Season 1: Special Features

I, CraneMore like “Frasier Divine,” am I right? (No. –FD) The pictures in this post are screenshots that weren’t used in the reviews, so they’re our very own deleted scenes! I’m going to be really informal about this. I haven’t made any preparations.
FDs1e22-not used3This is the day that we show up in jeans. This is when we host the show on Christmas day. This is when we pour the champagne down the sink and open a can of Rainier. It’s been quite a year, Frasier! Why don’t we just turn things upside-down and start with the counters? Alright.

Counters as of end of Season 1:
# of women Frasier has dated: 3
# of women Frasier has slept with: 1
# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone: 10
# of actual references to Roz sleeping with someone: 4
# of “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes: 11
# of times Frasier shouts “NILES!”: 13
Mentions of Maris: 69 (Seriously, how comfortable is everyone with the proximity of that name and that number?)
# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies: 16
# of tender pauses: 12

I was a little impressed to find the Frasier crew exercising far more restraint than I’d remembered when it comes to “Dad’s chair is awful” jokes, jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone, and even the telltale tender pause. That was in fact the reason that I picked all of these categories– I expected to be racking up points like crazy, hence demonstrating how out of control this tan-clad space wagon really is.
FDs1e22-not used2That’s OK. Frasier more than made up for it by scoring a lot more points for mental illness– especially for acting like a sociopath– than I’d remembered. And just think of how many outbursts go unreported: Frasier’s also a neglectful father, he has poor impulse control, he’s rude to absolutely everyone, he’s a hater of animals, and he treats attractive women like shiny objects.
FDs1e21-not usedWhich is all just fine. It’s not as if we started this out determined to unlock the virtue and valor of the great Dr. Crane. Well, certainly not this early in the game anyway.

I started this retrospective year-in-TV typing these during the work day on the 24th floor in downtown Seattle, from which I managed multiple locations for an insurance company, and I’m ending it typing in the evenings on a borrowed Mac with a granite island-counter top as a desk with a view of the planes landing at the Portland (Maine) Jetport. In that time, I also graduated from Droid Eris to McPhone, watched all of Breaking Bad and the Office finale, and saw the Grand Canyon. Hmm. I did a hell of a lot more than Frasier did.
FDs1e22-not usedSpeaking of which, I guess we should discuss what he did, long as we’re here. (*looks through notes; frowns) Well, folks, I don’t know what to tell you. (*rereads the Frasier Denied ‘About’ page) Oh, that’s right! This show is about Niles and Daphne. OK. Heh.
FDs1e14-08unusedNow, obviously, when I say “about,” I don’t mean that they have the majority of screen time. Not at all. However, the story that Frasier has in it is their story. Frasier Crane doesn’t have any story. He has a past and he has a day-to-day. Everything else is personality contorting into slightly different shapes for our endearment, amusement, disdain, etc.

This may in fact be something that I have harped on just a little, so let that be a stated goal: In season 2, we’ll find other things to fix these conflicted, shameful emotions on. We’ll dig deeper! (Don’t hold your breath on me stopping calling you Niles, though.)
FD s01e23-15 not usedThe other thing that I probably mention far too often is how the show operates like a cartoon. You know how some movies “are” comic books– even some that aren’t actually comic book adaptations? It’s that. However, one huge breakthrough (maybe) fell through my sky lights just this week: Are all sitcoms cartoons? Pick one at random. I don’t think I have a clue on how to trace some sort of genealogy of realistic vs. surreal sitcomery, but we can briefly dabble. Your randomly picked sitcom will rate somewhere between Growing Pains and Third Rock from the Sun. These seem to establish some decent, rough goal posts for our analysis (the former being a straightforward, realistic universe; the latter, total fiction. You could also do, say, The Cosby Show and Small Wonder.)

In between them, though, you have hundreds of shows. Hundreds! I’m afraid I’m not sure if all of them could get assigned a spot on some tidy scale measuring their “cartoon pH.” What show would be at the center? What show is exactly 50% realistic and 50% cartoon? The world may never know.

***

Hey. Wait. Wow! That was so cute just then, how we both simultaneously thought that perhaps the Omni-Sitcomical Mid-Point of perfect balance between realism and fantasy in all of Sitcomdom would be Frasier! I could have simply ended with that Tootsie Pop tagline and reposted this picture:

Moi?

Moi?

But…. that would be a matter of taste within a gray area that would most likely encompass 80% or so of all prime time comedy since 1970 (and don’t forget dream sequences, oriental-ish mysticism and trendy tropes like the “amnesia head bump,” or seasonal supernatural injections on Halloween and Christmas).

I mean, as I sit here in Netflix town, in the state of tweet, nestled in the nation of google on web planet under the noon David Hyde Pierce, the phrase “jump the shark” seems to have gone out, in, and out of use again since Fonzy shook off his water skis. It can still mean the moment when a reasonably realistic narrative goes distinctly and utterly to fantasy in a way that completely clashes with the voice of the show, the moment when an intrinsic ongoing condition of the characters’ lives forever changes (births, deaths, weddings, changes of setting, lottery winnings), or just a sea change in the show’s voice itself, undergone in such a way that fails to carry the mojo.
s01 e24 not used‘Jumping the shark’ is a great segue from the ‘realistic-vs.-cartoon’ discussion and some closing remarks on the arc of Frasier (are they still doing the Smithsonian exhibit on the arc of Frasier?) To wrap up our coverage on the former, the cartoon surrealism in our beloved Dr. Crane’s show has almost nothing to do with story. Even when Daphne psychically senses Lilith’s approach to the west coast, it’s not as if the gang has to hide Lilith’s cut from a heist or protect Daphne’s unborn child from Lilith’s… foul plans to… teach him in the ways of Lilith or something– it’s just for a gag. Other than that, Eddie is obviously a professionally trained dog, and Frasier usually gets away with borderline criminal social behavior. As I’ve said before, Perfect Strangers was much more liberal, and completely unapologetic, about wildly unrealistic phenomena coming and going (and I love every bit of it).

