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:
[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:

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

1 thought on “S1 E6: The Crucible

  1. Pingback: S1 E9: Selling Out | Frasier Denied

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