Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheers 5:21: “Simon Says”

Airdate: 3/5/87

Frasier’s old college bud, Simon Finch-Royce, is now an esteemed marriage counselor; upon hearing this, Diane thinks it would be a dandy idea if he would evaluate her and Sam’s marriage potential in an actual session (Frasier agrees to foot the bill as a wedding present). After hearing about their backgrounds and the answers to two simple questions about honesty, he glibly proclaims that they are completely incompatible and are “an accident waiting to marry.” Diane’s not about to take this lying down; she and Sam go to Simon’s hotel room, first to confirm that his no verdict was all but a test of their resolve (it wasn’t), then to challenge his assessment, again and again and again. The good doctor finally breaks, changing his pronouncement to the affirmative (albeit sarcastically). A satisfied Diane: “See?”

Definitely one of the best episodes of the series thus far. John Cleese absolutely delivers in his role as Dr. Finch-Ryce, a role that’s tailor-written for him, mixing all together his usual trademarks: haughty contempt for Americans, ultra-dry sarcasm, and a cool, collected poise that slowly deteriorates into a frazzled, manic breakdown (those expected a typical Cleese wig-out scene will not be disappointed). He’s sort of a surrogate for Frasier here, as the bearer of bad news a la the “Triangle” episode – of course, we get far more Yankee barbs this time. Interestingly, the second episode in a row about honesty in a relationship; equally interesting: both arguments seem to favor dishonesty!

Sort of a subplot involves Frasier allowing the Sam/Diane intrusion as revenge for getting stiffed with a $1,5000 counseling fee.

Cold open: Norm leaves Cheers to go to a health club, which his wife had gotten him a membership to. He’s going to do 25 in the pool. “Laps,” asks Frasier? “No, cannonballs!”

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