The episode’s another superlative one—Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano’s script is exceptional, with a bunch of great detail (everyone in the cast has something going on this episode, all of it somewhat related to Kelsey Grammer coming down with a man cold)—but it’s also got the distinction of having the weirdest set of celebrity callers.
There’s football quarterback Steve Young, there’s “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau, there’s Timmy Hilfiger, there’s Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, there’s Mary Tyler Moore—there’s Patty Hearst! None of the calls get much special emphasis, because it’s all about who’s taking those calls. Grammer gets to talk to Young in the opening, but pretty quick he’s on his way to getting too sick to work and then it’s all about who’s filling in on the show for him.
First up is food critic Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert), who’s trying to get Grammer and Peri Gilpin’s primo afternoon time slot and solving callers’ problems thanks to his keen restaurant sense. So Gilpin tries to get Grammer to come back to work, which almost works, but the man cold is too strong….
Leading to Grammer begging David Hyde Pierce to do it. Turns out Hyde Pierce isn’t just going to be a natural at it, he’s going to crowd please in a way Grammer doesn’t. The stuff with Hyde Pierce on the radio is phenomenal. The script’s great but Hyde Pierce takes it to a whole new level, baking in all the long-term jealousy over Grammer’s popularity and so on. Hyde Pierce manages to be even better at the successful Niles on the radio stuff than he does at the awkward Niles on the studio stuff and the awkward stuff is amazing.
No blaming mother today, he starts the episode, “I’m a Jungian not a Freudian.” So funny.
Meanwhile Grammer’s driving Jane Leeves nuts as she’s stuck taking care of him through the man cold. John Mahoney mostly hangs out to tell Grammer how he should call in but Grammer reminds him Mahoney raised the boys to never call in to work. If you can stand, you can work.
Mahoney’s since changed his tune but it’s baked into Grammer at this point.
So much going on and all of it so good. I won’t even get into the self-prescribed medicines, which cause hallucinations. As great as Hyde Pierce and Leeves get in the episode, it’s all about man cold suffering Grammer. It’s such a good performance.
Awesome sick makeup on him too.
Day Off is a spectacularly funny half hour of television.