S1 E5: Here’s Looking at You

fd s01e05Airdate: October 14, 1993
Director: Andy Ackerman
Brad Hall
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
Just when I thought we could stop yakking about the scene-titling conventions, the issue was again complicated by last week’s episode starting with a scene that was given the same name as the episode, which I addressed by announcing that moving forward, in the case of an opening eponymous scene, I would simply omit the title and list it as ‘Scene 1.’ Then, this week’s episode opened with, you guessed it, an untitled opening scene, so now I can’t let eponymous opening scenes go unlabelled, because you won’t know whether they were eponymous or simply untitled. Hence, I will call eponymous ones by their name, and when opening scenes are untitled, I will simply open the narrative right after the ‘Our episode synopsis’ heading.

This is lame for 2 reasons (3 if you count the simple fact that the format leaves me with no choice): First, sometimes the opening scene is titled, so having an occasional missing title looks like an error (andScene 1: (Untitled)’ looks like jive-ass bullshit). Secondly, the only precedent for naming the opening scene is the very fact that it opens the episode— almost every week there are scene changes that occur mid-episode without a title.

Since each of these first five episodes has presented some kind of game-changer on the white-knuckle adventure that is titles, and since I’m better than half-certain that if I bring it up again you will stop reading Frasier Denied, any further changes will be weathered quietly (I think we may have actually seen every possible combination anyway).

This is our first cliché episode title—actually, that’s not true. Let’s say this is our first drastically cliché episode title. Damn. That’s not true either. I peeked ahead at the first season’s episode titles: only 4 out of 24 of them are cliché, and not one of them is cutesy. However, I am pleased to announce that as of this episode, we have a new scene title category: incoherent.

No, no— seriously. We do.

Our episode synopsis:
pen at KACL. Frasier is on the air. A caller (voice-over by Jeff Daniels) explains that his mother never leaves the house. He says that she “literally hangs around the house all day.”

The word ‘literally’ here obviously refers to the day, as in “I’m not just saying ‘all day’ as an exaggeration—she literally stays in the house for the entire day,” but Frasier interrupts the caller mid-sentence to “correct” his grammar as if he had meant “all day, my mother literally hangs around the house.” The caller tells Frasier off and hangs up on him (double cliché? I guess it isn’t, since the latter phrase has sufficient simplicity to justify its ubiquity. Carry on).

They go to commercial. Frasier tells Roz that Martin is not a very active person. Roz reveals that her mother is the attorney general of Wisconsin and she has plenty of hobbies besides.

Scene 2: A Room With A View
(Cliché enough to make up for about 9 scenes worth of cutesy. If we were keeping track of the cliché caliber of all the scene titles, this one would currently be #1, and if I look at the episode title, “Here’s Looking at You” side by side with this scene title, the cliché concentration makes me go blind for about 40 seconds)

Frasier’s apartment, interior, night. Frasier is making adjustments to a telescope pointed at the window. Daphne exposits that Martin and Eddie are taking a nap and that Frasier bought the telescope for Martin. Frasier is especially pleased with how much Martin, in the future tense, likes it.

Martin enters. Frasier and Daphne stand in front of the telescope to hide it. Martin tells of a strange dream about a beautiful woman with bad breath licking his face. Eddie enters. The laugh track awakens hungrily.

Frasier and Daphne step aside to bestow the telescope. Frasier immediately encourages Martin to commit voyeurism. Martin complies.

He spots a woman with a telescope. She of course quickly holds up a note that says ‘Hello’ and “introduces” herself as Irene. Martin gets a legal pad and writes back. The woman recognizes Frasier; mentions it. He waves (I warned you that writing this down reveals to us how insane every moment of it is).

Scene 3: Getting to Know You
(If we have 12 cutesy and cliché titles in a row, I will cease announcing it forever. That is a promise.)

Martin is looking through the telescope. He and Daphne are talking about all the people they “know” from the stories of Irene’s life shared through notes passed between telescopes. Frasier enters in his robe; exposits that Martin and Irene have been doing this for three days.

Frasier writes the apartment’s phone number on the legal pad. The phone rings. Martin refuses to pick it up. Frasier answers it. Martin is very nervous about talking to Irene but concedes. He kicks Frasier and Daphne out. They giggle in the kitchen.

Martin enters the kitchen; remains quiet. Frasier and Daphne pry. Martin reveals that he turned Irene down for a date.

Scene 4: Forcas Fracas
(Readers, I am proud to present the ‘incoherent’ category! It’s interesting how ‘incoherent’ and the other two (including their combination) are mutually exclusive: A scene title can be any of the combinations that we have discussed so far—a) cutesy, b) cliché, c) cutesy & cliché, d) neither— or a fifth possibility, the new category, d) incoherent. If it is incoherent it cannot be either of the other two, and if it is either of the other two, it cannot be incoherent. I can see I’m the only one who considers this significant, so we’ll move on.)

Frasier and Niles are at the counter at Café Nervosa. Niles tells Frasier he is now the president of his wine club. Niles revisits the beloved OCD seat-wiping routine not seen since the pilot. Frasier explains that Martin and Irene are not continuing their “relationship.” Niles suggests setting Martin up with Maris’s aunt Patrice.

Cut to the apartment. Daphne is pretending to look at Irene through the telescope; claims that she is pining for Martin. Frasier does the same. Martin doesn’t buy it. The doorbell rings.

Frasier gets the door. It’s Niles and Patrice. Niles introduces her to Martin. Daphne excuses herself to get refreshments; Niles and Frasier join her. Frasier chides Niles for bringing Patrice to his home. When they return to the living room, Patrice is weirding Martin the hell out.

Frasier bails Daphne, Martin, and himself out by pretending that they had dinner plans.

Patrice gives Martin an enormous hug. When she does, Martin moves away from the window. Patrice storms out with Niles trailing after her.

Frasier calls Martin out, both on moving out of Irene’s line of sight and still caring about her; asks why he won’t date her. Martin says it’s because her middle name is Rose. Frasier exposits that it was also his mother’s middle name. There is a tender pause.

Frasier encourages Martin to get on with his life; says it’s what his mother would have wanted. (Double cliché!) He also exposits that it has been 6 years since she died. Still in ‘tender’ mode, Martin is genuinely grateful; says he isn’t ready. The tenderness extends just long enough for Martin to call Frasier a “good kid.”

