Frasier Online
home About The Show Episode Guide Merchandise Forum Reviews Gallery Contact
Episode reviews for Episode 7.06 - Rivals

Avg. Viewer Review: 75.2%
Number of Reviews: 4

Write an online review and share your thoughts.

Ups and downs, May 13, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Hmmm, I don't have much to say about "Rivals". I think Gigi Rice is divine as Regan, and Katie Finneran really gives her all as Poppy, a character who is deliberately grating but who could've been accidentally so with a lesser actress. I really appreciate any time Frasier's work and personal lives combine, and this is a deftly plotted little farce that pairs up the brothers Crane with two women so perfect for them... that of course they will tear it to pieces.

Still, I think this is a rather run-of-the-mill episode. The humour mostly comes out of the ceaselessly recurring joke that the brothers have mistaken each others' affections. It's funny but, unlike the best "Frasier" farces, probably needed another step to make it to classic status. My favourite element may be that the women are allowed some agency here: they aren't simply character-free beauties for Frasier to aspire to; they're existing characters whose opinions matter.

In the end, an average episode of "Frasier", but still caviar compared to most multi-camera sitcoms these days.

Rating: 75%


Strong on plot. Low on laughs, Jul 21, 2009

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire

Rivals is Christopher Lloyd's last solo script before his three year break away from Frasier. Since this is his last one, he's decided to go all out with a truly complex comedy of errors.

Throughout Christopher Lloyd's time on the show, an increasing sophistication crept into his work. He started out writing amusing offerings, but from the third season onwards he began to gravitate towards more challenging pursuits.

A recurrent theme of parallel viewpoints runs through much of his work. From the hilarious Shrink Rap. To the ingenious Perspectives on Christmas. Rivals blends the sibling rivalry of the former with the nimble scripting of the latter.

But for all that, Rivals comes off the lesser. Its extremely well written. But instead of dazzling us with narrative backflips, the episode becomes more a puzzled scratch of the head. So it never quite becomes the classic it clearly aspires to be.

The episode makes the rather peculiar choice of resurrecting Poppy Delafield, from Joe Keenan's Everyone's A Critic two episodes ago. I never really liked that episode. Mainly because Poppy was a one-note character that wore out her welcome all too soon.

Christopher Lloyd has made a commendable effort to tone down Poppy's loud, obnoxious personality. Something that seriously scuppered her debut appearance. The downside to this is by doing that, there's nothing else to her as a character. Which only shows how poorly thought out she was. And explains why we never see Poppy again after this.

After observing Frasier's tempestous relationship with Poppy, Niles takes a bit of an interest in her when she shows off a whole new side to herself when she's around him. And the interest is mutual.

Meanwhile Frasier's become interested in Regan Shaw, his next door neighbour, who he finds in his apartment wearing nothing but a towel. Martin let her in after she locked herself out. And tries to set her up on a date with Frasier.

Niles is convinced that Frasier's got a crush on Poppy. Something Frasier fervently denies. Either by luck or by good timing, Regan walks in, who happens to be a former patient of Niles'. Daphne overhears half of the conversation, and reports back to Frasier that Regan's been seeing Niles.

Of course Niles can't admit this to Frasier. He's bound by doctor/patient confidentiality. So Frasier becomes convinced that Niles has designs on Regan.

I wonder when writing Rivals, did Christopher Lloyd get as confused as I did? There are a couple of times when Frasier alludes to this, which might be Lloyd's way of voicing bafflement at his own script.

Christopher Lloyd is a true master of plot. But the problem with Rivals is it may be too overwritten. It becomes such a slog trying to keep up with every new plot convolution you wind up worn down by it instead of laughing at it. Even after several viewings, Rivals makes less sense. Not more.

Joe Keenan did the whole thing of mixed signals better in The Ski Lodge, where everybody fancied somebody else. And they were all wrong. Suzanne Martin created her own masterpiece of misconception with Halloween. Two superb episodes that Rivals tries to be like but winds up too entangled in its own cleverness.

Christopher Lloyd brings the two couples together at a Charity Ball. Where Frasier and Niles sneer at one another, both convinced the other brother is after each other's date. Instead of paying attention to Poppy and Regan. The misunderstandings snowball to such an extent that the plot just left me behind. After a while, I couldn't be bothered trying to keep up anymore.

Even the ending is not as funny as it should have been. Frasier and Niles commiserate at the bar after Poppy and Regan have walked out on them. They drink a toast to they're dates and both blurt out the wrong names. It would have been funny, if I hadn't been so exhausted at the end of it. And for all the wrong reasons.

In some ways Rivals is a clever and well executed episode of Frasier. It was nice of Christopher Lloyd to try something ambitious to end his tenure on. If I had laughed more at the plot's twists and turns instead of being baffled by them, I probably would have given it a higher rating.

The jokes just become buried in the plot's own complexities. And even when it does try to be funny, it never succeeds at that either. The tango scene looks like a much sillier version of the far superior one from Moondance (Christopher Lloyd was one of the writers on that script). Its just too flawed to really be funny.

Complicated plots can be funny. My favourite episode of Fawlty Towers, The Hotel Inspectors had a dazzling script where it kept continually misleading you. And when it finally revealed its punchline at the very end, it was a shocking revelation that left me as dazed as it did doubled over in laughter. Rivals tries for the same thing, but ultimately fails.

A rare failure for Christopher Lloyd. But an honourable one.

