Monday, January 06, 2014

The Scales of Justice

A decade ago tonight, as the Frasier series was coming to a close after 11 seasons, Frasier and his KACL colleagues were competing with a rival radio station to lose weight. The prize for the winners would be a trip to Las Vegas.

The KACL gang resorted to a number of strategies, including gorging just before the initial weigh–in to artificially boost their group weight ...
Bulldog Briscoe (Dan Butler): We got cheeseburgers, doughnuts, french fries, tacos ...

Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert): And a duck confit that's as rich as Donald Trump and twice as greasy.

and trying to steam away additional pounds in the hours before the penultimate weigh–in. Eventually, it all came down to a hilarious moment when Roz (Peri Gilpin), in a Rockyesque moment, got one of her colleagues to "cut me" (meaning her ponytail) — to claim victory by an ounce or so.

Frasier was disinterested, at best, and his initial weight–loss strategy was to add a salad to every meal (for you dieters out there, it didn't work — so don't try that at home!). But, after the first weigh–in, he had a brand–new motivation. At the weigh–in, he discovered that a prep–school nemesis was on the other team.

Apparently, in addition to being Frasier's main rival for the affections of a Scandinavian exchange student, this nemesis was memorable for how he tormented Frasier when he mistakenly signed up to play girls field hockey. To hear Frasier tell it, it was a completely understandable error.

"The sign said 'F Hockey,' " Frasier protested. "I assumed it meant 'Freshman Hockey.' "

"The little plaid skirt didn't tip you off?" Martin (John Mahoney) asked.

"I thought it was a kilt!" Frasier replied.

As a result, to the winners of the competition would go more than merely trips to Las Vegas. Frasier and this one–time nemesis made a bet. If Frasier's team lost, he would have to wear his field hockey uniform. And if Frasier's team won, the nemesis would have to replace a chess set he took from Frasier in prep school.

Bess Armstrong, making her second appearance on the show, was the host of the local TV program on which the competition played out and acted as the moderator for the competition.

In a parallel (although not necessarily connected) story, Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Martin tried to nurse an ailing pigeon. The pigeon was a "buddy" of Eddie's who flew onto Frasier's balcony and observed Eddie through the glass doors — while Eddie observed him.

In explaining the relationship to Frasier, Martin said, "The bird's like his pet."

"Eddie is a pet," Frasier said. "He doesn't get to have a pet."

To prevent the pigeon from flying into the glass, Martin had put a smudge on it, but compulsive cleaner Niles cleaned up the smudge, and the pigeon — whom Martin called Barney — had flown into the glass.

"Are you happy?" asked Martin when they hurried to the balcony to see if Barney was all right. "You killed Eddie's friend. Poor little guy."

Then, after a pause, he looked at Niles and asked, "Now what should we do? Just kick him over the edge?"

The pigeon wasn't really dead, though, so Niles and Martin put it in a box and tried to nurse it back to health.

But, in the end, Eddie was the instrument of Barney's destruction.

Martin put the box on the floor next to Eddie and urged him to "say hello." Instead, Eddie stuck his head in the box, grabbed the bird and ran off down the hall.

Niles, who had been out of the room, returned, and Martin quickly closed the lid of the box. He told Niles that the bird was asleep, and Niles set down a bowl of bird seed he had in his hand.

"You know, Dad," Niles said, "I think he may like me even more than he likes Eddie."

"No contest," Martin replied.