As much as I’ve liked Billy Campbell over the years, seeing him guest on this episode of “Frasier” reveals his weirdly affable lack of network charm. His timing is just off or something. He lacks rapport with the costars. He’s fine, but he’s not great in what seems like a very Billy Campbell way. And he needs to be great because the B plot is about John Mahoney needing to pull one over a French store clerk to get Eddie the dog gourmet food. The A plot has Campbell starting work at the radio station and Kelsey Grammer being intensely jealous over Campbell’s good looks.
That intense, obsessive jealousy leads to Grammer befriending Campbell and throwing a party in his honor. Only we never see them hanging out. We never get an idea of what it looks like for them to hang out, which leads to the friendship having even less personality than Campbell. Meanwhile, the Mahoney subplot also brings in David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves. Hyde Pierce introduces the store to Mahoney, who gripes about the prices and pretense and pisses off shop keep François Giroday. Mahoney’s got to get more dog food and has to play nice with stuck-up French caricature Giroday, eventually involving Leeves in his schemes. It’s all very funny.
Whereas the A plot is just amusing. There’s a decent scene with Grammer, Peri Gilpin, Dan Butler, and Edward Hibbert at the radio station with everyone mooning over Campbell from afar. It’s the standout until the resolution. And the resolution’s great, but it’s like they figured out the punchline for the episode and just filled on everything else. Rob Greenberg gets the writing credit. It’s impressive for the Mahoney arc, less the Campbell one.
Oh, and Grammer’s got this weird romantic subplot with done-in-one coworker Lindsay Price, some twenty-one years his junior, who fawns over him. It sort of plays like an ego trip but for the comeuppance leg of the journey. It’s not even Price being bad, it’s just her being an absurd match for him.
It’s a fine episode, funny stuff at times, just something off about it starting with Campbell and spreading throughout.