blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Frasier (1993) s07e03 – Radio Wars

It’s another new-to-“Frasier” writer credit this episode: welcome, Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil. I just realized the title, Radio Wars, might be a nod to the annual Bar Wars episodes of “Cheers.” There’s not much warring, though, mostly just Kelsey Grammer getting pranked.

The episode begins with Grammer asleep in bed, a phone call waking him. The Academy of Radio Psychiatrists (or some such organization) is calling to ask why he hasn’t gotten back to them about the statue they’re making in his honor. It starts as an award; they add the statue when the show cuts from Grammer to the radio station, where the new comedy guys are pranking him.

Bryan Callen and John Ennis play the pranksters. They’re both fine but entirely incidental. The script keeps pretending Peri Gilpin’s got her eye on Callen but never even puts them near each other in a scene. Their scenes are just setups for Grammer’s great reactions when he figures out the prank.

Grammer emerges from his room, humiliated and outraged, only to discover both Jane Leeves and John Mahoney think it’s hilarious. Apparently, they were listening to the radio at six in the morning for this new radio show.

David Hyde Pierce will figure into some of the later antics, occasionally laughing at Grammer’s credulity, but he’s generally more sympathetic to Grammer’s plight. Especially once Mahoney tells Grammer he’s partially inviting the bullying, which leads to a fantastic sequence where they talk about Grammer and Hyde Pierce pretending to be John Steed from “The Avengers” as kids.

It also leads to a great joke for Hyde Pierce regarding Leeves; this episode’s less chaste about Hyde Pierce’s attraction than the season’s been so far. They at least allow the joke. And the script’s full of good “Frasier” jokes; it’s an enthusiastic script, really flexing the cast. There aren’t any subplots, but everyone gets a little something to do, with Hyde Pierce and Leeves getting the least. Since it’s a work plot, Gilpin gets more than usual, though it’s all bits, no story.

Tom McGowan shows up for a couple scenes as the station boss, which distracts from no one else at the station putting in an appearance. The episode also glides over Grammer and Gilpin not having any scenes during the radio show; everything happens off-screen, but the script knows how to use the constraints for good setups.

It’s a good episode, with some excellent laughs; it’s a little “by the numbers,” but not too much. It’s a solid first showing for Johnson and Marcil, with strong performances from the cast. It’s a bit of a Grammer showcase, but everyone gets at least two good spotlights.

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