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Episode reviews for Episode 8.14 - Hooping Cranes

Avg. Viewer Review: 81.2%
Number of Reviews: 5

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Les freres Crane, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

By season 8 standards, this is a reasonably good episode, but I think it's held together by the tightknit cast and crew.

With Jane Leeves out of the game, Roz gets a funny subplot (even if she's not really the highlight) with a French boyfriend she's just dying to break up with. The break-up scene is a unique spin on a classic crossed-translation bit that even this show has dabbled in on occasion. Good fun, and to be honest, while I've enjoyed the evolution of Roz's character, it was might amusing to get some old-school Roz jokes back into the series!

Over in the boys' side of the yard, Frasier and Niles are dragged to a Sonics game. The comedy here is nothing groundbreaking and it's mostly just comforting to see how the family relationship has changed after 8 years in the same city. Martin's pride and Niles' increasingly egotism are both competently played by the actors, and Kelsey Grammer's direction is smart and to-the-point. It culminates in a realisation by Marty (which has really been developing under the surface for some time) that his boys are who they are, and he has to be proud of them either way.

The script has some amusing moments, and a few longueurs, but really this is an episode that is well-directed and acted, with the characters treated more fondly than usual. Satisfactory, overall.

Rating: 78%


Finally -Niles gets the spot light!!, May 24, 2011

Reviewer: JZ from Chautauqua New York

One of my top favorites! I will give it- number 2!!
What I like best of this episode is that Niles is finally arrogant and
show offy and Frasier CANNOT HANDLE IT!! Too funny!

Rating: 99%


So Niles can dribble after all!, Jun 23, 2010

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire

With Jane Leeves away to have her baby, the next four episodes soldier on without her. But with Daphne away from the show, it gives Frasier and Niles a chance to get the old double-act back in the swing of things. Something we haven't seen nearly enough of this season.

Hooping Cranes is the first solo script this season from Jon Sherman. While not quite in the class of a Joe Keenan or a Christopher Lloyd, one thing many say about Jon Sherman is that he knows how to write a good episode of Frasier. In fact some of his best work for the show was done in Lloyd and Keenan's absence. Still, I doubt many would rank Hooping Cranes alongside the likes of Bla-Z-Boy, Roe to Perdition, and especially Fathers and Sons, Sherman's best writing from this period.

Hooping Cranes has a plot like the Season 4 episode Head Game. Where Niles became a hero after helping a basketball star come out of his dry spell. Head Game was one of the weaker episodes from the magnificent Season 4. Mainly because the plot wasn't strong enough to sustain the episode by itself. In the case of Hooping Cranes, Niles becomes a hero after shooting a basket on live TV. It was only a fluke of course. But the success goes to Niles' head. Making Frasier insanely jealous.

Hooping Cranes is not a bad episode by any measure. Its quite watchable. And there's nothing embarrassing about it. Because Jon Sherman has a superior grasp of the characters compared to the other writers of this period. But Frasier shouldn't be just watchable. It should be excellent. And Jon Sherman's usually are. But he's let himself down by not putting enough thought into the plot.

There's some fun to be had from watching Niles milking his success. And it was David Hyde Pierce who made the shot. He got it on the 26th attempt, at Kelsey Grammer's insistence. And I like the way Frasier pokes holes in Niles' inflated sense of his own achievement:

"The way Niles tells it, it all started with a small rubber factory in Sumatra. Where an unsuspecting basketball began a journey that would lead to greatness."

Fun as it is to watch the sniping between the Crane boys, Hooping Cranes never tells more than a passable story. Funnily enough, the best scene has nothing to do with the main plot at all. In a great scene at Cafe Nervosa, Roz needs Frasier's help to break up with her French boyfriend, Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre doesn't speak a word of English, and like most American women, Roz seems to think bawling in his earlobe will clear up they're communication problems. Its just for that reason why Jean-Pierre wants to break up with her. Frasier and Jean-Pierre carry on a conversation in French for Roz's benefit. It seems she needs Frasier to let him down gently. But he's already been looking for a way out for days, and he just needs Frasier's advice on finding the best restaurant in Seattle.

