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Episode reviews for Episode 4.05 - Head Game

Avg. Viewer Review: 78.8%
Number of Reviews: 8

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Great job, DHP!, Aug 26, 2012

Reviewer: Tid from SW England

Yes, the overall plot is a little weak, I agree. But it's loaded with laughs -
Daphne's translation of basketball terminology into opera terminology for
Niles' benefit, is worth the admission fee alone! And it goes without
saying that DHP carries it all off brilliantly. (I'm not one of those who
thinks that the Frasier character needs to be omnipresent for the show
to work). Perhaps not the best Season 4 episode but still very good.

Rating: 87%


So-so, Dec 11, 2011

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

This episode was famously rewritten to be about Niles rather than
Frasier at the last minute, but I'd disagree with those who think
Grammer's absence hurts it. There are a couple of Niles/Daphne-
centric episodes which barely feature Frasier, and are in my all-
time favourites.

What hurts this episode is that the script just isn't that strong. It's
interesting, because I'll be defending many of the more 'heartfelt'
episodes of later seasons, but there just isn't enough humour or
plot to sustain this story for 22 minutes. The episode gets some
good mileage out of Niles' inability to understand football (and
Marty's happiness that he can boast about his son, for once) but
after that, things centre too much on Reggie. The plot doesn't
spiral out of control, nor is Reggie a very interesting character.
Instead, he just becomes a 'patient of the week' on a show that
doesn't do those!

"Frasier" could do heartfelt when it looked at death, or love, or
the unusual bond between modern fathers and sons. It works
less so when the big issue is whether touching Niles' head is a
good-luck charm. Pierce does his best - and his best is very, VERY
good - but it's not enough to sustain what is a rather lackluster

Rating: 70%


Head Game, May 04, 2010

Reviewer: Norm, Jr. from Somewhere, CA

Infamously Frasier-less effort only mildly works because of Pierce's abilities. Though even if Grammer were present, this is still just an expendable season 4 throwaway. It deals with Niles chance run-in with a hoops star guesting on Bulldog's show. The guy is slumping and, upon conclusion of an impromptu "counseling," tousles Niles' hair. His game suddenly improves and he, of course, attributes this to Niles' locks. There's a handful of repeatable lines, most involving Daphne's basketball-to-theater translations for the sports-impaired Niles. The double-entendre bit at the end involving the security guard comes off a bit feeble. Pierce deserved every Emmy he received, but it really goes to show how much of a neccessity Grammer's personality was integral to the show's rhythms.

Rating: 73%


Niles takes the stage, Sep 22, 2008

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, England

When Kelsey Grammer's drug addiction almost got him killed in a car accident, he decided to check himself into the nearest rehab clinic to get himself sorted out. Unfortunately, that meant he couldn't appear in this episode, Head Game. He only appears in the opening scene at Cafe Nervosa, but that was filmed and added at a later date.

Although this episode has clearly been written with Frasier in mind, and Kelsey's absence is sorely felt, one good thing about it is it gives Niles the chance to step into Frasier's shoes for a day. And David Hyde Pierce is such an exceptional actor that he rises to the occasion superbly.

Still, even if Frasier had been present for it, and despite being written by the great Rob Greenberg, Head Game is a sadly mixed affair. Its OK I suppose but its a somewhat low point in the magnificent Season 4, and feels a bit underpowered when compared to the episodes surrounding it.

The opening scene is actually the best because we get the usual witty bickering between Frasier and Niles. Frasier is off to a therapists convention in Aspen. But one for radio shrinks. I love Niles' reply:

"One well-timed avalanche and the dignity of the entire psychiatric profession could be restored."

We also get some great Maris jokes involving her sister that I would quote but you need Kelsey Grammer's delivery to make them hilarious. Anyway, Niles has to fill in for him at KACL while he's off, and sadly, after that, the episode's humour value begins to steadily go down.

