For my tribute to one of my favorite actors who passed away yesterday a special look at an episode of one of the biggest shows of the 90’s:

Bob Hoskins was one of my favorite actors. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mermaids, Hook, A Christmas Carol (ok I hated the movie but he was fine in it)…just to name a few. But one of my favorite Hoskins roles was on this episode of Frasier. I briefly mentioned this in MovieFan’s article yesterday, but decided to take a closer look. Ladies and gentlemen:

“Trophy Girlfriend”

Let’s take at a closer look at this episode from late in this series run.

Plot Summary:Frasier pairs up with an attractive new partner in Squash who is also a Gym teacher. All is going well until he sees her yelling at a student, and gets a flashback to his own painful experience with a rough Gym teacher. After that Frasier can only see that nasty Gym teacher!

Best Line:””Please excuse my daughter Ruby from P.E. She has a ‘delibitating’ disease.” Nice try, Ruby.”….Frasier reading a note.

Nitpick of the episode-I can buy that Frasier’s teacher was rough because when Frasier was a kid no one cared about what effect yelling at a kid would have. But I find it hard to believe that by 2003 when the episode aired Chelsea hasn’t learned that being a bully isn’t a good motivator for kids.

Standout Character-Frasier, Kelsey Grammar’s does a great job with his panic in this episode making us believe what Frasier is feeling.

Episode Fun Fact-The title is a pun on the common phrase “trophy wife”

My Thoughts-Bob Hoskins is just perfect as the gruff gym teacher. He absolutely sells the role and makes what could be a far fetched script funny as hell! The scenes where he takes the place of Chelsea actually work and Hoskins doesn’t stay in one mode for the whole show. When we first see him he is gruff as the real teacher was. But when he is “Chelsea” he acts softer like a woman while retaining the gruffness to still be the same guy. To put it simply, Bob Hoskins was an amazing actor and this episode shows that very effectively.

One complaint I have is that the script takes so long to finally get to the part with Hoskins, half the episode is over! As a result his scenes feel a little rushed and you have to wonder if there wasn’t a ton of stuff cut out to allow the episode to run on time. The stuff with Niles wanting to have another partner is necessary in order to give us a reason to get Frasier to meet Chelsea but wouldn’t it have worked better if we had cut to the chase and already showed they had met? Then we get the first scene of Act 1 which has no bearing on the main plot. We learn Frasier and Chelsea won their tournament, so? We learn Niles is jealous, so? We don’t even get to the stuff about the gym teacher until we have had another pointless Roz and Julia detour!

The script takes sooo long to get to the gym class, where the plot finally kicks in!  The story with Niles ends quietly when he admits he made a mistake and asks Frasier to take him back, so what was the point beside the obvious plot device? Hoskins is reduced to only three scenes and while they are funny it just feels rushed. The episode never really explores the concept before it is wrapped up. That was a problem that this series had many times in fact, by the time they found the plot there wasn’t time to properly cultivate it before rushing to the end.

So what else happens in this episode? Well as I mentioned Niles is the catalyst for the plot even though he didn’t need to be. The story is supposed to be about Frasier but it feels like it is trying to be a Frasier and Niles episode at the same time. Fail. We also have the story line with Roz which even the creators realized was stupid, but that’s a discussion for another day. She hates her boss who also hates her, we know this already so their scenes here are just pointless. And Martin….is just here. That happened a lot on this series too, Martin’s role was basically just sitting and commenting. It is ok if you can’t find time to do anything interesting to do with you other characters to just give them a token scene and expand the main plot!!

By the way I am praising Hoskins but I shouldn’t overlook the fact that Jeanne Tripplehorn plays Chelsea and does a damn fine job. In fact it’s these two that raise this episode a bit above the level of “just another episode”I also really do like the scene where Frasier confesses what has been bothering him to Chelsea. It is well written and Hoskins could have just phoned it in, but he really acts like he is Chelsea reacting to what Frasier is saying. At the end, Frasier admit he was a poor athlete as a child and suddenly Chelsea sees the little girl she has been yelling at instead of Frasier. Not sure if that’s really funny or kind of stupid to be honest.

So yeah this probably isn’t Hoskins most famous role, but it’s one I enjoy every time I see it. If you’ve never see the episode, it’s on Netflix so check it out!!

Grade-B-, Hoskins is hilarious and saves a flat scrpt

By the way, one last thing. I mentioned Mermaids above, and that is a Cher movie which also features Winona Ryder. It’s a great little movie and Hoskins is fantastic in it! We lost a great one this week my friends.

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