S2E9- Adventures in Paradise: Part 2

fd_s2e9-zzS2 E9: Adventures in Paradise: Part 2
Airdate: November 22, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs

(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
I am so please to return to Frasier Crane’s beige Seattle with you. We rejoin our tormentor as his tormentor appears at the worst possible time. Actually, I’m sure we are both thinking that there is no good time for Lilith to show up, but… people, I have a “# of women Frasier has slept with” category to tend to here, and so far, Lilith is the only one on it! Then again, I suppose Frasier’s perpetual failure in this area of life is a crucial part of his tortured persona.

Before the episode itself, there is a recap of part 1—several clips, over some of which Frasier narrates. Not Kelsey Grammar, mind you—Frasier Crane, in character. I had forgotten that this used to be pretty common in late ‘80s/early ‘90s sitcoms. Cast members would also say that the show was taped in front of a live studio audience during the theme or credits. In fact, I suppose even now it’s usually one of the show’s actors who says “previously on (whatever show)”.
fd_s2e9-02Episode Synopsis:
Open at the grass cottages by the beach. Frasier asks Lilith what she is doing there; she returns the question without answering. Frasier invites Madeline out. He calmly asks Lilith if she has a date, which she does. Frasier protests that Lilith has brought someone else to “their place”—which is perfectly hypocritical, since he has obviously done the same. Madeline is understandably frazzled that her date’s ex-spouse has “joined” them for their getaway.

Lilith’s boyfriend, Brian, returns from snorkeling. Frasier is surprised that Lilith shows the ability to laugh at a joke, but she quickly reverts to her familiar, humorless demeanor. While barely breaking eye contact, Frasier and Lilith try to out-kiss each other with their respective dates, who quickly grow uncomfortable. Brian asks if perhaps the four of them should have cocktails together later, and Madeline suggests that they all in fact have dinner. What an amazingly terrible idea.
fd_s2e9-01Scene 2
Frasier and Madeline return to their cottage after dinner. Rather than finally enjoying some time alone with her, Frasier gives the impression of lingering feelings for Lilith, first by angrily complaining about Brian showing him up while the couples were out together for dinner, then by inferring (from the silence coming from the other side of the wall) that Lilith and Brian are making love. Madeline convinces Frasier to refocus his attention, which he does. However, she decides to take a shower to wash off the sand from spending time on the beach.

Frasier uses this time to shout and rock the bed, so that Lilith will think that he and Madeline are getting busy, which is completely absurd, since they are in fact about to begin doing so, hence there is no reason for him to pretend they are. Well, I suppose, no reason beyond assuring that Dr. Crane remains a tragic figure, that is. Frasier goes positively crazy on the bed, which is kind of a great TV moment. He then stands and thrashes the bed canopy against the wall rhythmically while continuing to shout in comedic mock sexual ecstasy.
fd_s2e9-03Madeline emerges from the bathroom. Lilith and Brian also come into view through the window, which has been open this whole time. They watch him, understandably somewhat in awe. When at length Frasier notices them, he says nothing, but shrugs in fatigue and despair. Again, we are savoring a tragic struggle with sanity, and again it is in a social context.

If faced with this scenario, the Fresh Prince would have come up with a flimsy but sufficiently entertaining excuse, which would have kept the audience (and his date) on his side. If this were Who’s the Boss?, Tony would have been a perfect cross between Frasier and the Fresh Prince— offering an excuse that is funny, but not quite smooth enough to assure that he will get lucky. If it were Perfect Strangers (Larry being the one jumping on the bed), he would have a superlatively lame excuse, which would secure him several weeks of chastity, and Balki would tell a touching speech about being a virtuous person, over a slow interlude featuring heavily on melodica. Here is the official Frasier Denied stance on this issue: At such a momentous juncture as this, Dr. Crane is the only person in the (sitcom) universe who is pathetic enough to merely sigh and look down at his feet.
fd_s2e9-04Scene 3: Paradise Lost
Frasier’s KACL radio show is on the air. He gives Madeline a detailed apology, heard by his entire listening audience, and laments the potential loss of the connection that they have shared. There is a tender pause as he explains that he genuinely cares for her. Roz signs for him to wrap it up and he goes off air for the traffic report break. Roz enters the booth and kindly assures Frasier that Madeline will most likely respond well to his explicit, public plead.

They go back on the air. The control room phone rings; Roz answers. Frasier begins listening to an on-air caller, but Roz leans in and says that Madeline is on the phone for him. Not only is Roz flipping the caller, the audience, and the station the bird with this cruel interruption, but she is certainly being picked up by Frasier’s microphone— an act of reckless neglect that would surely have gotten her fired. Frasier jumps at the chance to take Madeline’s call and, as if to eagerly encourage the station to fire him too, and despite Roz’s frantic silent protests, he dumps the caller over to her line so that she can hear the caller’s issue and advise him.
fd_s2e9-05Scene 3:
At the apartment, Niles enters the living room and exposits that he, Daphne, and Martin are going to the ballet, to see Maris in a non-dancing part. Daphne gets her binoculars so that she can get close-up views of the male dancers’ personalities. Frasier is rather flustered. He actually says to everyone in the room “Will you get out of here?” He chastises himself for his behavior in Bora Bora, but Niles encourages him not to blame himself. Daphne is hopeful, as Roz was, that Madeline will understand.

Niles, Daphne, and Martin exit, just as Madeline arrives. She and Frasier timidly reconcile. She interrupts his apology, charitably interpreting the events but making it clear that she likely cannot handle any more “complicated” crazy from Lilith and Frasier’s situation.

Scene 4: What Number Sunblock Must She Use?
(This is a pleasantly scary foreshadowing. For the scene-title typist to sympathize with the family’s disdain for Lilith is genuinely pretty funny—though I may be taking it too far if I infer that they, like the Cranes, suspect she may be a vampire.)

Later at the apartment, Frasier and Madeline are eating mangoes on sticks and drinking pitcher Mai Tais. “Well, we never got around to sampling this tropical delicacy while we were in the islands,” Frasier says. The most important thing that we learn from Frasier is that intelligence and sanity are two entirely different things, and the latter is far more crucial to social fulfillment. Pointing that out in every episode is probably our mission here.
fd_s2e9-06They verbally indicate that it is time to get busy, but Madeline halts everything and confides that she has had unsuccessful relationships with divorced men. Frasier assures her that no romantic ties remain between him and Lilith. They resume kissing, and Eddie jumps onto the couch to keep them company.
fd_s2e9-07Frasier picks him up and heads down the hall. There is a knock on the door. Madeline answers; it’s Lilith. Madeline is horrified. Lilith claims that she has something urgent to talk about with Frasier. Madeline, now out of patience, exits forever.

Alone, Lilith sits in Martin’s chair. Frasier emerges from the hall and dims the lights. Lilith stands and when he sees her silhouette, Frasier howls in pure terror. He first seems to suspect that Lilith has killed Madeline, then angrily laments that Lilith has once again stolen potential happiness away from his grip.

She rolls her eyes and sits on the couch. The “urgent” news is that Brian has proposed to her. Frasier gives her his blessing, and she reports that Frederick, their son, is very fond of Brian. As they are hugging, Niles, Daphne, and Martin enter.
fd_s2e9-08When Martin sees Lilith, he bellows in horrified abandon—it seems that he may have a heart attack. Frasier tells them the announcement; when it is clarified that he is not the one whom Lilith is marrying, Martin drops his cane and limps hurriedly across the room to “congratulate” Lilith. His joy, of course, only derives from the knowledge that she may now be finally getting out of their lives for good.

Frasier walks Lilith out and says that he ought to try bringing Madeline to Bora Bora again.
He then does go back, and to the very same cottage.

…with Niles.

Credits vignette:
Niles watches as Frasier runs around the room attempting to kill an insect with a shoe.

Closing thoughts:
When (over the course of the first 7 years or so after it was published) I would hear the Radiohead song “Air Bag”— the opening track of their 1997 masterpiece OK Computer— I misheard a lyric from the chorus. Where I heard “I’d like to say to you…” Thom Yorke was in fact singing “I’m back to save the universe.” Can we misinterpret art of every sort in just this way? When we infer Frasier Crane’s daily existence as a deplorable chaos of awkwardness and frustration, might we equivocating? Might we have missed some underlying essence of tormented genius, hence “Denying Frasier” for reasons that are in fact unjustified?

