Frasier Online
home About The Show Episode Guide Merchandise Forum Reviews Gallery Contact
Episode reviews for Episode 8.11 - The Show Must Go Off

Avg. Viewer Review: 87.3%
Number of Reviews: 7

Write an online review and share your thoughts.

Sir Derek, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Easily the best episode of season 8 to date (possibly of all), "The Show Must Go Off" has either too much plot or too little, I'm not sure which.

This episode feels like it could have stepped straight out of season 4 in many ways. Frasier and Niles are perhaps back to an earlier conception of the characters (Daphne is entirely absent this episode, which helps this transition) as they set about organising a revival for a Shakespearean actor they've idolised since childhood. Roz gets some good jokes at a sci-fi convention while Martin appears very little, but the crux of this episode is the relationship between producers Niles and Frasier, and their star Jackson Hedley, played perfectly by Derek Jacobi. As a Shakespearean idolater and actor myself, I've always had a love/hate relationship with Jacobi, so it's good fun to see him mocking the idea of a classical ham and doing it so well.

The idea that Frasier and Niles see their cause as so just elevates the stakes of the episode, and the revelation that Hedley is a bad actor is a scream, topped only by the revelation he was ALWAYS a bad actor - just filtered through their youthful idealisations. As we know from experience, the only thing funny than the Crane brothers planning an event is when the brothers must scramble to cancel or fix the problems, and the actors are in fine form here. Patrick Macnee puts in an amusing little guest spot as Jackson's father who probably would prefer to watch "Cats" than sit through his son's performance.

The episode perhaps ends far sooner than it should... or far later. One feels as if there were two ways for this episode to go. One is that the reveal of Jackson's lack of talent would be the climax or, alternatively, that the many ways in which the night falls apart would be the driving force of the closing scenes. Instead, things simply peter out. We already knew Jackson would ham it up onstage and the finale adds very little to this. Perhaps the writers were taking the audience's response as read - we don't need to see the night go wrong because we know it already. But it still sort of fizzles out in the last three minutes, which is a great shame. Still, "The Show Must Go Off" is a highlight of season 8, which has gradually altered the series' focus and perhaps even the conception of the characters as a whole. This doesn't make it a classic, but it's rewarding enough to stand out.

Rating: 85%


Back to form, Apr 16, 2012

Reviewer: Matt from UK

This episode has received some unfair criticism from fellow reviews, in
my opinion. I love 'classic' Frasier - opera, theatre, snobs, farce, high
society disasters, etc. So this episode was a welcome return to form
rather than the soap opera/cod psychology/Frasier-in-jeans lightweight
froth that came to define the later seasons.

Jacobi, as one would expect, devours his role as a deluded ham. Martin
and Daphne are sidelined (the latter for pregnancy reasons), but no
matter - Niles and Frasier team up just as they did in the old days, and
that makes for a fun little episode. My favourite line comes when a sci-fi
geek asks Jacobi whether he'll attend his kid's birthday party - "Travel
expenses are extra, and I eat on my own!"

Rating: 86%


My favorite episode, Apr 21, 2009

Reviewer: AJ from Ontario, Canada

Out of any show that I have ever watched and loved, this episode is the one I can rewatch over and over and absolutely never get sick of it.

It is just that well done.

Derek Jacobi is just amazing, the premise is hysterical, and the dialogue is some of the best ever. It also rings very true. Sure, the plot may seem a bit out there, but I found it all very believable.

It is quite a shame that this episode belongs in Season 8, because I tend to get a bit paranoid about the sheer amount of people that must have never even given it a viewing due to the fact that they rate Season 8 quite low.

Perfect all the way through, an absolute must-see, and one of the main reasons why it is very hard to divide, and especially judge, television shows by "season" only.

Rating: 100%


Stage Fright, Jan 21, 2009

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire

After a rather uneven season so far, this is a bit more like it. The Show Must Go Off is quite an enjoyable episode. Certainly the most enjoyable one of Season 8 up to this point. Its no classic or anything. But its smooth, consistent, and it did make me laugh. You really couldn't ask for anything more.

