Sunday, January 13, 2013

When Words Aren't Enough

Daphne (Jane Leeves): I've got some shocking news. I found a ring in your father's underwear drawer.

Frasier (Kelsey Grammer): What on earth would leave a ring around his underwear drawer?

Readers of this blog know of my fondness for the Frasier TV series. And, as I have mentioned before, I really like all of the episodes. (Some more than others, of course.)

But I especially like the episode that made its debut 15 years ago tonight.

Martin (John Mahoney) decided that he wanted to get married again, and he got an engagement ring to pop the question to his girlfriend Sherry (Marsha Mason). Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce) learned of the existence of the ring through Daphne (Jane Leeves), who found it while going through Martin's dresser.

Neither of the sons was pleased with the prospect, and it was hilarious to hear what each was dreading. Frasier anticipated hearing Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" as played on the banjo.

Niles wondered what Sherry would want to be called — finally settling on "Ma" — and imagined the kinds of things he might say to her, i.e. ...
"Don't you look nice tonight, Ma."

"Yes, I'd like another corn dog, Ma."

"Off to the roller derby, Ma?"
As usual, Niles and Frasier could only think in terms of how Martin's presumed marriage would affect them.

And, with that as motivation, Niles hired a private investigator to look into Sherry's past. The investigator hadn't finished his work when Niles decided to call things off (after Martin learned about the investigator — but did not yet know for certain who had hired him), but he was able to report that Sherry had been married several times and had been engaged to but had not married at least one other man.

Armed with this information, Niles and Frasier tried to persuade their father to change his plans, but Martin replied that he had known about Sherry's past all along. His mind was made up.

Turned out, he knew all along what her answer would be, too. She didn't want to get married again, but he did.

Frasier knew nothing of this. He assumed that Sherry had accepted Martin's proposal and proceeded to make himself look foolish when it turned out she had not.

Frasier (Kelsey Grammer): I'd like you to know that everybody is 100% behind this decision. My God, we're all so excited.

Martin (John Mahoney): Frasier!

Sherry (Marsha Mason): Well, I'm so glad that you're so happy your father's breaking up with me.

Frasier: Breaking up? I had no idea.

Sherry: And you get paid to help people through their difficult moments?

Martin and Sherry parted ways, agreeing to remain friends, and Martin stayed in the bar after Sherry left, sitting in front of the TV, which was showing the Sonics and Bulls. Frasier came in and sat with his father, and they shared a bonding moment in which little was said out loud — but there was a lot of non–verbal communication.

Sometimes it isn't easy for fathers and sons to communicate, and some fathers and sons are better at it than others. Frasier and Martin had their uneasy moments during the series' 11–year run, but there were times when they offered a simple example for how fathers and sons should communicate when words aren't enough.