To be sure (this statement being adorned with a promise to not harp on it in the second season), Frasier‘s surrealism is in the nutty, unpredictable social relations between Frasier and everybody.
s01 e24 not used2Finally, Niles and Daphne. In this season, we met them both, Niles felt an immediate glow at the sight of her (which, surely, Daphne also felt– she’s merely been more professional about it all along), Niles confessed to Frasier, Martin acknowledged that he’s aware of it, and Frasier yelled at Daphne about it in a fit of rage. This is as far as it has come.

I am honestly unsure whether the creators had Niles and Daphne’s relationship in the outline at the start or that’s just where gravity took the permanent focus. Part of what makes it hard to tell is how straight Jane Leeves plays Daphne. She has a perpetual dignity, sincerity and temperance that allow her to voice passionate emotions or decisive intentions most effectively without raising her voice– importantly, it also affords her a comic subtlety through which she has probably saved more scenes than any other character.
s01-sf 01I mean, can you imagine this show without Daphne? It would just be a couple of nuts arguing about whether white wine is better than a Pepsi at Denny’s (LOL! People think differently! Ha ha!) and coffee shop conversations about how psychiatric patients are such a drain on one’s own sanity (ROFL! Sick people talk funny!)– Do you think Frasier would have made it past this point without her?
fd s01e02 unused

S1 E24: My Coffee with Niles

Airdate: May 19, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: David Angell, Peter Casey
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
It is done! A season in the can.
s01 e24-00

It’s a perfect time to Deny us on Facebook.

Please welcome The Blogsby Show to the Blogroll! It looks like they’ve been cranking them out for a while, so there is plenty of good reading to do over there.

It has been so terrific to see that we’re gathering some more readers lately. I hope you are enjoying the nostalgia and earth tones as much as I am. Strictly speaking, I hope you’re enjoying that part of it more than I am. I’m sort of your Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, here to demonstrate that though Dr. Frasier Crane is charming and animated and seemingly beckons from within you at times, his example will only lead your soul to fits of anger and unintended chastity.

Our episode Synopsis:

Act 1:

At Café Nervosa, Niles is on his super futuristic cell phone giving driving directions to Maris. As he finishes the call, Frasier enters. Niles explains that he was in fact giving Maris directions to her own living room from the kitchen. This doubles as a joke about how big the house is and a joke about her intelligence.

I have noticed that Niles regularly delivers jokes about how odd or unlikeable Maris is, while himself not seeing those traits for what they are, but you know that Tom & Jerry brush we’ve been painting over the cast and script a little more liberally than usual lately? Actually, I’d rather compare this to Bugs Bunny speaking into the camera. A joke like this is clearly intended as something that the writer presents directly to us because they like their joke, not as something that one character says to another about their world.

This would not be the case if Niles were someone who regularly makes wisecracks about his wife (or about anything for that matter). I’ll allow more than enough room for an interpretation that a) Niles is a supremely coy comedian who has dedicated his entire social life to the driest humor imaginable without ever “breaking” (that is, laughing or in any way letting on that it’s in fun); or b) He’s an unhappy spouse with a not-so-subtle subconscious defense mechanism of painting his better half in an unfavorable light every time he speaks of her.

To elaborate further on my personal take, though, it seems that Maris, the unseen character, is where the Frasier crew apply the least sticky patches in the fourth wall. OK, OK– we won’t wonk on this all day, but look: Daphne truly being a psychic (which she is– there’s no wink there) is a fantasy flourish that makes the fiction more entertaining. Niles’ descriptions of Maris are that with a little something else added. I know what you’re thinking: Frasier perpetually delivers condescending jokes as if no one were in the room with him– you’re right, but that’s different. Frasier isn’t stepping outside of his identity as a character amid the continuity of his own universe when he does so– he merely enjoys framing insults that way.

There are no free tables at the café. Niles explains that there is a party that has already paid, and he has been giving them stern looks for five minutes. Frasier asks for a demonstration of the look; he isn’t impressed.

They decide to order. The barista tells them that the coffees of the day are Zimbabwe and Kenya. Frasier orders a Zimbabwe latte and Niles orders a Kenya cappuccino. Frasier explains that it’s now a year since he moved from Boston. Their coffees come up. Frasier apologizes to the barista for forgetting to order decaf. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld when they spent the whole show waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant? (It’s S2 E11.) This begins to feel like that. It’s an approach that reminds me of a play. It also reminds me of a clip show, probably only because it’s the kind of format that tends to be appropriated for the short, usually contrived-sounding conversations that cement the clips together. Anyway, it also has a decidedly Frasier kind of tone to it, in general, so it fits.