I doubt it. However, this forum gives us the room to carefully separate some of the conceptual layers that comprise the show’s overall jive, so we can in fact avoid dismissing it as pretentious schlock or cheap sitcom claptrap. It has elements of those, but I find that the creators have knowingly placed those aspects—toxic as they are in high homogenous concentrations—in the overall Crane gang panorama, among the element of social mayhem that results from Frasier’s madness. There are fansites out there that simply treat Frasier as a great work of televisionary art. I don’t want to detract from the experience those folks have—nor, especially, from the contribution they make to analysis and criticism of the TV canon alongside me, but I could never stand to go without examining the insane and otherwise unimpressive parts as well as the entertaining and enlightening ones when I sit in front of this perplexing beast of a show.

What I want to point out is perhaps a sharpened recognition of its nuance, when compared to the more generally Frasier-positive sites. It’s as simple as that. I have mentioned before that the “ironic-to-genuine ratio” in my affinity for Frasier is about 70/30, and this is important to our design. The satirical blog medium is not well-served with drooling fandom—not even a little; not ever. The humor I contribute to the meta-TV canon (and, strangely enough, to the Frasier canon itself) has a lifeblood of mild disdain at a resting heart rate—a baseline of polite cynicism, if you will.

But that is nothing new. Show review sites exude varying levels of sincere enthusiasm for their subjects. What did shake things up for me a little was in a book I was reading in my free time (you know, when I’m not on my couch counting how many times Niles smiles), namely Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter:

“With many television classics that we associate with “quality” entertainment—Mary Tyler Moore, Murphy Brown, Frasier— the intelligence arrives fully formed in the words and actions of the characters onscreen. They say witty things to each other, and avoid lapsing into tired sitcom clichés, and we smile along in our living room, enjoying the company of these smart people. But assuming we’re bright enough to understand the sentences they’re saying—few of which are rocket science, for that matter— there’s no intellectual labor involved in enjoying the show as a viewer. There’s no filling in, because the intellectual achievement exists entirely on the other side of the screen. You no more challenge your mind by watching these intelligent shows than you challenge your body watching Monday Night Football. The intellectual work is happening onscreen, not off”        (p. 64).

Johnson’s thesis is that with time, all entertainment media increase in complexity and require more focus, patience, problem-solving skills, and better memory on the part of their viewers. The best-known comparison from this book is a subplot-count in a Dragnet episode vs. a Sopranos episode, in which the former deals with only one plot—solve the crime of the week, while the latter has around twenty interrelated plots for nearly all of the characters. Anyway, for our Frasier-Denying purposes, Johnson’s analysis contributes a few things:

1. It’s possible for someone to consider Frasier a “smart” show.
2. There is a difference between keeping up with the complexity of a show’s content/themes/etc. and typing up a detailed, ostensibly intelligent synopsis of it.
fd_s2e9-00It’s all in how you watch. In the sense that Johnson is describing, in my personal experience, watching a Beavis & Butthead episode is more thought-provoking than watching a Frasier episode. “What?! Then why are you typing reviews of Frasier, rather than Beavis & Butthead?” you may ask. “Shouldn’t you be going where the material is most fertile for intelligent analysis? And by the way, are you shitting me? Beavis & Butthead—seriously?” you may also ask.

I answer those questions thusly: Because, on a meta-medium such as this, Frasier is far funnier subject matter, Beavis & Butthead comes with the meta-analysis already packed in, and said meta-analysis is too ethereal for this medium—it’s better suited to the couch itself, with a giggly companion and a bag of nacho chips. In short, Frasier is flawed, but it is complicated enough that those flaws are up for debate. Tongue-in-cheek, we call that debate “Denial.”

***

When Lilith appears at the apartment and the rest of the cast comes home from the opera, it’s just like the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader is standing at the table in cloud city (and Martin is Han Solo. I suppose that makes Niles Chewbacca. How could we have predicted that comparison? Well done, my friends).

Unnecessary conflicts:
Lilith showing up at the apartment entirely unannounced.

Continuity errors, etc.:
Niles, Daphne, and Martin seem to get home from the ballet a little early. Niles assured them on the way out that they would be gone for a long time. Not a technical flub, but a little bit of lazy “sitcom convenience.”

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [1]    series: [4] (same woman as in part 1, of course)

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]    series: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [0]    series: [20]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]    series: [6]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]    series: [12]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [0]    series: [17]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [3]    series: [87]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]    series: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [1]    series: [15]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [1]    series: [11]

Kind of great TV moments:
Frasier jumping around on the bed.
fd_s2e9-yzKind of great Frasier moments:
The “confidential” message that Frasier gives to Madeline over the air.

Niles identifying Maris’s part in the ballet as “Ulrich, the hunch-backed draw-bridge operator.”

Frasier screaming at Lilith that he doubts driving a stake through her heart would kill her.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “As Frasier and Madeline prepare for a romantic night in Bora Bora, Lilith and her new boyfriend coincidentally show up in the cottage next door.”
fd_s2e9-09


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S2E8- Adventures in Paradise: Part 1

s2e8-10S2 E8: Adventures in Paradise: Part 1
Airdate: November 15, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs

(episode transcript)
s2e8-00Opening thoughts:
Here we have the series’ first two-parter and another Lilith appearance! The last Lilith show got an enthused response. She is a powerful and captivating villain indeed.

For old times’ sake, I was going to include the scene titles for this episode and comment on whether each of them was cliché, cutesy, and/or incoherent (for those of you who don’t know, this was standard practice for season 1).

However, the episode was light on scene titles, and so will part 2 be. These writers do return with scene titles that are strictly cliché in episode S2 E16 , so I’ll do it then. (Scene 3 of this episode is titled “Busman’s Holiday,” which is so orgiastically incoherent, I wanted to make sure to loop you in).
s2e8-02Episode Synopsis:
Frasier goes on the air after a commercial break, with only a few seconds of air time left. A caller, Chester (voice-over by Art Garfunkel), has been criticized by his wife for not getting anywhere in life. He interrupts Frasier a couple of times, not understanding him. Frasier tells him they can talk in greater detail off the air.

After announcing that Bulldog’s sports show is next, Frasier signs off. Only acting very slightly like a sociopath, he goes into the booth and chats with Roz about Seattle Magazine’s new list of the ‘hottest men and women in town.’
s2e8-03After searching in vain for himself (holy hell, if that isn’t our slogan now), he notices someone named Madeline Marshall and declares that he is in love. Roz suggests that Frasier ask Ms. Marshall out. He refuses and, for some reason, Roz insists again. When he again refuses, she calls Ms. Marshall’s office herself.

Bulldog enters. He brags about how tight his glutes are. It’s… genuinely adorable. I know that sounds impossible, Niles, but SEE FOR YOURSELF!
s2e8-04Bulldog ogles the magazine while Roz gets an answer on the line. She announces that Dr. Crane is coming to the phone. As Roz and Bulldog watch, he stammers and stutters through proposing a dinner date that night. Something funny happens (as of now, we shall cease spoiling jokes that aren’t somehow tied into the plot. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me until now).
s2e8-05Scene 2
At the apartment, Daphne is writing a letter to her mother while Martin, in his chair, opens a box of Cuban cigars. Niles enters from the kitchen; Martin offers him a cigar. As Niles lights Martin’s, Daphne says that she finds a cigar-smoking man quite attractive and tells a completely horrifying story about her grandfather.
s2e8-06Frasier enters from his bedroom, asking Eddie to give back his socks. Eddie fetches them from under a couch cushion. Frasier brags about Madeline Marshall’s 47th spot in the hundred-or-whatever ‘hottest’ people in Seattle and exits.

Scene 3: Busman’s Holiday
(on par with the most incoherent of Frasier scene titles. Bravo.)

Frasier and Madeline are seated at Degas, a best-kept-secret type place run by a mother, father, and daughter from France. Madeline admits that she doesn’t listen to The Frasier Crane Show.
s2e8-07She does, however, demonstrate sommelier skills, which impresses Frasier and the restaurant owner. Both Frasier and Madeline reveal that they are divorced.

