S1 E21: Travels with Martin

FDs1e21-00Airdate: April 14, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Linda Morris, Vic Rauseo
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:

Frasier Denied is on Facebook now! I’m not going to use a verb in quotation marks to tell you what to do about it. If you like us, I trust you can decide what to do next.

The transcript for this episode on KACL780.net includes links to transcripts of the cast members introducing their favorite episodes.

This episode’s writing duo– a husband and wife team– will go on to bring us 7 total episodes, through season 4. They received Primetime Emmy Awards for their work in seasons 2, 3, and 4.

While typing this introduction, I watched a season 11 episode, and I was reminded of the shark-jumping soulcrush that ensues beginning with season 8. The entire episode fit under our “conflicts that occur because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way– most often by not explaining something mundane” category. Just like Floyd, Sabbath, and Queen, man. The godliness runs out. But let’s think of better times– let’s think of now.

For this week’s episode, I took the no-pause approach. As you might well imagine from the name, this means that I take all of my notes while watching the episode straight through. I do this sometimes so that there is some variety on my perspective from week to week. Other times, I either type while watching or write longhand, in either case pausing to include greater detail.

I have considered other methods, such as watching the whole thing without taking notes, then writing out the synopsis from memory, or watching two episodes at the same time and writing a double-episode review. The latter will likely not fly for a regularly scheduled episode review, but perhaps we might see it as some bonus material or such (maybe I’ll watch all of season 8 on 24 screens at once).

Cue the xylophone, my friends! They’re denyin’ to do.

Our episode Synopsis:
Open at KACL, off the air. Roz stands over Frasier’s shoulder as he opens his mail, a box of vacation brochures. Frasier is overjoyed, intending to pamper himself as Martin and Eddie “fend for themselves.” Roz mentions that her next vacation will involve taking her mother somewhere. As he has before, Frasier tells Roz he admires her relationship with her mother.

Scene 2: Untitled
FDs1e21-01At the apartment, Daphne is giving Niles a massage. He moans in hapless ecstasy. He explains that he threw his back out lifting Maris’s luggage. Martin nonchalantly reads the paper all the while.

Frasier enters; gives Niles a silent “Niles!” (which we don’t count as an official “Niles!”— not to worry.)

Frasier turns his attention to Martin and shows him the brochures. They’re all for exotic and elaborate vacations, like riding turtles. Martin is pleased and a little incredulous. He asks if they can do whatever he wants (I know that sounds a little weird, but that’s actually how it happens). Frasier, glad that Martin has accepted, agrees.

Martin asks if they can see America in a Winnebago. It’s a big Frasier joke, especially between Frasier and Niles. (Actually, is there any other kind?) Martin and Daphne go to the kitchen to prepare some snacks. The scene intercuts between rooms as Frasier asks Niles to come and Martin asks Daphne to come, since it will be awkward for Frasier and Martin to be alone on a week-long trip, but, as they both in fact express aloud, neither wants to disappoint the other.

Niles puts his foot down, refusing to be associated with anything involving an RV. Martin and Daphne enter from the kitchen, and Martin announces that Daphne will be coming on the trip.

Niles fires all ‘immediate decisive diametric contrast cliche’ cannons at once, joyfully “announcing” that he will also be going.

Geez– care to invite Roz and Bulldog too, while you’re at it? They’re the only recurring characters who won’t be getting into the RV and going on this trip.

Scene 3: The Whoopin’ Cranes
(So that’s why these writers got the Emmy.)
FDs1e21-02(Please allow us to remind you that all of the captions in the pictures are just subtitles straight from the show.)

Everyone’s headed down the highway in the RV. Frasier is driving. He’s actually enjoying himself. Or pretending to. Martin tells him to start slowing down for a turn 5 miles ahead.

Frasier asks Martin why they are going to Mount Rushmore (also, they are going to Mount Rushmore). Martin explains that the time it takes to get to Rapid City is half of the time they’ve set aside for the vacation (1 week). Martin is glad to do nothing but driving for the whole week (they don’t address where they are camping). Frasier suggests that they instead wander. He refuses to take the turn to Mount Rushmore.
FDs1e21-03Martin goes a little nuts.

Scene 4: Untitled
Martin is driving. He expresses some joy at traveling without an agenda. Niles and Frasier both request destinations off the highway, shouting repeatedly as Martin ignores them. Hence, they haven’t really managed to enjoy the trip together at all yet. They’ve really only been happy one at a time in the driver’s seat, taking turns at frantically and helplessly protesting each other’s decisions.