There is definite amusements to be had from Niles' half-hearted advice to Frasier's callers, and watching Roz manuever him into positions he would rather not be. But still, the episode is not all it should be. Like this, Niles counsels Reggie, a basketball star off his game. But when teaching him techniques to improve his self-esteem, like pleasant memories, I was expecting Niles to make some hilarious, lustful mention of Daphne, and doesn't. I'm surprised that Rob Greenberg would miss such an obvious pun.

Still, Head Game has its laughs along the way. The episode has had to be re-written for Niles, but this opens it up to some great possibilities. Like when Reggie publicly thanks Niles for getting him through his dry spell, Daphne thinks about spending some time with Niles on a couch! Or at the game, Daphne translates sport talk into opera speak for Niles' benefit.

But I think the main problem I have with Head Game is its plot. It doesn't have much in the way of one. Reggie thinks rubbing Niles' head is what's given him his form back. And that's really it. Season 4 probably has more classic episodes in it than any other season. But they were all driven by exceedingly strong stories. Head Game can't help but come up a bit short when held in comparison. Its a testamant to DHP's skills as an actor that he keeps things on course.

Still, it does make you laugh in spite of what I said. Like Frasier's postcard from Aspen. Although it went down like a lead balloon with Daphne and Martin, I liked Frasier's joke:

"(the psychiatrists) As I watched you on the slopes, I realised I'd never seen so many Freudians slip."

But the other problem with Head Game is this has clearly been intended as a vehicle for Frasier. When it comes to struggling with one's ethics, that is more Frasier's area than Niles'. Even the fight between Niles and Martin lacks sparkage because it should have been between Frasier and Martin. John Mahoney always has much better chemistry with Kelsey Grammer than he does David Hyde Pierce. When Martin says he knew Niles would find some way to ruin things, we all know its Frasier who sabotages his own good fortune. And not Niles.

But the last scene does end things on a reasonable high. When Niles tries to set Reggie straight, he runs off an embarrassing number of double-entendres in front of a security guard (before you rub your hands all over me, we can still see each other but no touching).

I think at the end of the day, Head Game is an honourable failure. The producers, cast and especially DHP kept things together in Kelsey's absence, but I think this episode only proves how integral Frasier is to the success of the show. Without him to complete the ensemble, the episode will wind up lacking somewhat. A minor blip in a superb season.

As a footnote, it may interest people to know that Head Game had the highest ratings of any episode in season 4. Odd considering there were far more deserving episodes throughout. And far better written ones too!

Rating: 60%


Head Game Review, Mar 13, 2007

Reviewer: Darling from Green Bay, WI

My all time favorite Frasier episode! The basketball character was adorable! Very clever writing- loved all the familiar analogies (to Niles) so he could understand the game of basketball. This is a must see!!

Rating: 98%


A little special, Aug 25, 2006

Reviewer: John C from Belfast, NI

In my opinion this was an excellent episode of Niles, I mean Frasier. I was in stitches watching the scene where Niles and the basketball player are talking outside the locker room and the security guard is eavesdropping into their conversation.
"You can't rub your hands over my body anymore" "Just let me touch it".
The jokes are as always first class and it was a little bit unique considering Frasier was not in it.

Rating: 92%


Head Game Review, Aug 06, 2005

Reviewer: Harlequin from Finland

I thought this was clearly the weakest episode of the season so far. A couple of good jokes (and one excellent: Daphne explaining the game to Niles in opera terms) don't in the end save the episode from being rather dull and uninspired. Not bad but not too good either.

Rating: 73%


'Head Game' review, Jun 10, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK

Due to personal problems, Kelsey Grammer was unable to participate in the recording of this episode (save for the brief opening sequence which was added at a later date), the script of which had to be rewritten to transfer Frasier's part to Niles, who finds himself a hero after a basketball player claims his performance improved after a chance ruffling of Niles' hair. It's a testament to the writers and cast that they still managed to put together an entertaining episode in these difficult circumstances, although Grammer's absence is clearly felt throughout. The funniest parts are probably Niles having the rules of the game explained to him by Daphne as well as the closing scene where a guard misinterprets Niles and Reggie's conversation as something else entirely ('Does this concern you?'/'It's starting too!') making for an episode that manages to be enjoyable against the odds.

Rating: 77%