S1 E9: Selling Out

fd-s1e9-01
Airdate: November 11, 1993

Director: Andy Ackerman
Writer:
Lloyd Garver
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
I’m part of the generation that bridged the old, analogue world to the new, web-point-whatever world within their own late teens to late twenties or so. This seems important to me for two reasons.

1) That is the time when you gain autonomy and accountability— you start defining your life. You start deciding how you spend your time and what, legacy, if any, your 10,000 hours are going into.

2) That is when you are both
a) ..old enough that you have a clear memory of actively functioning
(communicating, playing, learning, making mistakes, and creating things)
in a very different world,
and
b) ..young enough that you’re still eager to adapt.

Because of this combination (for me anyway), the novelty of a thing now as commonplace as a Wikipedia article (particularly, say, one listing the writers for every episode of a series in a single column) still induces a good serotonin squeegee.

I know information was available… forever… before the web. That’s actually my point— with this awareness, the benefit of information that is collected and organized so efficiently and comprehensively can be appreciated for the amazing privilege that it is. You can cipher a stretch of time into a form you can evaluate in such a different way— especially in terms of what was available at the time that the information was established.

I realize it’s possible that on September 16, 1993, someone wrote down the writers’ names from the credits of the series premier and followed suit for the rest of the season, then looked at that list, which took them 8 months to gather, and formed the same kind of evaluation afforded me today after I simply spend 2 seconds typing the words “Frasier wiki.”

(By the way, if you did do that, I raise a glass to you. And you should be co-writing this, so e-mail me)

Anywho, here’s that very evaluation: How does a franchise like this come about quite how it does? If you look at Frasier’s season-one episodes (here’s that link again) in groups of 5, you’ll notice from the first 5-episode group that 9 people wrote them (in groups of 1 – 3 people), with no one contributing to more than one episode.

This is a good time to bring this up, since, in blog-time, we’re nearly at the end of our second quintuplet (which itself shows us 8 contributors— 2 of which don’t appear in the first group at all— and with only two of them repeating (once each) within the group).

Furthermore, even when you consider all 10 of them as one group, only 4 of the 11 writers repeat at all. The next group of five episodes (11-15) brings us two more new writers, and not only does it not increase the number of writers who contribute multiple episodes, but only 2 of the 4 who repeated in episodes 6-10 repeat again. See?! That is not the kind of thing we knew about when we sat chuckling in our ugly plaid chairs 20 years ago.

Our episode Synopsis:
Scene 1:
At KACL, Frasier is on the air. Caller Roger (voice-over by Carl Reiner) is describing his recent purchase of a $300,000 cabin cruiser. His question regards what he should name it. In a verbose and colorful manner, Frasier tells the caller that the question is of no interest and hangs up.

Roz enters the booth and hands Frasier some copy. He begins to read it, until it starts to describe the sponsor, Hunan Palace, in the first person on Frasier’s behalf, at which point he excuses himself from the air and prompts Roz to play a recorded ad.

Now off-air, Frasier reminds Roz that he does not do personal endorsements because, unlike the station’s other hosts, he needs credibility as a doctor.

Bulldog enters. Roz asks him to do the spot; he agrees. He tells Frasier that it’s idiotic to refuse the easy money earned by reading copy, personal endorsement or not, but thanks him for the opportunity to take advantage of it himself. Bulldog enters the booth. Frasier notices the contract for the ad; it pays very well. He seems to reconsider and asks Roz if it’s really that much pay for just reading an ad.

On the air, Bulldog performs an elaborate reading of the Hunan Palace ad, with sound effects and an exaggerated Asian accent.

Scene 2: Would You Buy An Egg Roll From This Man?
(This is just what I want from a scene title. It specifically has to do with the show, isn’t dopey or trite, it looks ambiguously forward, and it has that MAD Magazine, equal-opportunity (especially self-) derision that Frasier exhibits when at its best. Because of this, I checked the writing credits for the season again, to see if we could count on this sort of approach to titles on other episodes. It turns out that Lloyd Garver, this episode’s lone writer, makes his Frasier debut here— in fact, it’s his only contribution in the entire series.)

At the apartment, Daphne and Martin are at the table, going over the files for the Case of the Chopped-up Hooker. Wait— oh. Maybe it’s a family photo album.

Frasier enters. He complains that he pulled up too far in his parking spot and dented his car. Just as he’s offering mildly elaborate, interrogative exposition about the tennis ball he’d hung from the ceiling by a string as a guide for when to stop, Eddie approaches with the ball in his mouth. Get it? He is much too smart to waste his breath chasing cars! Damn your side-splitting antics, Eddie!

Martin says that Eddie needed a toy; tells Frasier to throw it. Right before only the audience’s most committed cynics say “I knew he was going to do that,” Frasier opens the balcony door and throws the tennis ball to the street below like a reckless sociopath.

Frasier shifts to serious conversation, asking whether he ought to make the Hunan Palace endorsement. Martin and Daphne ask what the dilemma is. Frasier explains that a paid ad including his personal viewpoint would violate the community’s trust. Martin recommends doing it. Daphne surmises that it might in fact help a patient if their problem happened to derive from a psychological need for Chinese food (this would ordinarily be quite stupid, but remember: Daphne is psychic, so she is no doubt referring to something of more than nominal significance here).

Martin suggests that Frasier dine at the restaurant and determine, based on his actual opinion of it, whether his endorsement can in fact be made honestly—hence deciding, according to his own ethics, whether to move forward with the ad. Frasier agrees; calls the restaurant to reserve a table for the three of them.

Scene 3: (Untitled)
At the KACL studio, Frasier is on the air. He is in the middle of reading his Hunan Palace endorsement. He lavishes wistfully over describing a few items from the menu and signs off for the day.

Frasier tells Roz that Hunan Palace has notified him of a 30% increase in sales since he started reading the ads. He exits the booth. A woman waiting in the hall introduces herself as Bebe Glaser, Bulldog’s agent. Bebe is played by Harriet Sansom Harris, whom I know from, um, Desperate Housewives, and who should have played the part of Annie in the 1990 slapstick film adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery.

Anywho, Bebe offers to represent Frasier. He refuses. She prods and scares him into reconsidering by questioning whether he’ll be able to afford to send Frederick to Harvard.

