Frasier Online
home About The Show Episode Guide Merchandise Forum Reviews Gallery Contact
Episode reviews for Episode 8.15 - Docu.Drama

Avg. Viewer Review: 73.8%
Number of Reviews: 5

Write an online review and share your thoughts.

Why'd you do it, Senator Glenn?, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

I'm not surprised that "Docu.Drama" is a particularly divisive episode. It perhaps shouldn't be, but the script defies formula in a way that reminds me of the oddly-structured "RDWRER". That episode, I argued, certainly could have been more competently constructed as either a farce or a family conflict vehicle (pardon the pun). Instead, they chose (I hope deliberately) to make it more of a vignette piece and overall I approved. Similarly, "Docu.Drama" has a different feel than any episode that has come before, which I have to assume is deliberate.

For years now, Roz has had a fleeting background arc about developing her radio career. This is one of the few episodes that centres around that, and of course Frasier tries to take over her entire documentary. Things start out predictably with Frasier taking over the classical music angle (and immediately winning over the other team members) but instead of this becoming the documentary version of "They're Playing Our Song", Roz fights back.

There are a few reasons I admire this episode. First, Kelsey Grammer has a couple of spectacular scenes: his rant to the family about why he is passionate and right, and his scene going mano-a-mano with John Glenn. The episode also brings to the fore a brimming conflict between Roz and Frasier. Dr. Crane would, of course, try to perfect anyone's work, but he's been particularly consistent with relying on Roz while also believing himself to be - ultimately - better than her. While half the script is about Frasier's attempts to take over (going so far as to convince John Glenn to submit ideas as if they were his own!), the other half - often, if it makes sense, in the same scenes - is about Roz standing up for herself. The final fight and bond between them makes it clear that deep down they can respect and get along. Regardless of any missteps along the way, the development of the Frasier/Roz relationship from their first meeting in flashback to their last work together in season 11 is fantastic.

A word must also be said to this episode's surprising MVP, Senator John Glenn. Between this and Buzz Aldrin's looney-tunes appearance on "30 Rock", I can only assume astronauts have great senses of humour! His monologue in the booth is freaking phenomenal, particularly as it's delivered so well by a real-life person. I'm also a sucker for the recurring joke of a character saying (in a mannered way) "Why'd you do it [character name]?" I believe that all of the main cast except Daphne got to deliver it at one point, but I particularly enjoy its absurd addition here.

The episode perhaps loses a few points for the minimal subplot in which Niles and Martin make a kite together. It's not much of a story (in fact, it's none of a story), but the difference between Martin's relationships with his two sons is always worth exploring. Niles may be even further apart from his dad than Frasier in terms of interests and mannerisms, but the pair have always had an easier way about them. I enjoy Niles wanting to name the kite Fafner, and Hyde Pierce of course is delightfully inventive in the balcony scene. A sweet little vignette that is perhaps all we can expect for a subplot like this.

Perhaps this isn't a true classic, I'd agree. But it's a neat experiment that develops Roz's arc in a satisfactory way, and features an outstanding cameo.

Rating: 85%


Fly Me To The Moon, Jun 01, 2011

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire

Its rare to see a sitcom with a flawless ensemble. Where the cast have a perfect synergy, they're like a finely tuned unit. In that category, you could point to Fawlty Towers, and definitely Frasier. So its always seemed strange to me that for a sitcom blessed with an outstanding comedy team, the producers choose to underuse one of its key players.

Ever since the show's inception, Roz has always been more of a secondary player. Compared to the other castmembers who get whole episodes apiece, Roz is lucky if she appears in more then two scenes. To get a whole episode to herself is akin to finding the Holy Grail.

What with Daphne away from the show, I suppose the producers decided to give Roz a shot in Docu.Drama just to plug the gap. Its even rarer for Roz to get a meaty, engrossing plotline to sink her teeth into. And I'm afraid Docu.Drama doesn't provide one.

Roz is directing a documentary about the space program, and Frasier is eager to narrate it. Obviously Roz has forgotten the events of Ham Radio, and doesn't see anything wrong with Frasier lending his voice to the project.

As expected, Frasier likes to be leader. He just can't follow, and when Roz shuts down his overeager suggestions, it drives a wedge between them. When Roz replaces him with former astronaut and US senator John Glenn, Frasier tries to wrest back control of the show.

It does seem a bit out of character that Roz would want to do a documentary about the space program. Has Roz ever shown an interest in that sort of thing? And why didn't she get Noel, the biggest space cadet at KACL to help out, instead of the two anonymous nerds during the production meeting?

There's a scene in Docu.Drama where Frasier uses the term also-ran. That's an apt description of the episode. Where it just seems to fail at everything. While it is certainly nice to see Roz headlining an episode, why then do Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil have to resort to turning Roz into an unlikable harridan?

Part of the problem may be that the writers never seem to know how to handle Peri Gilpin's brassy, brash personality. They either water her down so as not to upset the apple-cart. Or in the case of Docu.Drama (or A New Position For Roz) they turn her sass in much uglier directions.

Every now and again we get episodes where the writers pit Frasier and Roz against each other, but all that usually does is make them seem petty and impossible to like. Much less sympathise with. Docu.Drama doesn't hit the excruciating lows of A New Position For Roz but neither does it do anything to endear the characters to the audience.

