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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 8 -> Episode 8.10

Motor Skills
Episode Details

Written by: Eric Zicklin

Directed by: Pamela Fryman

Original US airdate: 30th January 2001

Original UK airdate: 9th March 2001


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
   
   
Guest Cast
Randy .... Dave (Gruber) Allen
Shirley .... Pamela Dunlap
Chelsea .... Katherine Dique
Copy Guy .... Kelvin Yu
Guest Callers

Episode Synopsis

As Frasier drives his date Chelsea, Niles and Daphne to the opera, his car suddenly breaks down. Despite putting a brave face on it, Frasier and Niles feel a little embarrassed about their lack of knowledge about car engines, so resolve to take an evening class to help them grasp the basics. Sitting right at the front of the class, Frasier and Niles feel right at home until the class starts and Frasier and Niles' discussions between themselves puts them behind. They don't catch up by the end of the class - and so rationalise they would be better off quitting. However, both Daphne and Martin are so proud of Frasier and Niles that they have second thoughts.

Despairing that they will never catch up with the first class's work, Roz suggests that instead of having to be top of the class, they should coast. Frasier and Niles have never done that their whole lives - but decide to do it. However, their slacker antics get them thrown out of the class.......Meanwhile, Martin drives Roz to distraction as he tries to train Roz's new dog the 'right' way.

Episode Title Cards
  • Gentlemen, Meet Your Engines

  • The Coasters

Episode Highlights

- Frasier is driving Niles, Daphne and his date Chelsea to the opera:
Chelsea: This is going to be a whole new experience for me.
Daphne: Why? You've never been bored before (!)

- Frasier apparently cried at the opera:
Niles: You'd have to be stone not to weep at his tragic end.
Martin: Hey, hey! Haven't seen it yet (!)

- Frasier is thrilled to be sitting at the desk of someone who learns during the day:
Niles: Judging by the carving on his desk, it appears his name is Aussie.
Frasier: Yes - and apparently he rules.

- The class tutor, Randy, arrives:
Randy: If you'd like to take your seats, we'll get started.
Niles: We're already seated, Randy (!)

- Frasier and Niles almost fall behind because of their discussion about the orchestra:
Frasier: We can't let that happen again.
Niles: Agreed.
Randy:..... and if you only take one thing away from this class, that should be it.

- Shirley comes up with the right answer to one of Randy's questions:
Randy: Did everyone hear that?
Frasier: Her voice was kind of muffled - what with her lips being pressed up against Randy's butt (!!)

Frasier Online Episode Review

The best 'Frasier' episodes are like a well-oiled engine: smooth and run like a dream - this episode, however, struggled to get fired up and ended up being rather disappointing. It was certainly fun to see Frasier and Niles back in a learning environment givng you a good idea of what they would have been like at school - right at the front, trying to stay top of the class. Equally as amusing was the Crane boy's antics as slackers, especially their funny note - which was written in French. However, the writers struggled to make any of this any more than amusing. I also hated the subplot of Martin helping Roz train her new dog - it just felt so contrived, as if the writers couln't really be bothered to think of something interesting for Roz and Martin to do. I found Martin really irritating in this episode and his know-it-all dog expert act really got on my nerves, leaving us with a rather flat and fitfully amusing episode sadly.

Rating

68 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 81.8%
Total Number of Reviews: 8


Does anyone speak French?, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


Rarely have I seen two such disparate storylines wedged together in a "Frasier" episode. This was Jane Leeves' penultimate episode before maternity leave, and I wonder if this affected the writers at all, since it feels like Roz and Martin are left adrift in this one. Daphne is used well in her one scene - she's the solid impetus for Niles to stay on in class - but something's just off.

The bad stuff first: the Roz/Martin storyline is, unfortunately, a disaster. The characters have always been very straight-talking, and have always enjoyed a relationship of equals like few other main cast pairings. So, I appreciate the attempt at a conflict, and I can't fault either approach. A tiny part of Martin is patronising and sexist, and a bigger part of him is feeling left out now that Niles and Daphne have their own life going on. It's no surprise that he would dominate Roz's life in this way once she let him get a foot in the door. Similarly, Roz has priorities like Alice's whims that she has to choose over Martin's guidance. She's also a very strong-willed person who isn't going to take unwanted advice. I guess my point is that I can't fault the idea behind the storyline, nor do I fault the actors. It's just that the dramatic weight of the story is all wrong. I like "Frasier's Edge", so I'm not against drama without much comedy but the dynamics here feel off. There are very few (maybe no) laughs in this storyline, and I'm just not sure that this is justified, to be honest. Mahoney and Gilpin are very strong dramatic actors, but they're left adrift here.

Still, mustn't grumble. Churning out 24 episodes at the rate of one per every eight days is a minefield of a task. Faced with so many obstacles, it's an honest miracle that some seasons could churn out as many masterpieces as they did. I'm not inclined to besmirch a show just because occasionally a subplot doesn't go the way it should have. Sometimes, by the time a script is in production, there's little one can do to save it. I suspect that's what happened here.

Over in the A-plot, Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce take another lightweight, zero-stakes story and get to goof around, having some of the funniest times they've had as actors all season. Dave "Gruber" Allen is wonderfully deadpan as the automotive teacher. The community college atmosphere is captured beautifully, and - as silly as it may be - Grammer and Hyde Pierce really sell the rapid transition to bad boys. The script throws them enough of a reason to stay in class, so we don't have any incredulity. The fact that their idea of being bad boys includes sharing notes in French and mocking other grown adults is honestly very funny.

A bipolar episode, but one that has some great moments for the actors.


Rating: 75%

 

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