Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Frasier's Curse

Frasier: Every time my reunion comes around, it coincides with a severe downturn in my life. Five years ago Lilith divorced me; five years before that I was left at the altar; five years before that I fell face first into the poison ivy! And here we are right on schedule, I'm freshly fired!

OK, I am a fan of the Frasier series. That must be obvious to longtime readers of this blog.

There are only a handful of Frasier episodes that I don't care to watch again — a tiny fraction, really, of all the episodes that were shown during its 11–year run — and roughly the same number of episodes that I try never to miss when I know they will be shown.

The episode that was first broadcast 15 years ago tonight is one of the latter.

Frasier was trying to cope with joblessness at the same time his high school reunion was scheduled, and he was convinced that he was cursed, that the fates had been conspiring for years to afflict him with something to make him look bad in front of his ex–classmates ...

... And, ultimately, to relegate him to the losers' table where he would have to sing "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby" with the Chess Club's barbershop quartet, The Checkmates.

Frasier had his activities all planned out for Reunion Day, and his agenda definitely did not include making an appearance at the gathering.

But then, while running an errand for his father at the grocery store across the street, Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) was mistaken for a homeless person by one of his former classmates, and he decided he would have to attend the reunion after all to discredit the story, which he was sure would spread like wildfire.

Nevertheless, he continued to vacillate. He recruited Roz (Peri Gilpin) to be his date, then canceled plans to attend the reunion, then decided to go, then decided not to.

Understandably, Roz was irked about being asked to be his date twice and going to all the trouble of preparing for the occasion twice only to be stood up twice.

In what I thought was one of Roz's best dialogue exchanges — and she had some good ones during the series' run — she told Frasier, "You know, some day you're gonna need another favor from me, buddy, and when that day comes, I hope you know what you can do with it."

"I have a pretty good idea," Frasier replied.

"Well, do it twice!" Roz said.

In the end, Frasier wound up attending the reunion after all. After Roz stormed out of his apartment, Frasier's father (John Mahoney) made up a story about getting a call from Frasier's agent about a job at another radio station in town, and Frasier, his confidence restored, suddenly was eager to attend the reunion to gloat about his good fortune.

When Frasier had departed, Martin told Niles (David Hyde Pierce) that it was really a made–up story, and Niles chastised him. Wasn't that risky? he asked. What if someone at the reunion knows the story isn't true?

Martin insisted he only meant to give Frasier a shot of confidence. There was little chance that Frasier would run into anyone who would know he hadn't been offered a job.

With Daphne (Jane Leeves) reading items from the class newsletter, though, they determined that the manager of the station where Frasier was supposed to have this new job was also the organizer of the reunion.

It was inevitable that the two would run into each other — and that the station manager would know the truth. So, too, would Frasier.

Viewers never saw the moment of truth. The last they saw of Frasier was his rather tortured walk through the class reunion to the table of The Checkmates — where they broke into a rendition of "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby."

And the curse lived on.