Frasier and Niles decide to look for a seat on the patio outside. They exit through the door that is usually used to get in and out of the café (in fact, I am almost sure that it has been shown from the outside as a door to the street. I’ll meet you under the Continuity Errors heading with a final answer.) (Edit: Nope. The street part was in my imagination). A table has just opened up. Niles grabs a napkin and cleans his chair with great care. Frasier calls him out on it, forcing me to ring Niles up for OCD.
s01 e24-01Niles asks Frasier whether he is happy. Frasier is hesitant, and it gets kind of too serious too quickly as he realizes that he most certainly isn’t. Then, the comic relief, according to the audience, is when Niles outright admits that he is not happy.

Since Frasier is evidently so totally unsatisfied with life, it makes you wonder how he even keeps it together. Well, you know how? Do you? Denial. And that is what we are here for.

Frasier asks Niles why he isn’t happy. Niles explains that he saw a poor child from a third world country receiving shoes from the Salvation Army on PBS earlier that week. The child’s face grew bright with true happiness, and Niles describes this as something that he has never felt.

He takes account of his good fortune and begins to talk his way through convincing himself that he really loves Maris (Niles, not the poor child on PBS).

Roz enters. She is meeting a date. She burns Niles with a couple of quips and exits. Niles asks Frasier if he’s ever thought about mating with Roz. The barista brings Frasier’s coffee. He sends her back with it for non-fat milk. It begins to rain; Frasier and Niles rush inside. They notice Roz’s date, and they both admire his looks.

Martin, Daphne, and Eddie enter. The barista tells Martin that dogs aren’t allowed in the café. Martin pretends to be blind, and she apologizes. The entire cast is now at the café (unless you count Bulldog. I guess we have to count Bulldog). Daphne explains that they were out exercising. Martin is really pissed about the rain.

Frasier and Martin strike up an immediate shouting match about toast. The barista comes to the table with Frasier’s third draft of a coffee. He sends her back for another one, requesting that she omit the cinnamon.

Frasier and Martin keep fighting. Frasier says that they have this sort of flare-up once in a while, but Martin decides to move out. He storms out of the café.

Does anyone want me to make some cutesy joke about an intermission? No? Anyone in the back? No? Gah. I love you guys. Here we go!

Act 2:
Frasier exits the bathroom. Niles has explained to Daphne that Frasier and Martin are having a fight. Daphne mentions that Martin has been impatient with her lately too (I guess this means that they aren’t taking Martin’s threat to move out seriously).

Daphne exits. Niles gestures to the barista to remind her about Frasier’s coffee. Niles tells Frasier that Martin is reacting to his own gradual loss of control, especially since he used to be a policeman. Frasier tells of a recent night when he fell asleep on the couch and when he awoke, Martin was regarding him with paternal affection and stroking his hair. Martin covered for it by telling Frasier to get a damn haircut, of course, but it was important to Frasier. Niles is also endeared by hearing of it.

The barista returns for the fourth time and gives Niles a refill. She reports, however, that at this point in the delicate and elaborate operation of providing Frasier’s coffee, she has deferred to a “team of specialists.” You see– this is the sort of joke that Niles tells about Maris.

Niles smiles.

***

I don’t think you heard me.

NILES SMILES.
s01 e24-03On this, the season finale, in response to Frasier’s suffering at the hands of a barista he has abused, Niles finally smiles for the first time. Also, I finally have a picture for that spot over my bed.

On this, the season finale, in response to Frasier’s suffering at the hands of a barista he has abused, Niles finally turns his lips upward.

Frasier suggests that they change the subject. He outright asks whether Niles is in love with Daphne. After some brief and unconvincing waffling, Niles responds in the affirmative. He describes how alive she makes him feel. Frasier asks if he plans to leave Maris. Niles says he doesn’t, but, as we’ve always known, he simply wants to be with Daphne. They turn the conversation back to the question of whether Frasier is happy. Roz interrupts them, bemoaning her failed date. The man she was meeting was trying to win her for his religion. She exits.
fd-s1e24-04ishFrasier laments his lackluster social life. (No kidding. You’ll see from our handy-dandy counter below that he has only slept with one woman this whole year– and she was his ex-wife! (Um. But of course, wait ’til your married, eat your vegetables, and obey all posted speed limits –FD) Frasier then uses “moving in with Frederick” as a sort of ad absurdum illustration of the worst possible outcome. Now, hmm. Clearly he is comparing himself to Martin, but Christ on a toenail, Dr. Crane, your son is still what? Ten? Is there no bottom to the inky well of your narcissism?

Niles asks his question again. Martin interrupts this time, entering the café and looking penitent. He apologizes for acting so mean lately and taking his frustrations out on them. Frasier forgives him. He follows up, asking what’s been on Martin’s mind. Martin reveals that his birthday was the previous Sunday. Holy. Crap.

They offer to take him out to dinner at the restaurant of his choice. He names an especially Martin kind of restaurant, with free motor oil ice cream floats with every corn dog or whatever. They overcompensate pretending that they don’t consider the very thought of it perfectly dreadful, and it’s actually really endearing.

Daphne returns. She had a psychic flash that told her that Martin had returned to the café. Niles gets up to give Martin, Daphne, and Eddie a ride home. They all exit. The barista comes to the table to give Frasier his non-fat decaf Zimbabwe, no cinnamon.

