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Episode reviews for Episode 7.17 - Whine Club

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

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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%


'whine club' ranks either 1st or 2nd all time for me, May 31, 2010

Reviewer: justanotherfrasierlover from spaceneedletown, usa

the crane brothers duel for the coveted corkmaster crown
the thrilla in manila it aint the snobfest in the pacific northwest it is (well maybe not ... but anyway...)

ive seen this episode at least a half dozen times over the years and the scene of the wine taste-off is my all-time frasier favorite moment from countless wonderfully memorable ones

their swishing and swooshing and spitting of the grape
followed by their adjectives describing its qualities have not yet once failed to make me laugh out loud even having seen it now many many times

i want to say niles steals yet another scene but can't this time because frasier's retorts are every bit as brilliantly snobby as niles'

and of course the ' hail hail corkmaster ' song is hilariously silly
and niles' 'pope wave' during his coronation (corkonation?) just devinely haughty - niles reigns as snobking at last
finally a place among his peers high enough to equal the altitude of his ego

but we're only halfway through the half hour time slot
two other threads are already weaving us along in classic frasier style;
that is every character gets to shine deliverying either eviscerating putdown lines or innocent double entendres
bon mots knights of the algonquin roundtable could only envy and admire

first martin is trying to keep secret his shagging the widow of his recently expired buddy (a woman who married into a wonderfully tongue twisting ethnocentric surname) and second mel - maris's replacement as niles' whipmaster - is alienating everyone in sight with her obnoxious personality at the get-to-know-ya frasier is throwing for her

brunch time bloody marys have left daphne is in her cups and the truth is flowing from her lips and roz doesnt hesitate to opinionate as well in the way only pretense loathing rozalinda can
this after she has already chopped frasier's egotistical corkmaster aspirations down to size way back in the opening scene - but i digress

all in all the most enjoyable cranefest of them all for this frasier addict

superlative is all i can i say 100 as a rating number is wholly inadequate

(btw re my subject title heading: 'room service' when lilith niles and frasier have their brainiac-a-trois is the other contender as my personal best ever episode but that's another review alltogether, yes?)

in the mean time ...

'hail hail corkmaster
the master of the cork
he knows which wine goes with
fish or pork!'

Rating: 100%


Hooray for drunk Daphne !, Jan 11, 2007

Reviewer: Doriangz from San Francisco CA

I am going to add my two cents on this episode because I slightly disagree with the main reviewer's assessment. While not at the top of the list in terms of quality and while the change in Mel is slightly disturbing (although, to be fair, we hadnt seen enough of her for her bossy ways to be obvious before and anybody who has been in a relationship knows people's true colors appear only bit by bit weeks after dating has started), I found this to be a quite entertaining episode.
The innuendos mentioned by the other reviewers were very funny but I thought the best part of the episode was drunk Daphne. Jane Leeves has always had great lines but this is the most consistently funny she has been for me since the beginning and the "X Ray vision" line is one of the few laugh out loud moment for me in the 7th season.
Bored Roz was also funny and no denying that how Niles find out what they think of Mel is one of these tours de force "Frasier" is so brilliant at.
And the fact we are conspicuously while slowly moving towards Daphne/Niles makes it all the more enjoyable to me !

Rating: 83%


'Whine Club' review, Aug 08, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

More competition between the Crane Brothers here as they go head to head to compete for the post of Corkmaster (or as Roz would have it 'Corkman'!) at their wine club, with Niles emerging as the winner - thanks largely to the encouragement of his increasingly manipulative fiancee. After a rather poor debut with 'The Dog That Rocks The Cradle', this episode is a definite improvement for writer Bob Daily, here in collaboration with Jon Sherman, with the scenes at the wine club with Frasier and Niles' wine-tasting proving quite amusing. Martin's guilty conscience over his affair with Claire Wojadubakowski, the widow of his recently departed friend Stan, is also the source for some good laughs including various innuendos from Martin and Daphne which recall Season 1's 'Guess Whose Coming To Breakfast?'. Much has been made about the fairly extreme change in Mel's character in this episode as she somehow manages to get on the wrong side of everyone during the Sunday brunch. While this was perhaps not the most subtle way of encouraging the audience to turn against the character, it's largely redeemed by the fact that the sequence where everybody accidently lets slip their true feelings about her to Niles is very funny, in particular a drunken Daphne casually blurting out that Mel is all wrong for him. With three different plots trying to make their mark, the episode isn't quite satisfying as a whole but has more than it's fair share of good moments.

Rating: 78%