Martin goes to the kitchen. Daphne is preparing dinner. Martin reveals that he lied to Frasier about Irene’s middle name. Daphne suggests that Martin is simply self-conscious about his hip. She points out that he hid his cane while “talking” to Irene.

Scene 6: Gu-Gulp!
(‘Incoherent’ really is part of the Frasier Denied family! Group hug.)

Daphne and Frasier are standing near the telescope. Frasier is calling Martin into the room; exposits that Irene is going to be there soon—not just in view of the telescope, but actually there, in the apartment. Martin enters with a tie and jacket (the audience does not hoot and cheer).

The doorbell rings. Martin answers it.

The format for Martin meeting Irene is a single camera view as Irene’s first-person vantage, and when Martin greets her while Daphne and Frasier gawk, Irene doesn’t say anything either, so it’s really just a very strange 15 seconds of Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, and John Mahoney looking silently through the fourth wall at you.
fd s01e05 moreCredits vignette:
Frasier is asleep in Martin’s chair, Daphne is asleep on the couch, and Eddie is looking out the window through the telescope (presumably at Martin and Irene).

End theme closing:
“Goodnight, everybody!”

Closing thoughts:
The tender pause count is indeed proceeding with a one-per-episode record. I’m surprised, if not flat-out impressed— I don’t know why I had the impression that the “very special” salt was pinched n’ thrown more sparingly than that, but I guess the assumption came from the same part of my brain that thought that the show had aired on Thursdays for its whole run.

By now you have surely noticed my disdain for exposition. You really can’t avoid it in a 22-minute show, but I suppose what bothers me about it so much on Frasier is how casually it’s dumped into the dialogue.

“Say, Bob, you know how you’re a fireman, like your father before you, and how you saved those two poodles the other night and how one turned out to be pregnant? Let me buy you a drink to say ‘thank you.’ Oh, look who’s here—it’s Sally. Hi Sally. Bob, this is my friend Sally. Sally is a widowed veterinary cosmetologist as it happens—she’d just love if we told that poodle story again, and she can react to it point by point with explanations of how else she is relevant to this episode’s gnarled lattice of plots, never to appear again.”

It truly can’t be helped—I won’t deny this, but it simply doesn’t bother me so much when I watch other shows doing it. As I’m trying to convey in that slab of bitterly satirical italics, you’ve gotta sand some nuance into the pointier edges before those parts of the narrative turn into dialogue. You need to figure out what those conversations would look like if the characters had already lived those details and were now interacting according to the present and immediate future of their lives as affected by those details. Figure it out—most crews manage to do it. That said, it obviously isn’t a deal-breaker—it’s just something I enjoy being slightly overly cranky about.

There are also other shows that have flaws of approximately the same caliber that, for whatever reason, I can’t forgive. For example, I cannot watch Third Rock From the Sun since I became cognizant of its incessant and monotonous laugh track. I enjoyed about 45 episodes, until one day— though it had been there since the very first minute— I noticed the overdubbed comedy-appreciation-prompting mechanism’s persistence for the first time and suddenly couldn’t get over the distraction.

Whenever a character on Third Rock says anything— every time spoken words emit from any member of the cast— the “audience” “laughs.” Try this: start an episode, close your eyes, ignore the dialogue, and imagine that the laugh track is beach waves. 4 seconds pass, 2 seconds of laughter; 3 seconds pass, 2 seconds of laughter. Breathe all of your troubles away…

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
The whole telescope thing was typical of the sort of novel weirdness that keeps Frasier so fertile for playing extended and versatile ‘Awkward,’ and it produced all sorts of surreal and petty goofiness as always, but I think it was a pretty clean episode for this category, where we tend to focus solely on the social structure of a conversation or situation.

Continuity errors or anachronism:

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
[0]   emerging cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
[0]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [5]

Mentions of Maris:
Episode: [4]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [14]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [ 8]
In this episode:
Niles (OCD) — when he revisits the chair-sanitizing gag. For some reason, this seems like the most legitimate example for this hyperbole-worshipping category, but it also seems like the most realistic.

# of tender pauses:
[1]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [5]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier encourages his father Martin to pick up a new hobby and gives him a telescope.”


S1 E4: I Hate Frasier Crane

fd s01e04Airdate: October 7, 1993
Director: David Lee
Christopher Lloyd
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
I still haven’t said anything about Maris, besides my mention that she never appears in the series. Every other episode or so, as we are observing, Niles explains on her behalf that she is unable to make social engagements simply because she does not want to. This illustrates their lack of chemistry and passion as much as it consistently guides Niles into Daphne’s company, which is probably why he stays with Maris for so long— she never requires him to experience any sort of conflict.

We can be sure that Daphne is aware of Niles’ attraction to her, if not whether she in fact reciprocated it right away. It is the herd of elephants in the room whenever they are on screen together (not to mention half of the time that Niles is on screen without her). Also, her psychic powers are canon, so there’s no chance that she isn’t aware of his all-consuming infatuation. Maybe my 112th suggestion for the most interesting way to watch this series is as the story of Daphne gradually coming around to returning Niles’ affection (and given the bulk of strange things that we actually are counting, I suppose I shouldn’t joke about numbers like that).

Speaking of unrequited obsession, I truly hope that the ‘Eddie stares at Frasier’ gag doesn’t continue for the entire series. My favorite execution of it does appear in this episode, however. This episode also features Martin bulging the fourth wall of sanity with an utterly surreal ‘cranky bastard’ routine of heroic, train-wreck proportions— every second of which I just love. The man can do no wrong.

Our episode synopsis:
Scene 1:
I Hate Frasier Crane
Not cutesy or cliché, though since it’s the opening scene, I would rather have seen the absence of a title here, I think. It doesn’t make much sense to me to open with an eponymous chapter. Have you ever noticed how title cuts tend to be the second song on an album? That’s why. #checkthatshitout. If this happens again, I will simply refer to the scene as Scene 1. Also, I may have been overstating the importance of the Act and Scene separations for the last four weeks—my bad.)

Frasier is playing the piano. He gets distracted, stops, and asks Martin whether Eddie has to stare all the time. Frasier confronts Eddie (Refresher: Eddie is the dog—Ed.), asking him why he finds Frasier so fascinating and stare-worthy. This wouldn’t seem insane if he seemed to be deriving any humor or fun from it (he isn’t).

Daphne enters; announces that dinner is ready. Martin starts to clear the table—he is still working on an unsolved murder case from 20 years ago. The doorbell rings. Frasier opens the door; it’s Niles, presenting a bottle of white wine. He compliments Daphne’s perfume— she says it must be the salad dressing.

