Welcome back to the longest, most drawn out “best of” list in blogging history. We’re up to part 4 of The Great Frasier Rewatch. For those wondering how many damn parts there will be, I promise, only one more. Is it MY fault they had so many great episodes?
Ok, I can’t take responsiblity for the quality of the show, but I will take responsiblity for my anal list-making, and for the fact that I take said list-making so seriously that I can’t bear to leave even one of the 40 or so episodes I chose off this list. Or for the fact that I *may* have added some more to the list over the course of this exercise.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up on the first three installments here.
So, we’re up to season 5. Ready?
Much like season 3, this was a particularly strong season for Frasier. Inevitably there will be some worthy episodes I left out. In theory, most every episode from seasons 1 to 7 could be on the list. But that would mean at least 30 installments, and would take years to finish. With that in mind, my picks for season 5.
Halloween: Frasier had a few Halloween themed episodes; this is by far the best one. Niles hosts a charity party for the library, where everyone dresses as their favorite literary character. He gets predictably jealous when he finds out Frasier and Daphne are going together as characters from the Canterbury Tales, and things go even more awry when Maris backs out as co-host. Meanwhile, Roz suspects she might be pregnant, and spends the party waiting anxiously for her doctor to call with the results. Frasier is the only one who knows, and he (also predictably) accidentally tells Daphne. Niles overhears Daphne and Roz talking in the kitchen, and thinks Daphne pregnant with Frasier’s child. (In other words: hijinks ensue.) It all comes to a head when a very drunk Niles proposes to Daphne. The whole thing is very silly, and made even better with brief appearances from Bulldog (dressed as Waldo, from the Where’s Waldo books) and Gil (dressed as The Last of the Mohicans). In the end, everyone at the party finds out it’s Roz, not Daphne who’s pregnant. Here’s a little snippet from the party:
The Maris Counselor: I have to include this episode for two reasons. 1.) Because it’s a great performance by David Hyde Pierce. 2.) It contains my favorite Frasier scene of all time. When we last left Maris, she and Niles were attempting to reconcile. After months of unsuccessful therapy, Niles finally found a doctor Maris likes and feels they are on the road to recovery. He decides to surprise Maris by sneaking into her bed in the evening. The only problem? Someone else is in the bed – and it’s not Maris. It’s their therapist Dr. Schenkman. He and Maris have been seeing each other for weeks, are madly in love, and plan to get married. The episode is a tour de force for David Hyde Pierce, and one of the stronger “Crane men bond” plots. The last scene is my aforementioned favorite of the series: The three Crane commiserate about their loves. Martin: Recently broke up with his longtime girlfriend, and got set up with a woman in her 80s. Frasier: Divorced twice, left at the altar once. Niles: Fifteen years with Maris, and he ends up in bed with her lover. This episode is so good, here it is in its entirety. The scene in question starts at 16:15.
Room Service: Ah, family drama. Despite being about a serious topic, this is one of the silliest Frasier episodes. Lilith visits Frasier after her second marriage breaks up. She is feeling rejected, and needs comforting. But, being Lilith, she’d never actually say that, so instead she plays seductress, enchanting Frasier with a little black dress and, well, looking like Bebe Neuwirth. (Speaking of Bebe Neuwirth, did y’all know she’s playing Morticia Addams in The Addams Family musical? How perfect is that? I mean, duh.)
Frasier, not wanting to fall for Lilith’s tricks again, makes Niles promise he’ll keep them apart. Niles hasn’t been having an easy time lately- not only is he in the middle of a nasty divorce, he’s been suffering through a bout of narcolepsy. Yes, narcolepsy. (And yes, the two are related. The show isn’t that random.) Niles agrees to keep Frasier away from Lilith, but does too good of a job. He awakes the next morning in her hotel room. Things go from bad to worse when Frasier shows up at the hotel, intent on giving in to his desires. Throughout the Frasier/Lilith/Niles hotel room scene, there’s a very funny ongoing bit with a waiter bringing room service. I can’t do it justice, so here’s a snippet.
This episode was written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs. The former writes a very funny and informative blog that’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of TV. (And if you’re reading this post, I assume you are .)