With inflection that refers to the beverage but words that allow us to hear Frasier’s response to the cozy assurance that he and his father are at peace and Niles is being honest with himself about the direction his life is taking and the whole gang has a loving bond (except for Frederick– forget about him), she asks Frasier whether he is happy.

There is a tender pause, and Frasier responds in the affirmative. He sips his coffee and smiles.

Credits vignette:
Frasier drinks his coffee and discovers something in the bottom of the cup. He signals for the barista, who comes and collects his coffee again.

End Theme Closing: (remember those?)
“See you next year! We love ya!”

Closing thoughts:
Following this finale, aired on May 19, 1994, the fall season would bring us the premier of Friends (quadruple robot clap). I wonder if Frasier’s and Niles’ coffee dates at Café Nervosa inspired the permanent hang-out that the six Friends characters would make of Central Perk (I’m going to wrongfully assume that it did). It’s kind of like when you were a young Soundgarden fan and someone introduced you to Black Sabbath. That’s basically what I’m saying: Frasier is the Black Sabbath to Friends’ Soundgarden. (I’m sorry I make everything about Sabbath. I am.)

You know what this show has almost none of? Events without dialogue. I’m sure you can think of a moment from another sitcom (or at least remember it in general, like I do) when someone does something and, say, the audience gives a knowing, “uh-oh” type gasp. That never happens on this show.

You will notice how I will write about it every time there is almost a brief silence for whatever reason– it’s that rare (although, I may simply be perpetually jumping the gun for it. as of now, tender pauses average once every other episode). However, a few seconds with not only silence but an actual deliberate movement by one of the characters to put a story point in place has never once happened. Perhaps it simply doesn’t fit the personality and cadence of Frasier. (What brought this to my attention was the low incidence of screenshots without subtitles in them. I guess now that we’ve gotten our Niles smile, we can make this our next holy Frasier grail.)

It also occurred to me during this episode that perhaps the hyperbole in some of the jokes and character behaviors/thought processes, etc. is in place to emphasize that not only are these not real people, but they aren’t even hypothetical role models. Frasier’s living so far away from his son Frederick and Niles staying in a bad marriage while in love with someone else come to mind. You can’t swing a wet cat without finding more examples, though. (The brothers also forgot their father’s birthday, remember? Martin also pretends to be blind, etc.)

I tend to call this show a cartoon in something of a disdainful, almost smug sort of way (that’s the voice that these sort of projects require, you see. It’s 11 marathons, not a  sprint. You have to either be very stingy with your approval or have an explicitly stated mission that serves some kind of niche wonk (and I mean that in a totally professional, non-sexual way).

But maybe the surreal tone and social minutia are what give Frasier such wide appeal (I’ve probably given that whole speech before. Oh well. If I can’t remember it, you shouldn’t).

When I think about Friends, it’s sheer brain candy. Frasier hasn’t an ounce more substance, but its structure– the look, language, and rhythm– is crafted so carefully to carry the lasting impression of temperance and sophistication. It’s brain candy in a really, really snazzy foil that you flatten out and use as a bookmark.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
This episode hardly had any conflicts at all. It was more of a post-season debriefing, a few mission statements, and a short scare about Martin moving out. Hey, wait– maybe it’s right there: Martin threatening to move out because… nah. False alarm. It wasn’t tortured logic, just unusually emotional and overstated.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
Niles remembers who Roz is again.

Roz hates Niles.

Martin, an elderly man who has lived in Seattle his whole life, takes time to be outwardly angry about rain.

Martin and Daphne talk about “Third Street” and “Fourth Street.” They are avenues.

BONUS: In Frasier’s request to hear what the “coffees of the day” are, there is an obvious effort to justify the inconsistency of the coffee orders that Frasier and Niles have been making at Nervosa. Of course that doesn’t warrant a retraction of our specific objections, but my! That is so well-played.

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

# 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: [1]   previous cumulative: [12]   series cumulative: [13]

Mentions of Maris:
Episode: [8]   previous cumulative: [61]   series cumulative: [69]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [15]   series cumulative: [16]
(Niles, at his meticulous chair-wiping again. I tried to look the other way– you know it to be true!– but Frasier wouldn’t have it.)

# of tender pauses:

[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [12]

“Kind of a great TV moment” moments:
Eddie and Martin sitting with Frasier and Niles at the café.

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

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Over coffee at Café Nervosa, Niles poses an interesting question: After a year in Seattle, is Frasier happy?”
s01 e24-02

S1 E23: Frasier Crane’s Day Off

FD s01e23-00Airdate: May 12, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Chuck Ranberg, Anne Flett-Giordano
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:

Well, folks, welcome to the penultimate Denial of the first season. We know we’re in good hands with these writers, and I like how the title is oddly similar to our name.

This is a pretty strong episode. It’s not as high on my list as the “outing” -themed episodes, but the novelty of Frasier having to stay out of work (and getting hopped up on goof pills) definitely does its rating some good.

Say, if you want to, do facebook things to us! We’re on it and such, Niles!

Our episode Synopsis:
Open at KACL, with an overt cartoon moment: The caller on the line (voice-over by Steve Young) has just crashed his car because Frasier has told him to close his eyes and picture himself on a tropical island. That is straight up Tom & Jerry. I am glad that the Frasier crew continues to shovel forth evidence in favor of my steadfast claim that the show is live action disguised as a cartoon. While Frasier is still on the air, Gil Chesterton, host of the station’s food show, enters the booth. Frasier sneezes on the air, then signs off.
FD s01e23-01Gil mentions that Frasier was coughing earlier in the broadcast; gives Frasier some chicken soup in hopes that he’ll feel better. Frasier keeps coughing and sniffling. Gil offers to fill in on Frasier’s time slot if he needs to take some time off.

