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Episode reviews for Episode 7.07 - A Tsar Is Born

Avg. Viewer Review: 80.7%
Number of Reviews: 3

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We can go tubin'!, May 13, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


My general philosophy is that - after the transitional (and great) season 6 - the series begins to adjust its priorities. The characters have evolved so much from who they were six years ago, and this has a marked effect on their interactions.

"A Tsar is Born" evidences this fact when we open with Frasier and Niles actively refusing to go to a relative's wedding. In previous years, this would've been cause for disgruntled attendance; now, they're over it. Similarly, Martin Crane - be it deliberate change or simply development of the writers - is now the kind of man who would happily guilt his sons for weeks afterward. It's a classic, character-based setup. Family has always been important to Martin (or at least, family responsibility), and the idea that something as minor as the wedding's theme would keep people away? Impossible!

So, when the episode turns to Frasier and Niles' desire to convince themselves they are something "more" than just honest American stock, it makes perfect sense. The brothers' mutual self-delusion is enjoyably played by both men. I don't think the script for this episode is a classic - it doesn't have quite enough laughs and insightful lines for that - but it pivots on completely natural character traits for all three Crane men, and ends with Martin getting a Winnebago. So how can I complain?

Other observations:
* "Antiques Roadshow" really was a clever catalyst for this episode's plot. It genuinely strikes me as one of the few things that would interest all three Crane men.
* John Mahoney's "Martin on TV" voice and stature are impeccably comic.
* I enjoy the Noel fakeout on Roz's date, largely because of how Peri Gilpin plays that outburst. She's just a joy.
* The story of the Cranes' ancestry is quite silly, and all three times I've watched this episode, I've developed the feeling that it's missing one scene - for some reason, I always assume the Russian is a con artist... even though I know better!
* Jane Leeves looks, may I say, damn fine in that "wedding dress". The Niles who fell in love with quirky season 1 Daphne cared about her inside and out, but season 6 Daphne we can all understand!


Rating: 80%

 

A TSAR IS BORN, Aug 11, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK


‘A Tsar is Born’ represents the existing snobbery of Frasier and Niles that is so apparent throughout the series, but this time takes it to somewhere completely new and different, as the brother’s decide to research their family tree and ancestral history. The last three episodes (although I loved ‘Rivals’) have all possessed a feeling of ‘déjà vu’ and have recycled old plot devices and ideas used in previous stories, so its especially nice to be offered some original material, because ‘A Tsar is Born’ is blessed with a wonderful premise and contains a great number of funny scenes. Having said that however, when re-watching this episode in preparation for writing this review, I didn’t find this episodes quite as brilliant as I’d remembered it being, although there are still plenty of priceless moments scattered throughout, and Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney played off each other particularly well in this one. I think the episode starts off pretty slowly but soon gathers momentum, before snowballing into a hilarious resolving scene, which sees Frasier and Niles receive their comeuppances. The episode begins in Café Nervosa, and it is made immediately clear that Martin is fuming with anger because his son’s lied to him in order to dodge going to a wedding (or should that be weddin’?), by pretending to be attending a conference at the ‘therapist’s Guild’. I didn’t like Martin’s behaviour in this scene, because I don’t think mature people generally act in this way, and ignoring his sons with contrived references to ‘how people don’t turn their backs on family’ seemed a bit unsubtle to me. Yet, I really liked Frasier’s reason for avoiding the wedding – it had a western theme to it, and the invitation asked which flavour chilli you preferred, ‘mild or kick-ass?’. However, the Crane’s feud is settled in a very unexpected fashion, as they all settle down to watch the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ together on television.

On the part of the writer, it was somewhat of a masterstroke for Martin and his son’s to all forge an interest in the same television programme, showing that (perhaps) there wasn’t such a big cultural gulf in the family after all. I loved Niles amazement that he wanted to watch the same show as his dad – ‘I’ll just check outside to see if the world has ended’, but this gag was topped by Daphne’s incredulous reasoning behind the occurrence ‘Is Pavarotti jumping the grand canyon?’. On the subject of Daphne, we’re also treated to the rather uncomfortable, but still hilarious sight of her attired in Donny’s mother’s unorthodox and very untraditional wedding dress (worn for her Las Vegas marriage) – which constitutes of a mini-skirt. Back to the main plot, as a result of the guys’ mutual love of the ‘Antiques Roadshow’, and hearing that the next edition is going to be held in Seattle, the Crane’s decide to take some of Martin’s old gear down, to see how much its worth. The centrepiece in Martin’s collection turns out to be an old pewter Bear clock, which Frasier and Niles are convinced will be completely worthless. However, the pair, who are previously recoiled in the shadows with embarrassment, are drawn closer and closer to Martin as the rarity of the object is revealed. It transpires that the Bear clock is Russian, made in the mid-18th century and existed exclusively in the Romanoff family, and would easily fetch a sum of $25,000. What ensues is extremely funny, as Frasier and Niles become convinced that they are descended from Russian royalty. I loved Martin’s sarcastic response to their claims: ‘We’re royalty! But I didn’t want you two too grow up spoilt, so I advocated and took a job in Seattle. It was kinda hard giving up that royal way of life, but I think its maybe the swans I miss most!’. Frasier and Niles become further obsessed with discovering the true about their heritage, driven by ideas of titles, an occasional state dinner seating and a story to tell at parties. A story of their great-great grandmother unfolds, who they believed was just ‘hibernating’ from royalty, as she emigrated from Russia in 1879 sensing revolution, and taking the antique clock with her. Of course, their ideas are dispelled by Dr. Myshkin (bring out the caviar) who sets them straight; their grandmother was a scullery maid who assisted Sonia Romanov (daughter of Tsar Alexander II) to flee from Russia with the bear clock. The Doctor then takes the clock (back to its rightful place), and Frasier and Niles dreams’ of Russian royalty are shattered, as they confess that ‘we’re descended from thieves and whores!’ They encounter further humiliation when Martin buys a Winnebago for $30,000 (an integral part of this season’s finale), because he assumed his boy’s would be able to fetch that much money in exchange for the clock. In conclusion, a very amusing, fun little episode that just misses classic status for me.


Rating: 80%

 

'A Tsar Is Born' review, Aug 03, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK


Following a handful of episodes which didn't quite reach their full potential comes this consistently amusing episode which sees Frasier and Niles excited to learn that they may be linked to Russian royalty, following an evaluation of a family heirloom at the Antique Roadshow. There are some superb scenes in this episode, not least the rare sight of the three Crane men watching the same television programme, which leads Daphne to quip 'What is it? Pavarotti jumping the Grand Canyon?' while their chosen drinking game ('Veneer!') is a joy. There's also a wonderfully subtle visual gag when the Cranes visit the Seattle Antique Roadshow where Martin is having the bear clock evaluated and an initially embarrassed Frasier and Niles suddenly shuffle into view once they learn of a possible royal connection. Martin is particularly good value here, especially in the scene where he tells his sons that they are genuine royalty while the closing sequence where Dr. Myshkin enlightens the brothers of the sordid truth about their ancestors is hilarious, all the more so given that Martin has just blown all the money they were supposed to have received for the clock on a Winnebago, which in a nice touch will feature prominently at the end of the season...


Rating: 82%