Scene 4: That Better Be Your Foot
(Bravo! This writer should have provided titles for the whole series.)

Martin, Frasier, and Daphne are in a hot tub at the Redwood showroom. Martin requests exposition of Frasier, who complies: Frasier is considering doing an ad spot that claims his friends and family enjoy the Redwood, which he must determine to be true before contractually agreeing to state it as true.

Martin reluctantly admits that he does like it; Daphne does the same. A man enters the showroom. Frasier rapidly exposits that the man is Dave Hendler, head of the Seattle Psychiatric Association, then takes a deep breath and submerges himself under the water.

Instead of a drawn-out, unnecessary scene (which I thought I was sure to get), it’s just a joke: Daphne and Martin both realize that the man in fact is not Dave Hendler, but decide to enjoy the quiet while Frasier hides. This was a genuinely nice little curve ball. I might even say I’m impressed, but then I remember that it’s only so pleasant because of how low my expectations are, so I guess it won’t do to have a parade or anything.

Scene 5: 780 AM on Your Radio Dial
(This title is neither cutesy, cliché, or incoherent, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the scene. I almost feel like this should be the title of every episode’s untitled opening scene.)

Frasier, Daphne, and Martin are at the apartment listening to Frasier’s ad for the Redwood hot tub. Frasier asks for feedback. Martin says he didn’t like it; exits. The doorbell rings. It’s Bebe. She announces an offer for a pay-or-play gig. Daphne reveals some knowledge about the term and, prompted by out-of-proportion intrigue from Frasier, explains that she had starred in a U.K. TV show when she was younger. She exits.

Bebe reveals that the offer is from Emery’s Nuts. He immediately refuses (Frasier, not Emery —Ed.), citing multiple reasons. She encourages him to reconsider, emphasizing how lucrative a television career can be. He thinks about it and still refuses, but as before, she is quite persuasive, luring him in with the promise of success. (Double cliché!)

Scene 6: The Big Kahuna
(A cliché title was just what I needed to stop sulking about the fact that we won’t see any more work from this writer.)

Frasier is getting his make-up done for the TV commercial. The script is delivered. The ad is going to have two people dressed as nuts arguing about their identities and Frasier is going to tell them that they are both nuts. You know—because he’s a psychiatrist.

He isn’t pleased. Urging him to follow through, Bebe reminds him of Frederick’s Harvard tuition as well as Frasier’s own potential success, wealth, and comfort. She also tells him that light-hearted, self-effacing humor will be good for his reputation.

Frasier notes that the script directs him to “come out of his shell.” Bebe assures him that it’s merely, and appropriately, metaphorical, but behind them, a couple of techs transport the halves of an enormous peanut costume across the set.

Scene 7: Knees Together, Lips Apart
(Incoherent. But in a good way. Listen, if I have to choose between that, cutesy, and cliché, incoherent is always going to win.)

Niles sits alone at Café Nervosa. Frasier enters. He exposits that he has not yet done the ad—it films in 30 minutes—and his co-stars are playing an almond and a walnut.

Frasier is still trying to determine whether the ad agrees with his ethics. Niles says it isn’t a problem; claims that Frasier’s sell-out occurred months prior, when he agreed to star on the radio show. According to Niles, this took Frasier out of medicine and into show business.

Scene 8: Frasier Crane to Block
(Another for the “Incoherent, in a good way” pile.)

It’s the middle of the night at the apartment. Frasier is watching television. He looks shell-shocked (I swear on the graves of all puppies that I didn’t intend that pun when I wrote it). Martin enters from his bedroom, wearing his robe. He exposits that Frasier is watching the tape of the commercial again.

Frasier’s still torn about whether he made the right choice. He plays the tape again. This time we and Martin get to watch it. It turns out that Frasier opted out of the commercial, and Dr. Joyce Brothers did it instead.

Frasier and Martin retire to their rooms, having a discussion about where the stars sat on Hollywood Squares for absolutely no reason.

Credits vignette:
Martin and Daphne sit in the hot tub with their heads tilted back. At the very end of the theme song, Frasier emerges from the water and breaks the series’ cumulative credits vignettes’ heretofore exclusive non-diegetic muteness with the sound of splashing and the taking of a deep, relieved breath.

That’s cool! How unexpected. Also, it’s the first time that the vignette has been a flash-back to earlier in series continuity (from the same episode though it may be).

I wonder how many times they do either of these in the series. Good thing someone is doing this blog.

End theme closing:
“Goodnight, everybody!”

Closing thoughts:
We are now numbering inter-episode scenes without titles. Do not adjust your device.

For those of you thinking I’m out for cheap laughs when I refer to the “Case of the Chopped-up Hooker,” please refer to S1 E6, wherein Martin backs me up on this (and makes better jokes about it than I do).

It was terribly interesting investigating the series’ writing credits while forming this post. The fact that someone (here’s his blog) can contribute a single episode to a series gives me good expectations for the series’ overall writing—lots of perspectives help to keep things fresh and interesting as the canon develops.

Obviously, your crew has to tread together in such a way that serves the climate of the show (which stops happening after season 7), and the actors and directors determine most of that—the former being entirely consistent through the series and the latter drawing from a much smaller pool of people than the writers— but a large variety of influencers are conceiving and perfecting those scripts before the actors and directors begin their work, and variety is fruitful.

Daphne’s profile is slowly coming into focus. At series’ end, I just may compile everything we know about each separate character into their own Denied canon. It’s probably Daphne that prompts this because we always know the least about her—not including Maris, of course.

In our series counts, Mentally ill tendencies just went ahead of the episode count, though Tender pauses fell behind by 1. What’re you gonna do. What’re you gonna do.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Frasier submerging his head in a hot tub is a striking, dead-on epitome of what we look for in this category. Frantically hiding—and certainly panicking in general— is more conspicuous than behaving normally. Besides, nothing obligates him to explain exactly why he is there even if he is grilled for an explanation. Further, the truth behind what he’s doing actually speaks well of his professionalism and ethics. And even then, if, say, they had different opinions about it, you have to validate your own beliefs at some point.

This is just the right caliber “Wha-at!?” that prompted me to include this category when we started this.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
I don’t see how Frasier could have been contracted to read the Hunan Palace ad without any knowledge of what was in it. We go over the same bump when the TV commercial script doesn’t appear until his make-up is nearly finished.

