S2 E2: The Unkindest Cut of All

 

FD s2e2-08Opening thoughts:
I cracked a beer before watching this episode. Under the cap, it said “Seattle born.” I interpret this to mean that I am drinking a beer meant for Frasier. Or Eddie, I suppose. It could be Eddie’s beer. Maybe that’s more likely.

I doubt whether there will be very many Eddie episodes, so we’ve got to recognize how special this is. This episode also forces me to renew my promise not to refer to the show as “a cartoon” this season.

Episode Synopsis:
Open at the apartment. Daphne is ironing Frasier’s socks, just to make sure that we understand how Frasier he is. Martin enters with a beer (this means that I am officially drinking with Mr. Crane. It’s a proud day). They have a provocative and life-changing conversation about what Daphne is doing. She mentions that it’s really crazy of Frasier to want her to iron his socks and stuff. The audience approves. Martin verbally disowns both of his sons.
FD s2e2-01Frasier enters from his bedroom, dressed in his suit. The doorbell rings. It’s Dorathea Greenway, a neighbor making her first and last appearance on the show. She doesn’t greet Frasier at all. Instead, she points at Eddie and pushes her way into the room, confidently accusing him of impregnating her dog, Phoebe.

I have to say, this plot sounds like something that you would make up on the spot if you were making a joke about old sitcoms and their simplistic yet unrealistic, two-dimensional problems. Just imagine if your neighbor pointed at your dog and said, “He’s the one! He put puppies in my little poodle!” (Wouldn’t that be amazing?)

Mrs. Greenway continues to address Eddie directly, painting him as a biblical villain of sorts. Frasier politely denies it. What’s the only thing more surprising than a more-or-less humanoid grin appearing on Niles’ face? Yes: Frasier defending Eddie. Mrs. Greenway says “Oh yeah?” and disappears for half a second, then re-enters with a box full of tiny, unmistakable Eddie spawns.
FD s2e2-03Frasier declares that it’s a box full of “miniature Eddies” as Daphne coddles them. Mrs. Greenway announces that the Crane household owns the puppies and disappears forever.

Frasier compliantly closes the door and carries the box into the living room. He asks Martin for an explanation, since Eddie was supposed to have been fixed. Frasier tells Daphne not to love the puppies (those are his exact words). Martin quasi-penitently concedes that he lets Eddie off the leash in the park to exercise.

Martin promises to have Eddie neutered the next day. Frasier gathers the box from Daphne so he can bring the pups to the station and try to give them away to some co-workers. Frasier looks down and reports, incorrectly, that the puppies are staring at him, which is such an oddly under-developed little corner of the Frasier universe– Eddie has really only stared at Frasier like four times before. Frasier exits, yelling at the puppies to stop staring at him.

(I would really have expected a description of Frasier loudly verbally abusing some puppies to appear on this blog as part of some sort of metaphor, but no. Fortunately, there was no need.)
FD s2e2-06Scene 2
At the station, Frasier enters the control room and starts right into pandering to Roz, whose back is turned to him. She interrupts him, refusing to adopt any of the puppies. Frasier refers to them as “Eddie’s mongrel seed,” which has just such a wonderful sing-songy quality to it. He also delivers it in his Darth Frasier voice, which I love to hate to hate to love. No, really– it sounds great. Picture him saying: “These are Eddie’s mongrel seed.”

At this point, there are still six puppies– not one has been taken off Frasier’s hands. He attempts to win Roz over, having her hold one. She remains unfazed and tells Frasier they are about to go on the air (Frasier and Roz, not the puppies).

Frasier leaves them in the box at his feet and begins the show. Caller Rita (v.o. by Lily Tomlin) explains that she is overwhelmed with having to take care of her four children. Frasier suggests that she get a puppy.

Scene 3
At the apartment, Daphne is overseeing a meeting between a family of four and what turns out to be the last puppy (which tells us that some exposition will be along shortly to tidy up the exits of the others). Daphne kicks the family out, just before Frasier emerges with wine and snacks. Daphne tells Frasier that the family struck her as inept caregivers for a puppy. Frasier exclaims that the family consists of a zookeeper, a nurse, an altar boy, and a campfire girl, and they have a ten-acre farm. Daphne stands firm; pulls the “psychic” card, claiming that they had a “dark aura.”

(It’s just too much that this show has established so firmly that Daphne is in fact psychic that we are capable of saying to ourselves, “Oh, she’s not using her actual, real psychic powers right now– she’s just pretending.)