The owners begin shouting at each other in English (so that it can affect the story). The daughter is pregnant, and the father repeatedly demands that she tell him who her lover is. The… (busman? Yeah? That’s a thing? Well, OK). The busman becomes very nervous. The father can then be heard again from the kitchen, shouting that he will kill whoever is responsible for impregnating his daughter. Our beloved busman then flees.
s2e8-08Daughter and mother enter from the kitchen. The mother recognizes Frasier; calls her husband into the dining room, and loudly asks Frasier for advice. The owners yell at each other in a derogatory crescendo, until Frasier stands and demands silence. He asks them to tell each other how they actually feel, and they all magically melt into a glom of acceptance and peace. The clientele applauds. You know, because those French people are just all like that.

Fan fiction: After this, business was better than ever. The daughter and her five children go on to take over the restaurant. They change the name of the restaurant to Busman after their father dies on an escargot hunt.
s2e8-09Scene 4
At KACL, Roz is doing some paperwork. Frasier enters the control room from the hall and thanks Roz. She exposits that it has been two weeks since Frasier and Madeline’s first date. Frasier is genuinely smitten. Since Roz has had such trouble with dating lately, she is annoyed at his descriptions of how perfectly things are going. Undeterred, he declares that he suspects Madeline may be…you know. Roz doesn’t care.

Madeline enters the booth. Frasier rushes to her frantically, yammers indecipherable introductions, and closes the door between the booth and control room. Madeline asks him if he would like to spend a weekend away with her. Let me remind you that in the 32 episodes so far, the only person whom Frasier has known biblically has been his ex-wife.

Attempting to find some mutual free time in their schedules, they come up short for months to come. Saying goodbye, they make out fervently, finally deciding to fly to Bora Bora the very next day.
s2e8-11At the apartment, Niles is playing the piano, and he and Martin are smoking cigars. Niles exposits that they have been doing this for many nights in a row. Daphne enters from her room, with a cigar of her own. The whole main living area is downright cloudy with cigar smoke.
s2e8-13Frasier enters. He chides Martin for not smoking on the balcony. I don’t know if this is because everyone else would surely follow him out, like a small, stogie-puffing gang, but Frasier doesn’t really seem to care anyway. He’s also pissed about the fact that he has promised to take the trip to Bora Bora the next day. He talks through it and is unhappy with all of the potential outcomes.

Niles exits. Martin asks Frasier if he has genuine feelings for Madeline. Martin reminisces about meeting Frasier’s mother. Still puffing thick clouds into the air, Daphne recommends that Frasier go on the trip.
s2e8-14Scene 6
At a grass hut in Bora Bora, Frasier and Madeline enter with suitcases. They begin to kiss on the bed; Madeline pulls away and goes into the other room to get, like, ready. Frasier goes out onto the balcony. Madeline calls for Frasier. On the neighboring patio, Lilith says “Frasier?” and stands up. Frasier shouts in horror.
s2e8-15Credits vignette:
Roz continues to look through the pages of Seattle Magazine for a hot person that might say “yes” to a date as easily as Madeline did to Frasier.

Closing thoughts:
The cigar thing is so kooky and fun. I wonder how late in the writing process they decided to lace that subplot in there. Niles! I quite approve.

This is the first of seven episodes to that were written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs, who have also written together for M*A*S*H, Cheers, and The Simpsons.

Here is an unsolicited refresher on the TV schedule at the time this episode aired.
Tuesday 1994-1995 Here is the Frasier Denied facebook page, for “liking” and updates and such.

Unnecessary conflicts:
Frasier and Madeline thinking they have to travel all the way to Bora Bora just to fool around is balls-brains insane— straight out of a 1950s sitcom. They could have booked a nice hotel right in town. That wouldn’t have cost $5300.00
s2e8-appendix 1Continuity errors, etc.:
Of course, we’re calling bullshit on Lilith being in the next hut over, after Frasier has traveled thousands of miles.

Niles uses a butane lighter for Martin’s cigar, instead of wood matches.

The Degas family scream at each other in English.

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [3]   series: [4]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0] Close though!   previous cumulative: [1]   series: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [20]   series: [20]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [6]   series: [6]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [11]   series: [12]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [16]   series: [17]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [83]   series: [84]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [14]   series: [14]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [10]   series: [10]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
Niles playing the piano while he and Martin smoke cigars.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier reveals his infatuation with Madeline Marshall, a stunning MBA who’s been named one of the city’s ‘hottest’ women.”
s2e8-zzs2e8-zzb

S2 E7: The Candidate

s2e7-00 Airdate: November 8, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writer: Chuck Ranberg, Anne Flett-Giordano

(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
The Frasier Denied facebook page is HERE!

This is an episode that deals with politics. It’s also an episode in which one of the regular characters moons the whole city and doesn’t even charge for it. Thanks for sticking with us through such a long break. I experienced about every major life event possible since October (besides someone dying. No one died. Unless they kept it a secret). I do have a more than hour-long combined daily commute now, so perhaps I will rig something so that I can project the TV screen onto the inside of my windshield, then do a whole review on voice-to-text. Seriously though, I often drink coffee at 8 PM now, so let’s have me carve out some regular Frasier time for us. Anyway, what have you been up to? Oh, sorry. Shh. The episode synopsis is starting. We’ll talk after.

Episode Synopsis:
In the living room, Frasier, Niles and Daphne are sitting on the couch. Martin is standing behind them with the remote control. He turns on the TV and shushes them; a political ad for conservative congressional candidate Holden Thorpe comes on. In the ad, Martin himself is sitting on a bench and speaking to the camera. He gives a speech, blaming his career-ending gunshot wound on the “bleeding hearts” in congress. Yup.s2e7-01After the ad, the TV goes mute (as it tends to in situations like this), and while Frasier and Niles stare incredulously at it, Daphne congratulates Martin and goes to the kitchen to get him a beer. Martin explains that he was at a rally and Thorpe’s handlers, after learning he was an ex-cop, Thorpe’s handlers offered to put him in an ad. Frasier protests that they were exploiting Martin. Martin shakes his head; says that he genuinely supports Thorpe’s politics. As Daphne returns with Martin’s beer, he parrots one of Thorpe’s campaign promises (to put more police on the street), while Niles and Frasier broadly trash Thorpe’s policies. It’s just the kind of conversation you would expect their family to have during election season. Daphne remains neutral. s2e7-02The phone rings; Frasier answers. It’s Duke, calling to congratulate Martin. Have you noticed how incredibly often sitcom characters of the 80s and 90s would score commercials, news pieces, and other TV appearances? They always knew exactly what time their spot would air, too— right down to the second, and their friends and family would all tune in. It was long before YouTube and Hulu, so you actually had to pay attention to the giant telebox for the only time that it aired everything. Considering this, although it certainly was a primetime comedy trend, we must call B.S. on the supernatural convenience with which the ad queues right up for Martin. They could have easily made it far more believable by simply having him tape it earlier and play it for everyone.

Speaking of convenient, Duke tells Martin over the phone that channel 14 is playing Martin’s other ad, which is how we find out that another ad exists. Martin switches the channel, unmutes the TV, and disregards the phone. As the ad plays, he grins like a 3-year-old on crack. This time, we only get the audio portion of the ad. Martin’s voice on the television says “…crime isn’t pretty, and if you don’t believe me, look at this.” Then, Frasier and Niles’ reaction shot informs us that Martin is… what? Showing his ass on television? Is that it? I think he’s showing his ass on television.

Scene 2

At Café Nervosa, in order to underline the Cranes’ political differences relevant to the episode, Frasier is scripted as having trouble ordering: He cites objections to Kenya, Brazil, and El Salvador for various violations of his social conscience (and you can see why they wanted to ascribe Frasier with a touch of serious opinion here– most of the time he and Niles convey the courageous convictions of their lifestyle simply by drinking sherry and yapping about operas). Niles enters. He confirms that it is indeed Martin’s butt in the second campaign ad. He also exposits that this ad seems to be the more popular one.

Niles suggests that they ought to support Phil Patterson, Thorpe’s opponent. Niles has already contacted Patterson’s people, and they would like Frasier to endorse Patterson publicly (presumably with his pants on). Frasier is apprehensive. He finds it would likely upset the conservative portion of his radio audience. Niles emphasizes that Phil Patterson cares about people. A contrast-gag follows, in which Niles impatiently shoos a school child selling chocolate bars as a fund-raiser for summer camp.
s2e7-07Scene 3
(You don’t miss the scene titles, you say? Good! See? I told you we didn’t need them.)