I’m extremely happy to observe that, even after 9 episodes, Frasier has still not slept with anyone in Seattle. This makes the title of our blog increasingly accurate, and it makes me proud.

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

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

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [2]

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

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

Mentions of Maris:
Episode:
[1]   previous cumulative: [17]   series cumulative: [18]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode:
[1]   previous cumulative: [9]   series cumulative: [10]
in this episode:
Frasier (sociopathy)—when he endangers not just Eddie’s life, but that of an untold number of strangers by throwing a tennis ball into the street from his 19th story balcony.

# of tender pauses:
[Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [7]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
(none)

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier is at first reluctant to do an on-air endorsement for a Chinese restaurant — until he discovers how much money is involved.”

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S1 E8: Beloved Infidel

fd-s1e8-01
Airdate:11/04/1993
Director:Andy Ackerman
Writer: Leslie Eberhard

(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
In this episode, we see a little more of Roz, but she has still not once been involved in a story. The reason the “# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone” category has been so awkwardly hanging out for a while now is that it has a co-category which has just been opened: “# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone.” I want to be able to compare them because the latter soon becomes a permanent fixture on the show, and it will nice to be able to recognize just how much it is being exaggerated.

Our episode Synopsis:
Scene 1:
Open at KACL. Frasier asks caller Danielle (voice-over by JoBeth Williams) to repeat her question. She tells him in a cement-thick French accent that she is “having a big problem” with her “monsieur.”

First, I thought that it was ridiculous to convey someone translating an entire thought except one word, and I was going to offer counter examples and just burn the whole crew new asses (you could give someone a new ass with fire, right?), but I realized that people do plenty of silly and stupid things, French or not. (The French also use the same word for silly and stupid —Ed.) I felt like considering it impossible for a French person to make such a mistake was kind of racist of me.

Anywho, Frasier has no idea what she means. Roz does, but she doesn’t get a chance to interrupt. Frasier of course offers irrelevant generic advice and hastily hangs up on her, then closes the show.

Roz has a date that night. She explains that he is quite well-off. (Double cliché!) He isn’t. Niles enters. He does remember Roz’s name, but does not remember that she works with Frasier and asks her why she is at the station. She exits.

Niles explains that a lecture that he and Frasier had planned to attend was cancelled. They decide to go to dinner.

Scene 2: Not Now… Now!
(Incoherent. And gawd: the syntax on titles in general is some deplorable mayhem.)

Frasier and Niles are seated at Anya’s restaurant.

Exposition grants us the knowledge that Niles’ car is parked illegally in front of an adjacent strip mall. He wonders whether he should patronize one of the shops to justify his use of the spot, but Frasier tells him not to worry. (Uh-oh!)

Niles spots Martin across the restaurant, seated with a woman. Frasier exposits that Martin had claimed he was going to his usual place, Duke’s, to watch “the game” and such. (I will call this meta-exposition: explaining that someone explained something. I want to be really happy about it too, but this is just a case of being very good at doing something very bad.)

Martin looks their way and they cover their heads with menus. Niles peeks. Though they are seated at the same table, it’s somehow established that only Niles can look without being discovered, so he peeks indefinitely and explains that Martin is holding the woman’s hand. She starts crying; exits. Niles recognizes her as Marion Lawlor, a family friend from decades ago, and he hyper-exposits that their families used to rent cabins together until one summer when there was a mysterious falling out.

Niles’ car gets towed.

Scene 3: The Lady Vanishes
(There’s a difference between cliché and a good reference. 8 episodes in, but still.)

At the apartment, Eddie is on the couch, lying on his back and growling indulgently. Daphne enters and scolds him gently as she removes him from the couch. She exits; he gets back on the couch. Frasier enters; Eddie hastily gets off the couch again.

Frasier calls after Martin. Daphne explains that Martin has gone to watch “the game” with the neighbors.

The doorbell rings. It’s Niles. He has brought his old journal so they can investigate whether Martin had an affair with Mrs. Lawlor. Niles reads some passages from it and concludes that an affair was likely. Frasier objects. Niles finds a few photos of Martin posing with a woman, her face cut out of it. Niles is all but convinced; Frasier remains skeptical. Daphne suggests inquiring with Martin, and Niles suggests calling their Aunt Vivian. Frasier protests in both cases.

Martin enters. Daphne goes ahead and asks him. Niles explains that he and Frasier were at the restaurant. Martin asks Daphne to leave. Martin announces that he did have an affair and demands that it never be discussed again. (Double cliché!)

Hey—holy shit!! There was no tender pause last week! OK, so there isn’t a tender pause at this moment either, but it’s sort of a semi-tender atmosphere. Instead, though, Niles offers cheap comic relief. (There is still time, though, tender pausonites. Remain steadfast!)

Scene 4: Dr. Shecky Crane
(Truly, passionately incoherent)

Frasier is seated by the bookshelves at Café Nervosa. Niles enters; asks how Frasier is feeling. He’s still pretty upset. Niles is not. He suggests that Frasier get past it.

Scene 5: Things Best Left Unsaid
(Cliché enough to raise the dead)

At the apartment, Eddie is on the couch. Frasier enters from his bedroom with his coat on; chides Eddie, who jumps to the floor.

The doorbell rings. It’s Mrs. Lawlor. She asks Frasier to tell Martin she’s sorry for leaving dinner so abruptly. He tells her he learned about “what happened,” which tells us that she is about to reveal to us that what happened was something entirely different., which tells us that, of course, it was Frasier’s mother who had actually had the affair—with Mr. Lawlor.

Mrs. Lawlor tells Frasier this. She also reveals that he recently died (Mr. Lawlor, not Frasier).

Scene 6: Like Father, Like Son
(This title is so cliché it single-handedly combusts all of the karma for another whole series worth of scene titles. This title is so cliché that it actually feels kind of cheap pointing it out.)

Daphne contorts Martin into his physical therapy stretches. She exits. Frasier enters; asks to speak about the affair. Martin refuses. Frasier explains that he knows the truth. Martin is upset, but he doesn’t do a tender pause. Frasier shares that Lilith also cheated, and he doesn’t do a tender pause either. Martin makes fun of Frasier for being with Lilith at all, what with how generally awful she was, which is just, like, totally hilarious. Martin explains that he has forgiven Frasier’s mother. Then, an actual, 100% tender pause happens.