Martin sees a sign for a gift shop where you can get your picture taken with a live grizzly bear. Everyone agrees to stop there.

Scene 5: Untitled
At the gift shop, it turns out the bear is stuffed. They have the grouchy proprietor take their picture– a Polaroid for ten bucks– and Martin reveals that they’re in Canada. At this, Daphne howls in horror just as the flash goes off. They’d crossed the border while she was asleep. She explains that her last green card interview isn’t for another three months, and she’s prohibited from leaving the U.S.
FDs1e21-04Martin hatches a plan: They will simply sneak her back across the border. Frasier is very unhappy about it; Niles is worried.

Scene 6: The Hole in the Head Gang
(Current title-holder for best scene title in the series. That opens a new category for us, folks! I wish that the Morris-Rauseos had been hired to write scene titles for the whole run.)

Frasier is driving. Everyone is getting psyched up to defraud the U.S. government. Martin reminds them to simply “act like Americans” (the cast, not the government). As they pass through the border, they’re waved through. Then, seconds later, they’re pulled over.

Scene 7: Checkpoint Charlie
(And here I was thinking we might go back to recognizing the scene titles as act titles.)

Daphne is nervous. Martin tells her to keep her answers short. An immigration officer enters the RV and asks everyone some standard questions. Niles is too curt, Frasier is too wordy, and Daphne just answers every question with the only thing that she can say in an American accent, “sure.”
FDs1e21-05The officer takes Frasier’s license and the rental registration and goes back to his car. Martin berates everyone for being so nervous. The officer returns. He asks Daphne why she’s so quiet. She simply smiles and sort of shrugs with an unresolving sort of tentativeness. Martin misdirects by “confessing” that Eddie’s rabies certificate isn’t in the vehicle. He shows the officer a picture of Eddie at the Space Needle, which also happens to show Martin with a badge. The officer lets them go.

Scene 8: Untitled
At night, Martin is driving. Frasier sits in front; asks if they might chat. Martin says he doesn’t ever know what to talk about when the two of them are alone. They both admit that is why they invited Niles and Daphne. Frasier qualifies that that’s not why Niles agreed to come, and Martin, by enjoying the humor in that, reveals to the audience that he too is totally aware of Niles and Daphne’s growing love thing.

Frasier suggests that they go to Yellowstone, which will require driving all night. They briefly consider dropping Niles and Daphne off in Seattle first, but just in case we didn’t infer from the two scenes already dedicated to illustrating that they don’t want to be alone together, they both grow immediately tense and squirrelly as they verbally correspond in contemplating traveling that far with just the two of them.

They decide to drive all night to Yellowstone and surprise Niles and Daphne with the destination.

Credits vignette:
A view of Daphne sleeping, through the lens of Niles’ video camera, closes up on her until she awakens and looks into the blinding camera light with horror. The camera then turns to a disapproving Frasier entering the cabin.

I… have to officially state that the antics in the short, mute clips featured during the credits must not be intended as canonical. I mean, sure, they’ve always been comical, and even a little surreal, but Niles is sort of committing a crime here, and it’s not as if it will be addressed again.

Closing thoughts:
I have found that my favorite Frasier episodes all involve the cast taking trips away from Seattle. This episode, the ski lodge episode, the ice fishing episode, and the duck hunting episode are all my favorites. I’m not sure why.

I did a youtube search for “Frasier review” so I could lead into getting my work started as I finished my dinner of nachos, and I found this segment from That Modern Rock Show, aired December 1, 2012 on WFDU 89.1 in Teaneck, New Jersey. Check it out. There are too many highlights to mention. I was endeared and enraged in turn, repeatedly.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Martin would definitely have taken some interest in whether Daphne can legally leave the country, but it was a good scene.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
(none)

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

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

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [6]   series cumulative: [6]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [4]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:

Episode: [3]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [10]

Mentions of Maris:

Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [57]   series cumulative: [59]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]
(I thought for sure they would take the opportunity to have a “we really care about each other” moment, what with father and son driving an RV together on an all-nighter, but I suppose it shows integrity that they instead chose to reinforce the difficult and slightly troubled relationship that Frasier and Martin have.)