On the air, Frasier thanks a caller and signs off for commercial break. The ad is for Holden Thorpe. Frasier cuts the monitor in the booth. Bulldog enters. He slaps Roz on the butt, and she grabs his tongue and hits him in the face. Comedy!

Roz goes back to the control room; gives Frasier a ten-second warning. Frasier sarcastically talks over the political ad a couple of times. He signs back on briefly and announces the news; goes off-air again. Bulldog reminds Frasier to be impartial on the air, though Bulldog himself supports Thorpe. Frasier openly disagrees about Thorpe of course, as does Roz.

The next caller that Roz puts through is Thorpe himself. He hoses some predictable voter-bait about patriotism, family, and his military service, then suggests that America will be a better place when Frasier and “everyone like him” gets off the radio (I guess he means all liberals– I don’t know). Then comes my favorite thing ever to happen on the show. Yes, it’s the sweet, sublime sound of a dial tone.

Frasier begins an impassioned rejoinder, but Roz informs him that before any of it was audible over the air, she had to take them back off in deference to the traffic report.

Scene 4
There is a film crew in the apartment. Frasier has decided to do an ad for democratic congressional candidate Phil Patterson. Niles is trying to have some kind of involvement, but only ends up being a distraction. Daphne, Martin, and Eddie return from a walk. Martin sees Patterson and introduces himself. Martin and Daphne both embarrass themselves when they attempt to talk to Patterson. Frasier offers to get some fresh air with the candidate on the balcony.
s2e7-04Now that they are able to speak privately— and after Frasier promises impromptu doctor-patient confidentiality— Patterson frankly tells Frasier that he was abducted by aliens 6 years ago. Frasier is nonplussed. Niles, speaking for the crew, interrupts to call Frasier and Patterson back into the apartment for the next take. Patterson complies immediately, but Frasier refuses for as long as he can to budge from where he stands on the balcony.

Scene 5
Filming is still underway. Frasier goes through all of his lines, but he is so troubled that it seems to outright pain him to let the words out. He trembles and often hesitates. When he emits the tagline, “The sane choice,” he nearly bursts out crying.

s2e7-03

Get it?

During a break, Frasier asks Niles to join him in the kitchen. Niles suggests he pretend to be Frasier’s psychiatrist so that Frasier can violate his own doctor-patient confidentiality, and Frasier reveals Patterson’s perceived history with alien visitors. Both Frasier and Niles panic. Perhaps Frasier is terrified that his reputation will be ruined if it becomes publicly known that the candidate he endorses openly professes his impression that he was visited and stolen away by extra-terrestrials.
s2e7-06He tells Niles that it will at best prevent Patterson from being elected, leaving Thorpe unopposed. Niles points out that having Patterson drop out of the race and seek help (which is what Frasier suggests) will have the same result.

Frasier surmises that Patterson may have experienced a single hallucination, brought on by excessive work during campaigns or his other public service-related work. s2e7-05Scene 6
At the station, Roz and Frasier are off the air, looking over some paperwork. Bulldog enters. He announces that the news about Patterson’s delusions has made it to the press— so we think.

Frasier is concerned; he exposits that it is the day before the election and goes into the booth, determined to set things straight. Bulldog’s continued conversation with Roz indicates that by “aliens” he means unregistered immigrants allegedly working for Patterson. By this time, Frasier is already sound-proofed in the other room, getting his headphones on.

He goes on the air and explains in very great detail— far beyond anything that was uttered by Patterson himself— what the alien visit might have entailed and “defends” the candidate, citing the great amount of pressure, lack of sleep, and diligent work required in the months leading up to the election as likely cause of the hallucinations. Meanwhile, Roz frantically tries to get Frasier’s attention from the control room, but he is committed to his tirade and does not so much as look in her direction.
s2e7-08At the apartment, Daphne and Martin are watching the results of the election (Thorpe has won with 92%), while Frasier sulks in the background. Martin taunts him and exits. Frasier sounds just like Lewis Black when he says..
s2e7-09The doorbell rings. Frasier opens the door; it’s Patterson. He has come to return a “lucky tie” that Frasier let him borrow. Frasier asks whether the alien visitation really happened; Patterson assures him that it did. Frasier repeats “Anything is possible” as he paces pensively in the apartment after Patterson leaves.

Credits vignette:
At Café Nervosa, Roz tweezes her eyebrows at her table. The boy selling fund-raising chocolate bars approaches her. She blows an eyebrow hair at him. ..Because the main characters are all a-holes, right? Hilarity.

Closing thoughts:
OK, so Frasier is some decent brain candy. Have I never mentioned that before? As you can see by the way this very blog entry rolls out of me, I find the show can be viewed with a kind of affectionate disdain, and really, that equilibrium is quite unique. Friends is brain candy too, but I don’t have to go meta there—I simply enjoy it. However, it ain’t Troll 2 either. If I suppose that Frasier‘s creators intended at least the measure of irony with which I view it, Frasier’s musical counterpart would be… Spinal Tap.
s2e7-unused-02I had kind of an epiphany this week, about sitcoms in general. Is it possible that Frasier was in fact ahead of its time and it paved the way for today’s “mockumentary” format shows? If you project self-awareness on the crew as you view it—really get in there with them and picture yourself as entirely in on the joke—there are many moments when it pays off quite well. (Just picture the tone in Kelsey Grammer’s voice when he interjects “Quite stylish” between lyrics in one of the five versions of the closing theme.)

Whether this will affect my viewing and reviewing experience of Frasier moving forward, only time can reveal, Niles. Only time can reveal.

***
All through this viewing, which was by Netflix on my laptop, there were little spurts of data-mosh, revealing the alternating lines of the original video recording. It reminded me of how they always corrupt the footage on overturned screens and video billboards, etc. for “dystopian” set motifs.

***

Mental Floss did this list of inside-baseball Frasier facts article recently, all of which I’m sure you already know.

Unnecessary conflicts:
Frasier describes Patterson as a nut, to comedic effect, literally broadcasting his own version of the telltale alien encounter in embellished detail over the air— in the form of an outright announcement, rather than making brief, tacit reference to it and highlighting at length the positive things he wishes to ascribe in order to draw attention away from Patterson’s UFO story.

Also, while Frasier is spouting off about aliens, Roz doesn’t simply cut him off and play an ad, a PSA, or her own voice covering for it.

This is the sixth of the fifteen Frasier episodes written by Chuck Ranberg & Anne Flett-Giordano.

Continuity errors:
Martin’s perfectly timed ninja-wizard remote-control skills.

The station breaks (ads, news, traffic) are also pretty insanely convenient for the plot on the day that Thorpe calls the station.

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: 0[]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [3]   previous cumulative: [17]   series cumulative: [20]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [6]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [15]   series cumulative: [16]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [81]   series cumulative: [83]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]
(but they both behave extremely unethically when Frasier breaks confidentiality and gossips about Patterson.)

# of tender pauses: Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [14]   series cumulative: [14]

# of times Niles has smiled: [Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [10]

Kind of great TV moments: (none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
The on-air dial tone after a caller hangs up.

s2e7-zz

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Political differences split the Crane family after Martin announces his support for radical right-winger Holden Thorpe on television.”

S2 E6: The Botched Language of Cranes

fd s02 e06-00Airdate: November 1, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writer: Joe Keenan
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
Let me start with a reminder that the text in the screenshots is from the show’s actual subtitles. In this episode, we finally see some realistic Seattle weather. Also in this episode, everyone in the city hates Frasier Crane. We approve all around! Check out the November 2004 airdate: we are coming very close to publishing each post on the twentieth anniversary of the episode being reviewed (maybe that is what it takes to get me back to posting on the intended weekly schedule.) Frasier Denied is on facebook, so “like” it and lump it. (Did those sound like church announcements?)

fd s02 e06-01

why does this picture make me so certain that Roz is about to kill me?

You wanna catch up with the cast? Yeah, me neither. David Hyde Pierce has a role in season 6 of The Good WifeKelsey Grammer was just in The Expendables 3, John Mahoney has had a recurring role on Hot in Cleveland, Jane Leeves is actually a regular on Hot in Cleveland, Peri Gilpin has been doing character acting on Modern Family, Drop Dead Diva, Men at Work, and CSI, and Dan Butler (who plays Bulldog) is going to be in a new show called The Mysteries of Laura.

