Frasier s04e04 Episode Script

A Crane's Critique

Is it me or is the foam a tad dense today? Like a dreary fog on a Scottish moor.
Rather than accent, it overwhelms.
Rather than flirt, it assaults.
Rather than watching the ball game, I have to listen to this.
ROZ: Hey, you guys.
- Hey, Roz.
- Like to join us? - Oh, yes.
Frasier, listen, don't forget your staff meeting tomorrow.
It starts at Well, I certainly hope his tailor can fix the holes you just burnt in his jacket.
They're not in his jacket.
- It starts tomorrow at 10.
- Thank you.
Hey, Marty, what are you doing here? They're dragging me out to buy some new clothes.
We're taking him to Rudolfo's once-a-year sale.
It's 50 percent off.
The alterations are free.
Big deal.
Butz Clothiers, they do that every day.
Yes, not to mention the convenience of getting your pizza right next door.
These guys think I have bad taste in clothes.
I like the way you dress.
That's what's called the "clincher.
" Shall we go? All right.
Well, I'll just hit the head, and we can get it over with.
Dad, you could show more enthusiasm.
- Yeah.
MARTIN: Okay.
Gee, I can't wait to hit the head, and we can get it all over with! Are you finished undressing him with your eyes? Please.
I'm already looking for my stockings and trying to remember where I parked my car.
I would have thought that gentleman over there in the flannel shirt would be more your type.
Him? Not a chance.
See the way he's slurping his orange juice? Sloppy kisser.
Now, you can tell right away the guy is no good in bed.
He's so cautious.
Look at the way he's blowing on his coffee.
I wasn't trying to cool it, I was simply blowing a foam hole.
You don't even wrinkle the sheets, do you? Niles, that man across the street at the newsstand.
Is that who I think it is? He does look familiar.
- It's T.
H.
Houghton.
- No! Just think back to the picture on the dust cover of his Time Flies Tomorrow.
- A little older, greyer - Yeah, Time Flies Tomorrow.
I read that in high school.
- What else did he write? FRASIER: Nothing.
That's the crux of his legend.
The man published one masterpiece, and in the 30 years since, he's become a virtual recluse.
- Oh, my God.
It is T.
H.
Houghton.
- Yes.
We're a stone's throw away from one of the giants of literature.
Not the way you throw.
Oh, Niles, this is incredible.
My God, the man's entire life is shrouded in mystery, yet there he is.
I've always idolized him.
What I wouldn't give to meet that man.
Why don't you go introduce yourself.
Oh, I can't just walk up to a god like that.
Well, then find a subtler way.
In your vernacular, that would be what? To slingshot your panties across the street? - Foam blower.
- All right, all right, you two.
Niles, she happens to be right.
How often do you get an opportunity like this? Let's go.
All right.
- Come on, we're going.
- Why? What's the rush? - T.
H.
Houghton is across the street.
- Who? - Come on, let's Let's go! MARTIN: Hey, guy with a cane here! Niles, I thought you said you saw Houghton come in here.
Well, I'm sorry if my tracking skills aren't up to your standard.
Instead of asking for a baby brother, you should have asked for a German short-haired pointer.
I did.
Well, I'm sorry.
He must still be out on the street.
I'm parking it.
They got the Mariners on.
- Please, we can't waste time.
- Let him be.
He's deadweight.
FRASIER: Right.
- What's the score? - Four to three, Mariners.
BOTH: Aw! - How could he miss the cut-off man? - That man makes 7 million a year.
- It's crazy.
- Yeah.
See him scratching his butt? That's about 5 grand right there.
- Let me have a Ballantine's.
- Yeah, make it two.
BOTH: Aw! So that's your favourite character? - Really? - Yeah.
Yeah, I really like him.
The kind of guy you can just sit and have a beer with.
Well, I could see you saying that about Hoss, but Little Joe? That's the great thing about Bonanza.
Something for everyone.
Well, thank you, Mr False Alarm.
"Oh, look, there he is, over at the yogurt store! Oh, look, there he is, in the futon store! Oh, look, there he is with Dad!" NILES: And now he's leaving.
I must tell him what an impact his book has made.