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

Current best scene title of the series:
“The Hole in the Head Gang”: S01 E21

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Inspired by Roz to do some father-son bonding, Frasier invites his father on vacation.”
FDs1e21-08

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S1 E20: Fortysomething

FDs1e20-00Airdate: March 31, 1994:
Director: Rick Beren
Writers: Sy Dukane, Denise Moss
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
New to the blogroll!: Small Wonder Reviewed. Go check ’em out. This is becoming quite a community. Why don’t you do one?

This is an almost-love interest episode. I have to admire how they did that so often, really. At the time, Seinfeld and Friends were both giving some strong representation to that corner of the Multiverse where every romantic interest definitely involves sex and maybe involves a speaking part.
FDs1e20-02Our episode Synopsis:
Frasier is on the air. When he signs off, he forgets Roz’s name. She supplies it indignantly. Once off the air, Frasier goes into the control room. He apologizes to Roz. She isn’t upset, but he is troubled by it, as he has recently been forgetting things more often. Roz reminds him of a hair appointment. He is surprised and doesn’t remember making it. Roz breaks into laughter and admits to gaslighting him.

This makes me wonder how much of the audience knows what that is. It also makes me wonder how much of the audience actually enjoys not understanding a cryptic reference (for instance, last episode, when Frasier and Niles were at the furniture store, Niles actually said to the salesman: “Ideally, we’re looking for something with the presence of a Mies van der Rohe and the playful insouciance of an early Le Corbusier.” Yes. Do you think I would have known anything about that stuff without subtitles and Google?)

Anywho, it’s good to see Roz sticking it to Frasier. He’s been an outright bastard for the last few– oh. Nevermind. He’s kind of always a bastard. Move on.

Roz then does it to him again, claiming that it’s her birthday, and Frasier forgets to go back on the air for their final hour.
FDs1e20-03Scene 2: The Short Blonde Man with One Wet Shoe
(It’s been a while since we had an incoherent scene title. I was beginning to worry that you would forget that we are keeping track of that. Dukane and Moss tend to take this category too far for my taste, though, honestly. Usually they choose some excruciatingly inconsequential aspect of the scene and contort it into an obnoxious abuse of English, like a grindcore song title.)
FDs1e20-04Niles and Martin are playing cards at the apartment. Eddie is messing with Niles’ shoe. Martin tells Niles he must scratch Eddie’s ear in order to make him stop. Niles does so, using his kerchief so he doesn’t actually have to touch Eddie.

Frasier enters; asks if it’s alright for him to play the piano. He begins to play Beethoven’s sonata no. 5, Opus 10, until he draws a blank as to how to continue. He tries a few more times. Frustrated, he gives up. Niles and Martin both commiserate with him about growing forgetful in middle age. Frasier, 41 at this point, protests, estimating “middle age” as one’s mid-fifties.
FDs1e20-05Daphne enters from her room and gets her coat on. Niles is giving her a ride to meet some girlfriends for darts and beer. Frasier asks her whether she sees him as a young man or an older man. She refuses to answer. She and Niles exit.
FDs1e20-06Frasier goes to the kitchen for aspirin. Martin joins him. Frasier is unable to read the label on the bottle. Martin points out some of the problems and considerations that become relevant as one grows older, and Frasier is sorry to find that he identifies with them. Martin admonishes against fighting it. He takes out a photo album and shows Frasier a picture of himself in 1974, during his own midlife, uh, crisis. He had dyed his hair black and bought a motorcycle. Frasier hadn’t been aware, because he was at college.

Scene 3: It’s This or an Alfa Romeo
(Incoherent is the only game in town.)
FDs1e20-07Frasier and Martin are at a department store, shopping for clothes. Daphne is also with them, but she is only there to buy underwear for Martin. Martin suggests pants with an elastic waste for Frasier. As Martin exits, shouting at Daphne for picking the wrong kind of underwear, an associate, Carrie, approaches Frasier to help him look around.

Carrie is 22. She estimates Frasier’s age as 34, and they flirt as he goes to the changing room.

Still at the store, Martin enters and approaches the changing room. Frasier tells him about Carrie. Martin immediately points out that Frasier is perpetrating one of the telltale signs of a midlife crisis by considering dating a woman half his age.

Scene 4: Untitled
Frasier is on the air, signing off at the end of his show.
FDs1e20-09Bulldog enters. Carrie enters, carrying a garment bag. Bulldog hits on her four times, then exits. Carrie suggests that Bulldog is compensating for homosexuality. Before Carrie leaves, she asks Frasier out. He is reluctant, citing their age difference. Before she leaves, she makes it clear that the offer is still on the table.