Everyone sits down for dinner except Daphne, who excuses herself to take care of the kitchen. Martin, nearly downright offended, tells her to join them. This is actually quite endearing. When you watch the show from the beginning like this (and look for all sorts of hip, snarky things like “# of ‘Dad’s chair is awful’ jokes”), you surpass the homogeny imposed by years of partial, shuffled episodes in syndication and get to witness something as simple as Daphne being asked to sit at the table as an important event. This isn’t just another day with all the characters just acting petty over another loaf of toast: this is the first time that Daphne is being told that she is considered part of the family, which is kind of a great TV moment.

Anywho, Martin starts saying a prayer for dinner. Niles and Frasier both keep their eyes open and look around. Frasier notices Niles staring at Daphne, then meets Eddie’s trademark gaze. As Martin is still mid-sentence in the prayer, Frasier shouts at Eddie, “Oh, will you stop staring!” and Niles defensively counters “I wasn’t staring!”

Martin and Daphne are confused. Irritated, Martin concedes the prayer requirement by saying “Amen.”

Niles tells Frasier that Seattle Times columnist Derek Mann had made an unflattering mention of Frasier in that day’s paper. Frasier says he hasn’t read it—Niles pulls the newspaper clipping right from his pocket. Martin says he often finds the column funny, exposits that it’s called “Mann About Town,” and asks Frasier what it says. Frasier reads directly from the article: “I hate Frasier Crane.”

Frasier appears gracious at first, but within seconds he asks why someone would say that about him. He gets huffy and, exhibiting OCD, declares that he will only be able to enjoy his dinner once the article has been thrown away.

Scene 2: Oh, Yeah…?
(Cliché/not cutesy)

Frasier is on the air at KACL. He is speaking to a caller (voice-over by Judith Ivey), who puts Frasier and his listening audience on hold to take a call on her other line. Roz isn’t paying attention to Frasier when he asks her to generically concur that the caller’s problem is interesting. The caller returns, then gets call-waiting again. She returns; gets another call. Frasier halts her and tells her to listen. He explains that she is obsessed with not missing anything. Of course, after his explanation of this, it turns out she was in fact not on the line, and she returns. He hangs up on her. Roz gives him the ‘wrap-up’ sign.

Frasier mentions the Mann About Town column and elaborately tears into its author—I have to say it’s actually quite impressive how detailed and reasonable it is, though he does manage to imply that he hopes the columnist dies.

Scene 3: Yeah!
(Get it? ‘Cause it’s, like, a response to the title of the last scene?)

At Café Nervosa, Frasier is sitting with Roz. Niles enters with a newspaper, hands it to Frasier. Niles “introduces” himself to Roz, who reminds him that they have already met numerous times. He does not remember her, nor does he pretend to. Instead, exhibiting Borderline personality disorder, he somehow manages to compliment his own professionalism and turns his attention to Frasier, prompting him to read from the paper.

Derek Mann, as read aloud by Frasier, spends that day’s whole column elaborately immolating every aspect of Frasier’s show. Roz encourages him to forget it. Frasier agrees.

Cut to KACL. On the air, Frasier of course is holding the newspaper and of course responds to it over the air. His rebuttal doesn’t constitute reasoned argument this time, though. He has lost his temper, only offering ad hominem nonsense. He challenges Derek Mann to come forward and speak. The next caller is Derek Mann (voice over by Joe Mantegna), who challenges Frasier to a fight.

Frasier hesitates and (correctly) calls it uncivil and immature. However, Mann baits Frasier by, uh… making chicken sounds, so… of course a fight is scheduled for noon the following day at Kingsley Square, right outside Frasier’s office.

Scene 4: Et Tu, Eddie?
(Cutesy and cliché— A++)

Martin is examining the photos for his case. Daphne joins him. She looks at a picture for a moment, then psychically  names the victim and speaks of her life. Martin asks for more information. She says she sees a well-dressed man—describes him walking down a hallway and opening a door.

Frasier opens the door.

Daphne and Martin congratulate Frasier for standing up to Derek Mann. Frasier says he’s not going to actually fight. Martin objects. He brings up a fight that Frasier wouldn’t show up for 30 years ago in fifth grade. It was against a classmate, Billy Kreizel. Apparently, Frasier went to a clarinet lesson instead, and it broke Martin’s heart. Seriously Martin, what the fuck?

Frasier asks Daphne to leave. Frasier and Martin have a shouting match. Martin’s only issue is that he wants Frasier to do what he said he would do (which is kind of obviously total B.S., because Frasier’s 5th grade clarinet lesson was certainly something that he had said that he would do, and in a sense, the social contract kind of includes not planning meaningless fistfights, but I won’t get gabby about it—it gets worse).

For some God-known reason, Martin actually turns out a tender pause, expressing total disgust for Frasier and his clarinet. This is when I realize how sorely we miss out by not having a season-count for how many times Martin shows signs of mental illness. I’m not going to go back and check now— besides, he isn’t a psychiatrist, so it wouldn’t have the same punch.

So, to crown this borderline psychotic, dead-silent melodrama with no chance of being topped, Martin actually says “I can’t even look at ya” and walks out. It actually gave me a horrible taste in my mouth—like black licorice rolled on asphalt, and I got it again when I typed the description of it just now (it was so painful, dear reader, I feel like we are actually sharing an awkward pause right now). Then, for comic relief, Eddie also looks away from Frasier.

Scene 5: Requiem For A Lightweight
(All clear. Good job.)

At Café Nervosa, Roz is talking with Frasier; she offers the exposition that the fight is starting soon. Niles enters and gives a few handfuls of hyperbole about how many people are waiting for the fight and the ceremony surrounding it. Roz exits.

Niles asks Frasier why he is doing it. Frasier explains that since he ran away from Billy Kreizel when he was 10, he has been “running ever since,” so he has to. Well, that’s perfectly asinine.

Niles exits. Martin enters. He apologizes for being out of line. Frasier says he’s going through with it. (Double cliché!) Daphne enters. Niles re-enters; points Derek Mann out through the window. It’s pretty neat that that café is right next to Frasier’s office, huh? Coming soon to your local “continuity errors” category.

Frasier asks them all to stay in the café so he doesn’t get nervous; exits.

The format for the fight scene is Niles, Daphne, and Martin looking out the window heaping exposition gravy onto large domes of exposition mashed potatoes nestled up to hearty, juicy exposition chicken legs on exposition plates at an exposition orgy.

