The best of times is now: Our weekend with DHP

After six visits over the past two years, New York officially peaked for me last weekend. I suppose it’s possible to top the awesomeness/epicness of Oct 22-24, 2010, but it’s going to be damn hard.

This was actually over a year in the making. Summer 2009, Nicki and I met in New York for a trip to see Next to Normal. At some point, our mutual love of David Hyde Pierce came up, and we decided then and there that when he came back to Broadway, we would go see him.

Let me pause here and say that in case you don’t know who he is – and if you are reading this blog there’s a slim chance you don’t – he is best known for playing Niles Crane on my beloved Frasier, but he’s also a kick-ass and Tony-award winning stage actor, recently seen in Spamalot and Curtains (he won the Tony for the latter) as well as a ton of other stuff pre-Frasier. You can also check him out in the super twisted but hilarious film  Wet Hot American Summer, as well as Down With Love, A Bug’s Life, the weird yet intriguing Wolf, and the promising yet-to-be-released The Perfect Host (playing at a film festival near you). And if that’s not enough for you, check out the newest audiobook of The Phantom Tollbooth, which he not only narrates but also plays every single character.  (A mighty task as the book has at least 30 distinct characters.)

Flash forward a year, and it’s announced that Mr. Pierce is indeed returning to the boards for a limited run of the 1991 David Hirsen play La Bete. I don’t think it’s what we were expecting, but hey, it was a play, it was on Broadway and it had DHP, so we were there.

We got tickets way in advance. A few days later, I found out that Mr. Pierce would be participating in the 92nd Street Y Broadway Talks series the day after we were seeing him in La Bete. Obviously, we needed to see this as well. And so it turned into a “DHP-themed weekend.” Continue reading

“I think you can call me Niles now.” The Great Frasier Rewatch, Part V

Okay, readers, this is it. The day has come. Eight months after starting this thing, we’ve reached the final installment of The Great Frasier Rewatch. It’s been awhile since part IV, so if you’re totally clueless, previous entries can be found here.

Previously, we discussed seasons 5 and 6. Today, we shall start with season 7 and go all the way to 11. Now, I have to admit, there are not as many stand-out episodes in the later seasons, but the ones that *do* stand out are pretty darn excellent. 

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“Still, food? In a bathroom?” The Great Frasier Rewatch, Part IV

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?

Season 5
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. Continue reading

“Coroners have their own bars?” The Great Frasier Rewatch, Part III

Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is over. Your prayers have been answered. The long-anticipated blog post is finally here. That’s right, it’s Part 3 of The Great Frasier Rewatch! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go here and here to read parts 1 and 2. Excited? Me too, let’s get started!

Season 3
Okay, hold on. Before I begin, let me just say that season 3 has a lot of great episodes, but I only picked a couple for this list. I’ll list some notable mentions at the end. Okay. Now, for reals, the list.

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“Dad wanted to, but I won the coin toss.” The Great Frasier Rewatch, Part II

Here’s the second installment of The Great Frasier Rewatch. If you’re totally lost, scroll down, or go here for part one. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are some more of my favorites.

Season 2

The Matchmaker:
One of Frasier’s most famous episodes, this is the first farce they ever did, and the first episode written by the show’s farce master, Joe Keenan. The plot gets a wee complex, so I’ll do my best to whittle it down. Daphne is depressed about her lack of a love life, and she and Frasier have a heart-to-heart. The next day, Frasier tells Roz about Daphne’s woes, and she offers to set Daphne up with one of her former boyfriends. He declines, insulting (hah, I first wrote “insluting”) her in the process. Later on at work, the new station manager, Tom, comes by during Frasier’s show. Frasier decides to invite Tom over for dinner, after finding out he used to live in London and is recently single. When Tom talks to Roz, he tells her Frasier asked him out – and since she is still angry from their earlier conversation, she doesn’t bother to correct his assumption that Frasier is gay. Got it so far? Ok. We cut to the night of the dinner – and – well, here, I’ll let you watch what happens next. Fun fact: Tom is played by Eric Lutes, who turned this gig into a starring role on Caroline in the City. According to the audio commentary (yes I listen to audio commentary, shut it), the day after this episode aired, the producer’s phones were ablaze – everyone wanted to know who the new guy was.

Niles’ reaction to finding out Tom is gay is absolutely priceless, and cracks me up every time. Ditto Daphne’s reaction.

Flour Child: So, this show makes me laugh. A lot. Pretty much every episode has me laughing at something. But during the rewatch, this is the first episode that made me laugh till I cried. Ironic, too, because when the episode started, I thought it was going to turn into a huge cliche. Why? Because the three Crane men are in a cab when the driver goes into labor. It actually ends up being quite funny, and afterwards, Niles starts thinking about having a child of his own. Frasier jokingly says he should do the old high school experiment of carrying around a sack of flour, and Niles takes his suggestion to heart, since Maris is once again out of town. Much hilarity ensues, and in the end, Niles decides he’s not ready. Here’s just a sample of said hilarity, but you really just ought to watch the whole episode.


Breaking the ice

Breaking the Ice: So, my favorite relationship on the show is, surprisingly, NOT Niles and Daphne, but rather the relationship between the three Crane men. Frasier and Niles have little in common with their father, but beneath the surface is a deep father/son bond. This is one of the few episodes in which their relationship is explored. In an attempt to bond with their father, Frasier and Niles agree to go ice fishing with Martin after his friend backs out. They both have their reasons: Niles just wants to get closer to Martin, while Frasier wants to Martin to finally say “I love you.” Once they get to the cabin, the bickering starts, and culminates with Niles dropping their car keys in the fishing hole. Forced to be with each other, and aided by Jim Beam, they begin to confide in each other (or, “break the ice”, if you will). Just before being rescued, Martin shyly tells his sons he loves them. It’s really Frasier (or any sitcom) at its best – perfectly combining the funny (such as Niles learning a bunch of inane facts about ice fishing to impress Martin) with the serious.


An Affair to Forget: Y’all remember this episode, right? It’s the one where Niles has an old fashioned duel. (Sort of.) It also won the 1995 Emmy for best writing in a comedy series. I have no idea what else it was up against, but for my money, the award was totally deserved. Niles tells Frasier how much more relaxed and pleasant Maris has been since she took up fencing on the same day Frasier gets a call from a German woman who suspects  her fencing instructor husband (Gunnar) is cheating on her. Frasier puts two and two together, goes to confront Maris, but accidentally tells Niles instead. On Martin’s advice, Niles decides to confront Gunnar. The only problem is, Gunnar doesn’t speak a word of English. Luckily, Niles’ maid Marta speaks German. So, in an odd game of telephone, Niles tells Frasier in English, who tells Marta in Spanish, who tells Gunnar in German. Here’s how the scene plays out:

Next: More farce and a big heartbreak, with seasons three and four. Stay tuned!