Roz and Bulldog enter. In turn, they both admonish Frasier to seize the.. um, day and that sort of thing and go out with Carrie.
FDs1e20-10Scene 5: Stanley Barrister Must Be Really, Really Rich
(I’m convinced that Moss and Dukane do the titles last, and by that time in the night, they’re exhausted and booze-addled. I must say I never thought I would pine for cliché scene titles. You are worthy opponents, Moss and Dukane!)

Niles and Frasier meet at Café Nervosa. Niles does the chair-dusting gag for the first time since the pilot. Frasier asks Niles about whether he ought to date Carrie. Niles insists that his own opinion is not important. He does ask Frasier to determine whether he is interested in Carrie because he wants to deny his age or because it may develop into a relationship. Frasier says that he is unsure. Niles encourages him to find out, which seems like terrible advice, since he would in effect be– ah, nevermind. We have to get Frasier laid again before the end of the season! You see, just like Niles and Frasier, I am a very unskilled psychiatrist.

Scene 6: I Wonder If That Alfa Romeo Showroom Is Still Open
(Remember what I said about how Anne Flett-Giordano and Chuck Ranberg apply cliché, but it’s done in such a way that the Frasier aesthetic comes through gracefully? That is to say, it’s charming, unassuming, and just a little overt– but the overtness is like a pinch of salt tossed over it. Moss and Dukane, however, instead attempt to accomplish that with the incoherent approach, but they just end up getting too excited. It’s like dumping a whole bottle of water on someone’s head instead of spritzing cool and calming mist on their face with a nozzle. Either that, or they’re actually the masters of the Frasier aesthetic and I happen to not be as much of a fan of its “true” essence as I think I am.)
FDs1e20-14At the department store, Carrie is folding some shirts. Frasier enters and explains that he has been unsure of his motives. She explains likewise. She was afraid that she was only attracted to him as an outlet for issues that she was having with her father. Because of this, she rejects him, and he punches a mannequin on the way out.

Credits vignette:
Daphne folds laundry at the apartment as Eddie stares at her.
The last couple of credits sequences have had pretty tenuous attachments to their respective episodes. I actually kind of dig that. I picture them coming up with it on the fly. Maybe some of them were in the scripts and others weren’t.

Closing thoughts:
As we are now offering these posts within a month of the twentieth anniversary of their original airdates, I notice that it makes us late for the Frasier party, but only in a certain sense.

Obviously, the premise of a blog like this has a few layers. Primarily, there is an ostensible affinity for the show itself– this is what I have in mind when I attempt to turn people on to it. Strangely though, the next layer, a satirical reading bordering on disdain, in the current tradition of the current “Such-and-such reviewed” blogs, is where I take most of the reader interest to be centered. Next, there’s a nerding layer, where we deconstruct things like the habits of specific writers and the show in the context of other prime time programming– technical and cultural stuff. Next, we have some frills, like the series counts (say, this is the first episode yet with a totally clear board– nothing happened at all!), and the scene title criticisms. Some of these types of things we have also stopped doing, such as the (Double cliché!) signifier I used to inject into my own prose, to illustrate how the script had forced me to sink down to its level, or the pejorative use of the verb “exposit” to criticize the writers for spoon-feeding plot elements to us.
FDs1e20-13Anywho, being “late to the party” files under the “technical/cultural” layer for sure. Some observations become decreasingly intuitive over time (like the fluttering minutia in a Robin Williams stand-up performance), but I don’t mind realizing something 20 years after the rest of America did– that’s part of what nostalgia is about, and all such conversations are vulnerable to it.

Here’s an example of what I mean: during this episode, I wondered whether the Frasier crew meant to make fun of the psychological enterprise– or, more specifically, the state of psychology in the 1990’s. (Are you saying, “I realized that in 1994!”? That’s what I mean by me being late to the Frasier party.)