We hear police sirens, but Niles, Daphne, and Martin still serve us our exposition ice cream with exposition brownies, specifying that (*yawn* Oh, dear God, pardon me) the police are (*yawn* Oh goodness—let me get some coffee) the… police are, uh, breaking up the fight.

Frasier enters the café, followed by a policeman, who lets him off. Frasier tells Martin he feels great. Martin tells Frasier he’s proud.

Martin steps out to thank the policemen and exposit that he was the one who called them to pretend to break-up the fight.

Credits vignette:
Eddie sits staring at a picture of Frasier. (Best credits vignette of the whole series!)

End theme closing:
“Thank you!”

Closing thoughts:
I am probably going to end up under-reporting in the displays of mental illness category.

Since the scene subtitle trend is clearly going to stay with us until the end—and since they also start at the very beginning of the episodes—I have done away with dividing “Acts” altogether. Moving forward, we will just stick with Scenes.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
This is probably the best place to gawk once more at how Martin was so flustered that his middle-aged son would hesitate to have a playground fight that he revisited a three-decade-carried grudge over a clarinet lesson that the same son attended in lieu of a similar fight, which rendered him incapable of looking at that son. I have nothing to add.

Oh—but I promise you that I will measure the show’s upcoming instances of steroid-laced-acid caliber nonsense by this incredibly high standard in the future of Frasier Denied. Consider it a permanent fixture.

Also, Frasier agreeing to a fight simply because another grown man imitated the sounds of chickens is absurd. He was on home turf, and he had the advantage of an opponent who was in the middle of ridiculing himself in front of a radio audience by clucking, and it didn’t occur to him that he was hence the victor.

See, man, that’s what the whole show is about, man. Frasier denies himself.


Continuity errors or anachronism:
There is nothing in Seattle called Kingsley Square, not even a strip mall.

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
[0]   emerging cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
[0]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [5]

Mentions of Maris:
Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [8]   series cumulative: [10]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
[2]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [7]
In this episode:
Frasier (OCD)when he cannot finish dinner until he throws the newspaper article in the garbage.
Niles (Borderline personality disorder) when he emphasizes how unimportant it is to know Roz and compliments his own life’s work in the same breath.

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [4]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
Daphne being asked to sit at the dinner table.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Local newspaper writer Derek Mann prints ‘I Hate Frasier Crane’ in his daily column, which enrages and embarrasses Frasier.”

S1 E3: Dinner at Eight

fd s01e03Airdate: September 23, 1993
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Anne Flett, Chuck Ranberg
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
In this episode, the act-dividing convention was further clouded. To review, in the first episode, I made an intuitive distinction between 3 acts, more or less according to where commercial breaks are probably placed for television broadcast. For episode 2, I used the newly introduced subtitles— white text on a black background dividing the show into three parts with reliably cutesy and/or cliché phrases.

For this week’s episode, neither the scenes nor the acts are consistently titled. I don’t yet know whether this is because the show has not yet established a strategy for the titles this early or because the show merely approaches the matter the way Frasier decorates his apartment, which is to say “eclectically.”

To complicate things further, the transcript actually divides the show into not 3, but 2 acts, which happens to coincide with how I have to divided the acts at my own discretion— also into 2. Moving forward, I will simply divide the acts as occurs naturally in my notes.

I will, of course, also continue to include the subtitles and accompanying commentary on whether they are cutesy, cliché, or (newly available as of this episode!) neither.

Our episode synopsis:
Act 1:
Scene 1:
Shhh! They’re Here
(Neither cutesy nor cliché— I was sincerely prepared to go the whole series without finding this.)

Open at KACL. Frasier is on the air. A caller (voice-over by Patti Lupone) says that her in-laws visit constantly; they actually show up while she is on the phone and he admonishes her to tell them how she feels.

Scene 2: How Many Sharks Died?
(Check it out, gang: two respectable titles in a row!)

At Frasier’s apartment, Daphne is alone, folding laundry. Frasier and Martin enter. Frasier has just bought Martin a new suit. Martin leaves the room to try it on. Frasier notices that Daphne is “fluffing his knickers” (her words, not his). He snatches them from her, but is taken aback at how soft they are. The phone rings. Frasier answers; it’s Niles asking if he can come over. Frasier agrees, hangs up, and opens the front door. Niles is waiting outside, still holding up his cell phone. He enters and asks Frasier if he can get an autographed photo to give to his housekeeper.

Then, Frasier introduces Daphne and Niles, and their story begins. Niles is very obvious about his immediate and total infatuation; Daphne pretends not to notice. While they converse, Niles fidgets with the laundry, and he happens to have a pair of Frasier’s boxer shorts, though he doesn’t know this, as he never looks away from Daphne. As Frasier takes them from him, he almost introduces a new series-count category for us (# of times that Frasier shouts “Niles!”), but instead says “Do you mind!” (Perhaps Frasier will open that category for us next week.)

Martin emerges with his new suit on, over his blue lumberjack flannel. Niles is shocked and disgusted with the suit; Martin is pleased to report that it is made of “shark skin.” As she compliments Martin, Daphne also offers the exposition that Martin is going to a friend’s retirement party. Martin and Daphne exit.

Niles asks Frasier whether Martin is their “real father.” They volley in sharp but melodramatic commiseration over Martin’s taste in “everything.” Frasier exposits that they are probably more like their mother because Martin worked “his tail off” so that they could live well and have more opportunities— which counts as 1/3 of a tender pause.

Frasier suggests that the brothers bring Martin out and “broaden his horizons.” Niles suggests fine dining.

(This almost counts in the off-the-record  “double-cliché” category, but let’s maintain the requirement that I come up with them myself, as led by the events in the show. Whereas in this case, both phrases were in fact delivered to us through dialogue, it’s much more fun if I rather just recognize them in the ether, then pair them, draw them into our sphere and deliberately slip as on a prop banana peel. As long as we’re stopped, I will also concede that this review is somewhat padded with such meta- commentary as this, but overall, it should enhance your context for enjoying subsequent Frasier Denied posts and related activities.)

For a dinner destination suitable for schooling Martin on the finer things [double cliché!], they both simultaneously suggest Le Cigare Volant— concerning which Niles of course offers the exposition that he has been trying unsuccessfully to get reservations for months— to which Frasier of course responds by assuring that his celebrity will get them in straight away. He calls the restaurant requesting a reservation for the following Saturday; he succeeds. On Saturday at 8:00, Frasier, Martin, Niles and Maris are to go to dinner at Le Cigare Volant.

