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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 11 -> Episode 11.17

Coots And Ladders
Episode Details

Written by: Heide Perlman

Directed by: Kelsey Grammer

Original US airdate: 16th March 2004

Original UK airdate: 12th May 2004

Cast Information
Main Cast
Frasier Crane .... Kelsey Grammer
Niles Crane .... David Hyde Pierce
Martin Crane .... John Mahoney
Daphne Crane .... Jane Leeves
Roz Doyle .... Peri Gilpin
Recurring Cast
Ronee Lawrence .... Wendie Malick
Guest Cast
Opal .... Estelle Parsons
Willa .... Gabrielle Miller
Roland .... Jack Laufer
Sarah .... Linda Gehringer
Janelle .... Bernadette Birkett
Florence .... Phyllis Flax
Guest Callers
Babette .... Helen Mirren

Episode Synopsis

Frasier has called Niles over to his apartment in a panic and tells him that he has committed a crime. Frasier then starts telling the story by flashback - it began with a a caller to his show, Babette, telling Frasier her problem is that she has an uncontrollable urge to steal things which she finds so exciting which Frasier diagnoses as kleptomania. A persistent cough forces Roz to finish giving Babette Frasier's usual advice of seeking counselling and joining a support group, which impresses Frasier but Roz just says he has been giving his callers the same advice for over 10 years! He then takes a hammer he requested down to the parking garage where someone has parked in Frasier's spot, at which point Niles interjects and summises that Frasier became a vandal - smashing the car with the hammer. Frasier of course had done no such thing - he merely used the hammer to put back up the sign in his parking spot.

Arriving back at his apartment, Frasier is met by his neighbour Opal who asks him to drop by to help her change a lightbulb. Once inside his apartment, he finds Ronee, Martin, Niles and Daphne looking at some photos from years ago that Martin has only just got developed. Ronee comments that everyone's changed - except Frasier, a comment that Opal makes too when Frasier drops by to change her lightbulb as she says Frasier has such a fastidious routine. That's when the crime was committed - Niles thinks he took one of Opal's busts from her shelves and bludgeoned her to death, but yet again he is way off as it turns out that Frasier stole a trinket box from her shelves, and had never felt more alive!

Then the real reason for calling Niles over becomes apparent - Frasier is feeling guilty and wants his brother's help to put it back. Frasier has a key so the pair of them sneak into Opal's apartment, but as they are about to put the box back, they hear the door opening forcing the brothers to hide behind the curtains. It soon becomes apparent that they are Opal's birthday party guests and have come to hide also to surprise her when she comes back. All of the guests are surprised to see Frasier and Niles surprise Opal as well, but the task of putting the box back becomes trickier when they learn that it contains her bronze medal from the the 1936 Olympics and her family want to take her picture with the medal........

Episode Title Cards
  • How To Deal With A Dim Bulb

  • Oedipal Undies

Episode Highlights

- Roz asks if Frasier's alright after his coughing fit:
Roz: I haven't heard so much coughing since I was backstage at Reggae Sunsplash!

- Niles imagining that Frasier was smashing a car's windscreen in with a hammer.

- Ronee thinks Niles must have been drunk when she finds an old picture of him at a party:
Ronee: You've got your arm round a floor lamp!
Niles: Oh no, that's Maris in her Easter hat!

- Niles thinks he knows what crime Frasier committed:
Niles: And that's when you did it - you bludgeoned her horribly with that bust!

- Niles isn't too concerned by Frasier's theft:
Niles: I hardly thinh you're going to run off on a crime spree.
Frasier: Oh really?
[Frasier produces Niles' wallet from his jacket]
Niles: Thief!

- Niles is hoisted on Frasier's shoulders, just like they do when you win a race:
Opal: They never did that for me!
Frasier: Yes, but you came third, didn't you.

Frasier Online Episode Review

This is a rather odd episode that is basically a case of good first half, weak second half. The first half of the episode is told rather entertainingly in flashback how Frasier stole a trinket box from his neighbour Opal, which allows Niles to pre-empt Frasier's story and second guess what he is about to say - wrong on all counts, but allows for some delightful comedy moments such as seeing Frasier gleefully smash a car windscreen with a hammer. The second half is where the episode starts to go down hill as farce essentially takes over, and rather dull farce at that. There's also the very weak reason for Frasier and Niles having to hurry and put the box back - her family want to take a picture of Opal with her medal. Please! It was great to see another 'Roseanne' stalwart again - after Laurie Metcalfe a few episodes back, this time it was Estelle Harris (who memorably portayed Roseanne's mother) but this remains a rather flat and forgettable episode.

As a sidenote, it wasn't possible to assess this at the time the episode was broadcast, but Helen Mirren as Babette became the last celebrity to be the voice of a caller to Frasier's show.


71 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 82.5%
Total Number of Reviews: 4

Unchanging as Grandpa's whiskers, May 30, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

A cute little episode that doesn't quite soar after the last few episodes, but still gets the job done. By now, the series knows how to get the auxiliary parts of a script underway so smoothly. Frasier's day going from bad to worse is slickly done, as is Roz's overtaking of the calls at KACL (foreshadowing her own breaking free of the cocoon), a neat guest call from Helen Mirren, and the way the siblings fight over Frasier stealing a handkerchief and who is going to play what role in the un-thieving. It's all cleverly done by the cast and writer. Similarly, although I was initially suspicious of the narration conceit (wondering if it meant the episode didn't work well in production and had to be edited), it was actually very smartly used, particularly with Niles taking over the narrative. (My favourite line reading this week has to be David Hyde Pierce with "I remember it as if it were four hours ago.")

I'm not as down on the surprise party as some critics. Estelle Parsons puts in a lively turn as Opal, aided by fun guest stars Jack Laufer, Linda Gehringer, and "Cheers"' Vera - Bernadette Birkett. It is of course a very unlikely turn of events that leads the party to desire the exact medal Frasier stole. Similarly, the ladder heist seems like the Jenga tower has only been piled to three-quarters height before knocked down. There's something missing from the farce, and I suspect it's that the idea of Frasier needing excitement and thieving is not satisfactorily wrapped up. I mean this partly because of the increasingly serialised nature the season will take (with this thread being the focal point of next week's "Match Game") but also in that the escape from the party is the end of the farce, rather than the moment before the final twist. "Coots and Ladders" is not quite top-shelf "Frasier" but it's an enjoyable half-hour that promises our lead character will get the royal analytical treatment in the remaining few episodes.

Rating: 84%


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