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.”

4 thoughts on “S1 E4: I Hate Frasier Crane

  1. Pingback: S2 E4: Flour Child | Frasier Denied

  2. Pingback: S2 E6: The Botched Language of Cranes | Frasier Denied

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