Frasier is suspicious of Gil’s generosity and resolves to avoid taking any sick time so that Gil doesn’t end up stealing the Frasier Crane Show time slot. Roz reminds Frasier that in order to influence the schedule, one usually sucks up to the station manager.

Scene 2: Spring Is in the Air
In the morning at the apartment, Daphne and Martin are reading the newspaper. Frasier emerges from his bedroom, clearly still suffering his flu symptoms. He starts to head off to work.
FD s01e23-02Daphne suggests he stay home and recover; Martin agrees. Frasier exits anyway. Three seconds later, he rings the doorbell. Daphne answers it. Frasier whines loudly that he is sick. Ladies and gentleman, Frasier will be staying in the building.

Scene 3: Frasier Crane’s Day Off
(It really would have been something if all of the scene titles were made to sound like titles in old British books. I don’t know why the show’s voice is so jarringly inconsistent in this area. Anyway, this title is certainly no Hole in the Head Gang, but I really do like it. It’s simple and somehow kind of grand sounding.)

At KACL, Gil is filling in for Frasier. He has scored a caller (v.o. by Garry Trudeau) a table at an exclusive restaurant to make up for forgetting his ten year anniversary.

Cut to Frasier listening at home. He is laid up in bed, surrounded by pillows, tissues, and newspapers. Martin is seated, reading the paper. Daphne takes Frasier’s temperature. It’s 101°. She suggests Frasier try some homeopathic tea; he refuses. Martin keeps telling stories about his worst bouts of sickness throughout his life. He exits.
FD s01e23-03 not usedAs Daphne goes to get Frasier some ginger ale, Niles enters. He puts his handkerchief over his mouth when he speaks to Frasier. The phone rings; Niles answers it. He has forgotten again who Roz is. Frasier takes the phone. Roz tells him that Gil is indeed trying for their time slot– he’s been telling the station manager that the slot is perfect for the food show, since listeners are making dinner plans. Frasier promises to come into work the next day.

Niles dabs his hands with rubbing alcohol after touching Frasier’s forehead. Frasier yells at him; asks whether he would do the show. Niles refuses. Frasier baits him with reverse psychology. Niles calls him out on that, but he agrees anyway.

(transcription pilfered from kacl780.net)

(transcription pilfered from kacl780.net)

Scene 4: Untitled
At the station, Roz is finishing up showing Niles how to operate things in the booth.
FD s01e23-07Niles’ first caller, Marcia (the internet doesn’t know who did her voice-over), is in love with her brother in law. Niles approaches the issue by making detailed references to the history of psychology, comparing different schools of thought.
FD s01e23-08Frasier, listening at home, responds with child-like amusement, saying that Niles is terrible at it. Daphne reads the thermometer; reports that Frasier’s temperature has gone up to 103°. He makes many dainty requests of Daphne. At this point, he has asked for:

chipped ice for the ginger ale, a bendy straw, low-sodium saltines, toast with the crust cut off, tissues with a drop of moisturizer between the two-ply sheets, rose petals for the humidifier, and a second round of fresh rose petals for the humidifier.

Daphne is compliant, but her patience is obviously wearing thin. She exits.

Scene 5: Untitled
Niles is closing the show. He has counseled callers Lois and Howard (v.o.’s by Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence) into saying that they love each other over the air. Given whatever the content of the call was, it’s apparently a big moment– Roz, Niles, and (listening at home) Martin and Daphne all cheer. Frasier is crestfallen, though, which is ridiculous, because the reason Niles is filling in on his show is to keep its good name in the eyes of the station higher-ups, which is better accomplished the better the job Niles does hosting the show.

Martin actually makes that call, telling Frasier that the fever is keeping him from thinking straight. Frasier insists that he’s actually more lucid than usual and gets out of bed, intending to go the station and “reclaim”– I don’t know what. Martin easily pushes Frasier back into bed.

Scene 6: I Go to Pieces
(I thought we’d found our scene title heroes, you know? I won’t make that mistake again.)

(Edit: OK, OK. Given the content of this scene, the title now makes me laugh every time I see it.)

Frasier, feeling better and back on the air, thanks Niles and Gil for their help while he was gone. Standing right outside the booth in the hall, they both wave. Frasier then explodes like a hand grenade. Holy cripes– talk about Tom & Jerry!

A sick, bedraggled Frasier wakes from his dream; repeatedly yells Daphne’s name. She runs to his bedside; assures him that it’s just the fever spooking his brain.
FD s01e23-10He writes a couple of highly habit-forming prescriptions for her to fetch at the drug store for him. He gets up again, preparing to go down to the station so he can stop everyone from plotting against him and such.
FD s01e23-11Daphne finally loses her patience and tells Frasier off at length. He lets her finish, then, unfazed, tells her to get the pills.

Scene 7: Radio Daze
(This title rates exactly average– a C-grade. Strictly speaking, it’s a pun, so I’m not doing my job if I don’t call it cutesy. I’m sorry, but that’s the law. You folks drive carefully, and enjoy your evening.)

