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Episode reviews for Episode 8.10 - Motor Skills

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

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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%

 

Excellent Frasier-Niles dynamics, Sep 21, 2012

Reviewer: Emil from Sweden


Frasier and Niles sign up for an evening class to learn the basics about car engines. Meanwhile, Martin helps Roz with her new puppy.
In part, a great episode - but with a reservation, as will be explained below. This episode exploits in full the intellectual attitude and wonderful dialogue between the Crane brothers, including some hilarious out-of-character moments by the end of the episode when Frasier and Niles act out the bad pupils in the evening class.
The parallel storyline when Martin helps Roz with her new puppy and tries to boss her offers less laugh moments, but makes you smile a few times if you have been a dog owner yourself. It definitely drags down my overall rating of the episode.


Rating: 85%

 

excellent dexterity, Jun 15, 2011

Reviewer: tonya smith from dickson, tn


even with a slow start....the middle and the end well worth it...a real laugh out loud episode...


Rating: 94%

 

Laughed until I cried, Jun 05, 2007

Reviewer: Carl in Washington from Monroe, WA


Niles and Frasier take an auto repair class and just can't understand it, so they decide to coast through the class to only a passing grade. They ditch the books and become back row cut-ups. This whole episode crescendos for me when during class, both are slouched in their chairs, Niles is rolling his eyes at everything said, and Frasier is smacking and chewing his gum just like a jerk kid. They finally start passing insults about others in the class by speaking in French. "Does anyone in the class speak French? ... Niles raises his hand. Besides Niles? The whole picture of these two Ivy League, PhD, M.D.s being the brats in class left me laughing until I was crying! This and "Ham Radio" are my two favorite episodes.


Rating: 99%

 

laughed alot, Feb 10, 2007

Reviewer: anna from santa rosa, ca


I thought the writing and humor around the "boys" classroom behavior was right on target. There was definately something that resonated with the tension between their primary personas and the unfulfilled desires they have to "be bad". I thought the show was overall very well done.


Rating: 80%

 

Loved this!, Aug 15, 2006

Reviewer: Rezal from Englewood, CO USA


I loved this episode...I don't know why it didn't rate very well, but I thought it was a very funny episode.
My husband is a mechanic and I think I just enjoyed relating to the two as they have to learn their tedious lesson.


Rating: 99%

 

MOTOR SKILLS, Jul 16, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK


What a dull old episode. I never liked this episode much on original viewing last year, and unfortunately this episode hasn't improved at all. All three of the Crane men seemed unlikeable, immature, annoying and dislikable in this episode, and once again an interesting and potentially amsuing storyline was wasted because Eric Zicklin's script lacked any humour at all in my opinion. Let's start with the infamous 'Martin trains Roz's dog' subplot, and I'd agree with the general feeling that it is pretty lousy. Although, unlike many Frasier fans out there, I think there have been far worse subplots (look no further than 'Door Jam', 'Enemy at the Gate' and 'Proxy Prexy). Martin came across as patronising and annoying, especially when he was criticising Roz's handling of Frankie/Aerial.

I actually thought the main plot, in which Niles and Frasier enroll themselves in an engineering course was even worse than the dog subplot. Niles and Frasier do sometimes go over-the-top I'll admit, but the behaviour they displayed (venturing down the backalley's of underachievement) seemed out-of-character, childish and just toally implausible. They were stupidly annoying, giggling and offering patheticly contrieved answers to Randy's question; answers worthy of a five-year-old's response. I thought the show was supposed to be witty and sophisticated, but this episode provides a completely oppositie impression. Although I've been rather surprised to find myself enjoying Season 8 much more than I imagined, 'Motor Skills' feels like some other trashy, cliched, run-of-the-mill US sitcom. The central characters appear arrogant and unlikeable, and there isn't even a slight laugh to be had throughout. Awful, awful episode.


Rating: 55%

 

'Motor Skills' review, Aug 24, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK


A decidedly hit and miss episode in which the negatives sadly outweigh the positives. The weak and lifeless opening scene of Frasier's car breaking down is the source for the main plot of Frasier and Niles attending auto repair classes. Although not too sharply written, the scenes with Frasier and Niles effectively back at 'school' do throw up some amusing moments; Frasier's pompous addressing of the class prompting a classmate to leave the room made me laugh, as did the sight of the Crane brothers trying the patience of their teacher, Randy, by 'coasting' their way through the course - especially the passing of a note written in French - while the episode ends on a good joke with them purchasing fake certificates from a photocopy shop. A shame then that this promising plot has the misfortune to share an episode with the truly abysmal subplot with Martin's out-of-character nannying of Roz and her new puppy. Neither John Mahoney and Peri Gilpin nor the studio audience seem able to summon up much enthusiasm for this banal, humourless padding which does more than anything else here to drag down what could have been a very good episode.


Rating: 67%