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.”

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