Frasier stumbles down the hall at KACL. He looks like he’s high. Gil says hello. He’s surprised that Frasier is on his feet. Frasier discloses that he is high. He has in fact ingested some of his illegally obtained pills. (That’s actually committing two crimes, isn’t it? As the one writing the prescription and as the one filling it?)
FD s01e23-12Niles is closing another successful call as Frasier walks into the booth. Roz reacts with surprise and distaste at the sight of him. Niles turns to see Frasier. Roz cuts to commercial.

Roz and Niles attempt to reason with Frasier, who is more than a little buzzed. He pretends to acquiesce, and as they leave the booth to find someone to drive him home, he hurriedly pushes them out, then locks both the booth and control room doors.

So. Just to review, Frasier is going to sabotage his show at a time when he actually needs it to perform as well as it possibly can.
FD s01e23-14not usedRoz calls security. Frasier runs to the microphone; goes live on the air. He hangs up on two callers right away, then begins trying to advise a third, when two security guards come into the booth and wheel him away. Niles goes to the microphone; tries to cover by telling the audience that Frasier’s stupefied stint on the air was actually a scripted PSA about overmedication.
FD s01e23-13Scene 7: Untitled
Frasier awakens in a terror. He yells Daphne’s name. She enters; he tells her that he dreamt about going to the station. She agrees that it was a dream and tells him to go back to sleep. Martin asks Daphne why she lied. She tells him she would rather explain the hard truth to Frasier when the effects of the drugs have worn off, so that it will hurt more.

Credits vignette:
Frasier speaks for a while on the air. The camera pans over to the control room, and Eddie is sitting in the producer’s chair with headphones on. It’s Roz’s dream, we find out as she wakes up.

Closing thoughts:
Frasier Crane’s Day Off is a tremendous episode, I must say. There’s so much novelty here: Frasier spending time in his bedroom, Frasier meekly demanding care from Daphne like a 6-year-old Liberace, Niles hosting the show, Frasier getting unabashedly bombed out of his mind. I would really be surprised if this episode gets bumped out of the top ten, ever.

One broader point about the show that I was delighted to discover is that Niles and Roz are both filling in vast amounts of sense and texture in the “person” of their characters. In Roz’s case, there are a few times that she takes a split second to emote in a very real way (usually in reaction to something unspeakable that Frasier is doing)– this increases our favor and empathy for her and deepens our general experience of this crazy cartoon.

As for Niles, when this season started (and with it the series), he seemed to me a pent-up, almost weaselly kind of snob of a two-dimensional man– far from likable in any real sense. His contributions onscreen have always been enjoyable, but only as those of a character. Over time, he has revealed things like his love for Daphne and vulnerabilities about various things– more than just an aloof demeanor and a snooty taste for fine wine and wares– and that has improved things. Here, though, we’re getting further still. Some real humanity is showing through. He regards his sick brother with conflicted compassion; he humbly tries his hand at the nuances of radio broadcasting (Niles’ fill-in for Frasier’s familiar “I’m listening” is “Let’s get better,” and after he improvises it, when he is delighted with surprising himself, it’s my favorite Niles moment yet). Until now, even his helpless surrender to the fleeting, tacit intimacies building with Daphne have fallen short of filling in the “human” gaps that usually puncture a mere character. For the first time, I genuinely like this guy.

***

In real life, I’m watching House of Cards, and that’s about it for TV shows. I set aside 6 hours a week for this and my other strictly social media/comedy stuff (which always turns into about 10), and– actually, you know what? I was going to say something like “I hardly ever watch or read fiction anyway, so..” but that’s B.S.: we just finished the latest (latest streaming, that is) ..Always Sunny.. and New Girl seasons, and Mad Men and Orange Is the New Black haven’t started yet.

In rerunsville, when I’m writing and I want to put something flashy on ‘mute,’ my go-to choices are Mythbusters and anything IMAX. Oh– and I’ve also discovered train videos on YouTube. Yes. God. Thank you. My favorite thing ever!!!

Not that you asked.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Frasier’s mindset about what is happening on his show is obviously totally backwards, but they repeatedly address the fact that it’s because his fever is making him delirious.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
1. Instead of Bulldog’s Gonzo Sports Show, Gil Chesterson’s food show is on after Frasier and Roz’s show.

2. Niles identifies himself as a Jungian and Frasier as a Freudian. In Episode 20, Frasier calls himself a Jungian.
FDs1e20-083. The only distinction between a continuity error and a running joke is the application of the laugh track, as in Niles forgetting who Roz is for the third time.

# 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: [1]   previous cumulative: [6]   series cumulative: [7]

# 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: [12]   series cumulative: [12]

Mentions of Maris:

Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [60]   series cumulative: [61]

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

Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [15]
(Frasier is paranoid delusional, and Niles goes a little OCD with the rubbing alcohol.)

# of tender pauses:
[Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]

“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): “A bad bout with the flu lands Frasier in bed. Meanwhile, Roz becomes convinced that Gil is gunning for Frasier’s premium time slot.”
FD s01e23-06FD s01e23-09

S1 E22: Author, Author

FDs1e22-0Airdate: May 5, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writers: Don Seigel, Jerry Perzigian
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
In this review, I call Frasier and Niles “the doctors” and “the Cranes.” I was going to call them “the boys,” but I’ll leave that to the real fans. If their names were switched, I could never have named this blog “Niles Denied.” However, if I did name individual reviews, that is exactly what this one would be called.