Frasier and Roz at each others throats is never much fun to watch. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, its got to be backed up by an involving story. Otherwise, we're just left with two very dislikable people driving their audience up the wall. And that is exactly the end result.

Another thing that bothers me about the episode is John Glenn. This may have been the point where Frasier began to slip in the ratings. And I can't help but feel that Glenn's presence was a desperate attempt on NBC's part to boost them. A tactic often used by TV shows when numbers are down is to resort to famous names for guest appearances. This can be made to work if it fits the context of the story, like Derek Jacobi in The Show Must Go Off. But alas, John Glenn is not much of an actor, and while his appearance isn't as shameless as Bill Gates' in the 200th episode, he doesn't bring anything to the table.

Niles and Martin's subplot doesn't add up to much either. Personally, I never like stories that pair them together. They work fine when part of the group ensemble, but on they're own they tend to lose some of their spark. They're engaged in a project that also seems out of character, flying a kite.

It does give us one funny scene, when Niles tries to fly solo on the balcony, but a gust of wind blows the kite on the roof and nearly pulls Niles over the railing, with Eddie as a silent audience. Its an amusing sequence but not as funny as it should have been. All you have to do is hold it up to the first seven minutes of Three Valentines and you'll realise how colourless it is by comparison.

I don't think there's really much more to say about Docu.Drama. We know that Frasier and Roz will patch things up, and then the episode is quietly put to sleep. The producers are only waiting for Daphne to come back anyway so they can shuffle Roz back to the sidelines, so Docu.Drama has the unmistakable feel of a filler. That says all there is to say about the episode.

Rating: 48%


Vintage Frasier, Mar 15, 2008

Reviewer: Holden Thorpe from Manchester, England

"Docu-Drama" is a brilliant episode, an absolute stand-out episode from series 8. Niles and Martin's kite-making shenanigans were classic Frasier. This episode had some brilliant lines. Grammer, Gilpin, Mahoney and Hyde-Pierce were all on top-form and helped make this episode so great. The series had changed a lot by this point, and a lot of the changes were for the worse, but "Docu-Drama" is vintage Frasier, and would not be out of place in series 2 (Frasier's absolute high-point, in my opinion.) The only thing that I would criticise is the needless cameo by John Glenn. Like another pointless guest star, Bill Gates, Glenn is no actor - and it shows. The episode would have worked perfectly with a proper actor playing 'a John Glenn-type character.'

Rating: 100%


DOCU.DRAMA, Jul 17, 2006

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK

Aside from containing a couple of amusing lines and moments, and some excellent physical comedy exhibited by David Hyde Pierce, I couldn't help but feel that 'Docu Drama' was somewhat bland and dull, and definitely lacked any big laughs. I'm not sure what the general feeling regarding the quality of this episode is, but I found that the episode reached its climax with an air of tedious inevitability, and it was so easy to predict that Frasier narrating (and therefore working) for Roz (who is making a documentary about space) was going to end up becoming too bossy, confident and eager to grasp full control of the project. However, I rather liked the first half of the episode, and found the documentary discussion between Frasier, Roz and a panel of experts fairly entertaining, what with Roz belittling all of Frasier's suggestions and then Frasier enthusiastically getting carried away and removing control from Roz by letting his imagination run a little too wild.

When referring to flying a kite, Martin says 'It's not like driving a car, you need practice and concentration' was a line that stood out particularly, as was Frasier's description of Roz's behaviour towards him, 'I offered her an olive branch, and she snaps it, burns it down and writes 'no' with the ashes!'. Otherwise the material used for this episode was rather lackluster to be honest, and even the kite scene wasn't as good as I remembered it to be. That said, it still made me chuckle to see David Hyde Pierce struggling on with the kite and almost being pulled off the balcony. As for the episode's ending, I know some fans like it, but I thought the monologue delivered by astronaut John Glenn whilst Roz and Frasier were bickering was fairly limp and boring, and closed this episode on rather a low. In the context of Season 8 'Docu Drama' isn't a terrible episode, but to be honest, it feels oddly lacking and devoid of much humour. At least Peri Gilpin was given a reasonably bigger part to play than usual, and although she is very good in her performance, it's a shame the material she was given wasn't funnier.

Rating: 68%


'Docu. Drama' review, Aug 29, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

Roz gets the chance to produce a documentary about space exploration in an episode which, save for a good middle section, struggles to leave the launch pad. Storylines involving Frasier and Roz falling out rarely make for the most exciting episodes and this one somehow manages to make both their characters strangely unlikeable, especially Frasier. The way his childish resentment at being rejected as narrator causes him to try and sabotage Roz's project seems rather out of character, while John Glenn's guest appearance amounts to little more than novelty value. Things briefly liven up half way through with the scene where Frasier's paranoid diatribe about Roz rejecting his ideas doesn't let Martin and Niles get a word in edgeways which is followed by the episode's highpoint where, in a sequence reminiscent of the opening of 'Three Valentines', a watchful Eddie looks on as Niles struggles to fly the kite which he and Martin had made, with a strong wind almost causing him to fall over the balcony and then sending the TV aerial crashing down. It's another example of David Hyde Pierce's talent for physical comedy, and a welcome laugh out loud scene in an otherwise rather humourless episode.

Rating: 68%