I’m still waiting for the great Roz episode for Peri Gilpin. It’s actually her second one in the last handful of episodes but, just like before, she gets upstaged by a guest star. This time it’s going to be it’s going to be Harriet Sansom Harris as agent-from-Hell Bebe Glazer and not the voice of Darth Vader.
Harris shows up in the second half of the episode, throwing a wrench in Gilpin’s plans to apply for to do her own show—with Kelsey Grammer’s full support—and while the episode still manages to give Gilpin a lot to do… it’s as support for Grammer. It’s a deft move (Jeff Keenan gets the writing credit) and it leverages the heck out of Harris (who once again I’m shocked didn’t ever get an Emmy for this part). But it still takes episode away from Gilpin, who gets a lot to do until she all of a sudden doesn’t. But, that initial takeaway is to showcase Jane Leeves and John Mahoney doing things they don’t usually get to do—and giving David Hyde Pierce a chance to play so horny he could die (while maintaining decorum)—but it’s still a downgrade.
The cast is helping Gilpin prepare her demo tape—a call-in show without being boring like Grammer’s, basically—and so everyone gets to do a persona. Mahoney’s a Casanova, Leeves is a vixen. It’s all really good showcasing. Keenan’s got funny stuff. It just doesn’t have a good narrative flow. Because once Harris shows up, nothing can compete. The material isn’t even the best, the delivery’s what matters and Harris is great.
We even get to see what Harris’s office looks like (her machinations end up being the A plot, more than anything stemming from Gilpin’s audio tape).
It just would’ve been nice if the episode had tried a little harder and didn’t just rely the cast being able to make the material sparkle. There have been easy episodes before, but this one just seems a little bit too easy. Like Keenan (and the room, obviously) did a fine job plotting, just not refining. If everything in the front half is just going to be prologue to a Harris tour-de-force, maybe don’t have it be one where the gags are all relying a little too often on silly absurdity. Again, Harris is awesome—and everyone’s good, with the great Mahoney and Leeves spotlights (and Hyde Pierce)—but it’s a little too self-satisfied.
Some great one-liners though. Just awesome. It’s a mixed bag with a lot of good candies.