Frasier Season 1 Episode 10 Review: “Oops”

Frasier

Frasier‘s ‘wackier’ stories most commonly sprung from two places: Niles and Frasier holding an event for something, or episodes that focused heavily on the KACL office. There’s no denying the charm of the former; some of the show’s funniest (and in later seasons, absolute worst) episodes are centered around Frasier and Niles coming into exaggerated conflict, usually stemming from some high brow event they were trying to hold or attend. Unfortunately, the KACL stories never seem to hold the same charm; despite the occasional touching moment, the only real “work” storyline that approaches ‘memorable’ is Frasier’s romance with a station executive in Season 3 (which features one of the show’s most outrageous moments, when Frasier sleeps with said executive while live on air).

I’m not counting Roz in any of this, of course – being a main cast member, she was mostly exempt from the wildly outlandish characterizations that define Frasier’s colleagues, able to exist as a character with as many well-defined dimensions as Niles or Daphne as the series continued. “Oops” isn’t quite there yet, of course – to this point, Roz is just a woman with a vibrant dating/sex life, and “Oops” does nothing to advance this – but even at that, she comes to life more than the flavorless array of coworkers this episode tries to bring into the fold, as it begins to build out Frasier’s professional life (in direct contrast with his personal life, replacing nuance with caricature).

Now, Frasier’s co-workers are a revolving collection of caricatures and clowns that haven’t even begun to form themselves by the time “Oops” starts. Father Mike and Chopper Dave would hardly be seen again (even when Father Mike’s show was canceled in Season 3), and there’s no Gil Chesterton, Kenny Daly, or Noel Shempsky around: that basically means “Oops” places the entire episode in the lap of Frasier and Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe, the show’s hyper masculine sports host, around a stupid storyline involving Bulldog getting fired because of Frasier’s loose tongue.

Surprisingly, “Oops” almost holds it together, despite hammering away at the same jokes over and over again; for all intents and purposes, this was a “fill the order” script, an episode lacking in any kind of moral lesson – in fact, it goes quite the opposite when Frasier laughs at the station owner after being fired (who had, ironically, just fired Frasier himself). Most of its entertaining moments come from the deconstruction of Bulldog, though I suppose it gains interest understanding the background of his character, played by an actor (Dan Butler) who had just recently come out publicly in his one man show The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me. Watching Butler over exaggerate Bulldog’s simpleminded behavior is entirely slapstick, but still entertaining, even when Frasier backs away from actually offering up any kind of criticism of Bulldog’s actions, or examination of the man underneath the facade (similar to the approach a show like Scrubs would take with The Todd in later seasons).

Simplicity is the name of the game in “Oops”; the villain of the episode is gone as soon as he is introduced, which renders much of “Oops” a lot of loud, pointless dramatics, a blue print for later, lazier episodes (and entire portions of seasons) of Frasier that feel like tired creative minds trying to push through an impending deadline. The result is neither terrible nor terrific, occasionally entertaining with a good joke, but failing to deliver any sort of comedic or narrative consistency. “Oops” fits this to a T, existing as the most energetic – and yet, the most vapid – episode of Frasier yet.

Other thoughts/observations:

– Niles, in a hurry: “I’m conducting a seminar on multiple personality disorders, and it takes me forever to fill out the name tags.”

– Sadly, we never meet Ray the Green Grocer or Bonny “The Auto Lady” Weems.

– “No sudden moves, Doc. I’m too pumped!”

– The Force is strong with Daphne in this episode, which leads her to do this hilarious little dance move.

– After Bulldog is fired, Marty complains about Father Mike filling in on his show, because all Father Mike will talk about is Notre Dame.

– Frasier’s weird erotic art makes an appearance, as he tries to protect a “Ghanan fertility symbol” from Bulldog’s angry outbursts.

[Photo via NBC]

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