I suppose the shortest description of Frasier Denied is “discussions on the mental and social dysfunction of Frasier’s characters.” If you like, you may even read it as an examination of the strange cartoon that is the reduced soul of the show— one about a frantic sociopath wailing and thrashing through his own personal purgatory, surrounded by coffee cups and raindrops. That is certainly an option.
The production itself is very unassuming and tasteful with its minimalist, 7-second title warm-open and the absence of a musical score for imposed emotional-cues, so I won’t have much to criticize in terms of framing or format. Lapses in reason, maturity and— perhaps most of all— sanity made apparent in the decisions and interactions between the main characters, however, is near constant, so we’ll have plenty to talk about when it comes to that.
Above all, I want to convey the rhythms of the show. From the recurring narrative tropes (comedic and otherwise) to examples of Frasier Crane himself exhibiting signs of poor social skills; from catch phrases (of which there are relatively few) to running jokes (of which there are several); from the characters’ many failed relationships to the semi-morals they semi-learn by the end of each episode, and then, weaved through these concurrent rhythms, the momentum of the overall story arc (which, as I see it, actually isn’t about Frasier himself).
I’ll describe specific situations that could easily be remedied if people would simply behave realistically. I will also mention technical flubs, continuity errors, and incorrect Seattle references, as they occur (which is only about once every 3 or 4 episodes, I think), and offer some commentary about Frasier’s place in the context of other sitcoms of its time.
The way I see it, Frasier is the story of Niles and Daphne. Throughout the show’s run, Frasier Crane goes through many relationships and a few career changes, but if you were only paying attention to his contribution to the show, you could essentially watch shuffled episodes forever and you would rarely disturb the perceived jumble of non-specific continuity. I find that, much like his living room décor, the net homogeny of this decade in Dr. Crane’s life is eclectically uneventful. Niles and Daphne, however, follow a traditional story path: you could describe the first 7 seasons as “how they met, a series of complications and conflicts that kept their fates in doubt, and how they overcame them to be together.”
Because of this, in advance of beginning this project, I’ve decided to only apply the episode-by-episode treatment to the first seven seasons (I will do something else with the final 4). Having been warned that the latter seasons are lacking in, well, everything (not that that alone would stop me—it hasn’t stopped anyone else, after all); I’ve dabbled in Season 8, and its awfulness is kind of heroically surreal (again—not a deal-breaker in itself).
However, you may be asking, “Come on, man— if you’re going to only do this for 3 and a quarter years instead of 5, why bother? Do you think Billy Superstar would have hung it up if Uncle Jesse had been killed off?” And I completely get that. First of all, I’m drawing a line after S7 E24 not because I’m lazy or because I don’t want to review lesser-quality material.
It’s because a) There is a very clear division in the purpose and form of the series at that point, such that but for the title, it is a different show (go ahead and test me on that—the show really does become a cartoon parody of itself after Niles and Daphne get together); b) prompted by this, from day one, I’m tailoring my approach to fit consideration of that specific 7-season narrative, which cleanly and entirely breaks off before the eighth season begins; and c) recognizing an intrinsic, Niles-Daphne narrative gives us one more justification for the title of the blog.
Besides, it’s not that I won’t be doing anything with the remaining seasons; I just won’t be using the same form, giving them dedicated episode-by episode treatment. Of course I will still be watching them, and I’ll finish the series-cumulative counts for all of the categories. If it seems like there has been a shark-jump caliber change (or many, for that matter), I might do something else to impose a congruent change on the blog itself, such as reenacting scenes, mash-ups, critiques over podcast, celebrity kidnappings… I really can’t say. That will be more than three years from now, folks. By then, we might be speaking Mandarin and wearing Neptune sports team logos.
Still not OK with it?
[WARNING: If you don’t want the most significant Frasier spoiler of the entire series all over your face and up to your knees, DON’T SCROLL DOWN. Simply click on this picture of an actual TV that was smashed in Seattle to go back to the current episode in review. You have been warned!]
This makes the S8-S11 epoch(s) apocryphal. Period.
Think of it as someone reviewing the Star Wars trilogy—episodes 4 through 6 as the beginning and end— and refusing to acknowledge the prequels. Sure, the creators of the series intended the later-released chapters for inclusion. Sure, those chapters explain events which (purportedly) relate to the canon in cause-effect terms. Sure, those episodes have some semi-rad moments (I think). But when does any story end? Forget it—when does any story even begin? I have been elbow-deep in Frasier for the last 3 months in order just to properly consider whether doing this blog at all is a good idea. You’re just going to have to trust me.
The Niles-Daphne narrative takes place over 168 episodes, which I have just finished watching in succession and am about to begin watching in succession a second time.
Frasier Denied is a three and a quarter year treatment of the circumstances under which that 168-episode story takes place.