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October 9, 2015

Frasier: Three Valentines - VIDEO

by Debra McDuffee, posted Jul 9th 2008 1:19PM
David Hyde Pierce as Niles CraneDo not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of classic TV shows.

It's awfully hard to pick a standout episode from a comedy like Frasier that lasted eleven seasons. There are so many that stand out for different reasons.

I picked 'Three Valentines' because:
  • It is a good example of classic Frasier foibles
  • Niles's cold open is a masterpiece in physical comedy, something we don't often see in Frasier episodes
  • The performances are top-notch: sensitive, masterful, spot-on
  • This episode is an example of perfect timing being a key to a sitcom's success
  • It is filmed in three acts, each allowing the characters featured to play up to their strengths perfectly.

Nile's date ... or at least the preparations
The cold open has it all. We see Eddie the dog, being Eddie: licking Niles, eating the food at the end of the scene, romping on the good furniture. Included is the ongoing Frasier joke about Martin's ugly recliner (Niles has covered it with a blanket for a date he is having at Frasier's place). We get to see the neurotic side of Niles, as he repeatedly faints when he looks at the cut on his finger. The whole disaster occurs in the first place because Niles is so prim that he needs to iron a wrinkle out of his pants. It sure didn't pay to be fussy in this case!

The fact that it is nearly silent just makes it stronger. David Hyde Pierce performs this scene solo, without dialogue, and builds it to such a crescendo that by the end of it, you may just be crying tears of laughter.

Frasier's date
On to Frasier's date ... or maybe not? He can't figure out if he is on a date or not. He calls Roz twice for advice, and she insists that it is a date. Frasier's confusion leads to jokes about whether or not he wants oysters, what exactly getting a little more comfortable means, and if brandy is the only thing that will keep him warm that night. Kelsey Grammer plays the scene so brilliantly awkward; it's a trip.

I repeatedly laughed out loud during the hotel room scene; I had forgotten just how funny a show Frasier was.

Martin's and Daphne's date
Again, we have John Mahoney playing Martin seamlessly. He's uncomfortable discussing his feelings with Daphne, trying to cheer her when she's sad about having no date on Valentine's day. The old curmudgeon tries his best, but his discomfort is evident.

When they tell each other their good qualities, it is sweet and funny at the same time, but every time you think it is over, Daphne doesn't let it go. Finally, when she talks about her relationship with Martin, you can tell Martin thinks she is going to liken him to her spouse, but when she says pet instead, another level of comedy is achieved with the perfectly timed reaction.

'Three Valentines' is a don't miss episode for a myriad of reasons, the most important being that it is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. What's your favorite Frasier episode?

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Emily Moore

My daily routine was to watch Frazier reruns at 5 PM on Fox. Now that I'm addicted, they've moved it to midnight. I'm way too old to stay up that late. Anyone know where I can find Frazier on at a reasonable hour? I'm already experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Thanks

August 07 2008 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh dear God, please stop misuing "cold open," all of you.

It's cute using these industry terms, and we're all very impressed, but since the little jazz cue and the title card with the stylized skyline of Seattle opens every episode - including this one - it specifically is NOT a "cold open."

August 07 2008 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's so many to choose from, but you picked such a perfect choice. I remembered not being able to breathe after that open with Niles.

A few others already mentioned the Ski Lodge. Good times. And someone mentioned the Jewish Christmas one. Haha.

Also Niles = BEST CHARACTER EVER. Just saying.

July 09 2008 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show really showcased Grammar's directing skills.

July 09 2008 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The spelling bee one with Freddy, hands down. Ski lodge one is pretty good, too.
I love this line from the spelling bee one:

Niles: Can you take him, Freddy?
Freddy: Yeah.
Niles: Then spell his ass off!

July 09 2008 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite episode is Out with Dad.... This is another Valentine's episode where Frasier and Martin go to the opera and meet up with Marg Helgenberg and Martin pretends to be gay to let Marg's character's mom off easy. The greatest part of the episode is when Marg's gay uncle starts hitting on Martin!! I really miss this show!!

July 09 2008 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite episodes are Ham Radio (Frasier wrote, directed, starred, and eventually drove everyone else nuts during a course of rehearsal and on-air mystery radio play), Taking Liberties (the one with Victor Garber guest-starring as a butler, and the Doctor is Out (with Patrick Stewart as famous gay opera director courting Frasier). I'm sure there are more, but these three are the ones that come to mind for now :)

July 09 2008 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The one with the ski-lodge mis-hap. Frasier's frustrated speech at the end of the episode nearly made me piss myself.

The one in which Roz finds out she's pregnant; Niles thinks Frasier knocked up Daphne; Daphne thinks Roz got in a car accident... etc. Classic.

Hated Martin's GF - Ronnie. Lifeless addition to a perfect cast. David Hyde Pierce is a genius.

July 09 2008 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite moment is the "Niles gets a flour baby" one.

July 09 2008 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love them all, but my absolute favorite episode is "The Dinner Party". It takes place in real time from start to finish, and there is no guest cast. It's just the five pros doing what they do best. The best part is when Frasier and Niles argue over the meaning of a comment someone leaves on the answering machine about the two of them always being together.

Niles: Why don't we just call her back and ask her what she meant? We can each get on an extention.
Frasier: Better yet, why don't we just get on a bicycle built for two and ride over there!

July 09 2008 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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