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Episode reviews for Episode 8.16 - It Takes Two To Tangle

Avg. Viewer Review: 67.0%
Number of Reviews: 4

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Another episode, May 18, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


This is an intriguing outing for Martin Crane, with a reasonably serious relationship prospect in Barbara Babcock's Penelope. I don't have any problem with the idea of Martin juggling women - he's been dating for so many years now, and it's not as if he really sets out to manipulate the women. The poignant ending to the relationship justifies it in my opinion.

While Babcock and Michael Hitchcock are charismatic guests, the episode's structure and dialogue are not particularly invigorating. It feels as if it's all been done before and the first five minutes - in which Frasier and Niles try and miserably fail to earn money for Bryce Academy - are far more satisfactory than what follows. (Jane Leeves is sorely missed, but I adored Peri Gilpin's few scenes "making" baked goods for Alice's event.)

Perhaps I'm overvaluing. By season 8 standards, this is strong. By any previous season, it's quite a lily-livered script. There's nothing wrong with the basic concept, nor with any of the performances. There's just very little to leap off the page.


Rating: 69%

 

Two-times the fun, Jun 03, 2011

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire


You know a show is running low on ideas when it has to rely on an old standby. Take a pre-existing plot and put it through the recycler. Dust it off and polish it like new and maybe an audience won't notice. But if the producers think they can put one over on us, then they're sadly misinformed.

It Takes Two To Tangle is a definite attempt to rehash the Season 6 episode When A Man Loves Two Women. Frasier got involved with Faye and Cassandra, two high-flying career women. Frasier couldn't decide which one he liked more. The episode saw him trying to juggle them like a circus act without the other one finding out. The result was a highly amusing storyline.

This episode substitutes Martin for Frasier, and includes a plot about Frasier and Niles trying to save they're old high school from closure, but its the same basic story put through the grinding mill.

Certainly episodes can be made to work again if the writer is up to it. Joe Keenan took all the great things about The Matchmaker and gave it an even better run-through with Out With Dad. He made it a hat-trick with The Doctor Is Out, and how often can you say that about a third installment?

But Rob Hanning lacks the ability to draw out the same comic inspiration a second time and put it through an even funnier treatment. But then they can't all be Joe Keenan can they?

In the previous episode Docu.Drama, there was a scene where Niles made a hopeless attempt to fly a kite. It was an instance of silent comedy, seemingly modelled on Niles setting the apartment on fire in Three Valentines. I couldn't help but feel that I was watching a tamer version. And I felt the same about ITTTT.

What's crucially missing is the rapid developments of WAMLTW. The way the plot seemed to circle back on Frasier as Faye and Cassandra kept pulling him from side to side without them even knowing it. But Rob Hanning misses the point entirely and only shows us one of the women Martin is two-timing.

The first is Penelope, who runs her own charity foundation (and where the Frasier/Niles story fits in). The second is a waitress called Estelle, who Martin met in a cafe after going out with Penelope. But after one scene, Estelle then vanishes from the episode. Hanning instead resorts to the two women phoning up Martin on his mobile with different ringtones (Can you have more than one?). And getting completely entangled.

I think a reason why this is not as successful is because I didn't care for the characters of Penelope and Estelle. What Martin is doing is certainly reprehensible (but not as out of character as others have said. Didn't he two-time Maureen with Sherry?). He's even eyeing up a third encounter! But where these women differ from Faye and Cassandra is they're not as well-developed.

The Season 6 writers took the time to devote whole episodes to Faye and Cassandra before they unknowingly came together in WAMLTW. They felt like real people with individual quirks and foibles. I'm not seeing anything like that with Penelope and Estelle. How could we with Estelle? She's in the episode for 20 seconds! How can you sympathise with women we know practically nothing about?

Having said that, the episode does get itself together for a pleasing finale. Frasier and Niles are so desperate to save Bryce Academy from bankruptcy, they're prepared to use Martin's affair with Penelope to hit her up for money. They invite themselves to one of Penelope's cocktail parties in the hopes of getting her to write out a very generous endorsement. That's easier said then done, because not only does Estelle keep calling every two minutes, they have an added obstacle in the shape of William, Penelope's son.