Aren't you afraid it'll sound unoriginal? - Why? - I'm gonna say it first.
MAN: Excuse me, Mr Houghton? - Yeah? - I just wanted to tell you that - My book changed your life.
Swell.
- No, no, but I - It changed mine too.
Look, I'm sorry.
I don't like to discuss my work.
Well, that was humiliating.
I've never felt so rejected in my life.
Now, now, don't take it so hard.
Who was to know he was so sensitive? - Aren't you Dr Crane from the radio? - Not now, haven't got the time, sorry.
Do you realize who you were just talking to? - That was T.
H.
Houghton.
- Yeah, I know.
Well, well, well, what did you two talk about? - Oh, I don't know.
This and that.
FRASIER: Dad, virtually nothing is known about this man.
Can't you give us something specific? Well, it was just guy stuff, you know.
Baseball, TV shows, old war stories - He told war stories? - No, I did.
You know, about the time I made the stew and the platoon got sick.
Dad, how could you? What? He liked it.
He's a nice guy.
I think maybe I'll buy one of his books.
Not books, Dad.
Book.
Book.
He wrote one book and never wrote again.
If only we'd arrived ten minutes earlier, we could've talked to him.
We could have explored that mammoth intellect.
Can you imagine the torture the man's endured, to peak at such an early age? Oh, my God, Frasier, look.
It's a doodle! Not just any doodle, a Houghton doodle.
- It's mine! - No, mine! - It's mine.
- Dad, what do you care? No, I mean I drew it.
That's very touching.
This is for you.
Bye-bye.
I don't know when I've enjoyed an exhibit more.
The artist's choice to make that a monochrome was a stroke of genius.
- It conveyed such despair.
FRASIER: Yes.
It was so refreshing to see a sad peach.
How about that curator? She was kind of a peach herself.
- No cubism there, I don't think.
- No, certainly not.
MARTIN: Hey, boys.
BOTH: Oh, hi, Dad.
Oh, Ted.
Ted, I'd like you to meet my sons.
This is Frasier and Niles.
They're big fans.
- Hi, guys.
FRASIER: Mr Houghton We Words can't express I guess not.
Nice meeting you fellas.
Oh, my God, we missed him again! - What's going on? - That's odd.
So where are you two going? Well, Ted's taking me out to this bratwurst place he knows.
Bratwurst? Yummy.
My God, that's our favourite.
Nice meeting you.
- What's wrong with this thing? NILES: Well, it could be broken.
If you came in to the apartment, we'll call the front No! I'm sure it'll work this time.
What the hell was he doing here? We might know if you hadn't spent an hour pondering the despair of the peach.
From the man who spent 30 minutes looking at Woman with a Rectangular Head.
Oh, was Mrs Foster in the lobby again? No, Daphne.
Could you explain to me just how T.
H.
Houghton ended up in my apartment? Well, he's only in town for a couple of days, and he doesn't know too many people, so he looked your father up, gave him a ring, and Mr Crane invited him over to watch the Mariners game.
- He was here all afternoon? DAPHNE: Yes.
Oh, it's a shame you couldn't be here, because he told the most fascinating stories.
And, of course, he and your father are getting on like old chums.
But the sweetest thing was how he took to Eddie.
He He spent time with Eddie? Fed him his afternoon biscuit.
FRASIER: Will the madness never end! NILES: Oh, now, now.
Let's not give up hope.
Maybe Dad'll bring him back after dinner.
Oh, well, I doubt it.
They'll probably run into J.
D.
Salinger and Salman Rushdie and go out for margaritas.
I tell you, Niles, these near misses, they're just excruciating.
[DAPHNE LAUGHING] DAPHNE: There you go, Mr Houghton.
You're welcome.
- Was that him? - Yes, he forgot his coat.
FRASIER: Make way, Daphne! We missed him again.
Don't you dare gloat, you miserable little biscuit whore.
[BARKING] Thanks, Eddie.
- Afternoon, Daphne.
- Hello.
Good dog.
Oh, Dr Crane, it's a good thing you're home.
Mr Houghton's dropping by to pick up your father for the Mariners game.
- Are you serious? He's coming back? - Yes, any minute.
It's a double-header.
