I'm sure it wasn't this picture that won Frasier his Mensa nod!
It's not uncommon to see your average sitcom get something wrong when it comes to video games. Not only is it not uncommon, but it's nothing new. It would be impossible to list all of the gaming mistakes made over the years on shows like Roseanne, Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show or any of the countless other sitcoms. But Frasier isn't like those other shows. Frasier is considered smart, well researched and plumb-full of actual facts. It's also a critic's darling. In the show's eleven season run, it won more Emmy awards than any other show in history. What's more, the Mensa organization named it the eighth smartest show of all time, sharing the title with shows like M*A*S*H, Jeopardy, The West Wing and All in the Family.
Frasier is different, it's a smarter show. At least, that's what they tell us. Yet when it comes to video game smarts Frasier needs to be held back a grade until he gets it right. The offense comes late in the series' run, the tenth show of the eighth season. The episode in question is called Cranes Unplugged. It features a plotline where radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane feels compelled to take his estranged son and his handicapped father on a camping trip. In the clip below we find Frasier lamenting that books are nothing like video games, and that he hates how little time he has with his son. Watch the clip and we'll pick it up on the other side.
Regardless of whether you're a fan of Frasier or not, there are at least three major problems with this clip. Let's start at the beginning. After spending the day at a "computer expo," Frasier is miffed that his son, Frederick, would rather sit on the couch playing games
Even this four year old boy knows the Game Boy Color is more fun when there's a game in it!
than spend time recounting all of the exciting things that happen at a "computer expo." Thankfully that isn't the problem, because that seems like the kind of thing a kid might actually do.
The problem actually happens when Frederick picks up the Game Boy Color and starts playing (A). Although we don't stay on the shot for very long, it's clear that this particular Game Boy Color doesn't have a game in it. Go back and look closely, there's a big empty hole where the game is supposed to go. Had the camera been positioned in a slightly different position we would never have known, yet it's blatantly obvious when the camera is pointed right at the back of the handheld console.
And that's not the only problem. Note how Frederick's big yellow headphones aren't actually plugged in (B). You have to look closely, but never once do you see a cord connected to the Game Boy Color. Yet the lack of sound doesn't stop young Frederick from missing everything his dad says. He even seems startled when Frasier rips the headphones from his head. Not only is this ridiculous because the headphones aren't connected to anything, but it's equally stupid because you don't hear sound from a turned off Game Boy.
This is the kind of laissez faire fact checking you expect from Charles In Charge, not Frasier!
The headphones are a nice diversion, but it keeps coming back to the fact that there's no game in that system. What is so unforgivable about that mistake is that there are clearly games they could have put in, even if Frederick didn't get to play them. On the table there are two different games just waiting to be played (C), yet neither game is inserted into the Nintendo portable. Shouldn't somebody have noticed this? Even if middle-aged actors Kelsey Grammer and John Mahoney missed it, shouldn't Frederick (child star Trevor Einhorn), have noticed that there's no game in that system? Why couldn't he have just put in one of those two games in the system? Or better still, why isn't Frederick playing a Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo portable released earlier that year? There's just no excuse.
This is the kind of thing I expect from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Herman's Head, but not Frasier. This is supposed to be on a completely different level, it's a Mensa-approved TV show for crying out loud. Yet Frasier proves that he doesn't know the first thing about video games ... and doesn't care to learn. I expect better from you Frasier, you've really let me down.