Monday, December 20, 2010

Frasierquest 3.7: The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl

Kate faces further temptation.
Frasier: Daphne, how about a woman's perspective? Let's just say, for argument's sake, that you and I succumbed to a night of passion...

Daphne: What, you and me?

Frasier: Yes!

Daphne: What - bosoms heaving, shirt buttons catapulting through the air?

Frasier: [annoyed] It's a hypothetical question!

Daphne: I'll say it is!

When we last left our heroes, they’d just made a very bad move. As the title of this one implies, things get worse before they get better. Make no mistake, Frasier and Kate don’t see themselves as a couple. They realize that an office affair between manager and talent is bound to end in disaster, and so the episode is dedicated to the two trying to contain their physical urges. It’s a hard road.

So Frasier and Kate’s intense negotiations turned to sex, and though Frasier lets Niles, Martin, and Daphne figure this out, he’s able to keep a lid on things at work. At least he is until he and Kate have a quickie in his booth, don’t time the news break properly, and end up broadcasting the titular escapades to all of Seattle. Nobody recognizes Kate’s voice, but she suspends Frasier for a week, which pretty much kills the romance. The two decide that all the sexy shenanigans have to stop now, but temptation lurks in every corner, and every service elevator.

The story here is thinner than I remember, since it’s really the falling action from last episode. It’s probably for the best that this was a two-parter, since there’s not much I think either episode could lose in order to compress the story into one half-hour, but at the same time I’m wondering if this couldn’t have been faster paced. There’s a B-plot of sorts, involving Martin being pursued by a flowery romance author who is thankfully moving out of the building, but it’s mostly an excuse for the final scene.

The good news is that Grammer and Mercedes Ruehl have more than enough chemistry to carry the story. Kate is sharp and pointed where Frasier is pompous, and he’s smooth where she’s coarse. It’s fun to watch them as enemies and as lovers, so long as they never get comfortable with each other. Both sides’ treatment of their relationship as a minefield yields a lot of good material.

What’s interesting is that there’s really no “forward” development to the relationship in this episode; rather, Frasier and Kate spend the entire time trying to end the affair, and eventually seem to succeed. There’s no real debate over whether or not it can go any further, at least not in this episode- they don’t have any conscious difficulty doing the right thing for their working relationship, but their conscious minds are unfortunately not doing all of the decision making.

Most of the episode’s humor comes from two big setpieces. The first is Frasier and Kate’s unintentional on-air romp, which, while brief, causes at least one traffic accident. (It’s weird that nobody at the station recognizes Kate’s voice, but I don’t remember if she said that much.) We get an episode title from it, and the inexplicable pleasure of Kate growling out flirts like some sort of cat person. (This is foreshadowing.) Then there’s the climactic elevator scene, a cavalcade of inappropriate imagery that makes the pair wonder if life isn’t too short to worry about workplace propriety.

Taken together, “Sleeping With The Enemy” and “The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl” make for a satisfying piece of “event” television. We get a story that spans Frasier’s professional and private life- not unprecedented but uncommon- and which makes us think that, despite the apparent resolution, there’s still more to come. It feels like that with each episode Kate’s in, the stakes get higher. At first she just represents a threat to Frasier’s autonomy, then she’s a woman he can work with but doesn’t want to cross, now they’re violating several articles of the workplace sexual harassment policy. We clearly haven’t gotten to the capper yet, and though Kate’s story is frontloaded at the start of the season, it ends up being suitably big.

Guest Caller: Cyd Charisse as Polly

Written by Joe Keenan
Directed by Philip Charles Mackenzie
Aired November 21, 1995

Niles: [to Frasier] I listened to your program as I was driving home last night. Here's a bill to replace the front grille of my Mercedes and another to repair the back bumper of some wretched little domestic car.

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