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Episode reviews for Episode 9.01 - Don Juan In Hell

Avg. Viewer Review: 72.9%
Number of Reviews: 9

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The slacker, the barmaid, and the icicle, May 20, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Opening with the arresting image of Frasier, Lilith, and Diane Chambers travelling in the same car, "Don Juan in Hell" is tasked with the tricky job of cleaning up the detritus from the spectacularly bad final five half-hours of season 8. (I'm not down on season 8 in general, but those last five episodes were rough.)

Returning to Belize for the first act is a necessity to clear away the Claire arc, even if it feels like the season 9 showrunners would rather be moving on. Island Niles is a very funny concept (it may be a loose fit for the character, but then again we've seen him adopt other poses - such as when dating Kit - and I can accept the idea that there's a part of him that likes to "be naughty"). And the montage of Frasier getting advice on Claire is very well done. Overall though, the Belize sequences have such a strange atmosphere, a kind of quiet ambience. My working theory is that the writers are showing how content Claire's presence makes everyone (but Daphne) but to be honest, it doesn't feel anything like the show I know. Evolution over time is one thing, revolution is another.

Thankfully, the return to Seattle brings a vibrancy back to the series that has been missing for some time. The scene with Frasier waiting for his luggage at the airport is classic, overemoting about time losing all meaning, and then tricking a hapless advice-seeker into sorting out Frasier's own dilemma. David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves are great in their little yoga tale (complete with joint yoga imitation) and there's some great writing for Roz and Kirby throughout (Roz's "Almost takes the sport out of it" is hilarious). It's also Jean Smart's last episode as Lana, who is farewelled in a rather lacklustre fashion. In some ways, the character represents the changing of the guard. Here sits Frasier, dressed more casually and eating canned cheese. Starting next week, he'll be back to his stuffy self somewhat, whereas here he resembles the Frasier of late season 8. Just as I appreciate Martin becoming more openly warm, I appreciate Frasier coming down from his high horse over time. But at some extent, it begins to feel like another series entirely! Either way, once we leave Lana's house for the last time, it becomes clear that "Don Juan in Hell" is really the eighth season finale. Frasier realises he keeps ruining his chances, and we at last get the resolution that was left so unsatisfactorily hanging last season.

The final act of "Don Juan in Hell" is really great fun, however. It's one of those concepts that lesser sitcoms would falter at but which "Frasier" knows how to assemble effortlessly. Pitting Frasier up against the four crucial women of his life - first wife Nanette, almost-wife Diane, second wife Lilith, and mother Hester - is an utterly fantastic way of exploring his quintessential loneliness: a key factor of the series since the start, and more and more prominent since the key midpoint of "Our Parents, Ourselves". Like the best "Frasier" scripts, every character is allowed to be themselves, and the concept itself gets a good examination - I particularly like the way the women get their memories confused - but it all centres heartily around Frasier's psychological hang-ups. Bebe Neuwirth is reliable as always, and Dina Waters and Shelley Long have great fun as part of the ensemble, but it's Rita Wilson who particularly impresses as Hester. While I still think we spent too much time on the Lana/Claire arc, this episode almost justifies everything. Knowing that they were slowly reaching the home stretch of the series, the writers were definitely warranted in really asking whether Frasier is ready to meet someone for life.

"Don Juan in Hell" is far from perfect, although I'd chalk much of that up to the ambitious nature of the concept and to the lingering threads from the misguided end of season 8. Still, it shows that there is hope ahead - both for Frasier Crane, and for the fans.

Rating: 78%


Audience in hell, Aug 19, 2012

Reviewer: MT from Denver, CO, USA

My biggest problem with this particular story is that Frasier's infatuation with Lana is totally out of the blue and unconvincing, given her horrendous demeanor shown previously. It's hard for the audience to find the attraction in anyway convincing or logical.

Rating: 60%


Terrific Character Exploration, Oct 15, 2011

Reviewer: An from USA

I am always thrilled to see Lilith and especially Diane. I think Diane and
Frasier's relationship is/was fascinating, and Frasier's understanding and
acceptance of his second-class standing with her while still in her thrall is
at the heart of it. What a complex character he is, as highlighted by his
dysfunction with Diane, and Lilith as well. I think this is a great episode.
I take points away for the hippie ex-wife, who was expendable and
seemed to interrupt a great flow amongst the others.

