By Ashley Amon and Andrew Daar
Season 2, Episodes 19 and 20, “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Breaking the Ice”
Original airdates: Mar. 28, 1995 and Apr. 18, 1995
Ashley: It’s a new year so I’ll start with a declaration: I am a fangirl. If you follow me on Twitter, you know this a little too well. That said Frasier Crane is a successful, intelligent, good-looking celebrity in the city of Seattle so it’s no surprise that he would have his share of “fangirls” (and I’m sure a number of fanboys as well). Usually they just fawn over him in Cafe Nervosa or in an elevator. Others, however, are slightly more involved.
In “Someone to Watch Over Me”, he has an over-zealous fan in a woman named Kari. Her mysterious phone calls and ability to leave things in Frasier’s personal belongings (and in once instance his home) is creepy. Crossing the line into someone’s personal space for the sake of being an “adoring fan” is too much. Granted, I feel like Frasier took it a bit far when he thought Kari was out to kill him, but I understand his fear of somone constantly watching his every move.
This fear, however, mutates into complete self-absorbed paranoia and he starts to think that nearly every woman is Kari and out for blood. He even starts thinking (thanks to Niles planting the seed) that his bodyguard Cindy is actually his stalking fan. In an attempt to call out his stalker, he gets more than he expects while in the parking garage. That scene, by the way, is a little bit of a nightmare scenario to me.
But in a more jovial episode, “Breaking the Ice” sends the Crane Men into the wild for ice fishing. I adore this episode: the Brothers Crane out of their element and the witty jabs they make at each other (“Sgt. Niles of the Yukon” sends me into a laughing fit every time) makes this episode so wonderful. It essentially takes place in one place and it’s nearly all dialogue.
This feeble attempt at male bonding includes Niles’ battery-operated wardrobe, a bottle of Jim Beam (“Niles, Beam me up”), and lost car keys in a fishing hole. This whole comedic scenario occurs because Niles and Frasier want to hear their father say “I love you” to them. This sentiment is clearly so important to them that they brave the Great (Ice-Ridden) Northwest, sherry glasses for Jim Beam and all.
Andrew: First thing’s first: in “Breaking The Ice,” the first title card says “Roz Doyle and the Temple of Doom,” but she goes on to describe the “giant ball,” which we all know was in Raiders of the Lost Ark, not Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If we can’t trust these writers to get that right, what can we trust them with?
“Breaking The Ice” had such a sweet center among some sharp jabs. Watching how far Frasier would go to hear Martin say “I love you,” how far Niles would go to try and forge the same connection he sees developing between his brother and father, how much Martin tries to keep his true feelings hidden behind a wall of masculinity, was wonderful. The witty jokes the Crane men made at each others’ expenses certainly helped. The central conflict of the episode is Frasier’s insecurity over Martin having never said “I love you” to him. He understands why Martin has never done it, and he rationally knows that Martin does in fact love him. But as he says, there is no more emotionally charged phrase in the English language than “I love you,” and having never heard his father say those three words must hurt. What he doesn’t understand is that Martin’s failure to say the words is partly a two-way street; both Martin and Frasier put up barriers between each other. When Daphne prods Frasier to go ice fishing with Martin and Niles, Frasier’s pride won’t let him simply ask to go after he had defiantly stated how much he didn’t want to go. He had to make a big deal out of grudgingly accepting, which probably doesn’t make it any easier for Martin to express how he truly feels.
Complicating matters is the brothers’ attitudes. Frasier spends the whole trip complaining through sarcastic comments, while Niles feigns enjoyment; one brother is making the situation miserable while the other is not acting honestly. It isn’t until the Cranes drop their defenses and fronts that they can finally connect as a family. The whiskey probably helped too.
Unlike you, I was surprised it took Frasier as long as it did for him to start getting paranoid. Fandom has a dark underbelly. From Mark David Chapman to Mary Margaret Ray to John Hinkley, Jr., there is no shortage of crazy fans who have done terrible things out of the obsessions they nursed for their objects of desire. On the other hand, it makes total sense that Frasier would bask in the narcissistic glory of having a stranger obsessed with him due to his intelligence. His paranoia was pretty warranted, as Kari’s note sounded pretty threatening, but it did lead him to make some rather dumb decisions.
What was your impression of Frasier and Martin’s reaction to Frasier’s bodyguard not being a big guy named Rocko?
Ashley: I’m not at all surprised at their reaction to the female bodyguard, in all seriousness. Cindy’s clearly capable of protecting someone, judging by her ability to immediately stop Bulldog with a Vulcan-like death grip. Frasier is a big guy, so I imagine that he’d want someone bigger than he is to physically protect him. I guess I see this big guys protecting people like Britney Spears who literally have to be big enough for people to “bounce off” of them. In Frasier’s case, he isn’t being rushed by fans and needs to be safely escorted to his Lincoln Navigator. I imagine this is what Frasier pictured in his mind for a bodyguard, too. But, she did feed into his paranoia being that she is a woman and even said she was a huge fan of his. As a whole though, I didn’t take offense to it as a woman. I’d still never sneak up on Cindy though.
As for the Indiana Jones flub, if you go back to last week’s episode of “You Scratch My Book…” Frasier actually stole Honey’s book: they left the bookstore without paying for it after they spoke to Honey Snow. Take that, writers! We’re on to you!
I really do love that Frasier and Niles would brave the wilderness for an “I love you” from their dad. It’s so important that they hear Martin tell them he loves them, just because Martin says “I love you/ya” to Eddie and Duke. Frasier thinks it has something do with him. But you’re right: the two men put up barriers between each other making it difficult for either one to really try to emotionally connect to the other. One thing though: did you notice how this all came to light as they drank? Alcohol sure can work it’s magic.
Andrew: I guess what I was getting at with my question about the Cranes’ reaction to Cindy was what does it say about Frasier and Martin that they would both be so flabbergasted at the thought of a woman giving adequate protection? The archetypical bodyguard is a huge guy, but I would think that Martin would know, after decades working with women as cops, that he shouldn’t make an assumption based on gender. (The only thing about Cindy that made me question her competence was that she was wearing heels to a job; what if she had to chase after Frasier’s stalker?)
Frasier and Niles going ice fishing with Martin shows just how far they’ve come since the series began. In the third episode, Frasier and Niles could barely put up with a cheesy restaurant that Martin liked. Now, a strong relationship with Martin matters to his sons. And a strong relationship with his sons matters right back to Martin. The men still have their differences, but slowly, they are realizing that their lives mean more when they are together.
Ashley: That’s interesting about Martin actually because it raises a question: did he work with police officers that were women? He never mentions one throughout the series. I think one of the few women he does mention on the force worked in dispatch. Good catch on the heels, because I didn’t notice that initially. As a woman, I can tell you it’s possible to run in heels (okay, it’s more of a brisk walk) though certainly not at a full sprint. And depending on the style of shoe they can certainly be used as weapons. I think a stiletto was used as a death blow in Single White Female if I’m not mistaken. The other thing about Cindy is we never see her with a firearm. I imagine a bodyguard would have a license to carry a weapon which would certainly level the physical playing field.
The Crane men have done a lot of bonding in this season with the ice fishing, a basketball game, all things Martin likes. It says a lot about the two brothers, their flexibility, and willingness to do things with their father.