Frasier sheds a tear. Martin tells Frasier not to hate his mother and reveals that he had lied about it to protect her, since Niles and Frasier “already had problems” with him.

This made a little bit of sense to me at first, but, as we often find, typing it out made me realize its deeper and more disturbing implications. It’s actually pretty messed up for Martin, still alive, to convince his two sons that he had contemplated and carried out an affair only so that they would still think well of their now-dead mother. For one thing, the truth has something of a significant handicap because it’s, I don’t know,  the damn truth? And isn’t it more important for those who are living to have the best relationships they can? At least we got a tender pause out of it.

Martin also explains to Frasier that the cut-up pictures were of his mother and she had cut them herself because she was unhappy about her weight.

Credits vignette:
A slow pan of the apartment, finally revealing Eddie indulgently scratching his back on the couch.

End theme closing:
“Thank you!”

Closing thoughts:
When Mrs. Lawlor rang the doorbell, I suddenly wondered what had happened to Irene, from the telescope episode. Either Martin is a confident but quiet ladies’ man, or the Frasier crew takes care to ensure that episodes have sufficient narrative autonomy to be potentially shuffled in syndication. Another show that does this is King of the Hill. Actually, that’s the most extreme example of it that comes to mind. It doesn’t seem like a lot of shows do it that aggressively, but as I think I’ve mentioned before, I used to watch shows like Friends in syndication without even really being aware that there was a cohesive ongoing narrative at all.

I promise to learn Frasier and Niles’ mother’s name next time her memory is integral to a plot. All we know now is that her middle name is not Marie. I want to keep things that way for a little longer. Watch this: I’ll even look up the name of the dog who plays Eddie, just to show that I’m omitting not-middle-name-Marie’s name on principle. OK—it’s Moose. Aww. And he died in 2006, just like Bruno Kirby. Damn you, Internet!

Hold on, hold on. Wikipedia says that Moose’s “occupation” is “actor.” I’m not sure that it can be said that a dog has an occupation. Do you perceive a precedent for a dog getting compensated for working? If he did not appear as Eddie, and his owners rigorously trained him to do all of the same things that we see him do on the show— which amount to stage blocking: getting on furniture, staying in one spot, and looking at Kelsey Grammer— would it make sense to say that his occupation was a “sitter/starer?” More to the point, would his “income” have a distinct substance whatsoever from what his owners no doubt gave him for his on-camera efforts (food, treats, toys, more food)?

Nay—the occupation of his owners, on the Frasier payroll, was trainer, and they were compensated for it with trainers’ salaries. Am I totally out of it on this one? Are K-9 search dogs cops, or are they just doing arbitrary tricks for raw hides and Milk-Bones? I’m pleasantly ambivalent.

This review is a little bit thinner than I like ‘em to be. In order to make-up for my upcoming vacation, I did two posts in about the time I usually spend on 0.75 posts. I shouldn’t be whining about it though, right? I mean, if I were unhappy with the results, I should just have waited, yes? Since you are reading this (if you’re reading the English version), you can tell that I in fact was happy with the results—they’re just a little shorter than usual. I valued getting it pulled together and keeping the schedule consistent over taking the usual added day and a half to let it breathe and grow some more meatier references and such.

I think the fact that I suggested using fire to endow something or someone with a new ass tells us everything we need to know.

(For the hell of it I did a word count. 2 weeks ago was 2649, last episode was 2978, and this one is 2128.)

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
It is entirely insane to suggest that someone as obsessed with high brow culture as Frasier would not recognize the word “monsieur,” but the detail that goes in this category is his failure to acknowledge Roz’s attempt to help and her inability to speak into his headphones and clarify.

Frasier and Martin covering their heads with menus.

Martin figuring that he might as well be perceived as an unfaithful husband for the rest of his boys’ lives rather than simply tell them the truth of the decisions that their mother made long ago.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
Anya’s and Duke’s are both fictional.

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

NEW CATEGORY: # of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:
Episode: [1]                           series cumulative: [1]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [2]

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

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

Mentions of Maris:
Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [17]   series cumulative: [17]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [9]   series cumulative: [9]

# of tender pauses:
[Episode:
[1]   previous cumulative: [6]   series cumulative: [7]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
Niles’ depiction of his younger self from his journal.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Due to a canceled lecture, Frasier and Niles change their plans, but wind up at the same restaurant where their father Martin is dining with an old family friend, Marion Lawlor.”

S1 E7: Call Me Irresponsible

fd-s1e7-01Airdate: October 28, 1993
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Anne Flett, Chuck Ranberg

(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
I regret not opening a category for “#of times that Frasier hangs up on a caller.” You know, I could have a few special season-wrap-up categories such as that. Taking a cue from Full House Denied—I mean Reviewed— at the end of each season, we’re going to spend a week on a season synopsis. (Tell ya what gang, as if we don’t spend enough time talking about Frasier’s hang-ups, am I right?)

In other blog news, I still haven’t gotten a blogroll together. I have plenty to put on there (including your blog, of course), so I hope to be announcing it soon. And sorry, I guess I should have prefaced this with “In other blog non-news..”

In real life news, I am going on vacation next week, so this week I am doing two episodes. I’m not gonna lie: it’s sort of making me a little Frasier-fried. (And just like that, a t-shirt was born—Ed.)

This week, Frasier gets more involved with a caller than ever before (unless we count Derek Mann as a caller—and even if we did, it would still be debatable whether almost getting in a fist-fight with someone confronting you in person is more “involved” than almost sleeping with the recent ex. of someone to whom you’ve only spoken on the phone). The voice of that caller, Marco, is performed by Bruno Kirby. You may know him as the friend of Billy Crystal’s characters in When Harry Met Sally and both installments of the City Slickers saga. I just learned that he was also in The Godfather Part II and that he died in 2006. Gee. They have, like, everything on that Internet.

This puts us one third of the way through the first season. We’ve made a couple of formatting tweaks and most of our series-count categories are roaring along, but there are still a few that haven’t opened up yet. This week we have a new one, “# of women Frasier has dated,” which is sadly not yet being accompanied by the opening of the seemingly-but-apparently-not-quite synonymous “# of women Frasier has slept with” category, which prompts me to go over two things. First, please don’t read the Opening Thoughts with an aversion to spoilers for an episode, and secondly, let’s remember (one of) the reason(s) that we call it “…Denied”: In Frasier’s case, as with most of us real-life folk, dating someone and bedding someone do not have total overlap.