First Date: Obviously. What sort of Frasier fan would I be if I didn’t include this episode? It’s basically the sequel to season three’s Moondance. Niles decides he is finally going to ask Daphne out, really and truly this time, for real, and comes soclose, but chickens out at the last minute. Instead, he tells Daphne he’s going out with a woman in his building named Phyllis. She’s thrilled for him – so thrilled that she comes over that evening to help him prepare for his imaginary dinner date. Niles, excited by the prospect of an evening alone with Daphne, goes along with it. The whole thing is going swimmingly – until neighbor Phyllis just happens to come over with some of Niles’ mail. Oops. In the end, Niles tells Daphne he didn’t really want to go out with Phyllis, and she puts the kibosh on his dreams (for now) by revealing she’d never date with someone going through a divorce. (We’ll get to that in part 5.) However, he does get his dream date, as Daphne decides to stay for dinner. I’m probably not describing this well, but it’s a lovely episode, complete with the farcical humor for which Frasier is so well-known. Also, I can never get through the scene where Daphne explains her vegetable theories without cracking up. Jane Leeves’ delivery is, as usual, spot-on. Still not convinced? Check out this adorable scene and then get back to me.
How can you not root for those two?
That’s it for season 5. I’d like to give brief shout-outs to a few episodes that didn’t make the cut for time/sanity purposes: The Kid, a great showcase for Peri Gilpin*, Perspectives on Christmas, a Rashomon-style episode that shines a new light on “O Holy Night”, The Ski Lodge, which is a the go-to episode for classic Frasier farce, and Life of the Party, if only for the hilarity of Marty’s attempted hair-dye job.
(*Speaking of Peri Gilpin, does anyone else secretly watch ABC Family’s Make it or Break It? I’m way too old for the show, I know this, but it’s got three great things going for it: teen angst, gymnastics, and Peri Gilpin. Most of the plot lines are ridiculous, and it’s absolutely a guilty pleasure, but OMG, I kinda love it. Shh. Tell no one.)
Dial M for Martin: The beginning of season six started out differently from most, with Frasier being out of work for several episodes. As a result, he’s going a little stir crazy and driving Martin up the wall. On Roz’s suggestion, Martin decides to move in with Niles for a while, until things calm down on Frasier’s end. At first, Niles finds the idea appalling, then becomes ecstatic when he realizes Daphne would also move in. His plan backfires, as Daphne decides if Marty is spry enough to get around Niles’ big apartment, her job is done. Cue Niles going off the deep end. He starts to unintentionally/subconsciously do things to hurt Martin, like accidentally pushing him down the stairs and leaving scissors in his chair. The gem of this episode is seeing John Mahoney play Martin completely terrified of his Niles. In the end, he decides to go back to living with Frasier, and fakes and injury so Daphne will stay. Here’s the second act. Enjoy the brilliant performances by John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce.
Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz: I just flat-out love this episode. The first time I rewatched this (and trust me, I have watched it several times since), I pretty much laughed for the entire 22 minutes. The premise is simple: Frasier’s new girlfriend, Faye, and her mother stop by on Christmas Eve. Faye’s Jewish; Frasier is not. On Faye’s request (to avoid any holiday confrontation with her mother), the Cranes pretend they’re Jewish for a night. Meanwhile, Daphne is in charge of the building’s Christmas pageant, and has roped Niles into helping her. And…go! Here’s a bit of the madness. Warning: May cause uncontrollable fits of laughter.
Three Valentines: Well, obviously this one is here for the legendary first six minutes. If you’ve gotten this far into the rewatch, obviously you know what I’m talking about. Niles borrows Frasier’s apartment on Valentine’s Day, and cooks a lovely meal for his date. Let’s just say…things do not work out, and what follows is possibly the most brilliant six minutes of television ever – all without a word spoken. I recently listened to an interview with DHP where he was asked about the scene, and he said they did it in two takes. Pretty darn impressive. The other two plotlines center around Valentine’s dates – Frasier is out with a coworker, and continually gets mixed signals whether he’s actually on a date; Martin and Daphne spend the evening together, where they both have their moments of self-pity. These are solid storylines, but Niles’ scene is the clear standout.
I highly doubt it, but if there’s anyone who’s never seen this, enjoy.
Taps at the Montana: After living at the Shangri-La for several months, Niles is finally able to go back to his home at the luxurious Montana. Unfortunately, his subletter developed a fondness for tap dancing, and the neighbors are so annoyed, they are considering throwing Niles out. He decides to throw a party for the board members to make amends. All goes well until a board member dies in the middle of the party. In order to cover it up, they play the party game Murderer and everyone hides while the Cranes wait for the paramedics to arrive. This episode makes the list mostly for Roz’s reaction to finding the dead body.
And that’s it for season 6. Shout outs to two episodes that moved the Niles/Daphne storyline along: To Tell the Truth and Visions of Daphne, as well as the season 6 finale, Shutout in Seattle, which puts a nice cap on what turned out to be a difficult year for the Crane men. As usual, Martin knows just what his boys need: