I am not a very good sleeper. Insomnia, depression, blah blah blah, none of that personal stuff matters. I just wanted to make you folks aware of that detail into my life as an opening for how I came about this Arbitrary Numbers. I wasn’t old enough to watch or care about Cheers, and Frasier didn’t have the young pretty people that I was used to seeing in Friends and the like, so Frasier has always existed on the fringe of my mind, never having watched it. Until recently.
I took a clowning class, and afterwards, was very excited. I love clowning, especially classic duo comedy. Perfect Strangers is a great example of that, they even have an entire clowning episode just them doing an homage to Laurel and Hardy. My wife pointed me to an episode of Frasier that is just a six minute, no lines, clowning comedy act by David Hyde Pierce, who I’ve always liked but never really got to watch much of. That episode was a catalyst for me to watch the entire series. All eleven seasons. I told ya, I don’t sleep much. So while it took me awhile, I’ve finally finished. And …
Ok, so talking about TV shows is hard. It is hard to sum it up, especially a long show. I’ve tried a few times, but never really gotten the knack of it for a long show. So instead of talking about the show as a whole, which is very good, I’m going to just talk about my favorite episodes. These are the episodes that stuck with me the most, because of their comedy, their storytelling, their acting, or some other reason. They aren’t the only good episodes, far from it in fact, and I suspect that they may not be the best episodes for other people. But they are my favorite. So here we go, these are my …
Top 8 Episodes of Frasier (in ascending order)
Come on, give me some credit, I watched every season!
Number 8: Three Valentines
The episode that got me to want to watch Frasier, and it is one of my favorites. Seems only fitting to put it on the list. Really, this is only on here for the first six minutes, which are utter comedy perfection. Niles has a date, and in an almost dialogue-less sequence of comedy, things start with a slightly off ironing line and end with an enormous fire, Niles passed out and half-naked, and the couch covered in gnocci. It is a must watch, and for six minutes, it is well worth your time. Hell, here, watch it now!
Number 7: Goodbye Seattle pt. 2
Frasier is a series that last a very long time. Frasier as a character lasted even longer. Eventually, there comes a time to finish things, and this episode does it well. It is only the second part of a two-parter, and both parts are fine, but the emotion and acting in this episode is wonderful. Frasier is mostly a very solid comedy about an egomaniac and a lot of miscommunication. But when they do the emotional stuff, it always hits hard. I very much resonated with the emotions of this show because of the great characters and writing, and watching the show end is emotional in all the right ways. Instead of working like a live finale some sitcoms have done, they once more hit home the miscommunication aspects of the show, making all the characters think that Frasier is dying when he is merely moving. It is a great little episode, with a fantastic framing fiction that gives a great twist to the entire series.
Number 6: Something Borrowed, Something Blue pt. 2
Another two-parter, but this one is important. It is very important, because it is the first time that Daphne and Niles finally become a couple. There's plenty of fantastic humor throughout as well as seven years of their relationship as will-they-won't-they status couple of the show. These two had surprisingly good chemistry, and they slow-burned this relationship a LOT. Almost too much, in fact, for me as a viewer. But, I have to say, when they finally kissed, when they finally came together at Daphne's wedding that she runs from, it was an exciting, wonderful moment.
Number 5: Enemy at the Gate
A straight comedy episode, and man is it great! There are two major plots here. The first is about Frasier and Niles getting stuck in a parking garage because he is being forced to pay for a parking spot he did not park in, and it is infuriates him, so since the amount of time it requires to park is 20 minutes, he waits at the gate, holding everyone up, for the full twenty minutes. That's right, this is a real-time episode, which is awesome. Frasier many times can play like a staged theatre performance, and this one is no exception, though we also get to see them actually filming in the garage, with real people there. Awesome arguments and banter between the brothers. Then, in the B-plot, Roz has to do Frasier's show alone, and accidently mentions she and Frasier had sex, and spends the next twenty minutes fielding questions about it. This episode was a delight after a small drought of really great episodes in the past few seasons.
Number 4: Daphne Returns
The actress that played Daphne, Jane Leeves, got pregnant in real life, as sometimes happens on shows. In the story, Daphne and Niles had just started dating and being together, so they decided to run a eating disorder story that is paid off in this episode. The actual trappings have Frasier and Niles go back through past episodes as observers, seeing the events of Niles' and Daphne's budding love. We also learn the very very difficult conceit that Niles loves the idea of Daphne more than Daphne, and that idea must be broken from him. This episode reminds of all the best moments of previous seasons, as well as a very very touching and realistic drama to round it out.
Number 3: Ham Radio
Frasier sometimes really does an amazing task of performing a basically stage show as a 22-minute sitcom. This episode in particular does something that many episodes of Frasier only do a very small amount: play with the incredible ensemble supporting cast. Gil, Bulldog, Nole, Kenny, the characters that work with Frasier and Roz are all incredible characters, and have been there since the very beginning almost.
This episode specifically deals with Frasier directing and writing a Radio Mystery that the ensemble and he put on, with all the egos flaring and ridiculous props and sound effects and acting and miming and ... it is hilarious. One of the most hilarious episodes of Frasier, in my opinion.
Number 2: Rooms with a View
Frasier has been very good at playing up the comedy and the drama. Mostly with Niles. And this episode was the most heartwrenching and emotional episode of this show. Niles has a heart attack, but doesn't realize it, and eventually is forced to go the hospital for surgery. He very much may die, and we see our four main characters all reacting to it with him. It is a devastating piece of acting, and beyond that we also get glimpses of the past in other rooms, where we see Niles and Frasier as children with Martin, where we see Roz's birth of Alice, and a view of the future with Niles and Daphne and their child. I'm getting choked up thinking of it now. Frasier is a powerful show with characters and actors you truly love, and this episode very easily could be my top episode. And on some days, it is.
Number 1: Ski Lodge
So why does the Ski Lodge episode take the number one slot? Because it is the most perfect piece of comedy I have ever witnessed. It is everything Frasier is about: relationships, miscommunication, egotism, small mistakes becoming enormous ones. The Ski Lodge plays out like a classic farce. Daphne, Niles, Frasier, and Martin all get to go to a ski lodge. Daphne brings her slutty model friend, and the very attractive olympic skier stays with them. And each person is interested in a different person in the house, with Frasier into Daphne's friend, her friend into Niles, Niles into Daphne, Daphne into the ski instructor, and the ski instructor being gay and interested in Niles. Then you add Martin having his hearing messing up and adding more confusion, and the two incredible new characters with incredible actors who are only in this episode (which is a huge shame, as the french ski instructor is probably one of my favorite characters on the show).
This episode makes me want to perform it as a play! It is just perfect, from top to bottom.
.:^:. .:^:. .:^:.
Also, there was a time Frasier was a Murder Clown.