S2 E3: The Matchmaker

fd s02e02-00aAirdate: October 4, 1994
Director: David Lee
Writer: Joe Keenan
(episode transcript)
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Opening thoughts:
Frasier is in the news! The scoop: “Frasier Not in the News!” I simply could not love it more. (What’s this blog called again?)

Certainly, this is a Daphne episode. It’s refreshing to see her and Niles having some genuine difficulty in their long journey toward each other.

Have I raved about Perfect Strangers Online yet? It is so detailed; I just can’t take it. Fantastic work. Show them some click love. Speaking of clicking, we are on FlaceBlook, so click ever-clickingly for updates on new posts, a mid-week alternate timeline of our posts, and whatever else the Frasier Denying soul may be determined to need.

I tried a new method on this post—I have a few to choose from now. This time, I watched it on mute with subtitles and grabbed all the screenshots on that first run-through. Then, what I was going to do was write the whole thing from memory, but I figured I’d just miss 400 self-parodying details that way, so I breezed through a standard viewing (audio included) to actually type the synopsis.

But why am I talking about me? Denied, thy name is Frasier.

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Episode Synopsis:
It’s the middle of the night at the apartment, and the smoke alarm is going off. Frasier is calling out to Martin, and Martin is calling out to Eddie—a total ruckus.

Daphne emerges from her bedroom, assuring them that the smoke alarm went off for no reason and Eddie was hanging out with her. Eddie runs out of Daphne’s room with a pack of Marlboro reds in his mouth. Daphne confesses and apologizes that she’s smoking to cope with stress.

Frasier sits and talks with her. She explains that her dating life has been nonexistent. She lights a cigarette. Frasier talks about Diane leaving him at the altar, what a bad idea it was to marry Lilith, and the fact that he’s now divorced and living with his father. He takes her cigarette and starts smoking. Hey, it’s the ‘90s. (We actually used to say that—Ed.)
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Scene 2
Frasier is sitting alone at Café Nervosa. Roz enters; exposits that Frasier missed the early-morning meeting with the new station manager. Frasier in turn exposits—although we already know—that he stayed up late commiserating with Daphne.

Roz pulls out her little black book (it’s actually a little, black book), offering to give Daphne a phone number or two. Frasier refuses. Niles arrives with his and Frasier’s coffees—a mocha latte for himself and a double espresso for Frasier.

Roz and Frasier continue their conversation, Roz naming men whom she thinks Daphne might like and Frasier denying them all without a thought. Niles squirms and plays his usual, entirely unconvincing role of a “close friend concerned about Daphne’s general well-being,” while in fact merely acting out of jealousy.

Frasier racks up a few points in our “# of jokes about how Roz sleeps with everyone” category, and Roz, entirely reasonably pissed about it, stands and exits. The audience finds it totally hilarious, though.
fd s02e02-03Scene 3
On the air at the radio station, Frasier and Roz are wrapping up a test of the emergency broadcast system. When Frasier says “this concludes our test of the emergency broadcast system,” per FCC regulation, the audience just… laughs. Again. Then, Frasier makes a great joke, and when the audience laughs at that, it’s not nearly as satisfying as it should be. The Frasier in-studio audience often seems to be contriving a laughter-like noise on some kind of timer rather than in response to the content offered by the script and actors, but the last five minutes have been worse than usual, AND Frasier’s joke is much better than usual, so it just ends up like a honeymoon plane crash, or a Christmas morning house fire, in comedy terms.

Mmkay? So, since watching the show is only going to force that experience upon you, let’s just say I’m anti-spoiling that joke by giving it to you here (You’re welcome.): “Had this been an actual emergency…”
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Roz is still really pissed at Frasier. As usual, I agree with her. Frasier does apologize now, though. He says he’s looking for the right man for Daphne. The new station manager, Tom, enters the booth. He and Frasier discuss clothing, theatre and travel, and in an odiously unrealistic orgy of ambiguity, they arrange for Tom to have dinner at Frasier’s place that Saturday.
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Scene 4
Frasier and Daphne are tidying up the apartment for Tom’s visit. Daphne is upset about being set up. Frasier encourages her to change into something more attractive. The doorbell rings. Frasier gets it; Tom has brought a bottle of chardonnay.  Daphne emerges in a pretty red dress.fd s02e02-06

Frasier introduces Daphne and Tom. She takes his coat. Daphne has a psychic flash and knows about Tom’s recent break-up. Martin emerges and acts like Martin. Frasier runs to the kitchen for wine. Daphne tells him that she is into Tom.
fd s02e02-07Martin chats with Tom and tells him about Seattle. During their conversation, there are only 4 jokes about Martin seeming to Tom to be gay. The doorbell rings. It’s Niles. He insists on joining for dinner, which is of course so that he can guard Daphne from a new dating prospect.