Martin emerges and aggressively enhances our sense of the current plot by offering Niles a beer, then pork rinds. Niles refuses. Frasier tells Martin of their dining plans for Saturday. Martin is not agreeable, but Frasier persuades him to accept.

Act 2:
Scene 1: Honey Don’t
(Well, alright. We’re back on track: this time, both cutesy and cliché.)

At the KACL studio, Roz is telling Frasier about her failed date the previous night. Her date had exhibited OCD so severe he would not help her with dinner by touching a honey jar, citing a deathly fear of anything sticky. She gives Frasier the 30-second warning for air time. Frasier prompts her to join him for a Monday ritual thus expositorily established right that moment. She protests, but he insists. The ritual consists of Frasier asking who has the best talk show in Seattle and Roz saying “We do! We do!” (I obviously can’t be too smug about pointing out that they never do this again, because I certainly wouldn’t want them to.)

Scene 2: Dinner at Eight
(Playing it straight again, plus this scene is eponymous with the episode.)

At the apartment, Frasier is dressed in a suit. Daphne is getting her coat and headed to poker night. The doorbell rings. Frasier gets the door; it’s Niles, also besuited (actually, he almost always is). He announces that Maris will not be joining them. When Daphne steps out of the room, Niles suggests that Daphne join them, since it’s a reservation for four. Frasier doesn’t act on it; Daphne leaves.

Martin emerges with a sweater on over his flannel shirt; his new shark skin suit is at the cleaners. Frasier calls the restaurant to inquire about the dress code. The restaurant does not have a record of the reservation. Martin suggests taking them to a place called The Timber Mill, which really ties in with Martin’s shirt.

Martin is very happy about their new dinner plans.

Scene 3: Tim-Berrr!
(Cliché of course, but I like it. Blame Martin.)

Martin, Niles, and Frasier enter the restaurant. Niles and Frasier immediately begin cracking jokes about how unsophisticated it is, which is just plain silly— it’s a pretty decent, average looking steakhouse. Before they are seated, the hostess informs them that they have “a dress code” and she and another employee cut Frasier and Niles’ ties off with scissors. The ties are hung on a wall with dozens of others, and Martin tells the brothers that part of the tie-cutting tradition is that they both get free dessert.

They order drinks. Niles and Frasier start talking shop and Martin doesn’t quite understand. Martin explains that his friends have been suffering health problems and dying, as he spreads an excessive amount of butter on his dinner roll (get it? Because, like, eating lots of butter is part of what killed his friends).

Niles gives the waitress a long-winded explanation of how he wants his steak cooked. Frasier is hesitant about ordering food from this restaurant at all. Martin decisively orders for all three of them, then excitedly stands up and heads to the salad bar, and it’s a real hoot, on account of Frasier and Niles being too sophisticated for a salad bar and all.

Frasier and Niles are displeased with how quickly the entrees are brought out. Martin is offended with how they both treat the wait staff. Then, they take things further still and belittle the restaurant with zealous abandon—and I’m not the one being melodramatic here—the writers really chose this as the way to explain the characters’ differences.

Anyway, it’s worth it, because this is when Martin gives his “People like this place. I like this place” speech (which I referred to last week when describing Martin, as it happens). I don’t know how he does it. He’s only talking about a little steak joint and a couple of wisecracks, but he conveys so well the conflict between his gritty but humane sensibilities and the crass, thoughtless antics of his refined, well-read spawn, while displaying a seasoned mastery of the moral high road in such circumstances. I just can’t help but crown him my favorite character of the series.

No, no: really. As I have been describing (with my own share of sarcasm), it’s a very low-stakes situation (no pun intended), and every aspect of the conflict is shamelessly exaggerated, but there’s something gritty and soulful about Martin Crane that I just love.

Thought exercise: if all of the characters died in an earthquake, which one would you first be aware that you were sad to lose to Death’s cold embrace? See, for me it’s Martin. Send us your responses! (Long rambles welcome.)

Anywho, Oh—first, I almost forgot to mention: this is where we have another 2/3 of a tender pause. I figure Martin is wielding enough sober reverence for at least two whole people, and no one else on screen is taking it seriously, so two over three = 2/3, giving us a net 1 tender pause for this episode. I don’t suspect that they maintain a 1/1 ratio of tender pauses to episodes, but don’t worry. We shall find out. Among so many other things we never knew we cared about, we shall find out.

OK. So, Martin makes a dramatic exit, telling his sons that though she enjoyed the finer things, their mother also was down to earth. [Double cliché! Thank you.] He tells them she would be ashamed, and he specifies that he is in fact currently quite ashamed.

Frasier and Niles, now alone, concede that they have lost touch and become comfortable being quite snobby. They resolve to finish their meals to “prove that they are not snobs,” but they simply can’t bring themselves to do it.

That’s it.

Credits vignette:
It’s late at the restaurant. Most of the chairs are on the tabletops. A dishwasher is sweeping the floor and the waitresses are standing, waiting, as Niles and Frasier are still trying to pick through their food.

End theme closing:
“Frasier has left the building.”

Closing thoughts:
One narrative device that the show periodically uses is Frasier’s local fame as a radio talk show host. In this episode, Niles has visited Frasier just for the sake of getting a glossy picture autographed. I actually admire and enjoy this. There is something purposeful and dignified about a consistent element like that being employed occasionally.

I’ll elaborate by contrast. Many (if not most) sitcoms have introduced story components that are to do with their characters gaining instant fame for some casual pursuit or through inexplicable luck.

On Full House, I think every character becomes famous at some point in the series—they have TV and radio shows and stand-up gigs and win contests and start successful businesses near constantly. As we have previously discussed, Perfect Strangers employed all manner of cartoon absurdity throughout its run— ghosts, gods, and telekinesis entered and exited the continuity without explanation or apology— so I guess Full House actually deserves credit for staying in the realm of the known human experience.

Anywho, Frasier is most concerned with showing us how unwell its eponymous protagonist is, and celebrity is an efficient enough means of accomplishing that when needed.

I also want to reiterate that it’s an enjoyable part of the show. Most of what I like about Frasier is it has a truly soothing homesick, brain-candy appeal in its ambience and rhythm. The voice I will continue to employ for this narration doesn’t seem to come from someone who also feels he has a lot in common with Frasier himself, but I actually do. His confused, erratic, egocentric reactions to a world of extremes and anomie are comfortable and familiar.

