Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Frasierquest 2.12: Roz in the Doghouse

Bulldog paints Roz's toenails. No, seriously.
Frasier: Well, I mean - dropping by, bringing a little gift? It was obvious he was after something!

Daphne: Well, that's not fair! Dr. Crane is always dropping by and bringing me little gifts and he's not after anything!

One thing that I’ve noticed going back to look at the early episodes is that it’s taken a while for Roz to get much attention. The show’s stories tend to be centered on the family dynamic, of which she is not yet a part, and in the work-related episodes she tends to play the role of savvy cohort to Frasier’s naive pomposity. Here, for once, they are set in conflict, and as a result she gets to command our attention. It’s a big step forward for her, and I like the results.

It begins when Roz trips over Bulldog in the hallway at KACL, injuring her ankle in the process. Bringing over some deli to make amends, Bulldog drops the possibility of her taking over producing duties on his show. Frasier dismisses this as an attempt to get her into bed, and though it’s far from the least plausible theory, a fight erupts between the two, which leads to her walking out (or rather hobbling out as she’s still on crutches) and taking sides with Bulldog. Frasier is convinced that Bulldog will make a pass at her, but is forced to watch helplessly as the two make a scintillating radio team, while he in turn is saddled with a succession of totally incompetent producers. Is he man enough to apologize, or will the impasse continue?

This is our first glimpse of Roz’s apartment, which would become a recurring set for a few seasons. Giving the character a place of her own helps bring focus on her as an individual, and the eclectic, slightly messy style adds some color to her personality while being in line with what we know of her.

The story hinges, in a way, on Roz’s ambitions and the pride she takes in her work. She’s Frasier’s friend and co-worker but doesn’t rule out the idea of moving to greener pastures, and she resents it when he implies that her job is easy. She wants to be in an environment which stimulates her, and for a time Bulldog’s show provides that.

Frasier, meanwhile, is caught in one of his biggest weaknesses. He hates being wrong, and every minute that Bulldog fails to make a pass at Roz is a separate blow to his self-esteem. He was a jerk to Roz, and he knows it, but an apology isn’t quite something he can manage right away. Not that this is all down to their unique personalities- in a way it’s a lot like Martin’s feud from a couple of episodes back.

And what’s Bulldog’s angle? Well, we eventually find out, but in the meantime it’s an opportunity for Dan Butler to flesh out his character a little as well, showing that Bob Briscoe can be kind of charming when he turns down the volume a little.

The finale of this episode is pretty abrupt, but it’s not exactly out of left field either. Perhaps Frasier could have learned more of a lesson, but asking him to be humble is a tall order. Of course, by the time of the episode’s final scene he’s probably already learned his lesson- he appreciates having a good producer after going through a series of terrible ones, and so probably realizes that he was at least partially wrong.

This episode is the first real test we see of Frasier and Roz’s friendship, and while it’s not the last, I like to think that they grow a little closer because of the experience. On a creative level, the writers doing a good Roz-centric story is a movement towards integrating her more with the rest of the cast. She’s becoming a part of the family, and it’s about time.

Guest Callers: Rosie Perez as Francesca, Carly Simon as Marie

Written by Chuck Ranberg & Anne-Flett Giordano
Directed by James Burrows
Aired January 3, 1995

Frasier: You don't understand. It's not the same as Dad being wrong, or your being wrong. I have a degree from Harvard. Whenever I'm wrong, the world makes a little less sense.

(Quote assist from Shawne Wang at

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