The New ‘Frasier’ Recap, So You Can Skip It: Freddy and Frasier Flirt With the Same Woman, Less Improbably Than You Might Think
Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott) have nearly everything they could want in life: reconnection with each other, satisfying jobs, a beautiful apartment. The only thing missing for both of them is the regular company of a woman. Eve (Jess Salgueiro) actually has a special lady in mind for each of them, but she’s sworn off setting Freddy up with anyone because he’s emotionally unavailable; Frasier says his heart is wide open. Eve agrees to arrange blind dates for the Crane boys, but only if they are truly blind: the men won’t know anything about the women Eve’s sending over, including their names.
What could go wrong? A lot less than what confronts the audience at Eve’s play — including Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst), Olivia (Toks Olagundoye), and that’s just about it, unless he also bought a ticket for his flask.
I have a lot of questions about Season One, Episode Six “Blind Date.”
How Is It That Alan Walks into Eve’s Trap?
Eve’s tending bar for Alan and Olivia when she innocently asks what they’re doing on Saturday. Oblivious to Olivia’s signals at him to play it cool (or, possibly, to shut up entirely), Alan says that both he and Olivia are free, which is great news: They can come see her portray the lead detective, Erin Murderfinder, in the new play Death in Murderbury.
I’m sorry (but not that sorry) if this makes me sound like a bad friend, but if you know any kind of amateur artist, you have to be on your guard with them at all times, because you never know when they might try to rook you into agreeing to attend their play/band gig/art show/open mic night. Alan knows Eve from Mahoney’s, and they’re both in Frasier’s social circle; he should know better! Why get into your 60s if not to have formulated a few stock excuses to weasel out of unappealing invitations?
Why Is Eve Asking People to ‘Death in Murderbury’?
It would be one thing for Eve to believe, sincerely, that her play is good and be wrong, either because she has no objectivity about it or because she has bad taste. It would be another if she knew it was bad but was desperate to obfuscate in order not to have to perform it to an empty house. But she says straight up that it’s poorly constructed, ill-conceived and bad — so bad that she’s not trying to get Frasier or Freddy to come, out of gratitude for everything they’ve done for her. If she knows it sucks, why is she enlisting witnesses that she knows?
Freddy and Frasier Are Getting Along Now?
The last time we saw Freddy and Frasier spending any significant amount of time together was two episodes ago, when Freddy brought Frasier to the firehouse so he might get a better understanding of what Freddy does for a living and stop dismissing it just because he’s not a white-collar professional like his parents.
Regardless of my feelings about the episode’s overall quality, it makes perfect sense that this would be a premise. Officially, the reason Frasier has moved back to Boston is to repair his relationship with Freddy, his only son. Much as we saw the slow progress Frasier made, in the original Frasier, in repairing his relationship with his father Martin (John Mahoney), we should be seeing how Frasier and Freddy are getting along, or not. But in fully half of the episodes that have aired so far, Frasier and Freddy not only aren’t working on their relationship — they’re not even in the same storyline. When they arrive in this episode, joining Eve, Alan and Olivia at the end of the unfortunate play plans, it’s to say how well they’ve been getting along. But what does that look like? Is the reason all this great bonding has been happening off-screen perhaps that the writers’ imaginations have failed them in terms of… figuring out what Frasier and Freddy do together?
What Is Freddy’s Dating History?
As we established last week, Freddy telling David (Anders Keith) that nothing could happen between Eve and Freddy means something definitely will. (By the way, how did David escape having to see the bad play?! Now he’s apparently dating the girl he met at the end of the last episode — inviting him could have potentially filled two seats, but instead he’s not in this episode at all!) Freddy also broadly hints-slash-brags to David that he’s dated a lot of women, but that’s all we know. New information in this episode: That Eve has set him up with ladies in the past, but that it’s never worked out because Freddy has rejected them for petty reasons — including, presumably, when her late boyfriend was still alive, so not because he was carrying a torch for Eve the whole time.
Has Freddy ever seriously dated anyone? If he had, it feels like the time to bring it up would be to defend himself against Eve’s accusations about his inability to be emotionally vulnerable. If he hadn’t, this would also be the moment for that to come out. Since the writers didn’t use this convenient moment to drop some exposition, one must assume they haven’t thought about it, so: add it to the list of pages missing from the show bible.
What Year Is It?
Before agreeing to set up both Crane men with the women she’s had her eye on for them, Eve tells Freddy she’s not going to tell him anything at all about his date, including her name: “I’m not giving you the chance to talk yourself out of it.” We all live in the world; just say, “I don’t want you to Google her.”
Who Picked This Music?