Frasier’s catchphrase “I’m listening” is a perfect, ironic synopsis of how he wrangles with the world. He may in fact be listening, but he almost never hears anything in terms unencumbered by his own momentary obsessions. And for those of you who don’t know, the authorized series synopsis reads: “In this Emmy-winning sitcom, Frasier Crane is a Seattle psychiatrist who dispenses advice on his call-in radio show while ignoring it in his own relationships.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
I still consider it strange how much Frasier and Niles overreact to the accessibility and simplicity of the steakhouse— with a dialogue-only transcript, you would think they were in the restroom of a filthy inner city McDonald’s. Still, it was an adequate setup for Martin’s moving soliloquy about their mother, and any time Martin sees fit to put them in their place, I’m onboard [Triple cliché! Thank you all so much. That was great.]

Continuity errors or anachronism:
I’m pretty sure that restaurant employees can’t legally destroy their guests’ articles of clothing, especially something as expensive as a necktie, but chalk it up to comedic surrealism.

Same goes for the French restaurant being called Le Cigare Volant, which does in fact mean “the flying cigar.” This is about the sort of humor that you expect from MAD Magazine, and I just love it. It tells you that the show is for people who are somewhat like the stars themselves: sophisticated yet juvenile.

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   emerging cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1 ]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
[0]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: []

Mentions of Maris:
[4]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [8]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
[0 ]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [5 ]

# of tender pauses:
[1 ]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [3 ]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:

I would rate Martin’s “People like this place” speech among the kind of greatest kind of great moments for his character, and most viewers would agree that Niles meeting Daphne may in fact be the kind of greatest kind of great moment specifically for the show, but neither of these really have that universal zing that this category demands.

Also, I thoroughly enjoy entering “(none).”

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier and Niles decide to invite their father Martin out for an evening of fine dining at a swanky Seattle restaurant.”

S1 E2: Space Quest

fd s01e02Airdate: September 23, 1993
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Sy Dukane, Denise Moss
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts: This is when Frasier episodes started being presented with cutesy and/or trite titles that separate the three acts. Last week, when I reviewed the pilot, I separated the episode into three acts according to what fit on 3 hand-written pages. Moving forward, I will simply separate the acts as prompted by these titles.

While writing this review, I wondered whether it might pay to count the number of times that Frasier acted like a cartoon version of a whiney sociopath. I decided that the “# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies” series-count category will suffice. In fact, rather than “A series synopsis about the story of Niles and Daphne,” the Frasier Denied elevator pitch might work better as “An examination of a Seattle psychiatrist’s many clinical mental disorders.”

To my and your delight alike, I’m starting to find that this show seems particularly absurd when you consume it in the form of a written summary. In fact, it kind of makes you wonder how Frasier can possibly seem quite so normal when you’re just watching it. To demonstrate what I mean, I will lead us in skipping to the last line of this episode’s review before we begin:

Martin sends Frasier to the store for beer.

Our episode synopsis:
Act 1: Dear God, It Wasn’t A Dream

A robed Frasier emerges from his bedroom. Daphne is cleaning. She tells him that she has already taken Martin to an appointment. Frasier, exhibiting dementia, asks who she is; she reminds him that she moved in the day before.

Frasier goes to the kitchen, where Martin is cooking breakfast. Frasier takes a drink of coffee, complains that it isn’t the coffee he likes and dumps it in the sink. Martin explains that it is the right coffee, but Daphne has added egg shell and allspice. He puts a plate of bacon and eggs on the table for Frasier, who complains about how unhealthy it is by giving not one, but two detailed descriptions of how such food causes hardening of the arteries and cardiac arrest.

Frasier opens the front door for the newspaper, but it isn’t there. He begins shouting accusations at a neighbor, and Daphne talks him down by revealing that she has already picked up the paper. Then, Frasier is upset that it has already been read. Exhibiting clinical anxiety, he makes a speech about how he is not a morning person,explaining that in order to function every morning he requires a crisp, new paper to read, a muffin and yogurt for breakfast, and coffee without egg shells. Further, he claims that violations of these requirements cause his radio show to suffer, hence spreading misery in the lives of all the listeners who depend on him.

Daphne says that it will take time for everybody to adjust, but it will all turn out fine. Frasier sits down at the table again, alone. Eddie runs over and sits across from him. Frasier shouts at the dog and, exhibiting OCD, complains to Martin that he can’t read the paper with Eddie staring. Frasier leaves the table. Eddie, of course, follows him.

Cut to the KACL studio. Frasier is on the air. He reviews the daily topic as ‘Intrusion.’ A caller (voice-over by Christopher Reeve) explains he has agoraphobia; Frasier insists that the caller stick to the topic of the day. Off the air, Frasier intends to stay in the studio for a while so that he can read his book in solitude and quiet. Enter Bulldog, who needs to use Frasier’s studio for the immediate episode of his sports show, so Frasier has to leave.

After Roz illustrates a close relationship with her mother by sharing intimate specifics of her romantic pursuits over the phone, Roz and Frasier talk about his parents. He explains that he and Niles resemble their mother and neither of them shares anything with Martin.

Act 2: The Best Laid Plans
Frasier returns home to an empty apartment. He is thrilled at the chance to quietly read his book. He pours some wine and sits on the couch. Immediately, Daphne, Martin and Eddie return. Daphne offers Frasier some tea; he refuses. As Frasier tries to read, Martin pesters him to describe the book. Frasier yells angrily that he can never manage to spend any time in quiet. Martin offers the exposition that most of a week has passed since the beginning of the episode, during which Frasier has been just as volatile.

Cut to Café Nervosa. Frasier is reading. To his irritation, Niles enters. He orders a café latte and ruins the end of Frasier’s book for him. Frasier laments that living with Martin is destroying their chance to have any sort of relationship, since they are always in each other’s way. He says that he wishes he had gotten an apartment for Martin and Daphne.

Niles encourages Frasier to try his best and give it time (our second double-cliché this review— it might become a regular feature). In print, this sounds like the perfect time for a tender pause, but there wasn’t one. Frasier agrees with Niles and thanks him for being so helpful. He also compliments Niles’ work as a psychiatrist; Niles pointedly revels in omitting reprisal.

Act 3: A Couple of White Guys Sittin’ ‘Round Talkin’
(Please remember that it was the show’s producers who came up with the titles.)