I hope that you, dear readers, are approximately divided down the middle between the straightforward and ironic varieties of fan. Could it be that I am divided down that middle myself? I’m thinking it’s probably 70/30, majority ironic.

Whatever the case, this is the worst episode yet. We will be keeping an eye on these writers, because they chose to bring us a Niles episode, but they don’t know very much about Niles. He’s quite out of character for the premise, much of the dialogue, and the climax, so, regardless of your personal Frasier orthodoxy, this one is likely best enjoyed ironically.

Our episode Synopsis:
Open at Café Nervosa. The barista announces Frasier’s usual and serves him a latté with cinnamon and nutmeg.He tells her that that is actually Niles’ usual, while his own is a double Kona with cream. All this hard work has finally paid off! I have totally busted Frasier for a lack of continuity in the Crane brothers’ coffee preferences. Let’s flash back to my review of the pilot:

“Frasier and Niles’ café latté supremos don’t technically present a retroactive continuity error— certainly, a person can order a different coffee every day of their life without presenting any paradox whatever— but it’s worth mentioning that in this pilot episode Frasier orders the drinks for himself and Niles quite readily, as if it is their usual order, and in the series, they never order them again.”

Niles enters, in a bit of a panic about a meeting with his publisher. Also, Niles has a… publisher. He was contracted to write a book, but the idea had already been done by someone else, and he is due to present a new premise, but he has not been able to come up with one. His publisher, Sam Tanaka, arrives. He recognizes Frasier and is a fan of the show.
FDs1e22-1Niles doesn’t have to admit that he has no ideas, because early in the conversation Tanaka suggests a book about sibling relationships, co-written by Frasier, at which Niles laughs nervously (which doesn’t count as Niles smiling) and claims that the sibling psychology book was just what he had in mind. Sam invites them to go out to celebrate. He exits briefly to cancel his other plans.

Frasier refuses to be involved with writing the book and begins to leave. Whatever alien or specter that has hijacked Niles’ mortal frame for the duration of this episode says that he has never wanted anything more than to be published.
FDs1e22-2Scene 2: It Was Probably Lake Smith
(Incoherent. Also: Ugh. You can’t make a joke about something we haven’t seen yet. This is the kind of over-the-top, confused scene title I’m referring to in contrast to one that typifies the Frasier aesthetic. It’s just overt.)

The doorbell rings: Frasier answers. It’s Niles. Frasier tells Martin they are going to start writing. Martin protests that the Sonics game is about to start. Frasier presents him with the gift of some new wireless headphones.
FDs1e22-4The doctors attempt to get to work on the book. Niles notes that unlike their dissertations and theses– which are their only previous writing experience– the book has to be interesting. This is both claptrap and entirely true.

Martin affectionately jokes that he could contribute stories about Frasier and Niles themselves. It occurs to them that this might in fact be the basis for a good intro, and they ask him what he would include. Martin says that they had fought a lot when they went trout fishing as a family once. Frasier and Niles ask him to continue the story, but instead he keeps trying to remember which lake it was that they had gone to. He rattles off a dozen American gradeschool child’s gibberish versions of Native American sounding names, and Frasier and Niles ever-too-quickly escalate to pleading with him to stop focusing on that and continue the story.

It’s not that Martin isn’t being a weirdo, but the heightened emotions on Frasier and Niles’ part are delivered with a sitcom economy that is just jarring. (Maybe this should have been an hour-long show, so they could have taken a few more seconds to justify, deliver and integrate half of these interactions.)

Frasier suggests that they use his radio show to gather case histories, with Niles as guest and the callers contributing stories on their sibling-related issues.

Niles is both objectively appalled and personally delighted, another example of failed subtlety that we wouldn’t tend to expect from him.
FDs1e22-5Scene 3: The Mother Lode
(You know how the security guards at, say, a Phish show don’t bother to bust anyone for having narcotics? That’s how I’m starting to feel about these scene titles. Anyway: cliché!)

At KACL, Frasier is in the control room with Roz and Niles is in the booth. Frasier announces the Niles-related format, and Roz refuses. Frasier threatens to leave, and she immediately acquiesces. Wouldn’t he just get fired if he did that? Why the hell would that matter to her? Perhaps the eclipse of Niles’ identity by some attention-fixated caricature of himself inspired Frasier to exaggerate his own diva (I was gonna say “inner,” but…)

They go on the air. Niles gives a highly energetic, goofy greeting over the air. Frasier mashes the cough button and tells Niles to act normally. He pushes it again and introduces the topic. Niles interrupts, reading rapidly and monotonously from his own notes. Frasier cuts him off and prompts Roz to put on the first caller.

Scene 4: Untitled
Later, a caller named Laura (voice over by Christine Lahti) tells of when she was younger and she shaved her head and, so she wouldn’t feel out of place, her sisters shaved their own heads. Frasier is astonished and commends the relationship that Laura and her sisters have, as exemplified in that selfless act.

Frasier signs off. Through the whole show, Niles has been taking extensive notes. He is pleased to have gathered so much information. Sam Tanaka calls; Frasier puts him on speaker. Tanaka says he caught the show and loved it. He asks about their writing progress, and Niles, still in fact referring only to raw notes, says they have about 3 chapters. Sam says that Reader’s Digest may be interested in featuring it; he asks if they can send him what they have so far.  He gives them until Friday.