Rating: 95%


Viewer in Hell, Jan 18, 2011

Reviewer: NS from Atlanta

While it was a wonderful treat to see Diane and even Lilith, two of my favorite Cheers characters, this episode was rather unpleasant. Rather ironically, I have felt that way about the other episodes I can think of off hand which delve into Frasier's person psychiatry. (Other such episodes include the two with Dr. Dukesbury and the "Chesty" episode.)

Beyond that what is annoying is that Frasier broke up with Claire in this episode. It seems to me that of all of the Frasier women in all of the episodes, she was the best match. I would have liked to have seen this plot arc be a bit longer.

Rating: 65%


Don Juan In Hell, Aug 30, 2009

Reviewer: Ruth from West Mids, UK

After a shaky season 8, I thought this was a promising start to season 9. The show picks up
where the last season left off, with Frasier and Claire in Belize with Martin, Daphne and Niles.
While Niles is enjoying being laid back and he and Martin are enjoying Claire's company,
Frasier is still tormenting himself over his feelings for Lana. He asks advice of everybody,
including an airport employee, but it is only after he gives advice to another man who seems
to be in a similar situation, that Frasier makes his decision. He finishes with Claire and
decides to tell Lana how he feels about her, at Kirby's graduation party. However, the man
who Frasier counselled turns up at the party and it transpires that he is Lana's ex-wife -
come back to tell her that he wants her back. Although Frasier toys with the idea of trying to
put Lana off her ex, he does the decent thing and tells her to follow her heart.

The ending sees Frasier trying to work out his feelings, with a little help from his
subconscious, in the form of Lilith, Diane, his first wife Nanette and his mother. Although I
love Bebe Neuwirth as Lilith (and would have enjoyed seeing her as a more regular
character), I felt that this scene went on too long.

I would also liked to have seen more of Peri Gilpin, who seems largely sidelined in this and
other recent episodes. There is still plenty to enjoy here though; I really really like Lana's
character, and Martin, Daphne and Niles's silent phone call to Claire - with her subsequent
phone call to a confused Frasier - is a great scene.

Overall, this was a promising start to the season, with a couple of laugh out loud moments,
which have been missing from the episodes preceding it.

Rating: 78%


Review of 'Don Juan In Hell', Jul 27, 2006

Reviewer: Beer Necessity from York, England

The first half of this episode is a continuation of the season 8 finale in which Frasier has to choose between two women, Claire and Lana. On the whole it’s a pretty dull re-tread, with only the appearance of ‘Island Niles’ providing some mild amusement. The second half is much better. Frasier forces himself to confront the reason why his relationships always fail by inviting Lilith, Diane, Nanette (his first wife) and Hester (his mother) on a trip inside his head. I know that sounds like the horrendous premise to an episode of ‘Moonlighting’, but it actually works very well and delivers some wonderful comedy. Having four strong characters in his head forces Frasier to deal with some uncomfortable truths, and the episode is poignantly (yet humorously) wrapped up with the realisation that he is alone, because he is afraid to be alone! A very funny episode which reveals much more about Frasier’s character than the laugh-free season 8 episode Frasier’s Edge. A near classic episode.

Rating: 80%


Don Juan In Hell... for me, anyway., Sep 24, 2005

Reviewer: Stratman from Australia

The Island Niles B story was mildly amusing, and in my opinion, wasn't as out of character as people think. Niles does tend to go through little phases, and he probably wanted to show Daphne how manly he could be, which explains alot, because Niles has done some pretty wierd things to please his mates.

The A story, on the other hand, was a complete bore. As Martin said, ''the material isn't fresh anymore''. Seeing Frasier's ex-wives, and the doorway to his past, were a minor novelty, but aside from that, this episode dragged. Rita Wilson was great as Hester, and there were a few funny moments, but it really said nothing new about Frasier. It is my honest opinion that 'Frasier's Edge' is the episode to go to if you want some real insight into why Frasier acts the way he does.

Rating: 59%


DON JUAN IN HELL, Sep 16, 2005

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK

Having recently watched the glorious Season 5, I already know and am prepared for the fact that Season 9 is not exactly going to be a step down in quality, but more a terrible fall down a whole flight of steps – so my expectations aren’t so high, but I am at least hoping that this season will manage to pick up some of the shattered pieces of the dismal Season 8.