The doorbell rings. It’s Niles. He delivers a standard joke about how wretched Maris is. Frasier spares us the exposition about where the other dogs went. Daphne explains that she has only ever trusted a man if her dog liked him. If you used to watch the show, I’m sure you remember what Niles does next.
FD s2e2-07In order to get the pup to show him some apparent affection for Daphne’s benefit, he rubs pate behind his own ears. He sits beside Daphne, and the puppy follows through, licking Niles’ ear, which he pretends surprises him. Frasier orders Daphne to take the dog away. She does. Martin enters with Eddie. Frasier asks Martin whether Eddie had his vet appointment; Martin waffles.

Eddie jumps on the couch and licks Niles behind the ear. Then, Frasier and Niles actually have a conversation about it, with Niles lying and– yeah, we’re gonna just move on. Frasier asks Martin again about Eddie’s neutering.
FD s2e2-09Martin is pissed about it. He exits, announcing on his way out that he’ll be at Duke’s. Frasier decides to take Eddie to the vet himself. Eddie skitters away when Frasier calls him.

Niles and Frasier conspire to catch Eddie. Frasier suggests that they don’t talk about the operation, since Eddie has undoubtedly picked up an untold amount of English (uh, folks, here I feel compelled to remind you once again that I do not make up any of the things that I describe happening on the show– unless I say that Frasier pushes an elevator button 1,120 times or something– and you’ll of course know that when you see it). Niles agrees.

As Niles and Frasier methodically flank Eddie, they speak French (which is, of course, Frasier’s way of reminding us that canine genital mutilation is not a joke).

Scene 4
Frasier and Eddie are sitting in the waiting room at the vet. Eddie is staring at Frasier. He gives Eddie a compassionate speech about all the other joys of life that a dog can still look forward to. Martin enters, rightfully offended and indignant that Frasier would forcibly take this serious, permanent decision into his own hands like this. Eddie runs out.

Scene 5
At the apartment, Martin is finishing a phone conversation with the police about searching for Eddie. He hangs up. He and Daphne sit down for some food. Frasier enters, tired and frustrated. He has had no luck looking at the pound. Martin abruptly stands up; announces that he is going to search in the park again. Frasier agrees to join him.
FD s2e2-10Scene 6
Frasier and Martin are sitting in the car at the park after dark, bickering. Frasier’s fancy car phone rings. It’s Niles. Frasier puts him on speaker. Niles is lost in the middle of the park. Martin sounds the horn to guide Niles back to the car. Then, again. And again. Niles keeps talking as he finds his way back, then gets in the back seat.

So… Plot: Eddie escapes from his neutering appointment. Sub-plot: Niles frantically follows Frasier’s horn.

Niles exits. Martin offers Frasier to go home if he’s tired. He refuses. Martin apologizes and works in some reminiscences about his days as a cop. There’s also a tender pause as Martin admits that he has felt excessively constrained by Frasier’s rules.

FD s2e2-12Eddie jumps onto the trunk. Frasier sees him in the mirror and pretends not to, suggesting that they get home. Martin sees Eddie and cries out with relief; Frasier is clearly disappointed.
FD s2e2-11This does mean that Frasier had intended to drive off, leaving Eddie to die in the cold of the night, right? I don’t think I can post this and go to sleep after ending like that. I mean, Frasier once shared cookie dough with this dog.

Ah! I got it: Frasier was immediately resigned to Eddie’s return, though he reacted quite candidly by trying– which he knew was in vain– to delay or otherwise protest the already emerging reunion.

OK, well, if I didn’t just suck all the fun out of that.

Credits vignette:
Frasier, Niles, and Martin sit in the waiting room as the nurse brings Eddie in to see the vet. After she closes the door behind her, all three men simultaneously cross their legs.

Closing thoughts:
An Eddie episode. Good plan. No, seriously. I don’t know about the execution, though. As we briefly mentioned earlier, the plot is pretty retro, goofy sitcom standard in terms of complexity, originality, and realism. I did give it some thought, and I suppose it fits the class of shapes that a Frasier plot tends to take. I’m less convinced that Frasier is a starting point for earnestly assessing television history than when I started this. Season 2 is, however, giving us new things to yap about.

Oh, hell. We’re in the right place as ever; perhaps this episode was inherently less nerdy on purpose– it was, after all, about Eddie’s testicles.

Unnecessary conflicts:
Damn if Frasier didn’t have an easy time getting rid of 5 puppies. And holy cripes, do not ever, EVER attempt to take someone else’s dog in to get fixed without that person’s permission.