- They play two games.
- Oh, right.
But this is This is incredibly good fortune for me.
I'll finally get to spend some time alone with the man, even for a few minutes.
[DOORBELL RINGS] Daphne, be a dear and stall Dad, will you.
If he gives you any trouble, just hide his cane.
Niles! What fortuitous timing.
The wine shop called a moment ago.
They're down to their last cases of the '82 Chambolle-Musigny.
Why don't you dash down before somebody snaps it all up.
Bless you, Frasier.
Hold it.
You know very well that in 1982, there was a drought in Bourgogne.
The locals dubbed it the "Year of the Raisin.
" And that wine was never sold by the case, only by the bottle.
T.
H.
Houghton is here, isn't he? - No.
- Fine.
Then you won't mind if I just hang around for a while.
Oh, all right.
He's on his way.
He and Dad are going to a baseball game.
It's a double-header.
They play two games.
Oh, hi, Niles.
Oh, Dad, so I hear that Mr Houghton is on his way over.
Maybe we could all have lunch.
- That's a splendid idea.
- No, the game starts in 45 minutes.
Perhaps you could come by after for a drink.
No, sorry, that won't work either.
He's gotta go to his publisher's, drop off his new book.
Houghton has a new book? I've lost the feeling in my legs.
Well, did he say anything about it? I mean, the characters, the setting? - No, he just said it was a book.
- Dad.
You have to skip the game.
It's not just for our benefit.
After all this baseball, the man must be starved for intellectual stimulation.
I know what you're saying.
That someone like that would prefer to spend time with you instead of some dumbbell like me.
Dad, you're not dumb.
You missed the point entirely.
Let's just say, for example, you came home one afternoon and I was sitting here discussing literature with, I don't know, give me the name of a player.
- Darryl Strawberry.
- No, a real one! Frasier, the problem is you push too hard.
We just talk sports, have a few laughs.
That's all.
[DOORBELL RINGING] You know, I never ask him about his work.
That's probably why he told me about the book.
- Mr Houghton, hello.
- Hi, how you doing? - Hey, Ted, come on in.
HOUGHTON: Fine.
FRASIER: So you two boys are off to the baseball game, huh? Double-header.
That's two games.
Yeah.
Little-known fact about baseball.
The owner of the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees to finance a Broadway musical, No, No, Nanette.
- You ready, Marty? - Let's go.
Well, I really enjoyed chatting with you.
If you'd drop back by after the game, we could pick up where we left off.
No, No, Nanette? NILES: I'm sorry, there were exactly two things I could possibly add to a baseball conversation.
That and No, just the one.
- Frasier? - Yes.
Have you noticed how Houghton carries a satchel with him wherever he goes? Well, actually, as a matter of fact, I have, yes.
Didn't Dad mention that Houghton was on his way to his publisher's after the game with a new manuscript? Yes.
Wouldn't that be the very same satchel which is now resting under my head? Oh, my God! - Wait! - Should we? We shouldn't.
- Could we live with ourselves if we did? - Could we live with ourselves - if we didn't? - Could we live either way? Oh, stop it, Niles! Oh, who are we kidding? All right.
Careful, careful, careful.
"The Chameleon's Song by T.
H.
Houghton.
" These are handwritten corrections.
Frasier, this is his original manuscript.
Shame on you! Going through someone else's personal property.
Well, it's just plain wrong.
And I know your father wouldn't approve.
Of course, I wouldn't be here to tell him if I had the day off.
- Fine, go.
- Oh, great.
Of course, having a day off is pretty meaningless when you have no money to, you know, maybe go to lunch or do some shopping.
Perhaps take in a show.
Oh, thanks.
- All right, Niles, shall we? - Not yet.
- The atmosphere has to be perfect.
- Good point, yes.
Let's begin with the lighting.
All right, just say when.
Warmer.
Warmer.
A little cooler.
A touch warmer.
A hair back.
No, no, just No, a hair the other way.
No, a touch warmer.
- Perfect.
- Good.
NILES: Excellent, excellent.
What wine would most enhance the experience? No, Niles.
Wine might dull our faculties.
Perhaps instead a slow-sipping cordial would be the proper garnish.
- Sherry.
- Armagnac.
Oh, well, see? That's why you're the older brother.
[SIGHS] - What is it? - I don't think you're there yet.
[SIGHS] [SIGHS] [SIGHS] Well, it's a masterpiece.
[BARKS] Eddie.
I never thought I'd utter these words, but it actually surpasses Time Flies Tomorrow.
[BARKING] Eddie, please! We're trying to savour the moment.
How was the game? Is that my manuscript? What the hell's going on? HOUGHTON: You went through my bag? - That's my personal property.
- I don't believe you two.
Mr Houghton, we We are terribly, terribly sorry.
The temptation to read it was just too great.
Oh, what's that supposed to mean? You're grown men, at least I thought you were.
You had no right to touch that.
Ted, I'm sorry.
I'm just so ashamed.
- Now, it's all right.
- No, it's not all right.
No, no, it's okay, really.
Somebody had to read it first.
So, what did you think? - Of the book? - No, of my typing.
Yes, of course, the book.
It was great.
Wow.
Well, at least you liked it.
I'm gonna have to be running.
Are you sure? I was gonna make some coffee.
No, no, I got an appointment.
Can I use the? - It's right here.
HOUGHTON: Okay.
Boy, I've had it with you guys.
If you were Hoss and Little Joe, Ben Cartwright would kick your sorry butts right off the Ponderosa! Dad.
Dad, we're sorry.
Very sorry.
He's back on the Cartwrights again.
You know, someday we really should ask him just who the hell they are.
You know, Niles, one thing just really bugs me.
Houghton's gonna leave thinking we're just a couple of inarticulate simpletons.
What were those pithy comments we made about his masterpiece? - "It was great.
" BOTH: "Wow.
" Yes, we'll go down in history with the same boob who first read Hamlet, then told Shakespeare, "My goodness, what a parchment-turner!" Well, it's not too late.
He hasn't left yet.
Yes, yes, we could still say something to show him that we appreciated the full complexity of his work.
Mr Houghton, you know, there is one further thing - I'd like to add about your book.
- Yeah.
Well, it's the way you modulated into the second-person narrative during the flashback scene.
Frankly, beggars anything Faulkner attempted.
Really? That's very flattering.
Oh, wait, I have one too.
The way you so skilfully mirrored the structure of Dante's Divine Comedy was inspired.
Really? FRASIER: Yes, from the inferno of the bordello NILES: Which, we noticed, had exactly nine rooms.
- To the purgatory of the assembly line, and finally to the paradise of the farm.
You both saw that? Oh, it practically jumped off the page.
Well, that's very perceptive of you.
Well, thank you.
I guess it's our turn to be flattered.
You're absolutely right.
This whole book is crap.
Beg your pardon? How could I be so blind? I lifted the entire structure from Dante! - You mean you weren't going for that? - Of course not! This confirms my worst fear.
I have nothing original left to say.
I'm an empty shell.
I was a fool to think I had a second book in me! "The winters were harsh on the farm.
" Well, here's something to warm them up! MARTIN: What's going on here? You're both right.
I'm a talentless hack who got lucky once.
- We didn't say that! - You're not listening to them? - Look at this trash! It won't burn! - It's a fireplace, you see.
- It's not well ventilated.
- This doesn't belong in a fireplace.
It belongs in the gutter, with the rest of society's garbage! FRASIER: Wait.
No, no MARTIN: Ted, don't do that! - Ted, no! Don't do it! NILES: No, Mr Houghton I want to thank you two.
If I had published that book, my reputation would have been destroyed.
At least now I'm left with a shred of dignity.
No.
MARTIN: Happy? Hey, Ted, wait up! Well, we've destroyed a man's life.
Not to mention depriving future generations of a work of art.
Yes, well, on the other hand, had he actually published it, the critics surely would've noticed that Dante parallel.
If he felt bad now, imagine how he would've felt reading it - in The New York Review of Books.
- Oh, God, yes.
Given his fragile ego, my God, he would've been devastated.
Who knows what he might have done.
Do you know, Niles, we saved that man's life.
Yes, I think you're right.
- On the other hand - Don't go there.
See, that's why you're the older brother.