Christopher Lloyd (one of the Frasier producers) worked with Wendie Malick on Just Shoot Me, and since that show ended last year, and needing to spice this show up, it was a no-brainer to add her to the cast. This created a long romantic arc for Martin, and one that did shy away a bit from the usual model for Frasier. Frasier rarely focused on Martin's love life, so this did freshen things up a bit, even if the 11th season was pretty mediocre as a whole.
While I did not love this episode, it did feature strong performances by the cast around. The already mentioned Wendie Malick left an impression in fans' eyes, and David Hyde Pierce was as good as ever tonight, despite not being given the best material.
Okay episode, but Frasier is capable of so much more than this.