Continuity errors:
(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: [1]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [11]

# 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: [13]   series cumulative: [13]

# of mentions of Maris:

Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [71]   series cumulative: [73]

# of times Frasier or Niles (both psychiatrists) exhibit mentally ill tendencies:
Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]

# of tender pauses:
Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [12]   series cumulative: [13]

# of times Niles has smiled:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [2]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
Frasier yelling at puppies.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “Frasier’s next-door neighbor, Mrs. Greenway, accuses Eddie of impregnating her precious Phoebe.”
FD s2e2-05
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S2 E1: Slow Tango in South Seattle

Tuesday1994-1995Airdate: September 20, 1994
Director: James Burrows
Writer: Martin Weiss
(episode transcript)

Opening thoughts:
Well, holy crap cakes. It’s autumn 1994. Finally, I can take Driver’s Ed.

Let’s see what we can do now that we have passed the season threshold! Time to get down to the nitty gritty. On the night that this season premier aired,  Frasier switched to Tuesdays (Full House had done the same thing three years earlier, apparently in some coy ploy to never be watched by me again).

YES: I have tidied up the category headings a little and even tinkered with what we’re evaluating. For instance, we now have a “Kind of great Frasier moments” category. Sadly, I can’t add new counters, because we’re a whole season into the show, but I am semi-vigilant in my more-than-vague intention to run over the last 24 reviews and make an official note of what great Frasier moments there are. Hold on. Oh my Maris! Hold on! Guess what? We can put up a new counter, because there is one thing that only happened once last season. Realsies. Give up? It’s Niles smiling. I know, right!? Jumpin’ Jeebus. “Niles!” Of course.

I’m not even going to mention the things that I promised not to do this season. Hopefully, we will steer our way into some brand new deplorable habits.

Book us on Likeface!
You’ll get mid-week links to ostensibly fun Frasier-related nonsense and will be needlessly pestered to come back here on a regular basis (come to think of it, if you actually just stay here, that’s skipping two steps).

Alright! This Frasier isn’t gonna Deny itself.
FD s02e01-05Episode Synopsis:
Frasier says hello to caller Steven (voice-over by James Spader) on the air. Steven asks for advice on whether to let his infant child climb into bed with him and his wife. Frasier interrupts before Steven can even finish his question and assures him that it is good for a child to bond with the parents in this way.

All the while, Roz is engrossed in a book. Frasier signs off for commercial, runs into the control room, and demands to know why Roz is reading while they are on the air. The book is called Slow Tango in South Seattle, and both Frasier and Roz hack up some exposition hairballs about how much of a current smash hit it is with “the women.”
FD s02e01-02
Roz tells Frasier to read the first paragraph. He reads it with a deliberate, deep and poetic tone, then announces his disdain for it. Roz informs us that all men are alike in that they lack a soul, with the exception of the author of the book, Thomas Jay Fallow. Intrigued at the mention of the name, Frasier grabs the book from her again. He explains that Fallow used to be a regular at Cheers. (Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience. Did you hear that too?!) Frasier used to help Fallow get through his writer’s block.FD s02e01-01Roz explains that Fallow will be coming to the station tomorrow to be on the Book Chat show and demands that Frasier introduce her to him. Frasier refuses, since it’s clear to him that he doesn’t like the book, and he would have to lie to his old friend about it, and surely Fallow won’t fall for that. Roz pulls a ‘contrast’ gag by lying to Frasier about how smart and smooth he is, in response to which he immediately changes his mind. Then, she confesses to tricking him so that we can fade to commercial while he makes the “Whyyy I oughtaaa” face.

...that one.

…that’s the one.

Scene 2
(I’m frickin’ not doing scene titles this year. You heard me.)

Daphne is contorting Martin’s legs for his physical therapy. The doorbell rings. It’s Niles. He explains that he recently noticed that in Martin’s bedroom, there are pictures of everyone except for him and Maris (and Roz and Bull Dog). With that, Niles presents a  framed picture of himself and Maris to Martin.

Frasier enters, fuming about a secret that he once told Thomas Jay Fallow being included in the Slow Tango in South Seattle book. That secret is the circumstances of Frasier losing his virginity, and, as Frasier (and Daphne) explain, it’s in fact the plot of the whole book. Martin makes a generic late-virginity joke. Niles smiles for the second time in the series.

While Frasier removes his tie in the bathroom, Martin asks who the lucky lady was. Frasier refuses to answer. Daphne immediately reveals that it was Frasier’s piano teacher.

