Saturday, May 16, 2015

Some Enchanted Evening

Frasier (Kelsey Grammer): We'll make the place very, very exclusive! No sign on the outside, no advertisements and, oh, an unlisted number!

Martin (John Mahoney): Hey, well don't stop there! Maybe you could post some guards on the roof who can shoot people as they try to get in.

One of the always funny themes that was explored from time to time on Frasier was the sibling relationship between Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce). It frequently reared its head when the brothers attempted some project together — writing a book, going into a psychiatric partnership together, competing as a doubles team in squash tournaments — and, on the surface, they looked like a perfect match for a partnership. Both were elitist with very similar tastes in just about everything. On occasion, they even found themselves falling for — and competing for (or thinking they were competing for) — the same woman.

Now, appearances can be deceiving, and partnerships of all kinds succeed — and fail — for many reasons, but, as a rule, I believe the old adage that opposites attract is a pretty good one for business partnerships. It has always seemed helpful — to me, anyway — for one partner to be the big–picture guy, the promoter, while the other was the nuts–and–bolts guy, the details guy, the one who excelled at keeping the books and managing expenses.

A pair might be all right in poker — well, it beats no pair — but I don't think it is preferable in a business partnership. It is often said that two heads are better than one — but I would add that they need to bring separate skill sets to the table. And, after the episode of Frasier that premiered 20 years ago tonight, I had to wonder if the Crane brothers didn't think so, too.

A fixture on the Seattle restaurant scene was going under, and Niles and Frasier — while having a farewell dinner at the restaurant — decided to invest in it. The idea of running an exclusive restaurant appealed to their elitist natures, and they paid no attention to their father, who tried to make them aware of the hard work and long hours that go into making most restaurants succeed.

To be fair, few (if any) restaurants have been beset by as many opening–day calamities as Frasier and Niles' enterprise. Of course, Frasier and Niles brought a lot of it on themselves.

For one thing, their chef's signature dessert, Cherries Jubilee, kept getting additional doses of brandy because Frasier wanted "those cherries to be jubilant!"

Be careful what you wish for.

When the cherries were fired up, as it were, it caused an explosion — in which Roz (Peri Gilpin), who had been pressed into service as a substitute waitress, was caught, with predictable results. The fire — well, the smoke it caused — set off the sprinkler system.

Prior to that, Niles and Frasier had been micromanaging the chef, a creative sort who finally decided he had had enough and left the brothers without saying a word.

Then Niles tried to go out the wrong door and wound up knocking out one of the waiters. Frasier broke another waiter's nose trying to carry the other injured waiter through the other door. The bartender volunteered to take them both to the emergency room.

That, of course, left the Cranes short–handed. The rest of the kitchen staff skedaddled out of the restaurant when they heard that the head of the immigration bureau was having dinner there that night.

So Frasier pressed Martin (John Mahoney) and Daphne (Jane Leeves) into service.

As things were crumbling around Frasier, who should show up but his radio station colleague, Gil Chesterton, the pretentious and effeminate food critic, with four other restaurant critics from the Seattle media.

After the Cherries Jubilee explosion — and the sprinkler system it set off — those critics couldn't wait to tell their readers/listeners. And if they ever forgot what had happened, Gil assured Frasier, he would remind them.

Yep, it was a real disaster, all right. And Martin got a chance to gloat. He had predicted it all, and he had maybe the best line of the night when he answered the phone amid the smoldering rubble of opening night and spoke to someone who wanted to make a dinner reservation. Martin inquired about the seating preference. "Smoke damaged or non–smoke damaged?"