Episode Ten: Oops, and Lime Pickle
Every action has an equal opposite reaction, and for the action of Frasier’s existence at home, there is his father, but in the workplace his contrapuntal character comes in the form of Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe, a sportscaster whose mind is one-track at best. In the hands of a lesser actor Bulldog would be a minor-league irritation, but Dan Butler plays him so ebulliently and abruptly, you get the sense that he just has a really short attention span and assumes the world will revolve around him, and maybe it’s just that I relate to that heavily or something but I can’t help finding him oddly appealing.
In the shortlived but highly wonderful Broadway musical [title of show], there’s a song called Secondary Characters where Heidi and Susan, the aforementioned secondary characters, get to enjoy a brief moment in the sun while the “stars are being stored in the wings”. After being sprinkled hither and yon throughout the radio station scenes, “Oops” sees Bulldog get his time to shine, and even though guest star John Glover was nominated for an Emmy for his brief role as station manager, it’s really Bulldog’s episode.
We begin at Cafe Nervosa with office gossip being bounced around some of the KACL radio crew, comprising the always-welcome presence of Roz, “Chopper” Dave, whose position as helicopter-based traffic reporter means he yells a lot, and Teddy, “one of our brilliant engineers” who as a black man brings some startling diversity to the otherwise blindingly white show: unsurprisingly, he says little and is never seen again. There’s talk of budget cuts and someone losing their job, and Frasier is naturally blustering wildly at the scurrilous nature of water cooler talk but can’t help getting involved. Enter Bulldog, counting aloud while using one of those flexy squeeze devices for building up arm muscles (Roz asks him if it’s a new record for squeezing or being able to count, nice one Roz) and drops that he has a meeting with the big boss after work, everyone cannot help but conclude that he’s getting fired.
Later at the station Father Mike, another radio host, expresses his nervousness to Frasier about the budget cuts and Frasier breezily assures him it’s Bulldog who’s getting cut, from what he’s heard. Bulldog overhears and explodes with rage, heading straight to the station manager’s office to quit before he can get fired. Meanwhile Roz appears and tells Frasier that actually Bulldog’s show was going to go national - and there’s the oops of the episode’s title. The mishap eventually rights itself, but not before Bulldog appears on Frasier’s doorstep, miserable, dumped (“even when I was tomcatting around, I still loved her”) and jobless. Frasier feels a stiffening in his morals and goes to see the dreaded station manager, played as previously mentioned by the villainously handsome John Glover. As I said, everything comes right at the last minute - just as Glover is about to fire Frasier, he gets a call from upper management saying that in fact he is being let go, and Frasier is able to be magnanimously patronizing in the face of someone else’s defeat.
Bulldog will go on to have other star turns as the series goes along, and it seems like the writers genuinely wanted him to be considered a major minor character at one stage because there’s several group cast photos where he’s oddly slotted in alongside the main five. Yes he’s rather horribly sexist but the humour is always stacked so that it’s clear that he’s a jackass and we’re laughing at him, not with him, and I always welcome his presence in a scene, especially when he’s around the cautious and studied Frasier.
Two slightly odd things I noticed about this episode was that the audience cheers and applauds a lot, which seems like a very bygone-era sitcom thing to do (if anyone can explain to me why they applauded when Martin was complaining about Father Mike covering Bulldog’s show and being all “Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Notre Dame” I’d appreciate it) and also when Bulldog confronts the station manager, we get a fisheye lens view of his face yelling, but instead of his voice we just hear a dog barking. They didn’t muck around with form too much after this, but it was funny to see them getting so experimental.
Martin Crane offers both Niles and Bulldog a pickle from a jar at one point in the middle there and between that and the in-a-pickle nature of the plot, plus the gift of a bag of limes from a friend’s tree, I decided to make lime pickle as the recipe to accompany this episode. It’s adapted from a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s book How To Be A Domestic Goddess and if you enjoy preserved lemons or indeed anything sour and sharp you’ll love these. The recipe is a gift that keeps on giving too - the salt that blankets the slices of limes absorbs some of their flavour and can be re-used, and the oil that you fill the jar with becomes equally lime-scented and able to be used accordingly. The lime slices themselves are wonderful for adding a burst of pure citrus sourness in anything really, but obviously lend themselves particularly to Middle Eastern cooking.
- six limes
- rock salt (or any non-iodised salt)
- one teaspoon turmeric
- one teaspoon cumin seeds
- olive oil
Cut the limes into sixths or eighths or whatever really, and place in a freezerproof container. Pour over enough salt to roughly blanket the slices, put a lid on the container and freeze overnight (or longer, doesn’t matter if you forget about it.) Apparently putting it in the freezer helps the salt break down the fibres faster.
The next day, rinse the lime slices under cold water in a sieve, and hold onto the remaining salt if you want (would be ideal for rimming margarita glasses, for one thing). Pack the lime slices into a clean jar (around 350ml should do it) and tip in the cumin seeds and turmeric, and then pour over enough olive oil so that the lime slices are completely submerged. Leave in a dark cupboard for a few days before opening, the longer it sits the more luscious the lime slices will be.
Favoured Quote: Chopper Dave yelling “Keep it under your hat! VERY HUSH HUSH!”; Bulldog constantly losing things, shouting “THIS IS TOTAL BS” before immediately cooling down and being like “oh” as he discovers the thing he was yelling about is super relatable, right? Just me?
Em-Maris-ment of Riches: Maris is on fire this week. Her Junior League - what is that, by the way? - are rehearsing Cats for their spring musical (David Hyde Pierce puts the emphasis on the last syllable of ‘musical’ which is subtle and I love it) and not only was Mrs Presley-Bismuth “scent-marking the divan”, but also Maris forgot the words to Memory (a laugh line that’s not as cute as it thinks it is, tbh.) Niles later brings over a dead plant to Frasier’s house as a ruse to see Daphne, he gave it to Maris as a present and it “unaccountably turned against her” as one can only imagine a plant in her presence doing, and he has it in his head that with Daphne’s caring nature, she can nurse it back to health.
TFW *indescriminate barking noises*