(OK. Now, by any standards– I don’t care what your walk of life is, where you came from, what you believe in– that is just objectively and entirely hot.)
FD s02e01-04Frasier is pissed. Daphne presses, describing some of the things that the book reveals. Martin mentions that he was the one paying for the $10-a-week piano lessons. Niles stands up, shocked as he asks for confirmation that it was Miss Warner, who also taught him. Martin asks Niles whether he was also carnally familiar with the teacher. As Niles begins his reply in the form of another joke at the young Frasier’s expense, Daphne listens carefully, and when Niles concludes with a response in the negative, she is visibly relieved.

Martin and Niles continue to laugh at Frasier. But why? Man, woman, gay or straight– an affair with one’s piano teacher is something that someone should be congratulated for (if in a dignified, understated way)– not openly mocked. The way that these gents are carrying on, you would think that the book had revealed some kind of public, voyeuristic shaming or being molested by a girl with flipper hands. Clearly, they are lividly jealous.

Frasier demands their attention and announces that it was by no means just a fling. He refers to her by her first name, Clarice, and says that they cared for each other. The audience approves of the serious moment with their silence.

Then, Daphne channels Fallow, describing Frasier’s feelings for Warner, which turns Niles on. (It’s right in there, folks– this isn’t some tabloid.)
FD s02-e01-10Frasier interrupts her with an ad hominem attack against Fallow, referring to his frequent drinking. Niles mentions that Fallow didn’t remember who had told him this autobiographical story, since Frasier was never mentioned in the acknowledgements or otherwise contacted about it. Frasier leaves, announcing his intention to remind Fallow who it was.

Niles and Martin inexplicably wrestle to get a hold of the book.

Scene 3
At the station, Thomas Jay Fallow is reading an excerpt from the book on Amber Edwards’ Book Chat show. Frasier and Roz are standing out in the hall. Frasier seems intent on scalping Fallow; Roz asks him to wait until she gets her book signed. He asks if she has, um, told anyone, so, I guess he told her for some reason, and she assures him that she hasn’t (should I just skip the ‘contrast’ gag featuring Bull Dog? OK. It’s a deal– Oh, wait. We can’t. They follow through with a conversation about it).

So Bull Dog knows too, but he reveals that he had a similar experience with an older woman. He makes a couple of “because I’m Bull Dog” jokes, then Gil comes over and makes fun of Frasier. Bull Dog produces a copy of the book, and he and Gil read aloud from it and laugh (this falls under the “characters mocking each other is always funny” cliché, and it’s sort of bamboo under my nails). They exit.

Roz and Frasier turn their attention back to the booth as Amber Edwards asks Fallow what the inspiration was for the story. He reports that it was given to him… um… by God.

Frasier erupts in impassioned protest, declaring himself to be God (like we didn’t know that already). Amber breaks for commercial. She exits to make a phone call. Frasier enters the booth; addresses Fallow. He is ecstatic to see Frasier, who immediately calls him a thief and emphatically bemoans the absence of his own name in the acknowledgements.

Fallow is silent for a moment, then apologizes. He begins to weep and penitently embraces Frasier, declaring that he owes him everything. Amber, Roz, and two other women enter the booth to console Fallow. Roz chides Frasier.
FD s02e01-06Four more women then enter the booth to tend to Fallow (because only women have read the book, and only people who have read the book would bother to tend to someone in this situation). Frasier exits.

Scene 4
At the apartment, Niles tells Martin that Maris is reading Slow Tango in South Seattle. Martin doesn’t care.

Frasier enters; explains that he made Fallow cry and is feeling rather guilty about it. Martin stands up and points out that Frasier got what he wanted out of the situation and still isn’t happy. He criticizes Frasier’s insistence on analyzing everything so much, extols Eddie’s simple “outlook” on pursuing happiness, and tells Frasier he should learn from it.

Hold on. Martin is saying that it’s no big deal that the author wept when Frasier confronted him– not a little weird; no clarification needed at all– and that Frasier should go by Eddie’s example and be happy about the “simple things” in life, such as this event in which the author cried. Mmkay? Just wanted to take an extra second so you can be sure you’re on board with it.

Martin and Eddie exit.

Niles approaches Frasier with two glasses of red wine; hands him one. Niles disagrees with Martin about the source of Frasier’s uneasiness. He tells Frasier it seems that in this situation, some problem persists even after Frasier got the chance to confront Fallow. Daphne enters swiftly, holding the book in front of her. She chides Frasier; he asks what for. She details from the book how Frasier left Clarice. without saying goodbye.
FD s02e01-07Frasier defends himself, indicating that he had just been accepted to Harvard. Daphne is rather upset; Niles joins her, asking whether Frasier really just left that abruptly after they had shared so much. Frasier waffles unconvincingly as Daphne exits.

