Sunday, January 22, 2012

Generation Flap

It was often said, as I was growing up, that there was a gap between the generations.

It was most visible in the division over the Vietnam War, I guess. There were — as there always are — exceptions to the rule, but, generally speaking, younger people were opposed to the war and older people were supportive of it. In my experience, it was the mother of all wedge issues.

But that generational division could be seen in almost every other area of life as well — music, fashion, hair length — and I have learned, as I have traveled life's path, that the "generation gap" was not a phenomenon.

It is a constant of the human condition, this driving need for the young to express themselves and an equally strong negative reaction to such self–expression from their elders. I have seen it played out between my own generation and the generation that followed — and, in time, the generation that followed mine will experience the same thing with the next generation. And so it goes.

It is, in the words of a song that was popular when I was in my teens, the way of the world.

It's a topic that has been explored in many ways, and, 10 years ago tonight, the Frasier show memorably did so in its own, unique way in an episode titled "Juvenilia."

Frasier had been encouraged to be a guest on a youth–oriented program at the station in an attempt to attract more young listeners to his own show, which was said to appeal mostly to older men who kept the radio on for company. Frasier was reluctant, but, after speaking to one of the perky (and complimentary) hosts, he agreed to make an appearance.

Initially, things seemed to be going well ... until the hosts turned on Frasier, accusing him of "pass[ing] the buck" on "real problem[s]" with the callers to his show and bringing up embarrassing moments from his past, like the time when he nearly committed suicide during the breakdown of his marriage.

Meanwhile, two somewhat related subplots had been playing out.

Frasier's brother Niles was trying to find a special gift for Daphne and, after hearing a story from Roz's romantic past, decided to attempt to swipe a street sign for Daphne Lane and make it his love offering.

And their father Martin started to fret when a young co–worker didn't call after a flirtatious encounter at a company party.

Both subplots complemented the main theme well. I thought it was one of the best episodes of the series' ninth season.

Anyway, Frasier managed to turn the tables on his hosts quite nicely — with the help of Kirby, the young man he had tutored in exchange for an old high school classmate's assistance in encouraging a relationship with a comely acquaintance.

Kirby was one of my favorite temporary characters on Frasier. He was played by Brian Klugman, who was actually in his mid–20s when he played the recent high school graduate — and "Juvenilia" was his final appearance on the show.

In real life, Klugman is the nephew of one of my favorite TV actors from my childhood, Jack Klugman, "Oscar" from TV's The Odd Couple — but also a member of the cast of one of my favorite movies, "12 Angry Men," which will observe the 55th anniversary of its release later this year.

I don't know if the elder Klugman was responsible for the younger's career choice.

But it sure was nice to have a Klugman on my TV screen again.

It was almost like a blast from my past.