In this episode, Frasier tells Carrie that he practices Jungian psychology. That seems to fit, I suppose, but Frasier constantly reminds us of how carelessly these professional psychiatrist brothers have really learned from their own expertise.
FDs1e20-08Frasier gives good advice, but never takes it, and Niles– well, Niles just gives bad advice. It’s always clear that they are bad examples, but I say again: they’re cartoon characters (you don’t consider Daffy Duck or Wile E. Coyote role models, do you?); rather than placing lit sticks of dynamite in each other’s mouths or pushing each other off of cliffs, they provide a mental slapstick and exist in a perpetual social chaos that somehow renews itself every few seconds as the tinny “laughter” rolls in again.

We may have caught Niles smiling. Would you call this a smile?
FDs1e20-12No? Oh, OK. Good.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
I seriously doubt that Martin would have Daphne locate and select his underwear for him.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
(none)

# of women Frasier has dated:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]
(Sorry, buddy.)

# of women Frasier has slept with:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]
(Real sorry, buddy.)

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:


Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [6]   series cumulative: [6]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [4]   series cumulative: [4]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [7]

Mentions of Maris:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [57]   series cumulative: [7]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]
(I shouldn’t, but I’m letting Frasier off the hook for punching the mannequin. It’s really only because the gang pitched a perfect game. Otherwise, I would have totally busted him on it.)

# of tender pauses:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

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

TV Guide version (© Netflix):Frasier fears senility is just around the corner when he finds himself becoming forgetful about everything from Roz’s name to his favorite songs.
FDs1e20-01

S1 E19: Give Him the Chair!

FDs1e19-02Airdate: March 17, 1994:
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Chuck Ranberg, Anne Flett-Giordano
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
The title of this episode counts as one point in the ‘Dad’s Chair Is Awful’ jokes” category. Even as it ever so cutely refers to executing Martin by electrocution, it also plainly sums up how the episode resolves.

I had remembered the “Dr. Crane” brothers’ disdain for the chair as a bigger part of the show. Not surprisingly, I liked this episode a lot. Only a few separate Frasier episodes really stand out as my favorites (for the most part, I tend to care more about key moments and recurring character traits, hence I keep more track of those in terms of favorites than episodes), but this is one of them.

Give Him the Chair! is the fifth episode written by Chuck Ranberg and Anne Flett-Giordano, making them, as a duo, responsible for more of the Frasier canon (so far) than anyone. This will in fact continue to be the case until the end of season 4. Flett-Giordano also wrote for Kate & Allie and Desperate Housewives (Wow. That’s over three decades of work, when you count her care for our beloved Denied one.) Ranberg also wrote for Desperate Housewives. In the post-Frasier interim, he wrote plays off-Broadway, and she apparently did things that IMDB doesn’t keep track of, like napping or fishing.

Our episode Synopsis:
On the air, Frasier introduces his guest for the second hour, Helmut Bruga, author of The Menopausal Male (why not? Sure). Roz patches Dr. Bruga in, calling from his office at UW. Frasier and Bruga say that they’re mutual fans. Bruga says he often disagrees with Frasier’s analysis of his callers. Although Niles has openly criticized Frasier’s choice to take the “celebrity route” in psychoanalysis since day one, it is only now that I become curious about how consistent this running joke will become: a PhD declaring over the air that Frasier is bad at his job.
FDs1e19-14Frasier begins the interview with a question about the book. Dr. Bruga cuts him off; asks to say hello to Roz. She reciprocates. Frasier goes back to discussing the book, and I pause it to write what will happen next: Bruga interrupts again, speaking directly to Roz. I unpause it, and he does. The third time he interrupts, he asks Roz out to dinner. She is flattered and pleased to receive the attention over the air. She begins to respond affirmatively, but Frasier holds up the book to reveal the author’s picture on the back. Seeing Bruga’s age and looks, Roz interrupts her own train of thought, openly expressing her disappointment, then emits a sour and decisive refusal.

Frasier’s patience has also completely run dry for his guest, so he dismisses him promptly.

Scene 2: Sitting Pretty
(I’m not going to do a scene-title breakdown for these writers, for two reasons. First, they will still be providing a lot of work yet, and secondly, even when they go cliché, cutesy, and/or incoherent, they consistently maintain the Frasier aesthetic– in fact, I’m starting to suspect that they invented it.)

The doorbell rings. Daphne answers the door; it’s Niles. He has come to hide Maris’s birthday gift– an emerald necklace– at the apartment until her birthday.

