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:

# 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:

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.”