Saturday, November 19, 2016

Seeing Double

"I can't talk right now, Duke. I'm in the Twilight Zone."

Martin (John Mahoney)

It is said that everyone has a double somewhere in this world.

That probably makes the odds against encountering your doppelgänger extraordinarily high. For example, I'm in Dallas, Texas. Suppose my doppelgänger is in Europe somewhere — or perhaps Australia or Russia. I haven't been overseas in a long time (I was in my teens), and I have no plans to go overseas anytime soon. Unless my doppelgänger plans to come to America — Dallas, specifically, since I rarely travel — we will probably never meet.

Considering the size of the world, that's likely to be the case for most people. The song may say it's a small world, but the truth is that it is we the people who are small — at least when compared to the world. A person's doppelgänger is likely to be half a world away. Might as well be on the moon.

My guess is that doppelgängers (assuming they do exist) hardly ever live in the same city — but that was how it apparently was for Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and his doppelgänger in the episode of Frasier, "Mixed Doubles," that aired on this night in 1996.

When the episode began, the Cranes were enjoying various pursuits at home, and Daphne (Jane Leeves) came in from her date, confessing that she and her boyfriend had broken up. The news was not exactly greeted as tragic by Niles, who had been pining for Daphne since the series began more than three years earlier. He told Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) that he was going to confess his feelings to Daphne.

Frasier urged him to wait. Daphne was vulnerable and needed more time to get over the shock. He had waited this long, Frasier noted. One more day wouldn't make a difference.

Ah, but it did.

When Niles came over the next day, he was on the verge of telling Daphne how he felt when she received a phone call from a fellow she met the night before when Roz (Peri Gilpin) took her to a singles bar to take Daphne's mind off her former beau.

This fellow apparently had swept Daphne up on the rebound, and she was no longer available, but Niles had, as he called it, a "fallback plan," which was to have Roz take him to that singles bar — which she did, and Niles met a charming young woman named Adelle (that is the correct spelling, by the way — Niles' opening line was to ask if she spelled her name with one L or two). They started dating.

Then, when Niles was introducing Adelle to his father and brother, Daphne came in with her new beau, Rodney — and he was the mirror image of Niles. He had many of the same quirks and mannerisms.

Niles couldn't see it at first, but his father and brother certainly did. In one of my favorite moments from the Frasier series, Martin and Frasier retreated to the kitchen upon realizing that Niles and Rodney were like two peas in a pod and said to each other simultaneously, "What the hell was that?"

Frasier said they should tie a bell around Niles' neck so he could be identified.

When Niles realized how alike he and Rodney were, he was furious. Frasier had talked him out of approaching Daphne the very night she fell for Rodney.

But Rodney apparently hadn't fallen as hard as Daphne had. Frasier and Niles soon discovered that he was seeing Adelle.

When they confronted Rodney, he told them he planned to break things off with Daphne that evening over drinks. Niles suggested that he should do it instead, and Rodney agreed.

So Niles kept the date with what he thought would be an unsuspecting Daphne — except that she had been running late so she called Rodney and he told her everything.

And then Daphne and Niles had a heart–warming conversation that, in its way, foreshadowed what was to come.

If you have never seen this episode, it is well worth seeing. Funny and poignant at the same time.