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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 7 -> Episode 7.16

Something About Dr Mary
Episode Details

Written by: Jay Kogen

Directed by: Will Shriner

Original US airdate: 17th February 2000

Original UK airdate: 20th April 2000


Cast Information
Main Cast
Frasier Crane .... Kelsey Grammer
Niles Crane .... David Hyde Pierce
Martin Crane .... John Mahoney
Daphne Moon .... Jane Leeves
Roz Doyle .... Peri Gilpin
Recurring Cast
Kenny Daly .... Tom McGowan
Mary Thomas .... Kim Coles
   
   
Guest Cast
Chuck Ranberg .... Scott Lowell
Louise .... Carla Renata Williams
Waitress .... Amy Landers
Guest Callers
Maria .... Gloria Estefan
Gabe .... Isaac Mizrahi

Episode Synopsis

Roz is taking her vacation so Frasier has to find a temporary call screener. He doesn't want Roz's suggestion again - Chuck Ranberg - who has a speech impediment that makes Frasier burst out in fits of giggles. Instead he opts to take someone from a community programme he was a guest at recently: Second Start, which train up people from low-paid, dull jobs. So along comes Mary Thomas, a black, personable and slightly nervous person who takes over Roz's reins. Initially she is reticent to say anything, but with Frasier's encouragement, she starts to add her own opinions to Frasier's advice. This is invariably some sassy comments along with some homepsun wisdom from Grandpa Willie - which Frasier finds irritating to say the least, as Mary comes out with advice which is the antithesis of what he would give. Frasier can't quite bring himself to give her a piece of his mind, which Martin puts down to the fact that she is black, by pointing out that if it was Roz, he'd have no problem in doing so. Frasier dismisses this but as the week goes on, Mary takes up more of the show with her advice - so much so that callers start to call her Dr Mary, something that Frasier finds almost pushes him to the limit. At the end of the show, Kenny asks him how he finds Mary, and Frasier says that she does have a tendency to jump in and give her own advice. Kenny says that he's nuts about her too - and wants to make the two of them a permanent team, with Roz being made Gil Chesterton's producer!

Frasier is at his wits end, but still is unable to bring himself to tell Mary his true thoughts on her without sounding like a bigot. However, on Martin's suggestion that she would be good on her own show, Frasier phones Kenny and says he thinks being the call screener is limiting Mary - so Kenny makes Frasier and Mary the co-hosts! The Dr Frasier Crane show is rarely that now, what with Mary's constant advice and her rows with the new call screener, Louise. Frasier realises he has to talk to her about her constant advice giving, and so meets Mary at the Cafe Nervosa for a chat. He says he hasn't enjoyed working with her and can't respect the advice she gives. He adds that he hasn't said anything because she is black Mary is at first slightly hurt that he couldn't have been honest with her, but says she has just been offered her own show on KPXY which wouldn't have happened if Frasier had told her to keep quiet. Meanwhile, Niles manages to cause havoc at Frasier's apartment with his demonstration of his newly certificated kickboxing skills....

Episode Title Cards
  • I'm Listening
  • Frasier Crane Featuring Dr Mary
  • They're Listening

Episode Highlights

- Mary tells a woman whose husband is cheating on her to change her locks:
Mary: My Grandpa Willie used to say nothin' stops a man playing the field faster than a night on the lawn, OK? OK!

- Frasier arrives home after his first show with Mary:
Niles: Who was that woman on your show today?
Frasier: That's Mary Thomas - she's filling in for Roz.
Martin: Seemed to me like she was filling in for you!

- Niles hands his father his yellow belt kickboxing certificate:
Niles: I've become quite the sportsman myself, Dad. What do you think of that?
Martin: Very nice, Son. But calligraphy isn't really a sport - more of a craft.

- A caller to the show refers to Mary as Dr Mary, which Frasier has to correct:
Mary: Oh, I don't mind. Latifah's not a real queen, you know!!

- Niles takes on Daphne's roles after injuring her by showing off his kickboxing skills, which Martin is taking full advantage of:
Daphne: How do you sleep at night?
Martin: Pretty well since I get a chocolate on my pillow and cocoa by my bed!
Daphne: I don't get cocoa by my bed at night
Martin: You have to fill in that little card.

- Frasier's mock conversation with Niles, with Frasier taking on the role of Mary.