Fortunately, I foresaw this when establishing the categories. In fact, I had originally split them up even more, including a third, “# of women Frasier has been romantically interested in,” but there really aren’t two levels there. This was pretty interesting to think about actually— on, say Seinfeld, all three of these categories would be included in the simple, single word “dated,” not because we should assume that all of them happen at once, but because only whichever of them are relevant will be on that particular week’s  “nothing” palette.

Concerning the romantic interest/dating dichotomy, neither show covers very many cases of unrequited love, so the numbers would always match, but with the dating/slept with dichotomy, Frasier has something there: we actually don’t know if he just might screw things up with any given dating prospect.

Our episode Synopsis:
Scene 1:
Open at KACL. Frasier takes a call from Hank (voice-over by Eddie Van Halen), who isn’t listening to Frasier through the phone, so he repeats “Hello, am I on?,” etc. in confusion enough times that Frasier hangs up.

The next caller, Marco (voice-over by Bruno Kirby), has been seeing someone for two years and doesn’t want to commit. He specifies that he would like to stay with her until “someone better comes along.” (Delayed double cliché!) Frasier tells him to assess things with her and decide whether to stay together. After that call, Frasier decries Marco’s lack of commitment and asks Roz to weigh in. (Double cliché!) She tells him that she and everyone she knows is single.

Scene 2: ‘Twas Two Months Before Christmas…
(You really can’t call a parody cliché. Plus it’s about Christmas, so you’re not gonna hear any complaints from me.)

At the apartment, Martin is decorating a Christmas tree in front of the fire place, which is roaring. The mantle is decorated with holly and ornament-type things, and half a dozen stockings are hanging.

Martin sort of goes meta and mentions that what he is doing is strange.

Daphne, changing the settings on a camera attached to a tri-pod, exposits that pictures need to be taken in time for Christmas. Martin completely changes his mind, and they start to excitedly sing ‘Deck the Halls.’ Frasier emerges from his room.

Martin and Daphne put on some tight toques and instruct Frasier to do the same. He refuses; mentions that the date is October 21. Martin and Daphne pose with Frasier. Martin calls for Eddie, who jumps into view wearing antlers just before the flashbulb goes off.

Scene 3: M&M’s And Sympathy
Frasier is on the air, just signing off at the end of the show. Roz gives him a picture to autograph for a fan standing out in the hall. He looks through the window; it’s an attractive woman. He goes out to meet her. She is vocally upset; reveals that she was Marco’s girlfriend. Frasier explains what Marco had said about waiting for someone “better.” She begins to cry. He awkwardly tries to console her.

Weeping, she embraces him and he offers her M&M’s. While she eats them, he finally gives her some substantial consolation. She assumes he’s married. He explains that he isn’t, and they bond about liking the same kind of M&M’s and how much dating sucks.

Scene 4: Kiss Me, Kate
As you predicted, Frasier and Marco’s ex-girlfriend are on a date. It’s at Café Nervosa. She gets up to go to work. Frasier asks where they should go for dinner. She offers the exposition that they went out the last few nights. They make plans for Frasier to send Martin and Daphne out of the house that night and cook dinner. They fervently kiss goodbye. Niles arrives at the shop window, seeing them. She exits; Niles enters and  inquires. Frasier introduces Niles (and us, by name anyway) to Catherine and explains how they met.

Niles objects that Frasier is getting too closely involved with a patient. Offended, Frasier leaves, first verifying that Niles will be picking him up after work.

Scene 5: He’s Baaack
(Cutesy/cliché. BONUS: ½ incoherent, for an unprecedented combo.)

This scene intercuts with Niles driving his car and listening to Frasier’s show:

20 seconds to air at KACL, Roz tells Frasier that Marco is waiting on the phone. Frasier doesn’t have time to convince Roz otherwise, so she puts Marco on.

Marco tells Frasier that he broke up with his girlfriend. He also suspects that there is someone else in her life already—he even saw her talking to “someone in a black BMW.” He asks if he should try to reconcile with her.

Frasier suggests that Marco is merely jealous; recommends he move out of state. This actually makes less sense on paper. It’s delivered with a lot of stammering, and the hyperbole escalates naturally enough, to the point where Frasier is recommending that Marco do what he did after his divorce, which was to move away from Boston.

Scene 6: How Am I Driving?
(Cliché only.)

Niles picks Frasier up at work; asks him if he really thinks that he approached things correctly with Marco. Frasier says he’s in love and kind of flips out and, exhibiting arrested development, vehemently declares, “Marco is out and I am in.”

Niles is so distracted that he misses a stop sign. Niles asks Frasier whether his involvement is giving him the telltale sign that he is breeching his own ethics, which is nausea. Frasier is happy to say that it is not.

Scene 7: The Obligatory Sex Scene
(Would you call this “counter-esoteric?” Okay— I thought not.)

Alone with Catherine at the apartment, Frasier is clearing the dinner dishes. She actually exposits that they are going to have sex in the kitchen. They give it a shot, but nausea, Frasier’s involuntary ethics-violation indicator, interrupts.

They end up in Martin’s chair (Oh please don’t do that to Martin’s chair). They hit a switch that makes the chair vibrate.

(I realize that the mere fact that no one has ever pointed out that it’s a vibrating chair before doesn’t strictly make it a continuity issue— and I wouldn’t put it past the Frasier crew to concoct a situation where it’s important that it’s specifically not a vibrating chair— but I’m going to have to make the call: Frasier Denied officially recognizes this as a continuity error.)

He asks if they can move to the sofa. They do and he feels sick again. She asks what is wrong. He actually explains it to her, including the ethics issue. He describes Marco’s second call. She doesn’t mind this. He explains the doctor-patient issue and breaks up with her. Furious, she leaves. He sits and delivers a soliloquy to Eddie.

Credits vignette:
A photo reel of pictures in front of the Christmas tree. This heightens the atmosphere of loss and regret which Frasier has brought upon himself (most of them are obvious outtakes), as well as the underlying personal scruples that brought it about (because he refuses to conform by wearing a toque, Frasier is uncomfortable, but still has his integrity).