The main plot winds down as much as you'd expect. While at McGinty's, Frasier challenges Niles to repeat his success by throwing a ball into a miniature hoop. And naturally, he can't even sink a single shot. It finally hits home with Niles that he may not be ready to lead the Seattle Mariners just yet!

I don't think Hooping Cranes is quite the rehash of Head Game most are dismissing it as. (Although in a peculiar coincidence, a key cast member had to be absent for both!) A few fun moments here and there, but still one of the lesser episodes from the usually reliable Jon Sherman.

Rating: 75%


HOOPING CRANES, Jul 17, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK

With the absence of first-class writers such as Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan, I think that Jon Sherman occupied the position of the show’s most talented writer during the show’s barren years, Seasons 8-10. You can generally rely on Shermon to deliver a witty and highly amusing script, and ‘Hooping Cranes’ is just that. The episode boasts a very good plotline, Niles is selected to shoot a basket during half-time at a Sonics’ game, and by some bizarre good fortune manages to make the shoot, sparking much jealousy from Frasier and adoration from Martin. The second act of the episode is superior to the first half, but there are still some funny moments, such as Niles playing ‘I Spy’ at the basketball game, and the dramatic build up that leads to Niles’ throw attempt (complete with music, and the hilarious sight of Niles attempting to bounce the ball in preparation but accidentally letting it bounce away!)

The second half is very funny, and I loved Martin’s line – ‘I always told you boys that sports aren’t important, but they are!’ and it was also amusing how all of Martin’s friends rang up to voice their amazement at Niles’ sudden sporting techniques. I also found Niles’ plans for using his prize of a pick-up truck to go antiquing very funny. The final scene in McGinty’s (although a tad silly) was a nice conclusion to the story, and I liked Niles recounting a very far-fetched version of events to Martin’s friends, especially his claim (regarding body form) that ‘you’ve already made or missed the shot before you’ve even released the ball’. The subplot was also entertaining, with Roz dating a Frenchman called Jean-Pierre, and I loved Frasier’s ‘I can’t imagine why this isn’t working’ when Roz bawls in her boyfriend’s ear to sit down for coffee. The ensuing break-up conversation, which Frasier has to translate is very funny too, and I also liked Roz referring to Frasier as a ‘Latte Goldilocks’. All in all, another excellent addition to the eighth season, and although its not a classic by any means, it contains all the right ingredients for a solid, watchable and very enjoyable twenty-two minutes of television. And I didn’t notice or miss the absence of Daphne, for (as with ‘The Show Must Go Off) it allowed Niles to interact much more with Martin and Frasier, and as a result the episode was much better. David Hyde Pierce deserved better storylines than simply reduced to acting like a giggling schoolboy, and with Jane Leeves’ absence, ‘Hooping Cranes’ allowed him to rise to the comedic challenge excellently and his character was much more amusing to watch on screen.

Rating: 78%


'Hooping Cranes' review, Aug 28, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

The plot of this episode feels much like a retread of 'Head Game', as Niles finds himself an unlikely hero when he's plucked out of the crowd at a Sonics game at half time to shoot a basket from the half way line, which he succeeds in doing purely by accident, leaving Frasier jealous of his brother's undeserved hero status. Not the most original plot then, but this is largely redeemed by the fact that the episode does manage to be pretty entertaining throughout. As with 'The Show Must Go Off', the absence of Daphne allows Frasier and Niles to resume their much loved double act with some enjoyable moments at the Sonics game with them annoying Martin by playing 'I Spy' and fussing over the seating arrangements. The slow motion footage of Niles shooting the ball in the net does feel a bit out of place in a 'Frasier' episode but generally this storyline is quite fun to watch, culminating with Frasier and Niles showing their true colours with their hopeless attempts at sinking the ball at McGinty's. The most inspired moment, however, comes with the subtitled sequence with Frasier helping Roz break up with her French boyfriend, Jean Pierre, by playing translator between the two with amusing results. NBC's original screening of this episode ended with a series of outtakes of David Hyde Pierce's many failed attempts to shoot the ball in the net which were omitted when the episode was screened in the UK.

Rating: 76%