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Monday, June 20, 2011

Frasier 1x01 - The Good Son

Man, how long's it been since a sitcom gave me the warm fuzzies?  Weird.

What we have here is a 44-page 'Revised Final Draft', Created and Written by David Angell & Peter Casey & David Lee, dated April 29, 1993 (download here).  There are two acts, no tags or teasers.  Act one clocks in at 21 pages, act two at 23.

The script is actually 49 pages long, but the first 5 are a title page, a cast list, a set list and two page shooting breakdown.

Right.  Onward!

I remember watching the show CHEERS when I was younger.  A lot of it went over my head, but there was something about the theme song that I always liked.  In high school I'd heard of Frasier but I never watched it, it just seemed like such a boring concept for a show.

Years later, in college and through re-runs, I realized that I quite liked this show -- the writing was always whip-smart and the characters, once you got to know who everyone was, were unlike anything I'd seen on TV.  Two brothers constantly trying to outdo one another with dad stuck in the middle -- or, worse, trying to do his own thing.

I also realized, today, that I'd never actually seen the pilot for this show.

The interesting thing is that the character of Frasier Crane here is pretty much exactly the same guy that I remember seeing back in college... however many years later that was from this original script.  Moreso, every other character -- Niles, Martin, Daphne, Roz... pretty much what you see in the pilot is what you ended up getting for the entire run of the series.

I suddenly find myself feeling extremely impressed with that fact.

Now, granted, this is a character that had been around for some time on Cheers -- had an actor cast and playing the role for years... I'm sure it's a lot easier to nail down your characters in a pilot when you already know, pretty definitively, who your lead is and what they're capable of (acting-wise).

Script-wise, I have to admit that I found the formatting a touch weird -- starting off with some white-on-black text each delineating the sections (ie. "The Job", "The Brother", etc.)... I wasn't really sure what they were trying to do with that.  I guess it makes it easier to tell the story, easier to jump around in time that way, perhaps?  Not sure.

That said, I also ran into that transition again here 'RESET TO:'.  I tried Google-searching it but no dice.

Hrmmm.

Moving on, one of the things I really enjoyed about this script was simply how everyone interacted.  From the beginning the show was about Frasier starting fresh, back home, getting his life back on track -- and all the ways that simple plan goes sideways.  And yet the way that Frasier sets his own plans aside to take in his father, no matter how much they each bristle in each others presence -- the way he puts his family above his personal wants and dreams... you can't help but smile.  For all his pompousness and such, Frasier's still one of us.  He's a Good Son.

And when his father calls at the end of the episode, to make things right in his own 'dad' sort of way... it really hits home.  It's a strong moment that feels earned -- and then at the end, when you see them together watching TV as a 'family', you get it.  This is your series.  This is what you're tuning into every single week.

The rules are there, as simple as can be:  These folks will drive one another up the wall, but no matter what happens, no matter what comes between them, Family will always be the thing that brings them back together.

Looking back at Shit My Dad Says, it's sort of interesting because that show's 'Ed' is, in many ways, this show's 'Martin'.  The gruff, grizzled old man stepping on the toes of his younger, more foppish son.

Why does Frasier work where Shit My Dad Says didn't?  Was it that we just weren't able to connect with the characters in the same way?  Or is it even an unfair comparison in that Frasier already had a fleshed-out, well-rounded main character?

I'm not sure, but I'm intrigued.  Anyone up for that debate?

Tomorrow I'm tackling House 1x01.  Can't wait!

Cheers,
Brandon

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