End theme closing:
“Goodnight Seattle, we love you!”
NEW LINK: The end theme closings, updated each week.

I would say that this list and the “# of ‘Dad’s chair is awful’ jokes” category are more likely to pay off at the end of this than on a general basis. I can picture you saying, “So? 14 jokes about Martin’s chair. Who cares?” However, at the end of the season, putting a final cumulative score on it might prove rather elucidating.

As for the end theme closings, I want to know whether there is any kind of pattern or change, and even if they’re merely random, in a world of Lolcats and Tony Danza masks, a list of the order in which Frasier shouts his 5 improvised catch-phrases throughout the series just doesn’t seem impeachable anymore.

Closing thoughts:
Some scene titles foretell things; others review recent events. I never fall outside the target audience for the show itself (if considering every moment of it totally insane doesn’t count—Ed.), but I’m beginning to think that there’s one person who writes all the scene titles with someone very different from me in mind. I couldn’t even tell you what kind of demographic niche that would be. The syntax never really works, and they’re just so generally tortured and unnecessary. It doesn’t even seem to suit the voice of anyone on the show. Ah!—except Niles. That’s it: the scene titles are written for Niles himself. By Eddie.

Let’s talk for a second about Frasier’s on-the-air personality. In this episode, we saw him demonstrate an unprecedented lack of professionalism in two crucial respects simultaneously. First, in his demeanor: I don’t know whether Frasier is supposed to be known for being particularly candid with his audience or if it’s just a minor surreal aspect of the show, but he never gets reprimanded for acting just as troubled and frantic on the air as he does the rest of the time (more on that in a moment). Second, he is offering the caller advice that hasn’t a thing to do with a professional opinion—it’s strictly ad hominem.

The show does seem to convey arrested development on the part of both of the brothers, placing them firmly at about age 14, and it appears to apply only to social relations. When you think of it this way, it all sort of comes together: Frasier and Niles’ solidarity and how graceful and knowledgeable they are in areas of their mutual interest entirely belie their (especially Frasier’s) encompassing ineptitude in even holding a conversation, which most likely placed them in each other’s exclusive company at the 8th grade lunch table (and almost everywhere since).

In scene 6 of this episode, you can just imagine that the brothers are having the same conversation at ages 14 and 15. Niles asks Frasier if he really thinks he is doing the right thing, and Frasier responds with a shouting fit that culminates with “Marco is out and I am in!”

When this sort of thing happens, I perceive this extra layer in the narrative. It’s hyperbole put into place so you can be sure that the “crazy” sells in terms of comedy, but it’s also a sort of optional, surreal layer augmenting the story as conveyed (and put Daphne’s psychic powers in that category too). Look at it this way: as a sitcom character, you know how you can pull someone aside and, as long as no one else is on camera, no one else “can” hear what you’re saying? OK— now combine that with the ambiguity over whether Hobbes is actually real in Calvin and Hobbes, and you’ve got a good description of what I’m talking about. Let’s call it the Hyperbole Corona.

If you were to describe this episode’s story to someone and leave out everything that’s crazy, it would still be the story of what happened. If you were to describe the story in such a way that you actually exaggerated the crazy, it would still be the story of what happened. Right? In our case, I am watching a story conveyed through a certain medium. Hell, writing to you about it here is actually just adding another layer to it with another medium for your sake.

Now, it’s not a historical event, of course—it’s a filmed presentation of a teleplay. But it’s still a narrative, and everything we think we know is affected by this to some extent by some means, so why should this narrative be different?

I’ll put it another way: I’m describing the story, including the crazy. How would leaving it out make the story more real? There’s no “truth” to it in the first place—it’s scripted, there are outtakes, it’s edited for time, etc. BUT leaving aside all the dismantling and philosophical wonking we could do (I have another blog for that), there is a tangible dichotomy between the relatively crazy-free, rough description of the narrative and a sort of gooey aura of unreality around it—the hyperbole corona (Is that name gonna stick? No. But I have to say we’ve done worse)— where psychic dogs and ghosts and uncontroversially childish behavior on the part of the protagonist are obfuscated either by outright ambiguity or just by more hyperbole, the most relevant example of the latter being the KACL radio audience (not to mention the broadcasting world overall) acting as if the lead character is not appearing insane more often than sane in that context.

One thing is really ringing clearly as I go through this most deliberate of series run-throughs: Frasier is probably the most unapologetically tragic of the pre-millennial sitcoms. At the end of this episode, the story comes to its unpleasant conclusion and the curtain hammers down. I have to disclose that this makes it especially easy to do this sort of project, in fact. It’s a nice stripe of integrity if you can subject your characters to a shit day and just hit the lights when it’s over—no spoken paragraphs about special lessons or syrup-smoochy glurge blasts to warm us back to sleep, nay— when Frasier is denied, it’s a cold and lonely night indeed.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Nobody takes Christmas pictures in October.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
I have to call bullshit on the vibrating chair. It’s Martin’s chair, for God’s sake! Total blasphemy. Actually, you know what? I’m pulling a 180° (Frasier trying to have sex for the first time in the entire series, which is making him have to throw up, while lying on his back on Martin’s chair, and suddenly it starts throbbing like a slab of gristle on a buggy? What was I even thinking?)— it’s totally worth the gag. Let ‘em through.

Frasier specifically mentions that the date is October 21. I don’t know whether this was intended to match the air-date, which ended up being October 28, but since it was precisely one week off, it certainly seems like it.

NEW CATEGORY: # of women Frasier has dated:
Episode:
[1]                            series cumulative: [1]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:
Episode:
[1]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [2]

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

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

Mentions of Maris:
Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [17]   series cumulative: [17]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode:
[1]   previous cumulative: [8]   series cumulative: [9]
in this episode:
Frasier (arrested development)when he entirely loses himself in a
triumphant jealous tantrum.

# of tender pauses:
[Episode:
[0]   previous cumulative: [6]   series cumulative: [6]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
(none) Well, other than the sound that Frasier makes when he starts throwing up during sex. But I can’t make that official.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “When a caller named Marco tells Frasier he’s having problems committing to his girlfriend, Frasier advises him to break up with her.”