They resolve to lock themselves in a hotel room until they finish that much of the book.
FDs1e22-6Scene 5: George and Ira
(I don’t care if it does reference the authors Frasier mentioned in the last scene as his inspiration for the hotel room method. It’s still officially incoherent.)

Frasier and Niles enter a hotel room. I think it’s the same set that they always use for hotel rooms. I don’t mean that as a criticism– it doesn’t bother me at all.

Did you ever see Louis C.K.’s first show Lucky Louie? They chose to take a minimalist approach on the sets, reminiscent of The Honeymooners, but they got all kinds of shit reviews, criticizing them for “not bothering” to get a more elaborate set. It’s interesting how large a role intent plays in presentation.

Speaking of which, Frasier paces, talking about what of kind of tone they should set at the beginning of the book. Niles types throughout, then interrupts, declaring that he has had a breakthrough: He presents a pretty solid opening line. Frasier specifically calls it “interesting” but “not good.”

Niles invites Frasier to make an attempt. He hesitates. Niles taunts him. They cut right to later, both of them with their coats off, having not made a dot of progress. Frasier finally proposes an opening line, and Niles compliments him on it, then adds to it. This is exactly what they should be doing, but Frasier takes offense. They squabble, then shout.
FDs1e22-7Later still, they’re both down to their t-shirts. Frasier drains a little bottle from the mini-bar. They’re still trying to come up with a second sentence (also, they’ve run up more than a $200 bill just from the mini-bar).

Frasier opens the curtains and discovers that it’s dawn– on Friday. He says they should just give up. Niles gives a drunken speech about how he is always second at everything (this adds another dimension of character violation, but it really doesn’t matter at this point). He describes a handful of his professional successes, then actually culminates by bitching that Frasier is the one with his face on the sides of buses. This is more out of character than Pat Robertson in pasties. These folks didn’t write any Niles.
FDs1e22-09They then shout insults about each other’s appearance and start to physically fight. They end up with Frasier strangling Niles on the bed. Frasier gets up, curses the book, and leaves.

Scene 6: Untitled
At the apartment, Martin is reading the paper. Frasier enters from his bedroom. He gets a muffin and denounces Niles’ existence.

The doorbell rings; Daphne answers it. It’s Niles. He insists on communicating with Frasier through Martin, conveying an expectation that Frasier cover half of the hotel bill. Frasier refuses. Niles then speaks directly to him, insulting him. They go from zero to ninety again, yelling back and forth like second graders, again.

Martin tells them both to sit down. It’s a tense moment– 100% quality Martin. He stands and tells the story of an old partner he had when he was a cop. Martin had been an only child, and this partner was like a brother to him. They’d gotten on each other’s nerves on a stakeout, then stopped speaking, and soon after, the partner was stabbed.

Daphne excuses herself for a hanky, which, honest to God, would have been a tender pause if the damn audience didn’t chuckle it up for no reason (if you carefully mute it, you can enjoy a genuine tender pause– but we can’t count it as a real one, obviously).

Frasier apologizes, still maintaining hope for an actual tender pause that we can score for the season. He compliments Niles’ career and character. Niles responds in kind, and Martin extinguishes all tender pause potential by telling them to stop acting like girls. Mm-hmm.

Martin goes to the kitchen. Daphne is crying over his loss. He confesses that he made up the story about his partner, and Daphne hits him.
FDs1e22-13Credits vignette:
At three in the morning, Eddie jumps up on the counter and eats a muffin, which is the most well thought out detail of this episode.

Closing thoughts:
This one was a particularly excruciating “monster of the week” sort of debacle.

That doesn’t actually fit this situation, strictly speaking, and there’s surely an official TV Trope that would be more appropriate here, but I would rather call this Niles imitator an ephemeral villain and leave him behind.
I’m so thrilled to plug another show review blog! I am especially excited about this one. It’s a daring and detailed review of Star Trek the Original Series! Check out Warp Speed to Nonsense now. Now! Go do it.

Conflicts that occur simply because someone behaves in a very unrealistic way—most often by not explaining something mundane:
Frasier and Niles have no reason to get upset with Martin for spending ten seconds trying to remember the name of the fishing lake. They ought to have been brainstorming and jotting down notes. At that point, it seemed like they were a lot more focused then Martin, didn’t it? It turns out that they may have done well waiting for him to get his atlas, then progressing steadily. Remember, they only wrote one sentence. Ever. At all.

Continuity errors or anachronism:
1.) This whole episode is an error. Niles wanting to use his skill for fame is asinine. In the opening scene, he says that being published will make him feel what Frasier feels– that he’s “somebody.” This isn’t like Niles at all (and for God’s sake, no one would think that about Frasier). It runs entirely contrary to everything he has had to say on the subject until now– he has in fact always ridiculed Frasier for taking the “celebrity route.”

2.) Judging by how badly the wireless headphones that I bought in 2004 worked, I doubt that wireless headphones were anything but prohibitively expensive, if available at all, in 1994, and Martin never uses them again.

# 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: [2]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [12]

Mentions of Maris:

Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [59]   series cumulative: [60]

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

Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [13]
(They both act completely psychotic the whole time they’re in the hotel.)

# of tender pauses:

[Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [11]   series cumulative: [11]
(Not counting the honorary mute tender pause when Daphne weeps after Martin’s story.)

“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): “Niles is discouraged that his ideas for a psychiatric book have already been done.”
FDs1e22-10