Niles abandons his glass of wine, heading for the door. He tells Frasier that the closure he needed obviously didn’t come from his encounter with Fallow because there still is the need to make things right with Clarice.

Scene 5
Late at night, Frasier is reading the book by the window (this is the first time in the series that a character has relayed their thoughts to the audience with a voice-over). It is narrated by the character based on Clarice Warner, lamenting her student’s unkept promise to return. After he finishes the book, as he pensively lays his head back on the chair, Daphne storms through the room and slaps him with her copy of the book. The audience heartily approves, but I’m not really sure what is happening. Was Daphne able to read his mind through a “psychic flash” as he finished the book, hence being reminded of how upset she is over him leaving his piano teacher like he did?

Scene 6
A woman plays a heavy-hearted rendition of The Blue Danube on the piano. Frasier approaches the door and watches her. He knocks. She comes to the door and answers to ‘Ms. Warner.’ He identifies himself. She doesn’t remember him. She invites him in, and he sits on the couch. He describes to her their last evening together, confesses his broken promise, and asks for her forgiveness. She complies, but, due to her uncertainty concerning whether she has ever in fact seen this man before (or heard his name), we still get to wonder whether she is now senile or simply slept with a large number of her students.

Then, she calls to her daughter in the other room, addressing her as, uh, “Clarice.”
FD s02e01-09Clarice comes in. She recognizes Frasier. She can tell that he is there because of the book. The mother exits. Frasier apologizes that their story made it to print. Clarice tells him not to feel bad; says that she enjoyed getting a chance to relive it. Frasier gets around to apologizing for leaving her. He asks if she would like to get coffee. She refuses, and her stunning, young, bronze god of a boyfriend pops his head in, asking if she’s ready to go. She exits, and Frasier is alone.

What happens next is so obvious that even the audience starts laughing while Frasier is just standing there in silence:  The mother comes in with iced tea and is ready for action.

Credits vignette:
Frasier and Mrs. Warner sit at the piano, playing together. She pushes closer to him and he inches away, until they both fall off the piano bench.

Closing thoughts:
The pacing and dialogue have taken a step up in quality. I really get the sense that this episode could be performed as a play. It still has silly coincidences, like Frasier knowing Fallow from Boston and Fallow appearing on a KACL show a day after it’s brought to his attention, but that’s what we’re here for, right?

I don’t see why this writer never took the opportunity for a tender pause. The scene with Thomas Fallow crying in Frasier’s arms is just played off as “Man crying? Absurd!” and there is no payoff for Frasier’s little quest. What did the author decide to do? No idea.

This is the second episode in a row in which Roz mentions that she wants to find someone to marry and have a life with. It also features a standard dose of Niles/Daphne flirtations. I think it’s only the second time that we have seen Daphne help Martin with his physical therapy exercises. There even was (unseen) photographic evidence of Maris’s existence.

You know what have not seen once, though? An episode about the dog. That’s right:  Stay tuned for next week’s Frasier Denied, as we bring you the very first Eddie episode!

Fight bravely, my friends, and live to deny another day.

Unnecessary conflicts:
Frasier initially planning to completely avoid interacting with his old friend simply because he would “have to” lie about liking the book that he hadn’t read.

Also, it’s a cheap-o gag when Frasier says “Ms. Warner?” instead of “Clarice?” to Clarice’s mother.

Continuity errors:
There isn’t anything called “South Seattle.”

# of women Frasier has dated:

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [3]   series cumulative: [3]
(He also got shot down in this episode. So, that was nice.)

# 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: [10]   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: [0]   previous cumulative: [13]   series cumulative: [13]

# of mentions of Maris:

Episode: [2]   previous cumulative: [69]   series cumulative: [71]

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

Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [16]   series cumulative: [16]

# of tender pauses:

[Episode: [0]   previous cumulative: [12]   series cumulative: [12]

NEW CATEGORY- # of times Niles has smiled:

[Episode: [1]   previous cumulative: [1]   series cumulative: [2]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
(none)

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “After Roz introduces Frasier to a hot new best seller, Frasier is stunned to learn the story was based on his long ago affair with a former teacher.”
FD s02e01-08ALSO AVAILABLE ON CASSETTE AND COMPACT DISC