This is an episode that could easily have slotted into any one of the earlier seasons and not looked out of place. Because there's nothing cringeworthy about it. Nothing that springs to mind anyway. And although not blessed with a phenomenal script, Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce and the cast make the most of it

Jane Leeves was absent on maternity leave throughout filming, which means that instead of being saddled with some annoying subplot, Niles gets to share the bulk of the main plot with Frasier. As it should be. Because they're misadventures together is always guaranteed to get a big laugh from an audience. And this episode is no exception.

After the rather dreadful Motor Skills, this is a much more satisfying Frasier/Niles plotline. Because it sees the two of them trying to kickstart the career of an actor they once admired in they're youth. And that is much more in character than Frasier and Niles being the clowns of they're auto repair class.

While shopping at a sci-fi convention to get Frederick X-Men comics (eerily prescient since Grammer would later play Beast), Frasier spies Jackson Hedley, a former thespian and current has-been on the sci-fi circuit. Ever since he got cast as an android on Space Patrol, he became typecast. And now scrapes a living milking the fans at conventions.

Hedley started Frasier's love of theatre, and after reminiscing with Niles, the two get it into their heads to rekindle Jackson's career. They decide to mount a one-man show that Hedley put on back in his theatre days. And tickets are selling out. But there's a problem. Jackson can't act. When he performs, he can't resist hamming it up for all he's worth. And then some. He's completely talentless. Frasier and Niles have one week to stop the show they started before Jackson makes a fool out of himself, and them!

The Show Must Go Off is nothing we haven't seen before. Frasier and Niles work on something together, only to have it beset by a mountain of problems. (Although the twist is they're deliberately trying to wreck it). But what lifts this one out of the doldrums is the wonderful performance from Derek Jacobi as Jackson Hedley.

Jacobi turns in a real larger than life performance. He looks like he's having an absolute ball! Sending up his own image. There's a certain wry irony in watching a multi-talented actor like Derek Jacobi playing the part of a clapped-out has-been. And winning an Emmy for it no less! But he's superb. And those groans he does are hilarious. It gets funnier each time he does it.

To rave about Derek Jacobi is to eclipse the performances of Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce. And they're both excellent. After the dreary material they've been given this season, they seem so energised here. No doubt by just being in Jacobi's presence. They look like they're having an equal amount of fun with this. And provide plenty of excellent backup. They're dismay at Jackson's acting is fun to watch. There's nary a dull moment.

Things build to a lively climax. The night of the show. Frasier and Niles are backstage wracking their brains. They go all out to stop Jackson from embarrassing them. It involves all sorts of increasingly crazier schemes. But everything backfires.

Like a fire marshall who refuses to shut them down. A faulty sprinkler system. And best of all is Jackson's father (played by Patrick Macnee) Cecil. His good luck charm. If he doesn't show, Jackson won't go on. Frasier and Niles get rid of him, and when they break the news to their star, he's delighted! Because for once he can give a performance of zero inhibitions. You mean he wasn't trying before?!

Jackson has a last minute accident, and even that isn't enough to stop him. He crawls out on stage, to deliver his one-man peformance of (Ham)let.

The Show Must Go Off is quite possibly the funniest episode of Season 8. Its the first one this season that manages to sustain laughs all the way through. The only minor quibble is Martin and Roz hardly get anything to do. But since the show is more than ably carried by Grammer, Pierce and Jacobi, it hardly seems to matter.

Very entertaining. Never has a guest star managed to have so much impact on an episode. And Derek Jacobi steals the show. All the way. Terrific fun. One of Season 8's finest outings.

Best quote. Just after Jackson's accident:

Niles: Half of me feels guilty. The other half feels relieved. Actually its about 30/70.

