Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day One Hundred and One - Frasier: Season 11, Episode 20, "Finally, after all these years... I guess?"

Usually, when I start a show on Netflix, I go from the beginning and work my way through the series. The only time I generally skip around is when I've recently seen a season and have specific episodes that I want to revisit.

With Frasier, I don't think that's necessary. Frankly, there's not much reason so go back if you watched Frasier over the years. Really, if you've seen one episode, you've pretty much seen them all. The only real progress over the life of the series was Niles' gradual relationship with Daphne.

Sure, if you take the long view, there have been plenty of great episodes... emmy-winning ones, at that, but it's all so much sophisticated sound and fury. They all love each other despite their respective differences in art, entertainment, and animals (Oh, Eddie, how you thwart Frasier's eternal attempts at good Feng Shui) and nothing ever changes.

The only thing I really cared about over the length of the series was Niles and Daphne and them getting together (which took seven freaking seasons, and another three to tie the knot)... then, the only thing that interested me was the possibility of Frasier gaining a lasting relationship.

I was surprised in the final season (eleven) when the writers took a different approach and gave his father, Martin, a second lease on life... giving him a relationship with his sons' former babysitter (and now, vivacious lounge singer) Ronee, who is played by Wendee Malick.

With both Niles and Marty moving on with their lives and only a few more episodes before the series was slated to finished, I was actually expecting the show to end with Frasier riding off into the sunset an eternal bachelor.

And, honestly, I would've been happy with that. He'd have his work, his apartment back to himself, and his family would be taken care of.

Then Laura Linney entered the picture.

It's only on episode 20 of season 11, FOUR EPISODES before the completion of the series... that any serious attempt is made to give Frasier a tenable lovelife. Sure, he meets her (as his freaking matchmaker) in episode 18 and is shown to be smitten with her at the end of the episode... but, really, it's episode 20 that things get both ridiculous and oddly interesting at the same time.

Why? Because not only does he have to make his romantic intentions known, but he has to do so AND beat out the competition. When said competition is a multilingual, devastatingly handsome naturalist who is played by Aaron Eckhart, you'd think things were hopeless.

Now, its obvious from both the placement of this romance towards the end of Frasier's final season and the generally goofy shenanigans that Frasier, Charlotte (Linney), and Frank (Eckhart) go through that Frasier will win the day and the lady, but still... it's an oddly satisfying episode both in terms of tender moments and cheap laughs.

I mean, really, pretty much any time Frank opens his mouth... whether it's to converse in French with a maître d' or ask for a back rub, I can't help but laugh. It silly and pandering, his caricature of the typical Greenpeace hippie, but it works for the sitcom situation.

I also just really, really love Laura Linney. 

Her smile on top of her beauty and personality make her dazzling to my eyes and the way she plays her character feels like a perfect match for Frasier. It would have been nice to meet her quite a bit earlier in the season and have this competition for her affections last longer than a single episode, but I'm pretty darn satisfied with what I've got.

The B and C stories concerning Marty/Ronee and Roz I can just skip over. The best of the episode is all Frasier and Frank. I mean, honestly... "I punched a raccoon in the face" just has to be one of the best lines ever!

Ooo! I should also give a shoutout to the maître d' who is played by Michael Des Barres whom folks might recognize as Murdoc from MacGyver. Always great to see him (he's also been on Gilmore Girls~).

Back to the matter at hand, if you've ever watched Frasier, you know the overall gist of the series. Really, the only reason to go back is to revisit these last few episodes (probably starting with 18). I've watched them so much that I only need to start with 20 (and plan on skipping 22, as it's just a series retrospective episode that has nothing to do with Charlotte).

Overall, it seems that I'm just a sucker for the pretentious snob with a heart of gold getting the girl. I wonder why that is? ;P

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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