S1 E6: The Crucible

fd-s1e6-01Airdate: October 21, 1993
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Sy Dukane, Denise Moss
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
We are 6 weeks in! Only 3 years and 6 weeks left to go.

A refresher on scene title appraisals: I will declare every scene title to be either 1) cliché, 2) cutesy, 3) <<both, 4) <<neither, or 5) incoherent.

Also in the refresher department:
As often as the narrative leads me to, I will describe it in the form of a double cliché, which I will immediately announce in parenthesis with a gleeful exclamation point. I will also indicate whenever story is verbally crammed into the script through exposition. Lastly, the weekly tender pause will be treated with as much ceremony (and disdain) as I deem appropriate, on a case-by-case basis. (Double cliché!)

In this episode, Niles yells for the first time. That doesn’t seem very important, but Frasier and Martin have already been doing a lot of yelling. As usual, Niles is wearing a suit whenever we see him. I believe he appears in something other than a suit less than 10 times in the entire series. If I were to make a serious prediction, I would be willing to even round it down to once per season. Let’s see what happens.

On a personal note, in real time, I just got super-hooked on Who’s The Boss? Good sweet Lord of all that blooms, is that ever a decent slab of brain candy.

Also in real time, we have spotted another Frasier site, KACL780.net (great name, you guys). They’ve got transcripts, stats, top 10 lists, and more. It’s interactive and still being actively updated, so go over and give them some fun-loving Frasier Denial.

Our episode Synopsis:
Scene 1:
Open on the air at KACL. Frasier is inviting the audience to call in. No one is. He begins singing, then gets a call. This must have made perfect sense in 1993.

The caller (voice-over by Robin Klein) says that he wants to purchase a sump pump for the home, while his spouse would rather they spend the money on a trip to Italy. Frasier sides with the caller’s spouse, suggesting that feeding the soul is sometimes more important than keeping up with necessities. To illustrate this, he mentions that he recently purchased a painting by Seattle artist Martha Paxton.

Off the air, Ms. Paxton herself calls; Frasier invites her to a get together at his place the following Friday.

Scene 2: What A Swell Party
(This title is half incoherent and half cutesy. I’m in a good mood, though, so go ahead in.)

Frasier’s apartment is full of guests. A pianist is playing. Frasier is very nervous. Maris, Niles tells us, is asleep under the guests’ coats in Frasier’s room.

The doorbell rings. Frasier answers it. He fails to hide his disappointment that it is Roz. It is her first visit to Frasier’s apartment.

Niles visits Daphne in the kitchen. He blatantly smells her hair, and she actually calls him on it. He denies it, saying how “happily married” he is to Maris. The audience laughs. It’s quite strange how this obvious exaggeration is all that provides the levity sufficient to keep the mood from naturally turning to the embarrassment and disapproval appropriate to the circumstances: (‘I totally stepped out of line, but that’s okay, because it’s funny when I lie about being happy with my wife! ) Daphne doesn’t say anything more about it, but it’s refreshing for them to convey the difficulty that they are sometimes having.

Martin is wandering around the party showing people crime scene photos from the case he is working on (the case of the chopped up hooker—Ed.)

Frasier hits Niles on the hand and tells him to watch Martin. Roz “introduces” herself to Niles for the third time (that we know of), and Niles tells her to watch Martin.

The doorbell rings. Frasier answers it. It’s Martha Paxton. She is bald and dressed in a poncho and lots of beads and feathers.  Frasier formally introduces her to the party; they all applaud. She meets Niles; asks to see where her painting is hung. She inspects it as Frasier indulgently describes it.

Martha Paxton announces that it is not her painting.

Cut to after the party. Frasier, Martin, and Daphne are cleaning up. Martin suggests that Frasier date Roz. Frasier, upset about the painting, ignores him. Daphne tells him she has always liked the painting; Frasier announces that he is going to the gallery to return it the next day.

Scene 3: #$&%* !!!
(Best title ever, obviously.)

Frasier is at the Hayson Gallery, looking at a painting. He has brought the Paxton forgery with him.

The art dealer enters. Frasier introduces himself. The art dealer recognizes him from the radio and expresses his admiration. He requests an autograph and offers Frasier a glass of wine. These 4 things are each said forcibly in order to stop Frasier from talking about the fake painting 4 separate times. The fifth time that Frasier tries to speak, the man actually pours wine down Frasier’s throat.

Frasier finally tells of his party and Martha Paxton’s announcement about the painting. The owner brings two employees in and they yak about the painting. They interrupt Frasier and sidestep his questions another 7 times; Frasier comes out and asks for a refund.

The owner manages to refuse without expressing anything in the negative and hastily leaves. Alone in the gallery, Frasier shouts “I’m not leaving” 5 times.

Scene 4: After He Left…
(I have to give this title the green light. It’s almost half-cutesy, but it’s sort of esoteric, you know, since you had to be paying attention 10 seconds earlier.)

Frasier enters his apartment. Martin asks why he still has the painting. Frasier explains; calls the police. Martin tells him to ask for the “Fine Arts Forgery department.” (Uh-oh! Someone’s gonna get burned!) The audience begins to laugh just before Frasier actually asks..

A beat passes. Martin joins the audience in laughing. Frasier is confused; looks at Martin. Frasier exposits that the dispatch officer is also laughing.

Martin asks for the phone. He explains to the officer that the call was to give Frasier a “reality sandwich.” He hangs up and tells Frasier that the police have robberies and murders to worry about (and probably recently chopped up hookers—Ed.).

Daphne and Niles emerge from Frasier’s room, straightening out their hair and clothes. Frasier inquires. Niles exposits that Maris lost an earring. Daphne leaves to look for it in the hallway. Niles exposits that the guests all left 2 hours early; cleans the top of the couch with his baby wipe (I’m going to try to be more rigid about legitimately accusing the brothers of showing signs of mental illness. Don’t worry— they will reward this by actually getting nuttier, I promise).

Frasier asks Niles for his lawyer’s phone number. Martin points out that litigation will cost far more than the painting. Frasier thinks aloud, planning to use his “bully pulpit”—his show—to expose the gallery. Niles cautions that this would constitute slander.

Martin reveals that Frasier is currently 41 (I don’t want to call it out as exposition, but… it is). He tells Frasier to suck it up, because you can’t always win. (Double cliché!) Martin exits.