Rating: 90%


Almost Excellent......, Jan 01, 2008

Reviewer: Dean Mather from UNITED KINGDOM

The Show Must Go Off is easily the most enjoyable episode from season 8. Derek Jacobi stars as Jackson Hedley,a once great stage actor(as Frasier and Niles remember)now resorting to signings at sci-fi conventions.Frasier encounters Jackson at the con whilst picking Freddie some magazines up and decides that he and Niles can and shall rejuvanate Jacksons glorious stage days.As you can imagine disaster ensues and Jackson is not quite the actor they saw way back in their youth,and it turns out that his acting abilitys are more than a little z grade. Numerous attempts to cancel the opening night fail and Jackson is set to take the stage...a missed opportunity in some respects,I remember when I first saw this episode I kept hoping you would see more of the actual act and the audiences reactions and more chaos as the production fell apart,alas we see nada,and this is why this episode does not get into classic status.A good try,but,then again,this is season 8,one of the things that does add joy to the show must go off is Daphne does not appear,unfunny at the best of times,her moaning atitude and miserable face really help seasons 8,9 and 10 sink below the previous 7 seasons.

Rating: 89%


THE SHOW MUST GO OFF, Jul 16, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK

For me 'The Show Must Go Off' is the best episode of Season 8 so far, and although its not quite a classic, it is hugely entertaining, very funny and contains its fair share of good witty lines. Derek Jacobi puts in a star turn as Jackson Hedley, and he fully deserved the Emmy he won for his performance. What I liked most about this episode however was the fact that it represented the good old 'classic' Frasier and Niles, and there far-fetched schemes of relaunching Hedley's career (getting carried away as usual) was very reminiscent of their plans of opening a restaurant and going into private practice together in 'The Innkeepers' and 'Shrink Rap'. What with Niles relationship with Daphne restricting the plots involving Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, its great to have the double-act back together, and as a result we get some wonderful moments of comedy. It further reinforces to me however that DHP's talents are dragged down by his continual pairing with Jane Leeves, for he definitely deserves more central roles because he has the talent to carry the episodes, and has much better chemistry with Kelsey.

So the highlights of this episode? I chuckled at the fact that Frasier was at a sci-fi convention in order to get some X-Men comics for Frederick (especially considering his latest film role). I also liked Hedley's hammy delivery of Hamlet's soliloquy, especially his long-drawn out moans. However, the second act was pretty much great fun throughout, especially the scenes set in the theatre moments before the curtain goes up. There were some great lines (especially by Frasier and Niles), and I loved Hedley's father, the safety inspector (?), too many seats and finally Jackson's accident. It was so chaotic that it felt like the old days of 'Frasier', and although it never reached the comedy heights of previous 'Frasier-Niles partnerships go horribly wrong', it is an episode that was consistently amusing and genuinely funny. A very, very good episode.

Rating: 82%


'The Show Must Go Off' review, Aug 25, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

One of five Season 8 episodes recorded during Jane Leeves' absence on maternity leave, this is something approaching a return to form. With the Frasier/Niles double act in full flow and a plot that manages to stick to one coherent theme throughout it feels more like an episode from one of the earlier seasons. Perhaps the biggest plus here is the wonderfully hammy guest performance from Derek Jacobi as thespian Jackson Hedley, one of Frasier and Niles' acting heroes from when they were children and who they decide to help produce a one-man show for. That Hedley once performed Shakespeare but now plays a character in a sci-fi TV series makes me wonder if the character was based on Jacobi's fellow 'I, Claudius' co-star and later 'Star Trek' performer Patrick Stewart, who would himself later give a scene-stealing guest turn in the final season of 'Frasier'. The Crane brothers' discovery that their childhood idol is nothing more than a terrible ham is very amusing and nicely summed up by Frasier's critique of 'The man has no instincts. Just stinks!', while their efforts to try and get the production closed down to stop Hedley from making a fool of himself (and themselves) makes for some good comedy. Patrick Macnee as Hedley's father also proves good value, shamelessly flirting with Roz and enthusing about his love for the musical 'Cats'. Although not a classic episode, partly due to an ending which just sort of fizzles out, it does manage to be amusing and good fun throughout - qualities that have been all too rare in Season 8 so far.

Rating: 79%