William knows his mother's too liberal when it comes to her cheque book. Frasier and Niles have to distract him before they can get Penelope to write out a cheque. The scene is enlivened by John Michael Higgin's amusing performance as William. He brings a sparkle this episode is desperately in need of. In a peculiar coincidence, this is the first of two consecutive episodes where an actor from Christopher Guest's acting troupe appear in Frasier. Jennifer Coolidge appears in the following episode, who co-starred with Higgins in Guest movies like Best In Show and A Mighty Wind.

It all typically falls apart when Penelope discovers Martin's affair with Estelle by answering his phone. And although she does write out a cheque in the end, its only worth $50 (Which they have to give away to replace a vase they break).

Another ho-hum Season 8 episode. I liked Niles fainting in William's arms to distract him. When Penelope needs a pen, Niles (acting unconscious) provides one! But a mediocre episode at best. Roz is even reduced to showing her cleavage at Nervosa. On a nicer sidenote, Jane Leeves had just given birth to her daughter. The opening scene alludes to this when Niles informs Roz that Daphne has lost 9 pounds and 12 ounces. The exact weight as her baby. A lovely touch.


Rating: 56%

 

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE, Jul 18, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK


‘It Takes Two to Tangle’ is rather an odd episode in my opinion, and whilst its not totally awful, it does contain many moments throughout that seem out-of-character for the three Cranes, and some of Martin’s dialogue is pretty corny and cheesy. To begin with it seemed highly unlikely that Martin would be the kind of man to ‘juggle’ to women simultaneously, although I liked his quip that he knew’ what not do’ after watching Frasier’s disastrous dating exploits. The main plot also seemed rather weak as well, Frasier and Niles attempt to save their old high school, Bryce Academy, but in order to do this they need a big cheque written, which means leaching Martin’s wealthy girlfriend Penelope for a big pay-off. The episode has its moments of comedy, and there were a couple of instances that amused me (Niles giving Penelope a pen, Martin’s confusing phone conversations, and the hugely uncomfortable-to-watch scenes at the party) but this episode also contained some hideously contrived dialogue from Martin such as ‘Daddy’s got a big appetite!’ for example. It also seemed to recycle similar elements used in previous episodes, most noticeably Frasier getting confused between Faye and Cassandra in ‘When a Man Loves Two Women’ in Season 6.

Is it just me or did Frasier and Niles’ devious and somewhat selfish behaviour seem a tad out of character? I’ve seen every episode of ‘Frasier’, and although the siblings may be pretentious (yet lovable), I found them quite dislikeable when they were asking Penelope for money, especially the way they manipulated her relationship with Martin. It’s just a minor quibble – but this behaviour didn’t really ring true with the general antics of the pair. I generally enjoy the kind of humour that makes you cringe and where the character say things that further dig them deeper into a hole (Fawlty Towers, The Office, I’m Alan Partridge are all fine examples), but I found the scene at Penelope’s party almost unbearable to watch, because the over-confidence of Frasier, the eagle-eyed son William (who quite rightly disapproved of his mother’s love of the chequebook) and Martin getting phone calls from his other girlfriend all seemed to cultivate to make a comedy scene that made me groan, it was so hard to watch. The difficulty of viewing the scene wasn’t because it was a bad piece of television mind – I just found the content hard to watch because of the situation the character’s were in. Penelope answering Martin’s phone was a bit predictable however, and led to an easy cop-out ending, but this episode definitely had its moments and was much better than I remembered it being when I watched last year. It may contain its fair share of flaws and clunky dialogue, but on the whole ‘It Takes Two to Tangle’ is an okay episode of ‘Frasier’ in my opinion.


Rating: 73%

 

'It Takes Two To Tangle' review, Aug 30, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK


A strangely unmemorable affair which shows all the promise of becoming a great episode but somehow never seems to hit the mark. It also features the somewhat unlikely scenario of Martin attempting to date two different women; a waitress called Estelle and the wealthy Penelope - the latter whom Frasier and Niles attempt to solicit a donation from to help save their old school from closure. There's something distinctly unsavoury about Martin's sexually-charged behaviour in parts of this episode and with Jane Leeves still absent, it seems strange that Peri Gilpin is hardly used at all, leaving the whole episode feeling somewhat incomplete. The best moments come in the final scene at Penelope's cocktail party with her son, William, proving an amusingly surly character as he keeps a look out for any guests trying to ask his mother for money - I particularly like his referring to a priest as 'Father Sponge'! Niles' attempt to distract William by fainting in his arms is also quite amusing but on the whole this is an episode which never really seems to take flight, lacking the spark and energy for the comedy to truly succeed.


Rating: 70%