The first woman to arrive at the apartment is June (June Diane Raphael). Frasier immediately assumes she’s there for him — even though Kelsey Grammer is 68 and Raphael is 43, meaning she was in high school at the same time as Grammer’s 40-year-old daughter Spencer — because June shares so many of Frasier’s elevated tastes. She recognizes that the throw pillows on the couch are Christian LaCroix, and clocks that the music he’s chosen is from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor.
This is what Frasier chooses to play for romantic ambience? It’s so dour! Evidently someone else agrees, because at a certain point the stereo turns itself off.
Can We Not, With the Door Gag?
June and Frasier have barely started flirting before Freddy gets home from a softball game; Frasier having gone to the kitchen — through a doorless doorway — to pour her a glass of wine, he can’t hear June and Freddy as they start flirting, because all three of them are on a sitcom, and as we know, once characters are one or more yards away from each other, conversations at a normal volume are completely inaudible.
Credit, for once, where it’s due — mostly to Raphael, an absolute pro: the way June is written really does leave the audience in suspense as to which Crane she’s come to date. She’s just as credible chatting with Freddy about his game, and the dive bar they both like to go to after Red Sox games. But then the writers have to push their luck with a gag that hearkens back to the door-slamming farce episodes of the original series. It turns out that the kitchen has two entrances, so we can see Freddy going in one door to get June a glass of tap water just as Frasier comes out to deliver sparkling.
Not to be a purist, but to sell a bit like this, you need… doors? If not to literally slam, at least to swing — and if they did, it would make it more believable that the two Crane men don’t hear one another chatting with June before they realize, when they finally do find each other in the kitchen, that they’re both clicking with the same woman. The couch on this set is also so close to the kitchen that the longer they take away from June to strategize about which of them Eve set her up with, the less credible it is that this cool, confident, charming woman wouldn’t just wander into the doorless kitchen herself to hang out with them.
How Old Is John?
The Cranes decide not to make the situation more awkward by directly asking June whom she’s there for — and they can’t reach Eve to ask her, since she’s onstage in her awful play — so they decide just to wait for another woman to show up and hope it’s more obvious which of them Eve matched her with. Cue the door, on the other side of which is…
Ha ha, except this isn’t Frasier’s date, it’s Eve’s nanny, crossing the hall to borrow some milk for Eve’s infant son John. Except: We’ve been given to understand that Adam, John’s father, was killed during Eve’s pregnancy, and it doesn’t seem like he died very long ago, and yet babies aren’t supposed to have dairy until after their first birthday. I guess none of the writers are parents yet, and it’s been so long since Grammer’s children were babies that he didn’t correct them. (Not to think the worst of this man, but maybe he just never fed them?)
How Quickly Would This Misunderstanding Unravel Itself in Real Life?
I understand that an outlandish situation has been conceived for the sake of comedy in this sitcom episode. But the fact that these two blindest of blind dates (since Frasier decided it would be fun if Eve didn’t tell him anything about his date either) were scheduled on the same night is so narratively convenient that Freddy has to comment on it so that we know the writers know they’re pushing their luck, even to give this episode its central conflict. But it takes so long for Freddy to find out that June has come intending to date him — which he only does when he overhears her (improbably) on the phone to a friend (as opposed to texting), saying that she’s actually vibing more with Frasier — when it seems like “By the way, where’s Freddy, I’m here for our date” would be about the fourth thing she said to Frasier.
Can Frasier Think Anything Will Happen With This Woman?
Eventually, there’s another knock at the door: It’s Frasier’s actual date, Siobhan (Jacqueline Obradors). She can recognize the osso bucco he’s smelling and fondly remembers her time in Milan, where she was performing at La Scala as an opera singer. Even though, by now, Freddy has agreed to step aside and let Frasier date June, Freddy’s intended date, Frasier gets greedy about possibly seeing them both, even though…
…she brought sherry with a SCREWTOP?!
Whose Idea Was This Tag?
Over the closing credits, we watch Eve and the terrible play’s terrible playwright, Kiki (Jessica McKenna) leaving the theater and finding the corpse still lying on stage with a knife in his back. Assuming he’s pranking them, they play along, but then he doesn’t move and they haul ass out of there — to do what is unclear, and given that every other decision both these characters have made in the episode has been wrong, I can’t trust that they’re going to call any authorities, so it’s a good thing we see that the guy is actually alive.
But just as last week’s tag should have been a montage of costumed baby photos, this episode gets it wrong too: Alan having told Eve in the cold open that he would like her to set him up with a “strict, disappointment schoolmarm,” we obviously should have seen him on a date with one.