moments: Niles' "I have my big double juicy and you have yours", and Kim's hilariously inane "I love it when I say something and then you say something funny". Yet this is also about Frasier facing his greatest obstacle: he's the nice guy, the "good friend" as Charlotte calls him. He's the moral, weak-willed guy who never gets the girl but always gets her affection. Now he's facing Frank (the beguiling Aaron Eckhart) and these attributes exemplify everything about the man's romantic character. (It also gels with his barely restrained lust in episodes like "Caught in the Act".) While it's clear that Charlotte and Frank are going to recur (and we must be aware that Charlotte will be the last major love interest, even if we don't 100% know whether she'll stick), the episode allows it to be Frasier-centric while also giving agency to Charlotte's uncertainty and self-doubt. Very neat, and Laura Linney can pull off anything.
Meanwhile, the B-Plot is neatly intertwined. I'd hope for something more substantial for Ronee and Martin in the lead-up to their wedding but - again - I think the writers have acknowledged that after 11 years, we have all the pieces of Martin's development (and the other characters). This is about Frasier himself now, so the family can retreat into side plots. Marian Seldes, as Ronee's mother, is a gem, an actress from the golden days of theatre and television. (Seldes taught at Juilliard where she trained both Linney and Kelsey Grammer.) Like so many guest spots on TV, I wish Seldes had more to do, but she's a perfect fit for the role, proving a nice foil to Martin. And again, as with Charlotte, the script remembers Ronee as a full character too. Wendie Malick is a sitcom veteran and her warm easy presence here fills the apartment with charm. Her "Frasier's mother" jokes could easily have come across as either kookily sincere (terrifying stepmother) or as shrill and unfunny. Instead, Malick injects just the right amount of warmth to make it clear she's joking with, but also ribbing, Frasier. And as a result, she wins best line reading of the episode for "you may get away with this now, young man..." But of course, there's a brash, carefree side lurking underneath, and so I equally admire her very un-Frasier like suggestion that he get Charlotte drunk regardless of Frank. (And Ronee getting covered with water for verisimilitude is an unexpected treat!)
As usual in season 11, Peri Gilpin doesn't get much to do, but Roz's "Screw it" reaction to Frank is good for a laugh. It's interesting that the studio audience doesn't laugh much at Frasier's "Roz as predator" joke: I guess by now, she had receded into the background a bit and this wasn't as common knowledge for the casual viewer. I could quibble, perhaps, at the Niles subplot. While I like how he equates peasant food from European cultures with American stuff, and the many puns and excuses to hear Jane Leeves say ridiculous phrases are always welcome, it feels out of place. The man had a heart attack 18 months ago, and his father had one this year. Also, it's defiantly out of character. This could only work in one of three ways: if it were the set-up for a longer story, if it were analysed psychologically (paternal anxiety, concern over keeping up with Daphne), or if it became outrageously funny, akin to Roz's caviar addiction in "Roe to Perdition". Instead, it's just a slightly thoughtless C-Plot aimed at the casual viewer.
In conclusion then, an episode I enjoy, with some dynamic guest performances and the task of filling in some crucial plot details for the upcoming finale. But with five episodes left, it's a shame to see some of the main cast wasting away in the corner!
The Frasier/Charlotte storyline continues in another episode from the pens of 'Cheers' writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs, although their script is not the only connection to 'Frasier''s predecessor as guest star Jennifer Tilly had previously appeared in the 'Cheers' Season 4 episode 'The Second Time Around', which also saw the debut of Lilith. As in this episode, Tilly played one of Frasier's dates (Candi Pearson) - whom he actually ended up proposing to. This time around she appears as Kim, whom Frasier meets when Roz brings him to a singles bar to take his mind off Charlotte (nicely reminiscent of 'Mixed Doubles' when Roz brought Niles to the 'Sure Thing' bar to help him get over Daphne) after which the pair reconvene at the apartment resulting in an embarrassing situation involving whipped cream (Kim: 'I'm lactose intolerant!'). Perhaps the funniest parts of the episode are those involving Ronee's prudish mother, who instantly expresses her disapproval of Martin as well as Frasier seemingly dating two different women (which, along with Frasier's trademark operation of the CD remote, recalls 'Three Dates And A Breakup'), while I also liked Ronee constantly reminding Frasier that he's soon to have a new mom. Sadly, the episode is spoilt somewhat by an inane subplot involving Niles' unlikely taste for fast food. Presumably this was thrown in just to give Niles and Daphne something to do, but I found it a pointless and out of character plot which seems to disregard Niles having undergone heart surgery in the previous season. That said, the ending is very sweet as Martin looks on as Frasier decides he will fight for Charlotte, closing the episode with a lovely unspoken exchange between father and son.