Rating: 65%


RIVALS, Aug 09, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK

You can generally rely on Christopher Lloyd (my favourite scriptwriter for the show) to turn out a well-constructed, intricate and clever episode of ‘Frasier’, and ‘Rivals’ is definitely no exception. However, much as I adore this episode, I do feel that occasionally it tries to be too clever for its own good, and as a result the story can become over-complex and a bit too complicated at times, hence requiring the viewer to offer their full attention throughout the episode’s duration. I think the biggest flaw that ‘Rivals’ suffers is the fact that Christopher Lloyd is clearly trying something different and has perhaps strayed from his comfort zone a little, and as a result the many elements of farce included in the script don’t feel quite as polished and slick as previous farcical offerings in ‘Frasier’. These are mainly minor quibbles though, because I do really enjoy this episode and feel that its very clever and multi-layered. This is going to be a really difficult review to write because there are so many interweaving plot strands involved in the episode, so I just hope that it makes sense to read. ‘Rivals’ sees Katie Finneran reprise her role as Poppy Delafield (her second, and final appearance on the show) and also introduces Frasier’s latest love interest in the form of his next door neighbour, Regan (played by Gigi Rice), who will make a further appearance towards the end of this season. I rather liked both Regan and Poppy, and as a result, they help to enliven this episode. The episode gets off to a nice, amusing opening with Niles meeting Poppy for the first time. I loved how Poppy acts in a completely contrasting way towards Niles, and casts aside her babbling, talkative and rambling persona and comes across as much more thoughtful, quiet and relaxed, due to the fact that she doesn’t feel intimidated by Niles. The first complication is engendered here as well, because Niles believes that Frasier’s constant moaning, criticising and complaining about Poppy is just his way of masking deeper, more intimate feelings. This is where the plot really gets complicated.

Regan enters in on the scene next, and I loved Martin’s attempts to convey Frasier as hugely impressive in order to set his son up on a date. His unsubtle techniques were very funny, such as ‘…heard every day on his very popular radio show’ and ‘Sorry, I walked out with your car keys – I should have known from the big BMW on the side!’ It’s not long before Regan and Frasier begin to hit it off. Meanwhile however, Daphne confesses to Niles that she thinks Frasier may be interested in someone (because he’s ‘been mooning around like a love-sick schoolboy’), and Niles assumes he harbours affections for Poppy, whilst Niles himself meanwhile confides to Daphne that he has fallen for a woman too, also Poppy. The situation becomes even more complicated when Niles confronts Frasier about his feelings for Poppy again and is still left unconvinced, and Frasier introduces Regan to Niles (whose prompt arrival makes Niles think Frasier choose her on the spur of the moment to get out of admitting he had feelings for Poppy). If things weren’t bad enough, it transpires that Regan is a patient of Niles’, and their awkward introduction arouses Frasier’s suspicions. His fears are apparently confirmed when Daphne overhears Niles telling Regan that ‘Frasier never need know we’ve started seeing one another’, which Frasier interprets as having dates with one another, whereas in reality Niles is referring to the patient/doctor relationship. Frasier asks Niles, who confesses that he has feelings for Poppy (‘as if anyone could pursue that insufferable air-horn’, but Frasier believes that Niles is lying to cover up his real feelings for Regan, whereas Niles believes Frasier is lying about being interested in Regan in order to hide his real feelings for Poppy. So, as we enter the second act, Niles is smitten with Poppy and Frasier with Regan, but each brother believes that they harbour crushes on the same woman. The tangled webs reach a climatic crescendo of chaotic confusion at a Charity Dance, in which Christopher Lloyd manages to manipulate the situation so that Frasier ends up tangoing with Poppy, and Niles with Regan, leading each brother to become more and more paranoid watching the other dance with the partner they believe he has feelings for. Niles get the wonderful in-joke ‘I know this is confusing’, as well as misinterpreting Regan’s confession of feelings for Frasier as desires to switch psychiatrists. This scene is brilliantly played out, and works wonderfully, leading to a huge argument forcing the two women to leave. The final scene where Niles and Frasier befriend and announce their feelings for different women is a superb way to end the episode too. To surmise, ‘Rivals’ is a fiendishly clever episode of ‘Frasier’, tightly plotted and highly entertaining. I may like this episode more than most, but if you can get your head around the plot, it's great!

Rating: 84%


'Rivals' review, Aug 02, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

A typically complex comedy of errors from the pen of Christopher Lloyd which sees Niles showing an unlikely interest in Poppy, whom Frasier can't stand, while Frasier becomes acquainted with his new neighbour Regan, whom it turns out has been seeing Niles for therapy sessions. Both brothers becomes paranoid that the other is out to steal their new love interests with Niles deducting that Frasier's apparent loathing for Poppy is just a front to conceal some more deep-rooted feelings and Daphne's misinterpretation of Niles and Regan's relationship leading Frasier to think that his brother is being equally underhand. Although the brothers are the main focus here, it's Martin who gets the biggest laughs of the episode in the scene where he's trying to talk up Frasier in front of Regan, who makes a memorable entrance clad in nothing but a bath towel. Ultimately, the episode's downfall is that it's almost too clever by half with the misconceptions eventually becoming too confusing to be truly funny while the charity ball climax, which incorporates a tango sequence straight out of 'Moon Dance', sees 'Frasier' almost lapsing into self-parody. It's still something of a class act though, and ends on an amusing note when the brothers drink a toast to what they assume is the same woman, only for each to blurt out Poppy and Regan's names simultaneously.

Rating: 77%