Frasier returns home. Daphne is readying much of the furniture from the guest room (formerly Frasier’s study) to be brought down to storage.

Because Martin intends to watch a television show starting in 3 minutes, Frasier starts an egg timer at that amount of time so that they can have a conversation.

Frasier reveals that he’d been briefly suicidal 6 months prior when he and Lilith were beginning to split (which— though it counts as clinical depressionwe won’t count, since it’s only exposition, specifically outside the timeframe of the show). He says that thinking of Frederick had kept him from jumping. Martin tells Frasier a story of his own, but it isn’t genuine or profound enough for Frasier, so, exhibiting Borderline personality disorder, he starts yelling and it escalates rapidly.

The timer goes off. Frasier starts to say that Martin should move out; Martin finishes his thought, somehow also understanding the motivation behind it— that they were not getting the chance to have a relationship. He explains that bonding happens not in 2 days, but “more like 2 years.”

There is a tender pause as they register facial expressions that indicate that they agree.

Martin sends Frasier to the store for beer.

Credits vignette: One Man’s Storage Room Is Another Man’s Sanctuary
I’m pretty sure it’s fairly unusual for the credits vignette to have a title, but anyway: In the basement storage room, Frasier sits in his leather chair with a glass of wine, reading.

End theme closing:

Closing thoughts: The synopsis of the pilot was about 50% longer than this one. I suspect this may be due to this episode’s heavy verbal elaboration of what were somewhat repetitive problems, whereas the pilot had more exposition to get through, especially in introducing the characters, format, and story.

Martin is developing a little bit beyond the grumpy guy in the jive-ass green recliner chair, and he actually takes the high road for the majority of the episode (of course, Frasier leaves lots of room for that comparison). Martin is probably my favorite character on the show. It’s easy to picture the ‘unrefined old guy’ played with less nuance, and John Mahoney delivers a delicate, minor measure of charm, like straight vodka with a dash of ground cinnamon. Yeah. That’ll actually be my description of Martin Crane.

In a later episode, when he defends his favorite restaurant against Niles’ and Frasier’s sarcastic taunts by simply saying “I like this place,” you can feel a sort of rise rooted in a moral fulcrum with a formidable weight on his side which has by that point been established and progressively augmented with a masterful subtlety, little by little, right from the outset— a slight, generous rise of inflection here, a mournful downturn of the brow there. He’s stubborn but charitable— stoic but sharp.

This episode saw a couple of organic changes to our format. First, the act titles on the show. I think starting with next week, I will provide a brief (probably one word) assessment of each of those. Secondly, we introduced double-clichés in the exposition as I describe it. This is amusing to me because I was the one who wrote it. I think I’ll call attention to those moving forward as well. Just consider it my revenge for the act titles.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
At this early stage, the show still hasn’t fully developed its brand of sitcom-surreal faux-conflict, but we are already experiencing a less developed form of it consistently. In this, the series’ second episode, both Frasier’s inability to find a place to read and the mild psychotic episodes which result suit us perfectly under this heading.

Continuity errors or anachronism:

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone
(which will, soon be contrasted with ‘# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone’ when the category is introduced):
Episode: [1]                                                        series cumulative: [1]
# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
[1]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [5]
Mentions of Maris:
[0]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [4]
# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
[4]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [5]
In this episode:
Frasier (dementia)— when he can’t remember who Daphne is;
Frasier (anxiety)— when he is shouting at everyone in the house;
Frasier (OCD)— when he cannot read the already-read paper or read it with Eddie watching;
Frasier (Borderline personality disorder)— when he shouts furiously at Martin for not telling him a deep enough story

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [1 ]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [2]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier is on a quest for solitude, but can’t find it.”

S1 E1: The Good Son

93-94-ThuAirdate: September 16, 1993
Director: James Burrows
Writers: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee

Our episode synopsis:
Act 1
Open on Dr. Frasier Crane hosting his call-in show. Roz is in the booth, producing. Frasier tells a caller that he was in Boston just 6 months ago, “hanging out in a bar all the time,” but he left his wife and came to Seattle. I want to call this Cheers reference meta, but it’s really just continuity.

Off the air, Roz tells Frasier that he made a number of technical mistakes throughout the show (the radio show, not Cheers. That would be meta indeed).

At Café Nervosa, we meet Frasier’s brother Niles as they both stand at the bar together. Niles refers to the content of Frasier’s radio show as “pop psychology.” Frasier orders them 2 café latté supremos (which would be a very good name for a Frasier podcast. OK, actually it definitely wouldn’t).

Through exposition, we learn of Niles’ wife Maris and Frasier’s son Frederick. Maris will never appear during the whole series. Frederick was born in the back of a taxi on a Cheers episode.

Niles wipes off his chair for an excessively long time, unwittingly providing Frasier Denied with its inaugural point in the “# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies” category, this time specifically for OCD.

Niles produces some retirement home brochures, explaining that their father, Martin Crane, has been injured and shouldn’t live alone. Frasier agrees to make up his spare bedroom for Martin.

The first time that we see Frasier’s apartment, he is playing the piano. The doorbell rings. Frasier takes one last look at his quiet apartment, which is kind of a great TV moment.

Niles and Martin enter. Martin points out that he knows Frasier is only acting out of obligation and points out that they never knew each other, hence they won’t exactly be getting “re-acquainted.” Frasier gets him a beer. Martin complains that nothing in the apartment matches; Frasier explains that the decor approach is “eclectic.”

The doorbell rings. It’s a deliveryman with Martin’s chair. Niles makes an escape, announcing over his shoulder on his way out that Eddie, Martin’s dog, is also going to be moving in. Frasier tells Martin that Eddie cannot stay there and complains that Eddie is always staring at him and “creeps him out.”

Cut to Martin, Frasier, and Eddie covered in the light from the TV and Eddie facing Frasier, staring. I suppose, if you like, you may quote me as calling the use of this trope (where the put-upon protagonist says “absolutely not,” then the scene seamlessly cuts to exactly that thing happening, laugh track standard) a “kind of especially not great TV moment” (which isn’t a category here).

Act 2
Frasier and Niles meet at the coffee shop, one week later. Frasier orders a double espresso, to “calm down.”

(LOL Get it? Since espresso actually has the opposite effect? Now, I was told there would be foam jokes and bean jokes too, guys! That was so funny perhaps someone shall type out a hyperbolic statement about spitting coffee on their keyboard! Haha! More mentions of coffee! Hahaha ROFL! Alright. Alright. Seriously, though, this may in fact count as anachronism, since any true Seattleite would refrain from joking about coffee. Ah, but then again, I find myself recanting, since, as a true Seattleite, perhaps Frasier actually does calm down with a double espresso. Alright— we’re gonna go with that. We’re straight. Carry on.)

