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Episode reviews for Episode 6.12 - Our Parents, Ourselves

Avg. Viewer Review: 75.8%
Number of Reviews: 5

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I'm impressed you can mime a virgin, May 19, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Readers of my reviews could argue (justifiably?) that I overanalyse the series and its characters. Sure, perhaps this show is just an example of five well-constructed characters being pitted against each other with a series of gags that range from opera jokes to dog humour. Yet, I'd argue there's more to it, and I think "Our Parents, Ourselves" - coming at the exact midpoint of the series - is a key episode. Which may seem like an odd claim given this is a competent but not particularly memorable little outing.

The episode's first act is nothing too remarkable. Peri Gilpin gets a chance to shine when her mother (played by Eva-Marie Saint) comes to town and takes a liking to Martin. We've heard a lot about Joanna over the years, and Roz's family have rarely intruded on the scene although they've explained a lot about the various complexities of her character. So it's nice to meet Roz's mother at last, and to have the clever turnaround that Martin can't stand her - not because she's a bad person, but simply because she's uninteresting to him and they have nothing in common. This of course sets up a classic conflict between Frasier and Roz, even though the former is not sure how to break the subject to her. There's nothing particularly special about all of this set-up, truth be told, but the characters remain consistent and the overall pace of the episode is great.

The second act is far more fun with a comedy-of-errors in the Crane household. Bonnie's spirit, Joanna's cluelessness, Marty's quick thinking... it's all very well done. Things do come to a head rather quickly, I'll concede. And the seriousness of Joanna as a character (akin to how the similarly well-rounded Edward is treated in "Out with Dad") means that the farce deflates in a gentler way than most. But it's again nice to see the characters behave like humans at the end, even if I'm not sure the episode ever quite finds its middle ground between farce of mistaken identities and character story.

What's important in this episode, though, is the final scene with Frasier and Roz. Going forward (particularly as the series starts to escalate the Daphne/Niles business over the coming months), the series has to begin asking the same questions "Cheers" asked about its characters (and that most sitcoms choose not to). Why are they still in the same job? Why haven't Martin, Roz, or Frasier found long-term relationships? When nothing changes, what does it mean? The answer isn't simply that they're characters in a formulaic sitcom. It's a multitude of feelings - heartfelt and comic - about aging, discovering the complexities of oneself, and so many other things. As the midpoint of the series this makes a lot of sense, particularly given that those three characters - the focus of this episode - are going to be the ones asking them the most in future seasons. On its own, this may be an energetic but unremarkable little outing. As a piece of the narrative, it looms large over what remains.

Rating: 80%


The Mamas and the Papas, Sep 29, 2011

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire

The opening scene made me realise how much this season was missing by diverting the show away from KACL. Frasier's life shouldn't just be about family. It needs him in the workplace to balance out the equation. And this scene is something that wouldn't have looked out of place in one of the earlier seasons.

One of Frasier's callers challenges him to answer a football question. And Roz comes to his rescue by miming the answer! Its the highlight of the episode.

The fact that the best scene comes at the beginning leaves the rest of the episode on shaky ground. Because although its great to see Frasier and Roz back at KACL, Season 6 is still not quite hitting its stride. Our Parents, Ourselves aspires to greatness, but it falls into the company of other Frasier also-rans like The Seal Who Came To Dinner and Merry Christmas, Mrs Moskowitz.

This episode is special because it marks the one and only time we meet Roz's mother, Joanna Doyle. Roz and Joanna have a bit of a strained relationship, not unlike Frasier and Martin when they first moved in together. While visiting from Wisconsin, Frasier and Roz decide to set Joanna and Martin up on a date at McGinty's.

The scene at McGinty's offers up another highlight that has nothing to do with the main plot. When sideswipes are funnier than the storyline, you know an episode is missing something. Niles is still stuck living at the Shangri-La, and a few of the boys drop into McGinty's. They have a nickname for Niles, The Coyote. And he gets it through The Six Degrees of Separation:

"From Niles, to Nilesy, to Nile E, to Nile E. Coyote, and now just The Coyote. I can't wait to see what's next." (Coyote Ugly?)

Since Martin is a retired cop and Joanna is the Attorney General of Wisconsin, you'd think they'd hit it off. But it turns into the dullest night of Martin's life. But Joanna had the greatest night of her life, and its brought her and Roz closer together. It sets up a tangled web. Roz is eager to keep Joanna and Martin together, while he can't stand the sight of her, and Frasier has to find some way of breaking it to Roz without hurting her or her mother.