Episode Synopsis:
Off-air in the station control room, Roz is reading some notes. Frasier barges violently into the control room. His umbrella has been turned inside-out. He thrashes it up and down a few times, then tosses it out into the hall.
fd s02 e06-02fd s02 e06-03

Roz reviews some requests that Frasier has received in the mail. He agrees to speak at a college and refuses to host a hospital fundraiser. Roz points out that sick people really need the best help they can get. Frasier exposits that he agreed to host the event the previous year, but the hospital cancelled on him.

Frasier proclaims that he must refuse for the sake of his dignity, then agrees to judge the Miss Teen Seattle pageant. Their first caller Edna (voice-over by Alfre Woodard) is an exterminator who is growing tired with her life. Frasier suggests that she move out of Seattle, calling it a “dreary, soggy old city.”
fd s02 e06-04Scene 2
At the apartment, it’s a rainy morning. Martin is cheerfully reading the paper at the table. Frasier enters from his bedroom; complains about the rain. Daphne and Eddie enter, both wearing rain suits. Eddie climbs onto the couch. Frasier is pissed. Martin tells Daphne to take off Eddie’s rain hat. Daphne says that she wants to dress Eddie up, since she probably won’t ever have children.
fd s02 e06-05

Martin reads from Derek Mann’s column (see S1 E4: I Hate Frasier Crane), another round of insults against Frasier and his show. Specifically, he mentions the advice that the caller leave the dreary city, which makes Frasier a “Seattle-hater.” Both Martin and Daphne are sympathetic to Mann’s objections. Martin suggests that if Frasier doesn’t publicly apologize, everyone in Seattle will hate him forever.
fd s02 e06-06Scene 3
At the station, Frasier enters and discards a new, destroyed umbrella in the hallway. He enters the booth; Roz is rudely wrapping up with an angry listener on the phone. She has been taking such calls all day. The phone rings again. Bull Dog enters again; gives Frasier some crap about it.

Later, on the air, a caller chews Frasier out and hangs up on him (one of our favorite things to hear on the show, as you know). Frasier apologizes at length and signs off. He pushes the “terminate transmission” button or whatever it is, and verbally lays into the city, this time specifically calling the listeners weak and the city insane. Roz points out that he failed to take them off the air. He mashes the button again; this time the ‘On Air’ light goes dark.

Scene 4
At the apartment, Niles is hooking up either a VCR or a cable box to the television as Martin and Daphne wait patiently. Frasier enters and discards another battered umbrella. This time it was broken by an indignant listener who saw Frasier on the street. He explains that everyone he’s seen all day has treated him with hostility.

The phone rings. Martin tells Daphne to leave it; explains that the irate citizens of Seattle have been calling all day. Daphne insists on answering it. Someone asks for Frasier and cusses Daphne out. Niles takes the phone and attempts in vain to put the caller in her place.
fd s02 e06-08Someone knocks violently at the front door. It’s Roz. She and Martin laugh at Niles for trying to set up the TV.

Roz explains that the station manager suspects that Frasier will have to be suspended. She suggests that hosting the hospital fundraiser is the only way for Frasier to save his reputation. Martin and Niles concur. Frasier agrees to host the event and donate $800 himself.

Scene 6
At the fundraiser, Frasier is seated next to a nun at the main table. She reminds him not to tell any offensive jokes from the pulpit. Father Mike from the station visits the table. Everyone but Bulldog (and Maris) is there, and they’re all in formal wear. Frasier stops to visit them. Martin makes a Johhny Carson reference that Niles doesn’t get. Frasier excuses himself to throw up in the rest room.

s02 e06-09

Father Mike goes to the microphone and announces that the scheduled speaker, Bishop Cologie, is lost at sea. In a major “what the hell!?” moment, Niles blatantly sniffs a lock of Daphne’s hair. There is a chance that there is some kind of reference in there that somehow makes this less horrifying, but I just can’t think what it might be. Daphne notices and isn’t pleased, but turns her attention back to the podium. Father Mike finishes his announcement and introduces Frasier, who doesn’t appear. After “Dr. Crane?” is repeated a few times, Frasier rushes in, having not heard Father Mike’s announcement about the bishop.

Frasier makes less than 100 (I think) accidental puns about the ocean, death, etc.
Roz actually stands up and tells him in plain English what happened. He doesn’t understand and continues inadvertently dishonoring the possibly-dead Bishop Cologie, and just as you’ll find when I tell a joke, there is utter silence.

s02 e06-10

Credits vignette:
As the nun stands watching, Frasier sits at a table writing a check for more money to give to the hospital.

Closing thoughts:
If you can believe it, I’m typing this in Portland, Maine with a rainstorm raging outside.

A few times during season one, I talked about how Frasier stood out amongst old-timey sitcoms, most of which had sensible and realistic social interactions. How wrong was I? Seriously, why didn’t anyone call me out on that nonsense? I recently watched a couple evenings worth of Who’s the Boss?, Growing Pains, and Family Ties episodes, and that was what it took to jolt me from my slumber.

Good God, people, all sitcoms are cartoonish zoos. I guess it turns out that I merely watched them when I was under age 15, then remembered them incorrectly as an adult and saw fit to inject all my hate into Frasier (when it in fact was just the coincidence that I was actually watching Frasier regularly as an adult). Thank God I didn’t watch any Full House! No and no. I will keep and cherish my legion foolish and false memories of logic and joy deriving from that gem, thank you!

Unnecessary conflicts:
I can’t say whether any given local audience would get so mad about someone calling a city soggy and dreary– except Seattle, in which case they most certainly would not give a crap. Now, if you said something mean about the ‘hawks— that’s inviting hell upon your head.

Continuity errors:
(none)
s02 e06-07# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [15]   series cumulative: [17]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [5]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [15]   series cumulative: [15]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [4]   previous cumulative: [77]   series cumulative: [81]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [14]   series cumulative: [14]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [8]   series cumulative: [10]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
I don’t know why I so enjoy Niles hooking up electronics to a television. Maybe it’s just how out of character it is for him.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Another drizzly day in Seattle brings out the worst in Frasier.”

S2 E5: Duke’s, We Hardly Knew Ye

fd s02 e05 00Airdate: October 18, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writer: Linda Morris, Vic Rauseo
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
More than one of my discerning and generous facebook (click that to “like” Frasier Denied) friends sent me this link of Frasier bloopers. I now give it to you.

Now, here’s a Martin episode.

Episode Synopsis:
The Frasier Crane Show is on the air. Frasier says that Roz has an important announcement. He turns to introduce her for it, but she is not there. He reads the announcement from her notes; goes to commercial break.

Out in the hall, Roz is beating on the vending machine, trying to get some chocolate. She explains that she has just completed a “7-day magazine diet” to make herself calmer and healthier.
fd s02 e05 01I don’t suppose Frasier relies too often on generic contrast gags (this one being between Roz’s psychotic breakdown and the “calm” in the description of the diet), otherwise this would get under my skin more.
fd s02 e05 02Niles enters. He asks Frasier if he wants in on a real estate flip with a 12% return. Roz does a quick Freudian analysis of Niles– she asserts that he is trying to make up for being emasculated by Maris by demonstrating some financial competence.

fd s02 e05 04(I want to note that two previous jokes about the Cranes’ chosen schools of psychology have contradicted each other, leaving us uncertain as to whether Frasier is of the Freudian school. I mention it because if he were, it would make this funnier. In fact, Frasier Denied is going to officially recognize that he is, because Niles’ joke about there being “no blaming it on mother today” was more recent—and 100 times funnier—than Frasier self-identifying as “Jung at heart.”)
fd s02 e05 03Niles doesn’t care. He asks again. Frasier agrees.

Scene 2
At home, Martin is cutting coupons. As one might. Daphne emerges in a very nice dress, part-way through preparations for her third date with the never-seen Derek.
fd s02 e05 05The doorbell rings. Daphne answers. Niles identifies her fragrance by name. It’s interesting to me that this is painted as a way for Niles to show his affection for Daphne. I don’t mean that in a Denis Leary, “I’d punch a man if he said I had nice jeans” kind of way—quite the opposite.
fd s02 e05 06I completely get it in the context of real life. With our twenty-two minute dosages of this reality, though, does that hold up? I suppose it does—Niles probably only knows this because he’s studied Daphne’s perfumes specifically, not because of a seasoned knowledge of fragrance in general.

