By Ashley Amon and Andrew Daar
Season 2, Episodes 5 and 6: “Duke’s, We Hardly Knew Ye” and “The Botched Language of Cranes”
Original air dates: Oct. 18, 1994, Nov. 1, 1994
Andrew: “Duke’s, We Hardly Knew Ye” is a surprisingly sweet episode of Frasier. Telling the story of how Martin’s favorite bar is going to be demolished to make room for a mini-mall – a mini-mall in which Frasier and Niles are investors – the episode is about the connections we make to places, the meanings we attach to things, and the futility of stopping change. Duke’s is Martin’s version of Cheers; it’s the place where everybody knows his name and where he fits in completely. Niles notes that no one in the family had ever been invited to Duke’s, not even their mother. Even though Hester was not the snob that Frasier and Niles are, she and Martin were still very different people, and Duke’s was Martin’s sanctuary from his family. To him, it was a place for him to go and be with people like him. For Frasier and Niles, Duke’s is a mythical place, one that they would have no interest in but for the power it has over their father. Their interest in going there is not based on a desire to throw back boilermakers with a bunch of cops, but to feel like their father wants them in their life.
Frasier and Niles’ appreciation of Martin’s decision to finally include them in this part of his life is part of what drives them to do all they can to prevent its destruction. At the beginning of season one, they likely would have written off its destruction as just another casualty of progress (and an acceptable one at that), now that they have a personal connection to its importance, they do more than express disappointment that Martin will lose something important to him, they try to do something about it.
Furthermore, Martin’s ability to finally let his sons in to part of his life gives him empathy for them and their position. Frasier and Niles did not know that the real estate opportunity they invested in would build at the site of Duke’s, so when Frasier reveals the truth to Martin, he isn’t upset that his sons are in part responsible for the destruction of Duke’s, he is upset that they didn’t tell him sooner. As much as he tries to downplay the importance of bringing them into his world, he too understands that it was a big step, and feels hurt that his sons couldn’t tell him the truth.
Daphne makes a point in the episode that the Cranes go out of their way to make things difficult for each other (see also: the Fishers of Six Feet Under), and “Duke’s, We Hardly Knew Ye” does a phenomenal job showing just how well the Cranes could get along if only they dropped their assumptions and constructed personae. Martin says that he’d never invited Frasier and Niles to Duke’s before because he figured that they would probably look down their noses at it, to which Frasier admits he’s probably right. Duke’s isn’t Frasier’s cup of tea, but as father and sons learned, that doesn’t matter because the bar matters to Martin, and that makes it good enough for Frasier and Niles. When the Cranes are close, they will put aside their preferences and enjoy each other’s company (compare the brothers’ treatment of Duke’s to their treatment of The Sawmill last season).
“The Botched Language of Cranes,” on the other hand, is a bit problematic. It seems like two separate episodes jammed together. It starts out with an interesting story about pride and misinterpretation, only to have a final act only tangentially related to what has come before and that fails to resolve what has come before.
Ashley, do you feel the same way?
Ashley: I agree with you about “The Botched Language of the Cranes.” I don’t think what Frasier said about Seattle was insulting. Having not been to Seattle before (seriously) I can infer from others’ descriptions that it’s a pretty rainy place. Frasier uses the word “dreary” to describe Seattle and I’ve used that same word to describe LA during the winter. It’s gloomy here in the winter because it’s the rainy season, it’s cold, wet, and kind of miserable. It’s just an accurate description. So is Frasier’s of his hometown.
The whole episode is based around an initial misunderstanding which could easily have been squashed had Frasier realized that the On-Air button was still on after his apology. The apology/rant is really what drives the episode. Frasier then has to get himself back in Seattle’s good graces. And he’s just awful at going about this.
One of the stranger points in this episode was when Roz told Father Mike that she thought of becoming a nun. He then asks her why she changed her mind and she lies saying she didn’t want to work weekends. I would imagine that through office gossip Father Mike would be well-aware of the OMG-Roz-Has-So-Much-Sex theme that seems to be really emphasized in season 2. Have you noticed this, Andrew? It’s seems more noticeable to me this season than in the first.