Niles gets glasses of wine for Frasier and himself. Frasier expresses the desire to slash the art dealer’s tires. Daphne enters. She asks Niles for the other earring so she can give it a psychic reading. Before she says anything else, we know that this means she will reveal information that a) turns out to be entirely true; b) does not ultimately help the characters attain their actual goal, and c) will be hil-LAR-ious.

Here we go: she says the other earring is in Martin’s room. She says that it’s in Frasier’s room. She says that it’s in the hallway. Then, Eddie runs into the room. (Get it? ‘Cause he ate it?)

It’s left up to us whether Niles actually fed Eddie the earring to secure a reason to come over and spend time looking under furniture with Daphne (as it should be).

Scene 5: Peachfuzz
(It’s not my job to be the good guy. It’s my job to tell you the truth. This is a cutesy cliché crap cocktail. Go forth and live honorably!)

The Hayson Gallery, exterior, night. Frasier walks around the corner, holding a brick. As he winds back, Niles drives into view, sounding the horn. He asks for the brick; Frasier refuses.

Niles starts getting the ingredients together for a tender pause. He tells of when, as he showered after junior high gym class, his clothes were taken and hung from the goal post on the football field. Of course, he climbed up to get them wearing only his towel, and of course, it fell off.

The tender pause happens.

Niles explains that he’d wanted to take revenge, and it was Frasier who had talked him out of it, saying “if you act like a barbarian, you will become a barbarian.” Niles says throwing the brick will cause Frasier to lose something more valuable than money. This tender pause is a good one—it’s also Niles’ first. Just as I was remarking on that, he made a slightly imperfect landing by actually specifying just what thing Frasier would be losing that is more valuable than money: his mind.

Frasier concedes and gives Niles the brick, but manages to re-open Niles’ wounds by revealing that “there were nicknames.” Niles congratulates Frasier, then throws the brick through the window himself.

Just before they rush away, he throws some cash through the window, shouting that they are the sort of barbarians who pay for stuff.

Credits vignette:
Frasier is hanging the forged painting in the bathroom. I guess this is a gesture of abiding disdain, what with how intellectuals are known to loathe “everything bathrooms.”

End theme closing:
“Frasier has left the building.”
This is the first one we have seen repeated (from episode 3). There have now been a total of 5, and I suspect that there aren’t any more new ones, but we’ll find out.

Closing thoughts:
I’m pretty sure we will be hearing more from Roz soon. She has now been involved enough in Frasier’s life outside of work to be blown off by Niles twice. Later in the series, she gets closer to the Crane clan and becomes almost as much a part of the family as Daphne is. It also won’t be long until the exciting race between the # of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone and # of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone categories gets moving in earnest (I have no idea how it will turn out).

It’s interesting that Martin suggests that Frasier date Roz. I just don’t see it. Remember the Beauty and the Beast TV show with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman? Remember how they started making babies and stuff half-way through the second season? I’ll come back to that.

An affectionate but platonic relationship can bring a hell of a lot of good story with it. Most often it doesn’t segue into baby-making, sometimes it does so naturally, and still other times it does so though it clearly shouldn’t. For example, it would not make any sense for Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy to be lovers, but it does make sense for Tony and Angela to admit that they love each other by the time Who’s The Boss? wraps up (ditto Niles and Daphne, of course). So anyway, our precedent for the worst offender in the world of platonic couples gone bad is going to be Catherine and Vincent on TV’s Beauty and the Beast.

So, with that in mind, let’s try to rate just how ill-advised it would be for Frasier and Roz to become a couple. First, who belongs on the other boundary of the scale— where platonic couples should be progressing to Babymakinsville? Ross & Rachel? Let’s say that. Good: baby Ross. Bad: baby half-Vincent.

Frasier-RozThe punch line here, though, is that Frasier just goes ahead and gets nearly that bad at the Season 8 mark anyway.

(2 responses for those of you protesting Sam & Diane appearing to the left of Jesse Full & Rebecca House: 1) Sam’s true love is the bar, and 2) If you were the one dragging those pictures around, you would have made sure that the Playgirl cover ended up in the center too—Ed.)

We are going to be here for well over another 3 years, and the nosedive that the quality of every aspect of the show takes at that time will ever be a looming shadow of suck. When the suckness of any given thing needs to be compared to a hypothetical extreme of maximum sucky suck, I might say something like “It wasn’t ‘Season 8’ suck or anything, but it was some suck.” Honestly though, until then, Frasier really doesn’t dish out sucky—it just dishes out crazy.

ANYWHO, I mention it now to pointedly express that the only thing that could make Seasons 8-11 worse than they are is for there to be a Frasier & Roz.

But why? Do I hate Roz? Do I think she’s too good for him, or vice versa? Does someone else seem to be Frasier’s soul mate? No, no, no, and absolutely no—and I wish that I could tell you it’s something kooky like a zealous belief that no one is good enough for Frasier or something, but it’s merely just a bland old matter of the objective integrity of who characters are and, by extension, what their relationships with each other are like.

One of my favorite things about fiction is that characters establish themselves as whole,  finite worlds of potential behavior. For a character, there is a limited pool of potential decisions for them to make, because of “who” they are (though since they’re fictional, the “who” is really a “what,” but you know— they’re sort of like pets). Sadly, the term “jump the shark” has now been spoiled by the unwashed commenting masses (same with, uh, “spoiler alert”), and its definition was always kind of controversial anyway, so it’s just as well. Roz and Frasier do not make babies, and Frasier Denied publicly washes its hands of the cursed S8-11 epoch entirely, hence they never even appear to try to.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
I don’t think this counts, since it was pure exposition of something set far outside of the timeframe of the series, but, strictly speaking, it may be the best candidate yet for this category, so I’ll mention it briefly: Young Niles climbing a football goal post while wearing a towel instead of asking someone for help (A nurse? Someone sympathetic? Anyone?): this is mindless, cringe-worthy madness.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
The Hayson Gallery and the artist Martha Paxton are both fictional.

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

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

NEW CATEGORY: # of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [0]   series cumulative: [1]

Mentions of Maris:
Episode: [3]   previous cumulative: [14]   series cumulative: [17]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [8]   series cumulative: [8]

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [6]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
(none)

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “While on the air, Frasier mentions his recent purchase of a painting by renowned local artist Martha Paxton.”