Daphne exits to wash off her perfume.

Niles tells Frasier the good news that their real estate scheme is now expected to return 15%. They decide to celebrate with dinner. Martin invites them to Duke’s. He exits.
fd s02 e05 08Frasier and Niles are dumbfounded. Martin has never once betrayed the slightest inkling to be seen with either of his sons at his favorite bar—nor their mother when she was alive. They discuss it with Daphne. She tells them they should just go.

Scene 3
At Duke’s, it’s packed. Frasier and Niles enter. They notice Martin and remark at how happy he is. Martin’s friends know Frasier from his radio show.

The bartender pours Frasier and Niles some boilermakers.
fd s02 e05 09Martin silences the entire bar to make a toast (have you ever done that? I’ve never done that). Martin explains in his speech that Duke’s is being torn down and replaced with a mini-mall.

Scene 4
At Café Nervosa, Frasier and Niles are discussing how there is no way for them to convince the developers to move the project to a new site. Roz returns to the table; gives Frasier a cappuccino and Niles a latte. She says the coffees are on her.

The brothers continue to discuss their dilemma. Roz’s advice is to keep it quiet. They agree.
fd s02 e05 10

Scene 6
It’s the middle of the night at the apartment, Eddie is asleep on Martin’s chair. Frasier enters from his bedroom. He switches on the “Duke’s” bar sign, which is on top of the piano, and begins to tell Eddie of his troubles. Eddie hurriedly runs out of the room. Martin enters. He admires the bar sign as it blinks. Frasier follows him into the kitchen and confesses that the real estate deal is the reason that Duke’s is getting demolished. He explains that he and Niles didn’t know when they signed up for it and that they tried to change it but couldn’t.
fd s02 e05 11

Martin is mad that they didn’t speak up at the bar—or at least tell him. He says he might have gone to Duke’s too often when Frasier and Niles were kids. Frasier says it meant a lot to have that drink with his father. There is a tender pause.

Martin suggests that they go to the shelled-out Duke’s with their own open container, since the wrecking ball won’t be hitting until the next morning.

Daphne enters. It’s obvious that she had some special sexy time fun on her date.

Scene 7
At the place formerly known as Duke’s, Martin and Frasier are sitting on crates, singing songs.
fd s02 e05 13Martin tells stories of good times that he has had at the bar. Frasier talks about Cheers. He never says the name on this show. I guess it’s for the sake of mystique. After all, they never said “The Cosby Show” on A Different World, am I right?
fd s02 e05 14It’s dawn. Niles runs in. He intends to stop the demolition. He gives a short, impassioned speech about how bars like Duke’s are important to good people.

The wrecking ball actually comes through the window.

Frasier and Martin run away. Niles hesitates, then runs away.
fd s02 e05 15

Credits vignette:
Nine of Martin’s buddies are drinking at the apartment. Frasier sprays air freshener, puts down coasters, etc. It’s just like the end of the Flintstones when the cat puts Fred outside.

Closing thoughts:
It’s good to see actual changes happen. Taking down Duke’s forces the Frasier crew to stop falling back on the same narrative nooks and crannies—now Martin will have to change his behavior, either by finding a new place to go or beginning to participate in other activities (such as dating, one would hope).

Unnecessary conflicts:
(none)

Continuity errors:
Roz could scarcely have exited the control room without Frasier noticing.

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [14]   series cumulative: [15]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [5]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [15]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [3]   previous cumulative: [74]   series cumulative: [77]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [14]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [8]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
Martin and Frasier sitting in an abandoned building drinking beers is nothing short of fabulous.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): For years, Martin has been a regular at Duke’s, a local watering hole that Frasier and Niles have never seen.”
fd s02 e05 1666

S2 E4: Flour Child

fd s02-04-04  Director: James Burrows    ||    Writer: Christopher Lloyd
Airdate: October 11, 1994    ||    
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
The last episode written by (not that) Christopher Lloyd was I Hate Frasier Crane, exactly one season ago. He is one of the very best writers the show had– I laughed, for real, 11 times (and to give you some perspective on how little I laugh when I watch this show, I made note of it after I had only laughed twice). Lloyd will go on to write 14 more Frasier episodes. In 2009, he will also write the pilot for Modern Family. fd s02-04-00 Episode Synopsis:
Open on the air. Caller Maggie (Amy Madigan) is dating someone who is giving her roses every day. Roz keeps shaking her head, and Frasier gets upset about it, so he asks Roz what she would do. Roz suggests that Maggie break up with the needy guy, and Maggie is grateful to have her instincts validated. She hangs up, and there is a sweet, beautiful dial tone on the air—I love it not only because it’s a direct Frasier-denial, but because dial tones kick ass.

If you’re presenting a comedic or dramatic scene and you really want to button it up, a dial tone will suit your needs. Not a blue tooth. No. Not a smart phone, Skype, texting, retweeting, “favoriting,” “ ‘ Liking, ‘ “ slamming a microwave oven door, tying someone’s shoes together, tearing up a telegram, cooking a carrier pigeon for dinner, having Scottie beam you up—No. NO! The dial tone is the peak, you see. Nothing before or after it ever has or ever will do the trick. fd s02-04-01

Frasier signs off angrily before commercial (at this moment I notice that I best relate to Frasier when he’s pissed. Maybe this is because writing “angry” is easier to write well; on the other hand, maybe Frasier just aggravates a latent misanthropy in me that only Frasier can awaken). Roz enters the booth. She reviews Frasier’s dinner reservations with Martin at Chez Shrimp and puts some letters and a greeting card in front of him to sign, then exits.

Just like Kevin on Home Alone, Frasier speaks aloud about how he hates office parties and, as he opens an enormous, musical, cardboard pink bunny head, reminds us of the importance of writing something witty for birthday cards. He’s also disgusted by the chip tune noise of its little song, which is so Frasier!
Did you know that a musical birthday card has more computing power in it than all of the computers at the president’s fingertips just 50 years ago? (Also, you should probably tune out whenever someone says “Did you know”—but I’m serious!)

Scene 2
Frasier, Niles and Martin are riding in a cab through gridlock traffic. Martin exposits that Frasier’s car broke down and tells him that he should have bought American.

Martin starts conversing with Arleen, the cab driver. She starts having labor pains. Yeah. You know, so we can do a sitcom episode. (Maybe it’s not always a matter of jumping a shark—maybe sometimes it’s just jumping a few minnows every week).
fd s02-04-02Niles gets in the front seat; tries to talk Arleen through breathing. Martin calls dispatch. Niles is freaking out more than Arleen, so Frasier takes over. Frasier’s hapless rambling is more disturbing to her than her labor pains, so Martin pulls Frasier out. Martin knows what he’s doing, and he explains that for some reason being a cop made it necessary to deliver lots of babies. Two minnow-jumps in one scene.

Scene 3
Daphne runs into the living room in a towel to get her robe from the laundry basket. Frasier, Martin and Niles enter. She tells them to turn around. They do. Daphne puts a robe on. Martin is awed about the “miracle” (#blorch) of birth.

Say. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the “miracle of death”? They’re the same thing—bookends to the simultaneously intuitive and seemingly impossible boundary to an infinite void of consciousness, like the inner wall of a sphere.
fd s02-04-03Anywho, Frasier talks about Frederick’s birth. Martin talks about Niles’ birth as well.

Daphne reminisces about her mother. Then, she starts talking to her mother, playing both parts herself. She exits while continuing the “conversation.” I guess channeling is filed under the ‘psychic’ heading. Frasier makes a good joke about it, and I notice that jokes about Daphne’s psychic abilities don’t roll out very often.

Martin exits. Frasier gets some sherry. Niles says he wants to be a father.

Frasier describes the high school home economics class project where you care for a sack of flour for one week to get some perspective on what it’s like to be responsible for a baby. Niles misses no time at all:  He runs into the kitchen and starts just such a week with a bag of Frasier and Martin’s flour.
fd s02-04-00b

Scene 4
At Café Nervosa, Frasier discovers that the flour bag, Niles’ “child,” has been injured a couple of times. (See the end of the post for the complete list of deadly injuries the poor thing suffers at his hands). Niles gets up to go order his coffee.