Scene 5
Everyone is just about finished eating dinner. Tom is telling a story about when he was in England. Daphne enjoys it, but Niles poo-poos. He also volunteers to clear the table, and Tom joins him in the kitchen. Tom asks if he has in some way offended Niles; tells him it seems that he was trying to get in the way of Tom dating Frasier. Niles smiles.
fd s02e02-09 You see, not only is there no longer seeming a threat to his beloved’s singlehood in the house, but there now also is a man trying to date his brother. I’m beginning to wonder whether David Hyde Pierce was given specific consideration on this smiling issue when the Frasier crew set about writing the second season. Anywho, you have to keep in mind that at this point, Daphne is still irritated that Niles has butted in on the dinner. He is still quite lost when it comes to winning Daphne over. Perhaps having Frasier pursued by a handsome man has provided some comic respite (I’m pretty sure that’s why he grinned two entirely separate times after Tom left the room).

Martin enters the kitchen. Niles appears to be having mischievous thoughts.
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At this point, Tom appears to be having second thoughts about everything. After all, Daphne is hitting on him, Niles is sending all kinds of mixed messages, and Frasier must exhibit some vestige of heterosexuality if you’re in his presence for more than an hour.

Frasier asks Daphne to go inside and put on some music. Tom asks if he can get alone with Frasier before the night is through; Frasier thinks he means Daphne and responds in the coy, slinky affirmative as he saunters back into the apartment.

Martin goes to bed; Niles leaves. First, he has a word with Frasier and spills the truth about Tom. I was certain that Niles and Martin’s amusement came from the opportunity to watch things play out so they could laugh more at Frasier’s pain, but I guess it was good enough to just find out how foolish he was, and three people’s feelings were in the balance, after all (though with the way it plays out, it almost seems like a late rewrite. Niles– and certainly Martin– were clearly very amused at their intent to just bail and find out later how it blew up).

So Frasier is baffled. Until he recalls talking to Tom about the theatre, wine, men’s fashion, whether he’s single, etc. Niles is still amused, but plays it cool so he can enjoy Frasier’s confusion and suffering for the short time that he has left and swiftly exits.
fd s02e02-11Frasier explains that he is straight. Tom doesn’t believe him. Frasier explains the whole Daphne situation. Hey—where did Daphne go? Martin must have told her on his way to bed—yet another scene premise down in my Frasier fan-fiction notebook.

Oh wait—OK. Daphne emerges from her room, hears Tom say the word “gay,” turns around, and throws her bra up in the air over her head, which is kind of a great Frasier moment.

Frasier apologizes to Tom for the misunderstanding; Tom asks him to likewise apologize to Daphne and exits.

Credits vignette:
Frasier and Daphne are both smoking cigarettes in the living room. Frasier discovers the Surgeon General’s warning; shows it to Daphne. They both decisively put out their cigarettes.

Closing thoughts:
This post took a long, long time to get out there to you because my computer died. I am using a Mac right now, and it is… impossible. I hope to be back on my first world Microsoft problems feet again real soon, and I will try to get the next Frasier-denial cranked out on something that better resembles our prescribed schedule. I’m going to go back to long-hand draft, like the good old days; see if that helps.
fd s02e03-13I don’t usually push social justice issues here at Frasier Denied. It’s not that kind of blog, and it’s not that kind of show. But the ‘90s was a time when it was still a pretty common so-called punch line to merely have a character be gay. Or fat. Or even a woman, if you look in the right (wrong?) places. In fact, we still have a good way to go before we can expect a sensible and reasonable equality of opportunity in casting and scripting, without bias against arbitrary traits not of one’s own choosing.

I bring that up because it was and is relevant even to televised fiction, since it’s part of our lives and it does carry ideas and atmospheres that affect our way of thinking. To the Frasier crew’s credit, the “joke” is not that Tom is gay. The joke is merely that Tom and Frasier have a misunderstanding. It isn’t morally problematic for me— let’s make that clear. However, it isn’t scripted very realistically. Or, I suppose, as Seinfeld put it on one of those episodes where Walter White was a dentist: “It offends me as a comedian.”

Because of this, I am required to file it under:

Unnecessary conflicts:
The stepping-around the use of any language that would clearly state what either Frasier or Tom were really talking about when they set up the dinner date belongs in this category. It used to be a lazy-writing standard on sitcoms, so it isn’t a capital offense or anything, but Frasier says nothing about Daphne, and Tom doesn’t ask him what “the British” have to do with his dinner invitation.

They could have kept the conflict just the way it is while giving it a little nuance. Frasier could have at least mentioned Daphne when they were talking about England, and misunderstood because of the timing of the conversation, and Tom could have said something more specific, which Frasier legitimately misinterpreted because of the context.

In short, we should have been as surprised as Frasier was when he actually found out.

Continuity errors:
Tom’s gaydar incorrectly found all 3 male cast members to be gay. Like, confidently.

# 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: [4]   previous cumulative: [10]   series cumulative: [14]

# 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: [1]   previous cumulative: [73]   series cumulative: [74]

# 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: [13]   series cumulative: [13]

# of times Niles has smiled:
[Episode: [5]   previous cumulative: [2]   series cumulative: [7]

Kind of great TV moments:
(none)

Kind of great Frasier moments:
Daphne tossing her bra over her head.

TV Guide version (© Netflix): “After Daphne reveals her yearning for a new man in her life, Frasier vows to find the perfect match for her.”
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