Daphne looks at the necklace; admires it. Niles offers her to try it on. He helps her; it drops down her shirt. Frasier enters as Daphne retrieves it, comically getting the impression that Niles and Daphne were easing into second base.
FDs1e19-01As Daphne exits, Niles explains the necklace. Frasier still calls Niles out on getting so close to Daphne. I’m a big fan of Frasier’s general disapproval for Niles’ benign but perpetual involuntary indiscretions– hence our slogan, “NILES!”

Martin and Eddie enter. Niles explains the necklace again. Martin begins to repair a tear in his chair with duct tape. Frasier pleads with Martin to replace the chair entirely. Martin of course favors it because it’s comfortable and reliable.
FDs1e19-04Martin exits. Frasier and Niles discuss the issue. Niles suggests that Frasier be more firm, since it is his place. Frasier is concerned for Martin’s feelings. Niles persists, attempting a psychoanalysis “if he may.” For this, Frasier actually lies on the couch, but Niles doesn’t acknowledge any sense that it’s tongue-in-cheek. Come to think of it, as far as I remember, Niles has never once displayed a sense of humor. Frasier does make jokes, but only for the sake of looking down on someone. Hey, wait a minute– this seems too crazy, but I never even remember seeing Niles smile (OK. Now it’s our quest to catch Niles smiling).
FDs1e19-05Anywho, Niles points out, incorrectly, that Martin needed the chair to transition to his life at the apartment. Frasier is receptive, and he plans to throw the chair away and replace it.

Scene 3: Good Vibrations
(3/4 cliché; 1/4 cutesy. But it makes me thirsty.)

Frasier and Niles are at a furniture showroom. They’re both still wearing their suits from work. I guess it wouldn’t be Frasier if they had put on casual clothes for anything other than a tennis match or bedtime. Speaking of the Crane brothers’ trademark snoot, Niles is so vocal about his disdain for every sort of recliner that it sounds like some bizarre kind of compensation for a repressed leather fetish or something.

They regard the furniture like carcasses and treat the salesman like an idiot. He invites Niles to try a vibrating chair. He is hesitant, but sits, and when the salesman switches the chair on, Niles briefly but utterly loses verbal control in his ecstasy. Frasier tries it too, completing the gag with his own immediate conversion to unselfconsciously indulgent gibberish.
FDs1e19-06FDs1e19-07Scene 4: Untitled
At the apartment, Eddie is barking and growling at the space where Martin’s chair used to be. Frasier asks Daphne what is wrong. Daphne surmises that in the absence of the chair, Eddie thinks Martin has gone. Isn’t Frasier the psychiatrist (Oh. Daphne is psychic, though). Frasier assures Eddie that any situation with a missing Martin would also entail a missing Eddie.

The doorbell rings. It’s Pearl Jam, delivering the new chair. Daphne asks him to check on a leaky faucet in the kitchen. As he does, Frasier asks Daphne to try the chair. He plugs it in; turns it on. After Daphne makes 40% of the episode’s sex jokes involving the massage feature, Martin enters. The apartment, that is. Frasier presents the chair to Martin, who immediately asks where his chair is. Frasier explains that it’s in storage. Martin shakes his head. Frasier has him sit to try the new chair. Martin is the last cast member to force a massage chair sex joke.
FDs1e19-09FDs1e19-10Martin stands and names 11 reasons why he doesn’t like it. Curiously enough, none of them have to do with its “chairgasm” mode. Frasier calls Pearl Jam back in and asks for the old chair from storage, but Pearl Jam reports that instead of storing it, he put the chair by the dumpster.
FDs1e19-08They have another couple of those arbitrary “funny that someone is stupid” jokes of which I have never seen the appeal and Frasier releases Pearl Jam into the night to find the chair.

Daphne exits. Frasier and Martin immediately escalate to tense and angry. Martin carefully unpacks the tender pause, explaining that the chair was the only thing in the whole apartment that made him comfortable.

Frasier goes batty, shouting as he soils the still plugged-in leather chair with food and beer, finally shaking Eddie over it and tossing him onto it.

You know how the comic violence of Home Alone is horrifying with the right atmosphere? This is that: If the audience weren’t persistent in delivering a cushion of bland laughter like a handball volley throughout this portion of the scene, you would get a proper sense of how off-the-handle this display really is. Truthfully, I recommend mute with subtitles for it. This is the epitome of what it means to Frasier-Deny: his behavior here is anything but funny.

