Second Look: Frasier Season 1 Episode 10 – “Oops!”

Frasier Oops!

Frasier Season 1, Episode 10 “Oops!”
Written by Denise Moss & Sy Dukane
Directed by James Burrows
Aired November 18, 1993 on NBC

Frasier was as series susceptible to its own devolution; there are long stretches of the series that rely on repetitive story construction (most commonly with farce) or outlandish stories about KACL office dramatics to fill space between the show’s more momentous episodes (which as you can guess, are fewer and fewer with each passing season). In these early episodes, the comedy of misunderstanding still has its power – unfortunately, filling out Frasier’s professional life would prove to always be a mixed bag for the series, as it proves with its first attempt with the weightless, somewhat pointless “Oops!”.

Roz is the exception, of course – though you couldn’t tell in these first ten episodes, her development as a core member of Frasier’s nuclear family made her mostly exempt from the wildly outlandish characterizations defining Frasier’s colleagues over the seasons, able to exist as a character with as many well-defined dimensions as Niles or Daphne (and I’d argue, more) 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 “Oops!” tries to bring into the fold as it begins to build out Frasier’s professional life.

Frasier Oops!

Outside of Roz and Bulldog, Frasier hasn’t really established the many caricatures in his rogue’s gallery of coworkers in its first ten episodes. And though this episode does give us Father Mike and Chopper Dave – neither of whom are seen much after this, even when Father Mike’s show is canceled in season three – it’s really an episode about Frasier and the hyper-masculine Bulldog, after the good doctor’s gossipy mouth leads to Bulldog throwing away his sports radio career with an epic tantrum.

At that, “Oops!” isn’t entirely sure what it wants to be; it is part slapstick, hammering away at Frasier’s gullibility and extremely inflated sense of self-importance through the lens of a very loud, brash performance from Dan Butler (who would publicly come out in 1994, adding another unspoken dimension to the overwrought machismo of the sports radio personality). “Oops!” is also part morality play, once again challenging Frasier’s ethics when he is forced to defend an employee he openly despites working with.

For an episode that distinctly feels written to fill space in a long season order, “Oops!” kind of works; when Frasier goes to confront the station manager who fired Bulldog, Frasier stumbles into a perfect example of what made it such a nimble little comedy. Two big personalities in the room trading one-liners and jabs about each other’s supposed superiority is often a recipe for success, especially when Kelsey Grammar’s bombastic performance is involved and the dialogue is pointed and driven, as it is in the climactic scene.

Frasier Oops!

And though it isn’t particularly memorable as a part of the show’s legacy, Frasier’s attempt to save Bulldog’s job (which gets Frasier fired, until the station manager is himself fired by some unseen power) is a meaningful moment, a bit of selflessness to balance out the actions of “Call Me Irresponsible” and “Selling Out”. It isn’t an episode the series needed – as Seinfeld proved, letting assholes be assholes can be legendary – but Frasier’s behavior is a nice palette cleanser after the past few endeavors, a small win for an episode without much but Bulldog’s yelling to hang its hat on.

In later seasons, episodes like “Oops!” would be old hat for Frasier; it certainly benefits from being early in the show’s run, able to exist solely on the energy of its cast, the enthusiasm of its studio audience (who break out in applause twice), and the goodwill it has already built with entries like “Beloved Infidel”. There are worse ways to deliver a filler episode – and though I wish the writers would’ve made the first KACL-centric plot about Roz, there are certainly worse filler episodes the series would deliver in the 254 episodes still yet to come.

Grade: C+

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Niles has to leave the coffee shop 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.
  • Bulldog: “No sudden moves, Doc. I’m too pumped!”
  • Daphne’s psychic intuition briefly appears in this episode – seems completely unnecessary, since it was pretty obvious why Frasier was feeling so guilty. Such a dumb character bit I’m glad the show would mostly shy away from as the series progressed.
  • After Bulldog is fired, Marty complains about Father Mike filling in on his show, because all Father Mike will talk about is “Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Notre Dame”.
  • Frasier’s weird erotic art makes an appearance, as he tries to protect a “Ghanan fertility symbol” from Bulldog’s angry outbursts. What in the name of European imperialism is that item doing in his possession?
  • Frasier’s caller this week: Jay Leno!

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