Frasier asks if Niles and Maris could take Martin in to stay with them. Niles offers instead to pay for a home care worker. Frasier is drastically relieved.

Cut to the apartment. Frasier is saying goodbye to an applicant for the home care worker position. Martin says she was “casing the joint.” The doorbell rings. Frasier reminds Martin/informs us that this next applicant is the last one.

Frasier opens the door, and we meet Daphne Moon. She is candid and helpful, and compliments Martin’s chair, which gives Frasier the chance to make a face that makes the audience laugh (and counts as a point in the “# of ‘Dad’s chair is awful’ jokes” category). She tells them she’s from Manchester, England and has been in the U.S. for only a few months. She asks Martin if he’d been a policeman; he asks how she knew. She reports that she is a “bit psychic.”

Sitcoms in the ‘80s and ‘90s tended to have surreal twists dashed into the writing now and then. On shows like Full House and Friends, not only would you have your Halloween specters and your Christmas reindeer, but at least once per season someone would be psychic or a miracle would happen.

I notice that Perfect Strangers was uniquely and unabashedly heavy on this approach. It had a particularly fickle realism, the momentum of which I suspect may have been endowed by the mysteriousness of Balki’s fictional homeland. In most examples of this, sitcoms kept a backdoor out of full breaks from realism— in the interest of favoring their broader continuity (and… integrity? I guess?)— with dream sequence reveals, or, conversely, with depictions of past events as narrated comically and incorrectly (or, shall we say, without consensus) by individual characters. But Perfect Strangers only pulled those switches one time each in its 7 years; its creators were a brave sort, who opted to weave a little telepathy and a few mischievous gods (no, really— they did) into its broader fabric without explanation or apology. It’s still better than having an amnesia episode (which they also did, as anyone, just once).

So we find a subtle (and consistent) application of the surreal on Frasier— and the same goes for almost every sitcom aired between 1985 and 1995, from what I can tell— but Perfect Strangers was especially prolific and courageous about it (hence more fun).

Anywho, Frasier maintained but one such cartoon element consistently: that Daphne was psychic.

Frasier dismisses Daphne and says they will call her; Martin interrupts and declares that she’s got the job. Frasier wants to speak with Martin privately, so he reposits Daphne in the bathroom. Now that she can’t hear him, he tells Martin that Daphne “is a kook” and that he does not like her. Martin reasons that she’ll only be there when Frasier isn’t.

Frasier acquiesces, asks Daphne back in, and congratulates her. She says she’ll move her things in the following day; he stops her and says that the position is a part time, non-live-in position. She leaves so that Frasier and Martin can discuss the issue. Martin offers some exposition as they argue: He was shot in the hip by someone robbing a convenience store 2 years ago.

As their discussion continues to escalate, Frasier points out that he has been sacrificing a lot for Martin and Eddie to be able to stay, and Martin has been full of bitterness and sarcasm, not even once expressing thanks.

There’s the series’ first tender pause. Martin realizes that Frasier is right, but he can’t bring himself to say anything.

Act 3
At the radio station, Frasier explains the situation to Roz. She tells him that things work out how they are supposed to. When they go on the air, the first caller is anonymous. It’s Martin.

On the air, he describes the situation to Frasier with the listening audience as witness. Martin confesses that he may be getting in the way of the life that Frasier had planned.

In turn, Frasier concedes that Martin must be having some difficulty himself with the changes he’s been facing. Martin also directly says that he very much appreciates what his son is doing for him, then gets all gruff for the comic relief that is compulsory for all but the most grave situations:  While still anonymous, Martin finishes with “You hear that? I said ‘thank you!’” to which Frasier responds by showing his trademark eye-rolling, resilient brand of put-upon for the first of innumerable times: “Yes, I heard.”

Frasier takes one more call from someone having trouble with a break-up. He tells her that she’s not mourning the loss of her boyfriend but the loss of what she thought her life was going to be and says, “let it go.”

Credits vignette
Martin, Frasier, and Daphne are watching TV and Eddie is staring at Frasier.

End theme closing
“Goodnight, Seattle! We love you!”

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Frasier having Daphne wait in the bathroom

Continuity errors or anachronism:
1) The pilot introduces us to Café Nervosa in Seattle, which does not exist, though it is modeled after Elliott Bay Café’s former Pioneer Square, Seattle location.

There is actually a Starbucks at Café Nervosa’s fictional Frasier address, 3rd & Pike.
There is also an actual Café Nervosa in Toronto.

2) Frasier lives at Elliott Bay Towers, which does not exist. The views through the window in Frasier’s apartment are photos taken from Kerry Park.

3) Frasier and Niles’ café latté supremos don’t technically present a retroactive continuity error— certainly, a person can order a different coffee every day of their life without presenting any paradox whatever— but it’s worth mentioning that in this pilot episode Frasier orders the drinks for himself and Niles quite readily, as if it is their usual order, and in the series, there is no reemergence of this order to follow (& if you’re reading this, I haven’t been called out as wrong about that yet).

4) Frasier’s character was also written about 7% whinier for this pilot than in the rest of the series, thankfully. Only in this episode does he exhibit just this sort of powerlessness by verbally contradicting the inevitable even as it is happening around him. That is not to say that as we move forward, he fails to maintain the same caliber pettiness and indefinite, hapless social thrownness, but from here on, he manages to express it by more assertive, and certainly more colorful, means.

It’s usually in some way that converts normal interactions into crises and promptly escalates them into full-blown chaos. But that’s kind of why I’m here. That’s wherefore we observe he is “Denied.”

(Of course I promise to conclude every of these with such a demonstration, culminating with the word itself.)

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:
[ 4 ]                                                      series cumulative: [ 4 ]

Mentions of Maris (who never appears on screen through the whole series):
[ 4 ]                                                      series cumulative: [ 4 ]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
[ 1 ]                                                      series cumulative: [ 1 ]
In this episode: Niles (OCD)

# of tender pauses:
[ 1 ]                                                      series cumulative: [ 1 ]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
Frasier looking around at his quiet apartment one last time

TV Guide version (© Netflix, actually): “Seeking a fresh start following his divorce, Boston psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane returns to his native Seattle to host a radio call-in show.”