Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Frasierquest 3.12: Come Lie With Me

Daphne and Joe, the morning after
Roz: Oh, let's see. "Please Daphne don't have sex. It disturbs my reading." No, that's not too selfish!

Even though Frasier, Martin, and Daphne have been living together for a long time now, new issues keep coming up. “Come Lie With Me” is partly about the trouble of Daphne having a boyfriend over, and partly about the need for us to accept little lies to get by every day. It’s also an excuse for an utterly hilarious portrait of just how bad things would get if Frasier and Martin had to live together without any kind of buffer, and while the audience doesn’t need to be sold on Daphne’s presence being a good thing, sometimes we need to appreciate just how valuable she is.

Daphne and her boyfriend Joe have taken things to the next level, and one morning he’s a little late getting out of her bed, and runs into Frasier and Martin. The awkwardness passes, but Frasier is uncomfortable with Daphne having sex under his roof, and asks her not to let it happen again. She decides the only way this can work is if she gets her own place, and when she goes off for a weekend getaway with Joe, Frasier and his dad discover just how bad a situation this would be.

Among other things, this story is a good way to show progress with Daphne and Joe; it confirms that they’re still an item and that he’s not a one-off boyfriend. This gets taken care of by the first commercial break, and Joe disappears for the rest of the show, but the reminder is useful because he’s going to be around for a while. This is the first long-term romance for Daphne on the show, and though I don’t think we ever spend enough time with Joe for him to become familiar, it adds just a little bit to Daphne’s character. We’re reminded that she has her own life, and isn’t just the Crane den mother.

That said, the Cranes clearly need a den mother. The sequence of Frasier and Martin trying to live alone together is just one segment of the episode, but it’s the funniest and most revealing. Martin’s slobbiness and pantslessness is to be expected, but Frasier has his bad habits too (he’s apparently an electricity hog), and so it’s less Felix Unger and Oscar Madison than it is two men actively determined to break each other.

The subplot of Niles’ divorce is taken a little further here, as he experiences an early casualty: losing touch with Maris’ rich society friends. As I’ve said before, it shouldn’t matter because these are by and large utterly horrible people that no sane human being would want to keep company with, and the fact that they forget Niles as soon as he splits from Maris is further evidence, but it hurts him nonetheless and this gives way to the episode’s big theme.

The idea is that sometimes you have to accept a few lies in order to get through the day. Daphne comes up with an utterly brilliant one in order to resolve the situation at home, and Frasier, gently pushing ethics to one side, talks her through it until it’s almost not completely implausible. Niles accepts a more standard one to explain his uninvitation to a charity gala, and in the end everyone celebrates with cookies. (Reduced Fat, so you can eat twice as many.)

So we have an episode that, while it basically advances and reaffirms two new storylines (Niles’ divorce and Daphne’s new boyfriend), goes back to the dynamic that was set up in the very first episode. Daphne’s presence is necessary for Frasier and Martin to live together, at least for now, because she can keep them from killing each other. And if she has to pretend that Joe is impotent because of an injury he received in the Falkland Islands, so be it.

No Guest Caller

Written by Steven Levitan
Directed by Philip Charles Mackenzie
Aired January 30, 1996

Frasier: Daphne... you can't go. You have to stay. I've only just recently realized how important you are to us. You see, if you go, Dad and I will kill each other. I'm not just tossing out hyperbole here, I'm speaking in the most literal sense: Dad and I, both dead.

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