Frasier Season 1 Episode 8 Review: The B Story

Spoilers

Finally!

I know we’re only up to Frasier Season 1 Episode 8, but it feels like it’s taken far too long for David to have a story.

And even if it was officially “The B Story,” I’m giving it an A.

Frasier fighting for a professorship after less than one semester of teaching at a prestigious university was silliness, but I suppose, given Frasier’s ego, it made some sense.

Even Alan sided with him.

Well, he sort of made Frasier’s point while still enjoying that he was above his famous friend, at least where the board at Harvard University was concerned.

Frasier: Surely, there must be some sort of an alternate route to professorship, a Crane lane, if you will.
Alan: Well, you know, Olivia, Frasier, and I have the same level of education. We have the same experience as psychiatrists. We’re basically doing the same job, except that I’m a professor and he’s not.
Olivia: And you think that’s unfair?
Alan: No, I’m just gloating.

But leave it to Frasier to never be satisfied.

He’s a prominent psychiatrist. He’s been a successful radio talk show host. He had a hit TV show for over a decade and won an Emmy, although, as Alan was quick to point out, only a Daytime Emmy.

Now, he’s a guest lecturer at Harvard! But good is never good enough for a Crane.

There’s always something better to be attained. The better bottle of wine. The best table at the most exclusive restaurant.

On the original Frasier, even when the gold level seemed perfect, Frasier and Niles wanted to be platinum members at their spa, even if they didn’t know for certain what it was, even when it didn’t actually exist.

As usual, Frasier doesn’t know when to cut his losses and leave well enough alone.

Freddy: Why are you making pastries?
Frasier: Well, I’ve embarrassed myself twice with Provost Sharma in my attempts to get a professorship.
Freddy: So, you’re being responsible, cutting your losses, and trying again next year. I’m kidding, of course. Please tell me your stupid plan.

That is one of the positive things about the new series. It has no problem making fun of itself.

Most normal humans would walk away, give things time to cool down and come back later to try again. But Frasier can’t stop himself from pushing ahead.

The coffee mix-up was a pretty standard sitcom trope. I half expected Provost Sharma to get drunk on the spiked coffee himself.

And just when it looked like Alan might save the day and take responsibility for the coffee mishap, he simply corrected the assumption that it was brandy when it was rum.

If Provost Sharma knew Frasier at all, he’d have known rum isn’t Frasier’s drink of choice. 

For the first time in the series, I appreciated Olivia as she kept trying to rein Frasier in and keep him from making more of a mess of things.

She was honestly trying to help. Leave it to Frasier not to listen.

And kudos to Kelsey Grammer for his exceptional physical comedy as Frasier stumbled into the meeting, suffering from the side effects of the epinephrine.

It was one of the funniest falling-down drunk moments I’ve seen in a long time.

But now to my favorite plot from this installment.

David got a B. He’s never gotten less than an A in his life, and now his own uncle has given him a B.

This storyline made me wish that David Hyde Pierce had been willing to return as Niles, even if just for a couple of episodes. It would have been wonderful to hear Frasier and Niles argue over David’s grade.

David began his fight for a better grade correctly. He went to Frasier and asked for a second chance at the paper.

That this challenge gave David and Freddy more time together on even ground was a plus.

That Freddy’s intellectual side comes out when he’s drunk was both sweet and funny. Frasier couldn’t have been prouder to hear his son speak French.

Frasier: Freddy, what’s going on? Are you pontificating?
Moose: When Freddy gets drunk, he gets wicked smart.
Freddy: That’s so reductive.
Smokey: See. He sounds like you. What a nerd.

And David had a chance to bond with his older cousin over a subject they both loved because even though Freddy didn’t choose it as a career path, he obviously still loves psychology.

David idolizes his older cousin, and who wouldn’t? He’s smart, handsome, funny, and a firefighter. But I am happy that David likes Freddy and isn’t jealous of him.

Freddy: I know you’re taking this kinda hard, but it’s really not the end of the world.
David: Says the guy with brains and brawn who can eat all the tree nuts he wants.

Seeing these cousins get closer during this installment is a highlight of Frasier Season 1.

No one understands family like family, and the Cranes certainly have their specific quirks. Sometimes, those quirks are difficult to live with, and the expectations are hard to live up to, as both Freddy and David have learned.

Which leads us to one of the best and most insightful Frasier quotes of the series.

Freddy: Buddy, it’s just a B.
David: To anyone else, it’s just a B. But I’m a Crane. You know what it’s like.
Freddy: Oh yeah. The Crane Curse. Nothing’s ever good enough. There’s always a shiner object just out of reach.
David: Exactly. You always have to get the highest grade. Win every award.
Freddy: Spend every summer at Trigonometry Camp.
David: While all your friends are taking it easy at Algebra Camp. Why is our family like this?
Freddy: I don’t know. I mean, growing up, I felt like I had to constantly prove I deserved to be in this family.
David: How did you deal with the expectations?
Freddy: I guess I could until I couldn’t. Then, one lecture, I just walked out and never walked back in.
David: Because of the pressure?
Freddy: Because I wasn’t happy.

And Freddy is happy now.

He may be grieving his friend, Adam, and navigating his relationship with his father, but he seems truly happy with the life he’s chosen, even if it wasn’t what Frasier expected of him.

Now, David gets to choose what makes him happy, and if it’s a degree in psychology from Harvard, maybe that’s worth having to suffer through the very occasional B.

It’s great that we know David’s parents so well from the original series because I can hear Niles’ shock at the grade, while Daphne would shake her head and wonder why it’s such a big deal.

But this episode was a wonderful introduction to what Anders Keith can do as an actor.

David is a mix of innocent, funny, quirky, and smart. He’s both easily hurt but tougher than he seems. “The B Story” only makes me want to see more of him.

And one last thing to mention: did anyone else see Freddy’s smile as he performed a magic trick for Eve at the end of the episode?

There’s definite chemistry between Eve and Freddy. I’m fine waiting a season or two before that’s explored, but it makes me root for Frasier Season 2 all the more.

Now it’s your turn, TV Fanatics. Was this your favorite episode of the series so far as it was mine? Are you hoping to see more of David and Freddy together?

Hit that SHOW COMMENTS button below to let us know. Then come on back to check out our Frasier Season 1 Episode 9 review.

New episodes of Frasier air Thursdays on Paramount+.

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.

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