Monday, March 7, 2011
S1 E19 "Give him the Chair"
As Niles and Frasier walk sullenly around a furniture store:
Niles: Dear God Frasier, we've stumbled across Hell's waiting room.
The Dad is a terrible roommate. He seems to spend all of his time in the living room watching tv (which is awful), he has a dog, he is loud, he is nosy and he frequently asks Frasier to stay out of his own apartment so he can have sex (I was trying to come up with a funny way to say this but it all just sounded so lame). But mostly, he is a self-righteous piece of shit.
The first season of Frasier was being computed by an earlier model of the Frasier-bot, one perfectly designed to win emmys, but with its drama, conflict and emotion levels too high and its hi-jinks and absurdity levels dangerously low. So season one is filled with episodes like "Give Him the Chair," with Frasier and The Dad having serious fights and then contemplating the history of their relationship. I cannot imagine coming home from a long day at work, plopping down and tuning in and dropping out to this. Why is NBC broadcasting an amateur theater version of Death of a Salesman? This is supposed to be funny dammit, not sad and terrible.
These episodes always feature one middle act when all the tensions boils up and Frasier and The Dad have a screaming match that lasts way too long and then the dad whips out his fucking sad dad card and lays it on the table and Frasier feels awful. But fuck that. All of the tension in the first season is based on the strain in their father-son relationship and Frasier's guilt over not connecting with his dad. But why does Frasier feel guilty? The Dad was the dad, Frasier and Niles were just prissy little kids and The Dad was too busy being a fucking jack-off cop to try and spend any time with the little pussies. Whose fucking fault is that? I picture young Frasier coming home from school all excited, his face aglow from a wonderful day of learning at St. Francis of Assissi Elementary School, "Dad, dad we got to listen to Beethoven today during reading hour!" "What do you think you're better than me? I was too busy being a fucking HERO cop to listen to Beethoven or read you faggot. I wish you liked sitting in a stupid chair and drinking off-brand beer and watching TV on mute all the time, THEN I'd have a real boy for a son and not some pussy-whipped smart ass. How come you never ask me to play catch with you Frasier?"
If I had a kid who was smart and into reading and high culture I'd be stoked, and I'd play catch with him and hang out with him a little bit so he grew into a well-rounded adult. But if he was some no-reading buffoon who only liked Nascar and spitting I would shun him, not try to make any impression on him at all and then show up in his life 40 years later, blame him for the way he was raised and then plop myself down in his living room and ruin his whole life. And if he ever asked me to make any concessions to his lifestyle I would just thump my dick down on the table and cry and scream about how he wasn't exactly the same as me as a child and so I justifiably ignored him and now he needs to make things right by catering to my every old man whim!
"Chair" centers around The Dad's famous old chair, an impossibly ugly green and gray recliner covered in duct tape. Frasier doesn't like the chair because its ugly and his apartment is nice, so he goes to a furniture store and buys a leather recliner with a vibrating massage option for his dad. Everyone loves it and it almost brings Daphne to orgasm (yes, seriously because women usually get off by having someone jiggle their asses).
Guess what? The Dad hates it! Even though the chair is a nice new recliner, and its massage option delighted even Niles and Frasier, The Dad demands that Frasier bring his old chair back. Frasier resists, and then The Dad launches into one of the most groan-inducing monologues ever on television. He doesn't want a nice new chair he wants the chair he was sitting in when he saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, when Frasier called him to tell him he had a grandson, when his wife kissed him on the cheek, etc. You can just watch John Mahoney working all of his biggest STAGE ACTOR muscles while he delivers this claptrap. This logic is exactly the reason I have been wearing the same pair of underwear since 1999, why I still have a racecar bed and why my TV sucks (I want to watch the same TV I watched Sesame Street on!).
I guess the Frasier brothers and their loftiness are the butt of the joke on Frasier, but it's the depiction of the working class through The Dad as our surrogate that is truly insulting. Us every-Joes don't like orchestras or art, we can't be bothered with all that high-minded bullshit, we don't even want to do necessary physical therapy, all we want to do is sit in an ugly chair that for some reason holds a spiritual significance, like a Catholic relic, watch TV and drink beer all the time. GARH GARH GARH baseball and beer and manly stuff like poker.
As it always does, this pandering bullshit works on Frasier, and he goes off on a chase for the chair. He finds it at a high school drama club that features a fat (and alive) Brittany Murphy, RIP, and that is staging "10 Little Indians*" that night! Frasier asks for the chair back and the drama teacher tells him he has to wait two weeks. Obviously this will not stand, since The Dad is a big self-righteous baby (a nickname I've suffered before too!) he could never wait two whole weeks to have the chair that he was sitting in the first time he jerked off while sticking his badge up his ass. The lead actor gets food poisoning, and the drama teacher strikes a deal with Frasier that if he will play the lead in the play he can have the chair back that night. I'm sure that was really weird for the parents going to see the play "Oh I thought Chereth was playing the lead in the play, but apparently its some old man, oh well." My favorite part of this scene is when Frasier introduces himself to the drama teacher and she doesn't know who he is, which MAKES TOTAL SENSE. Why does everyone know who Frasier Crane is? Oh yeah of course I know you, you're that guy on AM radio in the middle of the day. How could I not immediately recognize you, everyone in Seattle listens to AM radio aaaalll the time.
Talk radio makes me want to cut my ears off.
As the credits roll we get one last peak into Frasier's life as he delicately sets up a wonderful looking place on the couch to have some sherry and read his book. But then The Dad comes in and turns on the TV and Eddie runs in and ruins everything. What a fucking dick.
7.4 out of 10-As I said, the original Frasier-bot model was designed to win emmys and emmys alone, and obviously something like: beloved character dealing with REAL ISSUES and having emotional turmoil, is the same sort of catnip to Emmy voters that British accents and funny dresses is to Academy voters. But a 22 minute sitcom is the absolute worst place to try to deal with real issues or explore complex emotional issues. The whole thing is just overwrought and amateurish.
Roz is a slut: In a past review I touched upon the genesis of the Roz is a slut joke, but this was the first one that really took the gag into a whole new stratosphere of ridiculousness. Before this episode the jokes were pretty simple, oh yeah you sleep around stuff, boring and offensive but nothing too important. In "Chair" we get a story about Roz coming home in the morning from a night of wild sex and for some reason stopping to talk with a minister who tells her her shirt is on inside out and then propositions her, and of course she is totally into it! Within the story we learn that Roz thinks a church service is called a "show."
I still do not understand why this show is on Lifetime, it absolutely detests women. Every ex-wife/wife is a stuck-up cunt and the women are all retarded.
*When I was a little kid I loved Agatha Christie novels. Are they still awesome? Does anyone know?