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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 7 -> Episode 7.17

Whine Club
Episode Details

Written by: Bob Daily & Jon Sherman

Directed by: Kelsey Grammer

Original US airdate: 24th February 2000

Original UK airdate: 28th April 2000

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
Dr Mel Karnofsky .... Jane Adams
Guest Cast
Claire Wojadubakowski .... Anita Gilette
Corkmaster .... Anthony Heald
Virgil .... Richard Stretchberry
Guest Callers

Episode Synopsis

Martin has embarked on an affair with Claire Wojadubakowski, whose husband Stan was buried a few weeks before. He is feeling quite guilty over this, but Claire tells him not to worry. Frasier, meanwhile, is very excited about being made Corkmaster at his local wine club. He tells Roz that Niles is nominating him, but hopes Mel doesn't make him change his mind. Roz asks how he can be so sure, forcing Frasier to admit he doesn't know Mel all that well, so he suggests having Sunday brunch that week to get to know her better and invites Roz along. While Niles is getting ready for the wine club meeting, Mel subtly manages to convince Niles to run against his brother for the position of Corkmaster - to which he agrees. Frasier is a bit stunned when Niles reveals his intention to run against him, and as luck would have it, Frasier and Niles are the only two nominees for being made Corkmaster. The votes are counted for them - 14 apiece - which means a blind taste-off off 5 bottles of wine is required to decide the winner. After 4 bottles, it's neck and neck but on the 5th bottle, Frasier and Niles differ in opinion - Niles believes it to be Merlot while Frasier believes it to be Cabernet. The judge says that the final bottle was a blend - of 45% Cabernet and 55% Merlot, which means Niles is crowned Corkmaster!

So we get to the Sunday brunch Frasier is throwing for Mel, with Frasier himself still fuming over losing out to his brother. Martin tries to sneak Claire out of the door after sleeping with her but Frasier sees her, thinking she has just arrived and invites her to brunch! Finally Mel and Niles arrive, and Mel instantly gets on Martin's nerves with her dislike of Eddie, and asking him to put Eddie out on the balcony. In fact, during the course of brunch, she manages to alienate everyone - especially Frasier when he learns it was Mel who suggested he run for Corkmaster. Frasier in particular is concerned that she is controlling and emasculating him - in other words, Maris all over again. He wants to say something, but Martin warns Frasier he will just drive a wedge between him and Niles. However, Daphne says she can't stand her and soon Niles learns that everyone agrees with her.....

Episode Title Cards
  • Doesn't Everyone Have A Fireplace In His Closet?
  • Gunfight At The Bouquet Corrall

Episode Highlights

- Frasier is excited about taking on the role of Corkmaster:
Frasier: If I'm elected, we're gonna have vertical tastings, guest speakers and a trip to Portugal, where the finest corks come from!
Roz: I wish I had a cork right now (!)

- Frasier invites Claire to lunch after she returns Martin's tupperware with chilli in it, unaware Martin has just slept with her:
Frasier: I'm not sure we can give you a treat as hot and spicy as the one Dad gave you, but....

- Daphne has made Bloody Mary's, but Martin is unsure Claire has time for one:
Daphne: Mrs Wojadubakowski, Mr Crane was wondering whether you had time for a quick one.

- Frasier tries to persuade everyone to go easy on Mel:
Frasier: We are having this brunch to get acquainted with Mel. We owe it to Niles to give her a chance.
Daphne: I agree with Dr Crane - we should all have another Bloody Mary!

- Roz has just about had it with Mel:
Roz: When you invited me, did you say 'Brunch for Mel' or 'Brunch from Hell'!

Frasier Online Episode Review

This could have been another in a long line of enjoyable sibling rivalry episodes, but instead it turned out to be an episode whose only point, it seemed to me, was to make everyone (including the audience) start to dislike Mel. The writers probably have an ulterior motive for doing so, but it seems it was at our expense. There are some entetaining innuendos about Martin's relationship with Mrs Wojadubakowski, and the way in which Niles found out everyone hated Mel was very well done, but somehow these weren't enough to create a good episode. There was also an interesting speech from Daphne about her having impulses that she hasn't acted upon which presumably will become apparent in later episodes. Overall, this was a slightly disappointing episode - thankfully a rarity with this series.


73 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 84.0%
Total Number of Reviews: 4

Brunch for Mel, or brunch from Hell?, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

After an overall fascinating season, "Whine Club" is the start of a bit of a dip in quality that will continue through for several episodes.

Mind you, I don't mean truly dire television. I just mean some things seem a bit less smooth than usual here.

Ultimately, there are three plots here. First, the Corkmaster competition has its highlights (Roz riffing on the idea of a superhero named Corkmaster, and the over-serious reverence that both Niles and Frasier place on the role). I also think the comedic tension is very strong in the taste-testing scene. Still, the plot somewhat fades away in the second half to be replaced by the real meat of the story. And after seven years, somehow the rivalry between the brothers just doesn't have the same strength about it. (Realistically, it feels like they have resolved competition so often in the past that they now work better as colleagues.) Some good scenes but not ultimately a successful plot.

In the smallest of the three, Martin attempts to hide his dalliance with Claire, the widow of his longtime buddy Stan Wojadubakowski (who died earlier this season, in "The Dog that Rocks the Cradle"). That name still cracks me up, and the script gets some good mileage out of Frasier's inadvertent double entendres (shades of the early gem "Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast"). As a running gag, it's quite funny, and I admire that the episode opens with the relationship treated quite seriously by a clearly guilty Martin. Still, Anita Gillette as Claire is given very little to do and, again, I'm not sure it develops particularly strongly.

All of this business takes a step back to allow for the brunch for Mel, slowly being painted as a neurotic Lady Macbeth figure. I actually disagree with some fans that the script demonises her too much. Some part of this, of course, is that the series wanted to do something different with the "love rival" archetype. So many shows with clear will-they-won't-they couples (cf "Friends") are stunningly lacking in irony. They really want the audience to believe the new rival is a potential lifelong connection even though we know on some level that everything will work out. By being honest about this fact, the writers get some good comic mileage out of everyone's reactions (I laugh out loud at Roz volunteering to be locked out on the balcony). Yet, I think the series has done a good job of building up Mel as a fitting partner for Niles - remember, this is a series and each episode is only part of that tapestry - that I think we can appreciate why the main characters dislike her, but also see that she might suit Niles nonetheless.

Having said all that, "Whine Club" finds very little in the Niles/Mel interactions to redeem her this episode around. And some of the jokes - Martin's phoniness at brunch, Roz's genuine concern about X-Ray vision - fall flat. Ultimately, the brunch itself is only passing funny. (Really we've seen variations on this trope with both Lilith and Maris, not to mention Bebe!) It's the aftermath, as all four characters accidentally reveal their true feelings, that is very very funny. It plays off the main characters' interactions in a very strong way. Daphne's explosion has been building for several weeks now (sometimes inconveniently ported into episodes where it doesn't fit), and this is a lovely continuation of an impressive dramatic arc.

Ultimately, while I think those last few scenes are wonderfully strong, and I praise some individual moments, this one overall doesn't impress. ("Well", as Daphne would say, "she does have that X-Ray vision...")

Rating: 75%


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