Rare is the opportunity to write about Leap Day and have it be timely. After all, February 29 only happens once every four years at most! Of course, for that very reason there aren’t many Leap Day episodes in television history. Only sitcoms ever do them, and they really only ever do them in years when there is actually a Leap Year, and also the show is on the air. As such, there are only a couple of notable Leap Day episodes in TV history. I am going to be writing about the two I know off the top of my head, both from classic sitcoms, but first up, I’m here to write about a certain episode of Frasier.
Frasier’s Leap Day episode, “Look Before You Leap,” isn’t just arguably the quintessential Leap Day TV episode. It’s also considered an all-time great episode of an all-time great sitcom. In the past I have been in the position to put together a list of the best Frasier episodes ever. “Look Before You Leap” came in at number two on my list. Yes, I think it’s one of the best episodes of one of my favorite shows. That’s saying something.
It is classical farcical Frasier, moving along like clockwork and building to a great crescendo. If you don’t know the basics of Frasier, Kelsey Grammer stars as Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist with a call-in advice show in Seattle. For Leap Day, he suggests his listeners make a bold “leap” in their lives. That is to say, take a big chance, do something you’ve always wanted to do, etc. He also recommends this to his friends and coworkers, many of whom take his advice. It all blows up in their faces, much to their chagrin.
Frasier’s personal plan is to take a “leap” by singing a complicated aria on a live call-in pledge show. Having seen his friends flounder, he gets nervous, and decides to instead sing the song he always does on this show every year, an old standard called “Buttons and Bows.” However, he’s so flustered that he forgets the words, stumbles through it, and fails spectacularly. So despite not taking the leap, Frasier still falls flat on his face.
“Look Before You Leap” is a truly hilarious episode. It makes good use of the existence of Leap Day. They could have done this premise with another hook, but using Leap Day as the reason was fun and smart. It’s a great showcase episode of Grammer, which is saying something, because he is amazing on so many episodes of Frasier. It wouldn’t be a bold gesture to watch an episode of a classic sitcom on Leap Day, but I recommend doing it anyway.