Roz enters. Frasier puts the flour on the floor. Roz reveals that the greeting card that Frasier signed earlier was a ‘get well’ card for Clarence the KACL security guard’s kidney transplant, not a birthday card.

Niles returns, upset about the child being left on the floor, but it isn’t really addressed. Actually, I suppose it wouldn’t be, since it’s just flour. Frasier is, however, bent on somehow recovering the ‘get well’ card before it’s read, since he preceded his signature with what he considered a birthday-worthy death joke.
fd s02*04 08Scene 5
At the apartment, Frasier and Daphne are working on transcribing all of the greetings and signatures onto a fresh, new giant pink bunny head ‘get well’ card with assorted colors of ink. Now that’s some 80s/90s sitcom jive for you. Thank goodness Frasier is getting tangled up in useful dilemmas that might contribute some awe and knowledge to the human race.

Martin chides Frasier for not caring about the little people; points out that that is why he didn’t know what kind of card it was. Notice how Martin’s approach works just as well as mine? Check that shit out.
fd s02-04-05

The doorbell rings. Daphne answers; it’s Niles. Hey, you know what? Niles always rings the doorbell. He’s the Anti-Joey.

But right now, Niles has a baby-jogging-carrier-thing on, and it’s holding the sack of flour to his chest. Even Daphne rolls her eyes. Niles speaks at length about the experience so far. It has been difficult and eye-opening for him. More injuries are revealed to have occurred in the flour’s life since they met for coffee. An electronic timer goes off, indicating the “child’s” nap time. Niles puts it down; goes to get some wine. Frasier inquires whether Niles feels he is ready to be a father. Niles says now he is torn.

Speaking of tearing, Eddie destroys the bag of flour and completely covers the couch. It’s, uh…

***

It’s delightful, okay?

Niles is upset. Martin tells him to calm down; gives him actual advice about knowing in your gut what to do about certain decisions. Martin exits. There is a tender pause. Niles says he is not ready; feels that not wanting to have a child yet is selfish. Frasier explains that it’s actually selfish to instead do things for the wrong reasons. There is another tender pause! Frasier admonishes Niles to just wait a few years.

Scene 6
At the hospital, Niles and Frasier find Clarence’s room. Frasier tip-toes in. He opens the card to hang it with the others on a string precariously drooping above a man sleeping in a hospital bed.

fd s02-04-07

When Frasier opens the card, its music startles him. He freaks, breaking the string loose and dropping all of the cards on the man and the floor.

A man in the hall recognizes Frasier and reveals himself to actually be Clarence; exposits that his room was switched.

Frasier begins to admit to the simple fact that he put the card in the room that was supposed to be Clarence’s, which would hence tie up the episode in every way. However, when he opens the door to go in and get the card, the man in the room is saying “make the music stop!” and in response to this, Frasier slams the door.

Clarence mentions that no one else from the station sent their regards. Frasier shrugs, says that they must not care like he does, and dismisses himself. In that span of 10 seconds, Frasier has decided to make everything involved in the situation exactly, 180° wrong. Let’s examine how:

1) The music will not in fact stop, and the man in the bed (who is Frasier’s victim) will continue to be tormented by it indefinitely—no doubt exacerbating his injuries as he attempts to untangle himself from the paperboard and string.

2) Clarence, for whom Frasier has no affection or concern, will now think he is the best friend he has at the station, and Frasier will in no way even pretend to reciprocate his benevolence.

3) The efforts of the rest of the staff to send Clarence their well wishes are wasted.

4) Clarence will now think of the rest of the staff as cold, uncaring souls, no doubt resulting in broken friendships, his early retirement and untimely suicide, etc.

5) The hours that Frasier (and Daphne) spent obtaining, doctoring, and delivering the new card are completely wasted.

Frasier finds Niles at the maternity ward. Niles again changes his mind about being a father. Arleen emerges with sitcom efficiency, holding her newborn. Niles asks to hold him; inadvertently bends the baby’s arm, making him cry. Arleen patiently takes the baby back; says goodbye.

Niles stares at the babies some more.

Credits vignette:
Daphne takes a break from preparing some baking to cradle a bag of flour. Martin enters; laughs at her. They get into a powder fight, culminating with Daphne pouring the entire bowl over Martin’s head.

BONUS!- Injuries that Niles’ pretend infant child endured during the episode:
i. Puncture wound
(being poked by a chopstick)
ii. Multiple abrasions
(falling from the roof of Niles’ car onto the pavement)
iii. Bruises/possible concussion
(knocking head on coffee table)
iv. Broken ribs; water in lungs
(being kicked into the reflecting pool
v. 2nd and 3rd degree burns
(being set next to the fireplace to dry)
vi. Massive fatal hemorrhage
(getting torn to pieces by Eddie)

Closing thoughts:
The array of comic figurative acts of violence alone makes this episode a winner. Christopher Lloyd is a world-class writer. He gives to Frasier Crane jokes that rely on timing—you know, like actual comedy.

Lloyd also can’t hide his sitcom sweet tooth. The bulls of oddness and unnecessariness have plans for this China shop. In Lloyd’s case, it serves the format well, though. It reminds us that this is an art form. It’s like Green Day: of course they just write pop songs, but those pop songs know that they’re pop songs, and they still carry a valid and unique artistic voice. There’s the trick, see. Read that list of things that Frasier causes to go diametrically wrong at the episode’s climax again. That’s all unpacked from Frasier slamming a hospital room door. It’s too egregious (hence too wonderful) to happen by accident.

At the beginning of the episode, Roz is very decisive about ending a relationship with someone on account of clinginess. At the end, Niles longs for nothing else. Hmm.

I’m pretty sure that Full House, Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show, The Facts of Life, Who’s the Boss, etc. all had flour sack episodes by this time.

Unnecessary conflicts:
Frasier doesn’t just tape some pink paper or a flowery sticker over his death joke on the bunny card.

Continuity errors:
Frasier does not mention that Frederick was also born in a taxi cab.

I’m only just noticing that there are far, far too few episodes with rain. How many have there been? Two? Three? For a suitable representation of Seattle, it should be raining in just under half of them.

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [14]   series cumulative: [14]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [4]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [15]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [5]   previous cumulative: [74]   series cumulative: [79]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [17]
Frasier is definitely being a sociopath when he shuts the hospital room door.

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [2!]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [15]

# of times Niles has smiled:

[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [8]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
A caller hanging up on Frasier.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): When Frasier’s car breaks down, the entire Crane crew hitches a ride with a pregnant taxi driver, Arleen, who suddenly gives birth.”
fd s02-04 Eddie-Flour

S2 E3: The Matchmaker

fd s02e02-00aAirdate: October 4, 1994
Director: David Lee
Writer: Joe Keenan
(episode transcript)
fd s02e02-00b

Opening thoughts:
Frasier is in the news! The scoop: “Frasier Not in the News!” I simply could not love it more. (What’s this blog called again?)

Certainly, this is a Daphne episode. It’s refreshing to see her and Niles having some genuine difficulty in their long journey toward each other.

Have I raved about Perfect Strangers Online yet? It is so detailed; I just can’t take it. Fantastic work. Show them some click love. Speaking of clicking, we are on FlaceBlook, so click ever-clickingly for updates on new posts, a mid-week alternate timeline of our posts, and whatever else the Frasier Denying soul may be determined to need.

I tried a new method on this post—I have a few to choose from now. This time, I watched it on mute with subtitles and grabbed all the screenshots on that first run-through. Then, what I was going to do was write the whole thing from memory, but I figured I’d just miss 400 self-parodying details that way, so I breezed through a standard viewing (audio included) to actually type the synopsis.

But why am I talking about me? Denied, thy name is Frasier.

fd s02e02-01

Episode Synopsis:
It’s the middle of the night at the apartment, and the smoke alarm is going off. Frasier is calling out to Martin, and Martin is calling out to Eddie—a total ruckus.

Daphne emerges from her bedroom, assuring them that the smoke alarm went off for no reason and Eddie was hanging out with her. Eddie runs out of Daphne’s room with a pack of Marlboro reds in his mouth. Daphne confesses and apologizes that she’s smoking to cope with stress.

