The New ‘Frasier’ Recap, So You Can Skip It: Frasier and His New Friends Go Clubbing
While Eve (Jess Salgueiro) and Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott) try their best to pass all their best flirting skills to the slightly younger yet much more helpless David (Anders Keith), Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst) and Olivia (Toks Olagundoye) receive a huge honor from what we’re told, but not really shown, is a highly exclusive secret society… which is also prepared to invite potential members whose time on faculty can still be measured in hours. How is Frasier involved in this plotline?
This is but one of my many questions about Episode Five, “The Founders’ Society.”
Why Is Frasier Having a Hard Time Fitting in at Harvard?
As the episode opens, Alan returns to the office he shares with Frasier carrying a piece of cake from a departmental birthday party. It seems as though Alan didn’t actually attend the party and just rolled through to get a midafternoon sugar fix — relatable — but Frasier is still hurt not to have been invited. Frasier explains that he’s having a hard time fitting in at Harvard, which is especially hard since normally when he’s left out he tries to tell himself it’s just because the people leaving him out are intimidated by his intellect, and clearly that’s not going to work this time.
We know why Frasier might feel ostracized by his new colleagues — as Vulture reported last month, not a single real Psychology Department head in the Ivy League would hire someone with Frasier’s CV to teach a class at their institution — but why hasn’t this been part of the story the show is trying to tell? Is it, perhaps, because dramatizing Frasier’s fellow instructors and their extremely legitimate objections to his being granted status he didn’t earn would require Olivia to justify recruiting him, and we already didn’t buy her reasons when he actually started?
Thus far, every person who has recognized Frasier from his show has been a fan. It would be fun to see an inveterate social climber like Frasier dismissed by the people he most wants to impress. Oh well!
How Exclusive Is This Secret Society?
Frasier feels even more excluded when Olivia and Alan confirm to one another, in code, that they’ve both received invitations to a highly exclusive party thrown by the Founders’ Society, and he has not. But why would Frasier assume he would also get one? If Olivia and Alan, who’ve presumably been at Harvard for at least years, in Olivia’s case, and decades in Alan’s, are only just getting theirs now, shouldn’t Frasier still have to wait a long time to join them, having only started at Harvard a matter of weeks ago? And given that Frasier does then get an invitation as well, doesn’t that mean the Founders’ Society is considering offering membership to any old jackass who just showed up?
Do the Writers of This Show Believe We Have Never Seen a Sitcom Before?
After Frasier has left for the Founders’ Society cocktail party with Alan and Olivia, David invites himself to intrude on Freddy’s quiet night in reading Little Women. David is curious that Freddy isn’t dating Eve, since they formerly lived together and have seen each other in their pajamas. Freddy reminds David (and the audience) that the reason he knows Eve at all is because she dated his friend, who has since died, and adds, “Trust me, nothing can happen.”
So it… definitely will? I mean, we all probably assumed that already: It’s a pretty straightforward law of economy of a character’s situation — although this episode does also establish that Eve has kissed more women than she assumes David has, so maybe she is destined to end up with Olivia. It’s probably not going to be David, but…
What, Exactly, Makes David Want to Date Eve?
Since Freddy has said he’s not going to be making any move on Eve, David announces that he’s going to ask her out, and Freddy basically dares him to, for sport. But how has David decided that she is a good prospect for him? It would be easy to have given him dialogue about not feeling intimidated by her since they’ve met and conversed many times, but he doesn’t say that, or really anything else. Since this is clearly a setup to let Freddy and Eve teach David how to ask a girl out, why doesn’t this storyline just start with David asking one or both of them for help? “It’s not so that we are all amused by the actual moment David does ask Eve out?” Sorry, no: that happens off-screen, meaning there is no dramatic purpose behind David’s romantic interest in Eve, as doomed as it is perfunctory.
When Is This Show Going to Stop Ripping Off Much Better Episodes of ‘Frasier’ (the Good One)?
Frasier, Olivia and Alan explain to Freddy and Eve that even though the Founders’ Society is extremely selective (citation needed), they’ve got a plan: They’ll form an alliance so that they can talk one another up to members and increase the chances that one of them will be offered a place. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you already watched Frasier (1993) Season Two, Episode 18, “The Club,” in which Frasier and his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) are in basically the same situation and do basically the same thing for one another.
In “The Club” — which will turn 29 in a few months — Frasier and Niles are at the party when they discover that there aren’t two membership vacancies to fill, but one, and therefore turn on each other — officially still delivering compliments, but now extremely passive-aggressive ones. Similarly, in “The Founders’ Society,” our trio finds out at the party that there is one more of them than there are available spots. In “The Club,” Niles is ultimately offered membership over his brother because Frasier’s career as a radio psychiatrist is judged to be too tacky — something that, as I’ve already noted, is never a problem for Frasier in the new show. That source of conflict is too realistic, I guess; instead, we get Alan wearing a gigantic medieval glove around the party all night which no one notices (a) on him or (b) missing from its display.
Does This Club Seem Fun at All?
Admittedly, it’s hard for me to put myself in the mindset of an Ivy League academic of any age. But what do you do at this place other than drink and (supposedly) exclude people? I can do that at home.
Was Olivia’s Knowledge of Latin Supposed to Be a Big Surprise?
Whereas the limited number of memberships in “The Club” led to some of the clever, elegantly savage jokes the original Frasier was known for. (After Niles tells Frasier and member Kenneth Spencer that he hopes Frasier is the one who gets in, Kenneth admires Niles’s noble sentiment. Niles: “Well, I know how much it means to him. We can’t risk another splashy suicide attempt.” Frasier: “That’s very amusing, Niles, using humor to defuse a tense situation. I’m sure that stood you in good stead when you were in prison for threatening the president.”) In “The Founders’ Society,” all we get is the two old jerks banding together to exclude the younger Black woman, and discussing their plan in front of her in Latin, Frasier congratulating himself and Alan for being so smart since Olivia definitely doesn’t understand it. Except she does, and uses it to ingratiate herself to important member Dean Melvin (Don Lake), in the most predictable plot “twist” imaginable.
Does Dean Melvin then use his and Olivia’s shared Latin knowledge to lord it over less erudite prospective members? No, there is actually no friction at this party at all. I mentioned the giant glove Alan illicitly wears all night, right? Totally not a problem. Even Alan’s booze-stealing plan — which hinges on Frasier being able to catch the bottle when Alan knocks it off a high shelf — goes off without a hitch. Sure!
Can We All Agree Don Lake Deserves Better?
He is a character actor treasure! He should be headlining a sitcom on Paramount+!!!
Guess Freddy and David Haven’t Heard Frasier’s ‘Milady’ Story?
Tipping an imaginary cap and greeting a woman as “Milady” is one of the opening moves that Eve and Freddy advise David to lose; no one can dispute they are correct. But since neither of them calls back to the original series, one may assume this isn’t one of the five stories Frasier has apparently repeated many times during his time as Freddy’s roommate.
At the end of the episode, after David has accidentally picked up Saara (Cheyenne Perez) at Mahoney’s, the bar where Eve works, he says goodbye to Freddy and Eve so that he and Saara can hit up a nearby used bookstore. Acknowledging Eve and Freddy, Saara tips an imaginary cap to them with a parting “Milady.” Is this, maybe, the best joke of the series so far?!