In “Duke’s, We Hardly Knew Ye”, much like what you said, the Brothers Crane are intrigued by their father’s invitation. They psychoanalyze the invitation to death when really it’s just a last hurrah for Martin. You say that Duke’s is an escape from his family which is partially true. It’s a place where he goes to hang out and decompress but he’s mentioned his family. Even the guys tells Frasier how bad they felt for him when they heard Lilith had been cheating on him. And I love how he introduced Niles: he’s a psychiatrist (boring to them) but hey, he married money!
In this episode, Daphne goes on a date. What did you think about Daphne and her dating mentality now that we’ve seen “The Matchmaker”?
Andrew: That Father Mike wouldn’t know about Roz does seem a bit odd, and yes, this season has bordered on uncomfortable in its treatment of Roz’s proclivities. But my issue with the episode is that the entire final act seems lifted from an entirely different episode. The set-up is great: the people of Seattle, egged on by Derrick Mann (who I guess does come back after his first “appearance” last year), misinterpret something Frasier says, but instead of sucking it up and apologizing, Frasier’s pride gets in the way. You’re right that what he said wasn’t that bad. Seattle is a very nice place (I’ve been), but every nice place has its downsides. Furthermore, the particular woman needed some kind of change. So Frasier was presented with an easy solution: apologize for intoning something he didn’t mean while pointing out his true intentions. Unfortunately, Frasier is prideful, and he’s not going to apologize for something for which he owes no apology. When forced to go against his desires, he pushes back with an accidentally aired rant about the people of Seattle. All great fodder for comedy, and it makes us question how the aloof Frasier will smoothing things over. How about speaking at a hospital fundraiser? That’s all well and good… but then the scene at the fundraiser focuses on how Frasier makes an ass of himself in a way completely unrelated to his so-called anti-Seattle comments. His purpose for being at the fundraiser is all but forgotten so that Frasier can have another bout of unfortunate timing and make a now-inappropriate joke in a room full of priests and nuns. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all very funny, but the scene seems like it belongs in a completely different episode.
Daphne’s characterization in these is certainly strange. She acts so prudish, something we’ve never seen from her before (and something I’m nearly certain will be refuted a few seasons down the line). I’m not even sure what purpose it served, other than laying the set-up for an amusing, if not amazing, visual joke. And to be honest, the writers probably could have gotten to that visual without making Daphne a prude. (Ok, it did also allow Martin that great crack about the royal family.) Further, when Martin makes a sexist analogy, Daphne calls him out on it, only to support Martin’s conclusion when he not-so-subtly proves his point. Clearly, this season’s issues about women aren’t just about Roz’s sex life.
Ashley: It’s interesting what you said about the woman who needed a change. I can understand that because I did it myself. I came to LA from Atlanta and while I love Atlanta with my whole heart, I had to leave. I was spinning my wheels, much like Frasier’s caller. Atlanta is a nice place, and like you said, every nice place has its downsides.
I honestly think if this episode were to put more emphasis on Frasier’s insulting Seattle, he would have done so during that initial phone call. Also maybe during his speech at the charity event, i.e. he says something over the mic disparaging while not realizing the mic is on and everyone can hear him, something like that. Him not knowing that the bishop was missing at sea and making a crass joke just makes him look like an insensitive ass, not a Seattle-hating jerk.
As for Daphne, her asking Frasier and Martin for which perfume to wear on her date was interesting, interesting in how people view sex and dating. She looked absolutely stunning and their assumption that she would agree to sex on a third date would make me equally as upset. Why is three dates the magic number? “Sexual morays being what they are…” as Frasier puts it is terrible assumption about dating. Seriously where did that come from?
Since none of the Crane men are seeing anyone (I’ll rope Niles in there as well because Maris, well, you know…) seeing Daphne all gussied up certainly produced a response from them, which she notices and comments on. Interesting though, she never picks up on Niles’ overtures, and he’s certainly more overt and awkward.