Frasier sits and talks with her. She explains that her dating life has been nonexistent. She lights a cigarette. Frasier talks about Diane leaving him at the altar, what a bad idea it was to marry Lilith, and the fact that he’s now divorced and living with his father. He takes her cigarette and starts smoking. Hey, it’s the ‘90s. (We actually used to say that—Ed.)
fd s02e02-02

Scene 2
Frasier is sitting alone at Café Nervosa. Roz enters; exposits that Frasier missed the early-morning meeting with the new station manager. Frasier in turn exposits—although we already know—that he stayed up late commiserating with Daphne.

Roz pulls out her little black book (it’s actually a little, black book), offering to give Daphne a phone number or two. Frasier refuses. Niles arrives with his and Frasier’s coffees—a mocha latte for himself and a double espresso for Frasier.

Roz and Frasier continue their conversation, Roz naming men whom she thinks Daphne might like and Frasier denying them all without a thought. Niles squirms and plays his usual, entirely unconvincing role of a “close friend concerned about Daphne’s general well-being,” while in fact merely acting out of jealousy.

Frasier racks up a few points in our “# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone” category, and Roz, entirely reasonably pissed about it, stands and exits. The audience finds it totally hilarious, though.
fd s02e02-03Scene 3
On the air at the radio station, Frasier and Roz are wrapping up a test of the emergency broadcast system. When Frasier says “this concludes our test of the emergency broadcast system,” per FCC regulation, the audience just… laughs. Again. Then, Frasier makes a great joke, and when the audience laughs at that, it’s not nearly as satisfying as it should be. The Frasier in-studio audience often seems to be contriving a laughter-like noise on some kind of timer rather than in response to the content offered by the script and actors, but the last five minutes have been worse than usual, AND Frasier’s joke is much better than usual, so it just ends up like a honeymoon plane crash, or a Christmas morning house fire, in comedy terms.

Mmkay? So, since watching the show is only going to force that experience upon you, let’s just say I’m anti-spoiling that joke by giving it to you here (You’re welcome.): “Had this been an actual emergency…”
fd s02e02-04

Roz is still really pissed at Frasier. As usual, I agree with her. Frasier does apologize now, though. He says he’s looking for the right man for Daphne. The new station manager, Tom, enters the booth. He and Frasier discuss clothing, theatre and travel, and in an odiously unrealistic orgy of ambiguity, they arrange for Tom to have dinner at Frasier’s place that Saturday.
fd s02e02-05

Scene 4
Frasier and Daphne are tidying up the apartment for Tom’s visit. Daphne is upset about being set up. Frasier encourages her to change into something more attractive. The doorbell rings. Frasier gets it; Tom has brought a bottle of chardonnay.  Daphne emerges in a pretty red dress.fd s02e02-06

Frasier introduces Daphne and Tom. She takes his coat. Daphne has a psychic flash and knows about Tom’s recent break-up. Martin emerges and acts like Martin. Frasier runs to the kitchen for wine. Daphne tells him that she is into Tom.
fd s02e02-07Martin chats with Tom and tells him about Seattle. During their conversation, there are only 4 jokes about Martin seeming to Tom to be gay. The doorbell rings. It’s Niles. He insists on joining for dinner, which is of course so that he can guard Daphne from a new dating prospect.

Scene 5
Everyone is just about finished eating dinner. Tom is telling a story about when he was in England. Daphne enjoys it, but Niles poo-poos. He also volunteers to clear the table, and Tom joins him in the kitchen. Tom asks if he has in some way offended Niles; tells him it seems that he was trying to get in the way of Tom dating Frasier. Niles smiles.
fd s02e02-09 You see, not only is there no longer seeming a threat to his beloved’s singlehood in the house, but there now also is a man trying to date his brother. I’m beginning to wonder whether David Hyde Pierce was given specific consideration on this smiling issue when the Frasier crew set about writing the second season. Anywho, you have to keep in mind that at this point, Daphne is still irritated that Niles has butted in on the dinner. He is still quite lost when it comes to winning Daphne over. Perhaps having Frasier pursued by a handsome man has provided some comic respite (I’m pretty sure that’s why he grinned two entirely separate times after Tom left the room).

Martin enters the kitchen. Niles appears to be having mischievous thoughts.
fd s02e02-10

At this point, Tom appears to be having second thoughts about everything. After all, Daphne is hitting on him, Niles is sending all kinds of mixed messages, and Frasier must exhibit some vestige of heterosexuality if you’re in his presence for more than an hour.

Frasier asks Daphne to go inside and put on some music. Tom asks if he can get alone with Frasier before the night is through; Frasier thinks he means Daphne and responds in the coy, slinky affirmative as he saunters back into the apartment.

Martin goes to bed; Niles leaves. First, he has a word with Frasier and spills the truth about Tom. I was certain that Niles and Martin’s amusement came from the opportunity to watch things play out so they could laugh more at Frasier’s pain, but I guess it was good enough to just find out how foolish he was, and three people’s feelings were in the balance, after all (though with the way it plays out, it almost seems like a late rewrite. Niles– and certainly Martin– were clearly very amused at their intent to just bail and find out later how it blew up).

So Frasier is baffled. Until he recalls talking to Tom about the theatre, wine, men’s fashion, whether he’s single, etc. Niles is still amused, but plays it cool so he can enjoy Frasier’s confusion and suffering for the short time that he has left and swiftly exits.
fd s02e02-11Frasier explains that he is straight. Tom doesn’t believe him. Frasier explains the whole Daphne situation. Hey—where did Daphne go? Martin must have told her on his way to bed—yet another scene premise down in my Frasier fan-fiction notebook.

Oh wait—OK. Daphne emerges from her room, hears Tom say the word “gay,” turns around, and throws her bra up in the air over her head, which is kind of a great Frasier moment.

Frasier apologizes to Tom for the misunderstanding; Tom asks him to likewise apologize to Daphne and exits.

Credits vignette:
Frasier and Daphne are both smoking cigarettes in the living room. Frasier discovers the Surgeon General’s warning; shows it to Daphne. They both decisively put out their cigarettes.

Closing thoughts:
This post took a long, long time to get out there to you because my computer died. I am using a Mac right now, and it is… impossible. I hope to be back on my first world Microsoft problems feet again real soon, and I will try to get the next Frasier-denial cranked out on something that better resembles our prescribed schedule. I’m going to go back to long-hand draft, like the good old days; see if that helps.
fd s02e03-13I don’t usually push social justice issues here at Frasier Denied. It’s not that kind of blog, and it’s not that kind of show. But the ‘90s was a time when it was still a pretty common so-called punch line to merely have a character be gay. Or fat. Or even a woman, if you look in the right (wrong?) places. In fact, we still have a good way to go before we can expect a sensible and reasonable equality of opportunity in casting and scripting, without bias against arbitrary traits not of one’s own choosing.

I bring that up because it was and is relevant even to televised fiction, since it’s part of our lives and it does carry ideas and atmospheres that affect our way of thinking. To the Frasier crew’s credit, the “joke” is not that Tom is gay. The joke is merely that Tom and Frasier have a misunderstanding. It isn’t morally problematic for me— let’s make that clear. However, it isn’t scripted very realistically. Or, I suppose, as Seinfeld put it on one of those episodes where Walter White was a dentist: “It offends me as a comedian.”

Because of this, I am required to file it under:

Unnecessary conflicts:
The stepping-around the use of any language that would clearly state what either Frasier or Tom were really talking about when they set up the dinner date belongs in this category. It used to be a lazy-writing standard on sitcoms, so it isn’t a capital offense or anything, but Frasier says nothing about Daphne, and Tom doesn’t ask him what “the British” have to do with his dinner invitation.

They could have kept the conflict just the way it is while giving it a little nuance. Frasier could have at least mentioned Daphne when they were talking about England, and misunderstood because of the timing of the conversation, and Tom could have said something more specific, which Frasier legitimately misinterpreted because of the context.

In short, we should have been as surprised as Frasier was when he actually found out.

Continuity errors:
Tom’s gaydar incorrectly found all 3 male cast members to be gay. Like, confidently.

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [4]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [14]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [4]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [13]

# of mentions of Maris:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [73]   series cumulative: [74]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [13]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [5]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [7]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
Daphne tossing her bra over her head.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “After Daphne reveals her yearning for a new man in her life, Frasier vows to find the perfect match for her.”
fd s02e03-12