Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frasierquest 3.6: Sleeping With the Enemy

Frasier and Kate reach a compromise.
Daphne: I'm no stranger to that feeling meself. It can strike without warning. And you don't know who it will be! Why, you could be standing next to a person month after month, and then the next thing you know, you're tearing each other's clothes off! There's a word for it...

Niles: Hope.

Love is springing up everywhere in Seattle, it seems. Or at least sheer animal lust; this key episode in the Kate Costas arc brings the tension between her and Frasier to a point which, while familiar to anyone who’s seen almost every romantic comedy from the beginning of time, is still pretty effective. This is basically the first half of a two parter, though it’s not billed as such, and while the initial conflict is resolved by half-hour’s end, it’s only so it can be replaced by something entirely different.

The staff at KACL learn that they’re not getting the 5% raise they were promised at this time of the year, which sends Frasier into an outrage until he learns that the on-air talent aren’t affected. Still, he takes up the cause of Roz and the other staff, eventually pulling the on-air people into a potential sympathy strike (albeit with some help from Martin.) When the staff nominate Noel Shemsky as their negotiator, based on his ability to faint at will, Frasier steps in to no opposition. He talks tough with Kate, who informs him that the on-air personalities already ate up the money that was supposed to go to the staff, and negotiations become intense, leading to a passionate kiss. Frasier has no idea what just happened, and suspects Kate of manipulating him. So he goes back to confront her again, and, well, things repeat themselves.

This is almost the logical conclusion to their antics thusfar, at least by the conventions of the genre. The scene where their argument becomes a kiss specifically brings to mind the famous Sam and Diane moment in CHEERS when they first locked lips at the end of a chain of insults. They, however, were a long-teased “Will they or won’t they?” item, while Frasier and Kate’s arguments up until now haven’t had much in the way of sexual tension. We may have seen it coming simply because Kate’s a woman and Frasier’s a man, but it wasn’t exactly telegraphed. Part of the drama of the episode is the sheer surprise involved; Frasier doesn’t know why, specifically, it happened, and as it happens neither does Kate.

The main plot (at least up until the kiss) is, like their earlier engagements, one in which neither side is entirely wrong. The workers deserve their raises, but Kate convincingly argues that the money simply isn’t there at all, and it’s the fault of guys like Frasier and Bulldog. Of course she comes through with a compromise anyway, but both she and Frasier aren’t in their right minds when that happens so maybe it wasn’t the wisest business decision. A good thing about this subplot is that it’s an excuse to involve Bulldog, Gil, and Noel, as well as a number of others from the station, and visiting with all these characters provides an entertaining diversion before we’re hit with the real story. On the home front not much changes, though we learn that Niles hasn’t entirely buried his dreams of Daphne. And who can blame him?

Frasier and Kate’s next move is uncertain by show’s end, though it’s probably horizontal. Again, this is an episode that’s there to move into next week’s, though by next week the “contract” plotline is over and done with. So it’s a little hard to judge this on its own, but there’s something to be said for delivering a story development well enough that it comes as a bit of a shock even if we were expecting it. Next week, well, things get dirtier.

Guest Caller: Laura Dern as June

Written by Linda Morris & Vic Rauseo
Directed by Jeffrey Melman
Aired November 14, 1995

Frasier: Alright. I was standing in front of her desk like so. [walks up to the coffee table in front of Niles] She was facing me... Niles, you be Kate.

Niles: I will not.

Frasier: Look, just stand up!

Niles: I'm always the girl! In every prep school play I was the girl! Guinevere, Marian the Librarian, Ado Annie. Well, no more, I'm through with it! When do I get to be Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo'?!

Quotes from the Transcript by Simon Aw at TwizTV.com.

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