However, Martin ignores Frasier’s psychopathic tantrum entirely and promptly and methodically pulls back on the tender pause catapult, ratcheting the tension progressively higher as he explains that he sat in his old chair when he watched Neil Armstrong hop on the moon, when he watched the U.S. hockey team take the 1980 Olympics, and when he got the phone call announcing his grandson’s birth (I would have just called him Frederick, but Frasier doesn’t see his son often enough for me to assume that you would know him by his first name).

With the tender pause set at near maximum, Martin gives it a final torque, explaining that he was also sitting in that very chair when Mrs. Crane used to wake him with a kiss every night. Then, (are you ready? Clench your buttocks!) he explains that he sometimes wakes up still expecting her to wake him with a kiss, temporarily blinding us with Frasier‘s most tender of tender pauses yet. (I tried to warn you. You’re not supposed to look directly into it.)

Better still, the fallout just lingers, as Maritn exits to bed, leaving Frasier mute and hapless, and there isn’t any comic relief before the quick fade to black.

Scene 5: Untitled
At the KACL control room, Roz asks Frasier how his weekend was. He replies “hellish,” and she says “Great!” and tells him about hers, finally repaying him for doing the same to her in episode 17. I’m glad that these writers chose to redeem themselves for that scene. I shall naively assume that they planned it this way all along.

Roz explains that on her way home from a hot date, her car broke down outside a church, and she now has a date with the minister. As we’ve discussed before, we’re already aware that Roz is considered a part of the family, but her motives don’t really have much more depth than Bulldog’s yet.
FDs1e19-03They go on the air. Frasier explains to the listeners that the chair is missing and describes it. He offers a reward for its return. Later in the show, on commercial break, someone calls with the chair’s location.

Scene 6: Best Seat in the House
(Equal near-fatal doses of cliché and the Frasier aesthetic, which, of course, entirely neutralize as room temperature water vapor.)

At a junior high school theatre, a group of students are warming up for rehearsal. Martin’s chair is on the stage. Frasier enters and tries to speak to the drama teacher about the chair. The students, including a young Luanne– I mean Brittany Murphy– keep getting the teacher’s attention before she can respond. In a quick pep talk, the teacher exposits that it’s opening night and 45 minutes to curtain.
FDs1e19-12Frasier announces that he was in the play himself; recites a monologue. The teacher isn’t moved. Frasier introduces himself and waits to indulge in her recognition. She offers none of that either. He sighs mildly and explains that he has come for the chair. She refuses, making us wonder who heard the show, spotted the chair, and called in about it.

The teacher tells Frasier he can have the chair back in two weeks, after the play’s run. He offers her $200. She refuses again. Frasier rapidly explains that the chair is his only hope to reconcile with Martin. One of the students suddenly gets a stomach flu– it’s the student playing the part that Frasier played, you see. Do you want me to spend time explaining the next part, or–? OK. The teacher offers Frasier the chair in exchange for his filling in for that part.

Cut to the curtain call. Frasier is bowing along with the students in the cast.
FDs1e19-13
Credits vignette:
Frasier covers the chair with a blanket. Martin enters, removes the blanket, and sits.

Closing thoughts:
Give Him the Chair! is the second of four episode titles in the series to include an exclamation point. One of them– Liar! Liar! (S4E10)– is also by this writing duo.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Frasier really shouldn’t have replaced the chair without talking with Martin about it.
FDs1e19-11Continuity errors or anachronism:
Neither Helmut Burga calling in as a guest on the show from right across town or Niles going to Frasier’s place to hide Maris’ birthday gift have any good reason to happen other than to make gags possible.

What junior high school runs a production for two weeks? And what junior high drama teacher would even hesitate to take two-hundred bucks for Martin’s cruddy chair?

# of women Frasier has dated:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]

# of women Frasier has slept with:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [1]
Now I’m beginning to wonder whether Frasier beds anyone other than his ex-wife during the first season.

# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone:

Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [6]

# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone:

Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [4]

# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes:

Episode: [6]   previous cumulative: [5]   series cumulative: [11]

# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [7]   series cumulative: [7]

Mentions of Maris:
Episode: [7]   previous cumulative: [50]   series cumulative: [57]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:

Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [11]
(If you want me to ignore the fact that Frasier behaves like a psychopath when he tosses snack foods and beer all over the leather massage chair, then shakes Eddie over it, I simply can’t help you.)

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [11]

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

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Tired of their father’s tacky plaid armchair, Frasier and Niles buy a new, modern one and put Martin’s chair in storage.”