Frasier Online Episode Review

Another great Season 7 episode which features a great turn from Kim Coles as 'Dr' Mary. The highlights above don't really do justice to her sassy and very funny performance - her way of finishing her advice with 'OK? OK!' being a particular highlight. It was also interesting because the show touched upon (but didn't really go deep) on the subject of race. Niles comment of Frasier living in a 'lily white world' could equally apply to the show itself as black characters are few and far between. There was also some great scenes back at Frasier's apartment involving Niles and his kickboxing demonstrations - I loved the way Martin took advantage of Niles who was taking on Daphne's roles after she was injured. There was a nagging feeling that some laughs were too easy such as the ones involving Chuck Ranberg's speech impediment - which, although very funny, did seem to spoil the show a little. Overall, then, a winning little episode that proves that the show can take a recycled storyline (Frasier's good intentions land him in deep water) and still produce a highly enjoyable episode out of it.

Rating

84 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 88.0%
Total Number of Reviews: 2


I believe he built golf courses all over the South, May 17, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


A strong episode that tackles a perhaps-unlikely subject for "Frasier": race relations.

The introduction of "Dr" Mary, as played by the superbly capable Kim Coles, puts Frasier in an uncomfortable situation at work... something that is quite rare these days, with KACL his unopposed domain. With Roz off producing Gil's show, Frasier is left with no support against this imposing woman who doesn't mind introducing a more relaxed, less strictly medical approach to her patients. The episode builds tension out of both Frasier's spinelessness and his sometimes hypocritical approach to his ethics, as well as his dislike of competition. It all makes perfect sense and, had they left it at this (ala Dr. Nora), it would still have been an above-average episode. By introducing the fact that Frasier suffers from "white guilt", the situation is really elevated.

There was a lot of talk at the end of the '90s about the perceived whiteness of mainstream sitcoms. "Friends", "Seinfeld", "Everybody Loves Raymond", these all focused around strictly white characters. Of course, the definition of white is stretched (George and Jerry are Jewish, the Romanos are Italian, and of course the Cranes are a family), but overall the argument made sense. As networks scrambled to introduce token characters (around this time, NBC added a young black character to the second episode of its new upmarket series "The West Wing"), "Frasier" instead does exactly what it did when viewers started to question why, because of formula, the series' characters had to stay single and keep the same jobs: it analyses them from within. It makes sense that Niles and Frasier are reasonably racially confined (Frasier: "Owning the CD of 'Ella Sings Gershwin' does not qualify you as a soul brother"). They live in Seattle, Washington, in gentrified neighbourhoods with "old money" pursuits. The episode doesn't argue that somehow they should suddenly have numerous African-American friends, it instead asks what it is that prevents Frasier from being as honest with Dr. Mary as he would with a white woman doing the same thing.

It helps that the issue isn't just that Dr. Mary is black. All of Frasier's other flaws contribute, but ultimately... that's the one. To do an episode looking at race, "Frasier" finds its own piercingly funny way. The show's popularity DOES rise because of Dr. Mary and Louise, but it's not the same show that Frasier wanted it to be. It's also, to his mind, no longer appropriate for him as a practicing medical professional to be associated with advice that has no clinical basis. Coles' performance as Mary is justifiably acclaimed, and Kelsey Grammer is in fine form during the scene where he impersonates a (deliberately stereotyped version of her (Niles: "She's not going to say 'Massa'). Martin looks suitably awkward throughout, and I think he exists as a kind of audience surrogate. The studio audience response is positive, but also a little bit shocked: it's funny to think that - at the end of the 20th century - talking about race on a mainstream sitcom was still a big surprise, but there you have it.
I really enjoy the Grandpa Willie quotes, particularly:
"A cat can have kittens in the oven but that don't make 'em biscuits"
and
"If the show don't fit, then that ain't your shoe"

The sideplots are a little less eventful. David Hyde Pierce has some fine physical comedy throughout his kickboxing storyline, and I appreciate the joke about Niles leaving the little card out for cocoa delivery, but it doesn't rise above pedestrian fare (at least, pedestrian by "Frasier" standards!). And I'm not really sure what's going on with that guy's speech impediment. Although Peri Gilpin playing "on the verge of cracking up" is always funny, and I must admit giggling at the word 'wastafawwian'.

Still, it's the thoughtful examination of Frasier and Mary that sells this one. Her understanding approach to his final confession is particularly well done. This time, the situation wasn't entirely in Frasier's head, but he was still overthinking what should have been an honest confrontation. Neat.


Rating: 90%

 

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