The ninth season begins with a two-part episode following on from ‘Cranes Go Caribbean’ called ‘Don Juan in Hell’, which had a very interesting premise as the main plot of the show examines Frasier’s impossibility of finding true love with a woman, and not being able to remain in a steady relationship. However, the laughs are scarce (especially in the first half) and the scenes in the restaurant at the beginning with Martin pandering to one of Frasier’s girlfriends and Frasier not being able to decide which woman he wants to be with between Claire and Lorna are terrible. I found this scene totally devoid of laughs, and found (as I have come to expect from Season 8 onwards) Niles to be hideously out of character, with a moustache and claiming to be ‘Island Niles’ having found joy in nakedness, which seemed somewhat unrealistic – although I did like the line about ‘the coconut of revelation’. Daphne was once again irritating as she was bossy and inquisitive over Martin’s fondness of Clare – but I did like it when Frasier and Clare broke up, and Clare and Daphne lamented on how they could have been sisters, because they’d both grown up surrounded by brothers.

For me the low point of the episode was the party at Lorna’s, in which her ex-husband (who in a surprise twist had asked Frasier for help previously) shows up. The character of Kirby was obviously brought in to make the show appeal to a younger demographic and I think the episode suffered as a consequence. Since when did the early seasons of Frasier have to rely on expressions like ‘Dude’, ‘Oh purlease’ and ‘Jerk’? Gone are the days of Niles ‘ludicrous popinjay’ lingo, and instead we stoop to the level of dialogue that suits programmes like ‘Friends’. To quote Frasier ‘don’t use the F word’ – which again shows how far the show has slumped since it began with clever, intelligent witty writing that never failed to make me laugh. The conversation between Lorna and Frasier when Frasier advises her to give it another try with her ex-husband was pretty dull, and nothing we haven’t seen before. If I’m getting annoyed now, I dread to think how I’ll be by the end of the season…

However the last fifteen minutes saved this episode from total oblivion, and managed to give some semblance to this episode. It was a masterstroke to bring back all the woman Frasier has ever dated – and it was great to see Diane, Nannette and Lilith, in particular coming back to ‘help’ Frasier realise why he can’t hold down a relationship. This technique is very original and works well, and stands as the one redeeming feature of an otherwise unpleasing and slow premiere. Here’s only hoping the season improves.

Rating: 67%


'Don Juan In Hell' review, Sep 07, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

Another double-length season opener, whose title had previously appeared as a title card in Season 5's 'Frasier Gotta Have It', this begins where Season 8 left off, back in Belize with Frasier still agonising over choosing between Claire and Lana. The opening scenes have a strangely stilted feel to them with many of the laughs feeling rather half-hearted as Frasier asks for everybody's opinions about who he should be with. Far more alarming, however, is the appearance of a bearded Niles, or 'Island Niles' as he refers to himself, while Daphne sports a newly cropped hairstyle. Thankfully, once the gang return to Seattle, Niles reverts back to his former clean-shaven self, following an embarrassing incident where he was spotted on a nudist beach by the Women's Christian Movement, his recollection of which is the only time I really laughed in the first half, much of which is taken up with the increasingly unengaging Lana/Claire storyline, with Frasier dumping Claire only to find his hopes of getting together with Lana dashed when her ex-husband shows up at the graduation party for Lana's son, Kirby, who appearances here I found increasingly tiresome. There's a particularly dreadful scene where his ex-girlfriend shows up to the party and the pair argue about Roz having been his prom date which made me wonder if I was watching an episode of 'Frasier' or some badly written teen comedy. Thankfully, the second half is an improvement, containing as it does the tour de force sequence of Frasier retreating to a woodland cabin, only to be tormented by his subconcious bringing to life all the key women from his past. While the scene contains a three-second novelty of Frasier opening the door to every woman he's ever dated (which does indeed include many - although not all - of his love interests from past episodes), it's the four most important women from his past that are the key players. Featuring his first wife Nanette as a squeaky-voiced hippy chick seems a bit cringeworthy but this is more than made up for by the chance to see both Diane and Lilith playing in the same scene. However, for me the sequence is stolen by the reappearance of Frasier's mother Hester (an excellent performance from Rita Wilson) - I especially like her summing up of Nanette, Diane and Lilith as 'the slacker, the barmaid and the icicle!'. As a whole, this episode is never more than mildly amusing and doesn't really get going until two-thirds of the way through but at the end does give us some fresh insight into Frasier's inability to hold down a relationship and signs off on a poignant note with a brief tribute to 'Frasier''s co-creator David Angell and his wife Lynn, who both tragically died in the September 11th atrocities just two weeks before this episode aired.

Rating: 74%