Our Parents, Ourselves has all the elements of a great episode. But it falls down in the hands of the scriptwriter, Janis Hirsch. She didn't exactly make an auspicious debut with Roz, A Loan, and she hasn't improved a great deal with this one either. It may just be down to inexperience, but Hirsch lacks an aptitude for farce.

She lays the seeds for a pleasing scenario. To make things more complicated, Martin has invited Bonnie, a waitress from McGinty's he's interested in, over for the Superbowl. And then has to pretend she's going out with Niles so as not to upset Joanna, who's dropped in as well.

I'm not sure why I didn't find this funnier. When you think about it, its not much different from the sublime state of affairs of The Two Mrs Cranes, or the spiralling farce of The Matchmaker. But it pales in comparison. The tangled web of complexities fail to ignite. In the hands of say David Lloyd or Rob Greenberg, I probably would have been rolling on the floor, cracking up at the insanity. But in Janis Hirsch's hands, it never hits critical mass.

She even resorts to a corny old device that you'd think a show of Frasier's calibre would never stoop to. Joanna overhears on Alice's baby monitor Martin and Bonnie explaining to each other what's really going on. One has the sneaking suspicion that the only reason Alice was in the episode was so they could do that. (Even though Alice doesn't appear)

Hirsch hasn't learnt from any of her mistakes with Roz, A Loan. She even includes a similar scene between Frasier and Roz at the end that never raises a single laugh. I'm afraid Janis Hirsch was not cut out to be one of the writers. Something the producers seemed to realise since Hirsch only got one more writing assignment subsequent to this.

Season 6 is obviously still experiencing some fallout from Frasier's misshapen out of work storyline. We'd have to wait for Donny to appear in the latter half of the season for things to pick up properly, and give it the drive that's been missing from it so far. Not resort to pallid rehashes of far better episodes.

Rating: 54%


Our Parents, Ourselves, Jul 13, 2010

Reviewer: Somewhere, CA from Norm, Jr.

Energetic enough little offering that has Martin annoyed at the attempt by Frasier and Roz to hook him up with her mom. He's bored to tears by her, and sees more potential in a scrawny little waitress he knows. It all comes to a head at a Super Bowl party as the scribes fall back on the "chaotic poseurs" routine, of everyone acting the fake. Couple good mix-up gags and a decent resolution are provided. My one carp may seem insignificant, but the actress who plays Bonnie seems far below Marty's abilities. Short as a leprechaun with a voice to match, she costs this ep five percentage points. Yuuuhhhhhghgh.

Rating: 80%


All Hail the Dairy Queen, May 24, 2007

Reviewer: Jim Jarrell from Gainesville, FL

Unlike the other cynical reviewers, I think this episode makes the best use of the actors' comic timing. Peri Gilpin gets a star turn and a chance to really shine, and she delivers. One of my favorite lines in this episode is a throw-away, but it speaks so profoundly of the injustice with which Frasier routinely judges other people. Roz is bemoaning her decision to set her mother up with Martin, to which Frasier questions to her if she doesn't think his father is good enough. Roz replies with a remark about her mother being the "attorney general of Wisconsin." Without missing a beat, Frasier replies "well, let's hope he remembers to curtsy before the dairy queen!" Again, it's nice to see Frasier exhibit a sense of pride about the particular faults in his personality and in his family. It makes him very human, and even though I often despise his haughty demeanor, I love it when he descends to "our level". I was not as put-off by the ending as others are. I point to an episode in the final seasons when Frasier must face his jealousy over the littany of men Roz has been with as proof that the moment they share at the end is poignant and in perfect sync with their characters.

Rating: 90%


'Our Parents, Ourselves' review, Jul 20, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

This episode sees the one and only appearance of Roz's mother, Joanna Doyle, as Roz and Frasier decide to set up their parents on a date only for Martin to find Joanna unbearably dull company. Martin and Niles (the latter pretending to date Martin's genuine date Bonnie) complaining about their unwanted dates ('They're not our dates'/'We hate them!') and Niles aka 'The Coyote' meeting up with some of his new friends from The Shangri-La prove the funniest moments in an episode that manages to be enjoyable - although this is more down to the excellence of the cast than the rather bland script. Although writer Janis Hirsch easily improves on the dreary 'Roz, A Loan', the episode lacks the distinctive sharp dialogue that usually makes 'Frasier' stand head and shoulders above other shows and the promising farce descends into a disappointing climax, throwing in the cliched 'overheard conversation on the baby monitor' routine and following this with a damp squib of an ending featuring a heart to heart between Frasier and Roz. In fact, the most notable thing about the end of this episode is that it marks the exact halfway point in 'Frasier''s 11 year run.

Rating: 75%