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Episode reviews for Episode 4.01 - The Two Mrs Cranes

Avg. Viewer Review: 91.8%
Number of Reviews: 31

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Terrible Acting, Feb 13, 2011

Reviewer: Jiminey from London, England. UK


Is it so hard to hire an actor from the UK? Like someone else
mentioned, Clive's (Scott Atkinson)'s acting is absolutely awful.
Where did they get him? Why can't they cast someone who is from
Manchester - just an idea, I hear they have actors there too. I
mean, they hired an aussie to be Daphne's brother and he too had a
cockney accent but is supposed to be from the same town as
Daphne, surely??? I think that episode was terrible mostly as a
consequence of this "actor" not from the UK.


Rating: 50%

 

An overrated, uneven episode, Aug 25, 2009

Reviewer: Sitcom Fan from U.K


Very highly regarded by many, Joe Keenan’s second farce is in fact an uneven mix of the inspired and the embarrassing. Taking ‘The Matchmaker’ as its template, Keenan utilises a 2 act structure, the first act setting up the situation which will then unravel with increasingly complexity in real time in act 2.

A step up in complexity from ‘The Matchmaker’, 'The 2 Mrs Cranes' does an excellent job of gradually increasing the level of complication and providing the twists and turns necessary to sustain the comedy, without which a farce can easily become dull, the form relying heavily on plotting rather than character, dialogue or traditional storytelling to sustain interest. Instead of the 1 misunderstanding of 'The Matchmaker', we have 5 characters assuming false identities or relationships. Each character is involved in, and responding to, the charade in different ways and for different reasons. For Daphne, it is all very serious, and a chore, she is dreading something will go wrong. Niles cannot believe his luck. For Martin, it is all a big joke, and he is enjoying getting back at his sons for suggesting he cannot handle the complicated situation by enjoying making everyone's lives more complicated, (Martin’s attitude to the whole thing is one of the joys of the episode, his pretence of being an astronaut surely thought up after the writers thought of Niles and Daphne’s hypothetical hyphenated surname!) And in some ways funniest of all, Frasier is reluctantly going along with it, growing increasingly quietly exasperated until by the end he really doesn’t care anymore ( see his reaction to Niles’ gleeful suggestion that he is impotent!). Grammer, given less to do than usual, excels in this more subtle progression of his attitude in this episode. All of this is very well performed.

Keenan expertly twists the situation when Clive reveals he is now a successful businessman. This livens up the latter half of the episode as Daphne changes her tune and now tries to win Clive rather than repel him, thus changing the dynamic of the episode for Roz and Niles too.

That’s the good news. However, 'The 2 Mrs Cranes' is also a frustrating episode in a number of ways. In 'The Matchmaker', the situation may have been simpler, but that was one of its strengths. It was 1 misunderstadning, which was so inherently funny in itself it sustained the episode beautifully. 'The 2 Mrs Cranes' does not have quite as funny a premise and thus needs more complexity to make up for this. 'The Ski Lodge’ arguably gets the balance between complexity and an inherently funny situation better than this one.

'The 2 Mrs Cranes' also takes longer to get going than 'The Matchmaker'. That episode was funny right from the start, whereas the early scenes here have some flat moments (the pointless ‘tweezing muffin’ moment, the silly and unsophisticated references to ‘Stinky’, the lazy ‘narcoleptic applying for air-traffic controller’ joke, Gil's unnecessary appearance, the silly joke about Clive’s ‘butt’ - Keenan was never the most subtle of writers, was he?).

The episode also ends too abruptly, the final fade-out always seeming incomplete somehow. In fact, as with 'The Matchmaker', a further final scene was written, which features Daphne, Niles and Frasier discussing the events of the episode. This cut scene is excellent, giving the episode some warmth and depth which it doesn’t have, and providing the sense of closure that it lacks as it stands, and its inclusion would have improved the episode no end. This scene could have been fitted by cutting some of the earlier, less funny material in act 1.

And finally, we come to the most glaring flaw of this episode – Scott Atkinson’s performance as Clive. For me, this is the single worst performance in any of the 264 eps of 'Frasier'. No matter how many times I watch this episode, Clive – who is a central player and has a lot of screen time – produces a constant wince. This flaw alone makes the episode uneven enough to prevent it from being a classic, even without the other flaws I have mentioned. Atkinson not only has an English accent to make Dick Van Dyke seem like a master of dialects, he also acts appallingly. Every line is delivered with a strange, unnatural bizarre intonation, he has terrible timing, and the whole performance is just so awful it distracts me, it prevents me from supending my disbelief, and virtually ruins the episode. I often wonder if they added Niles' line about him ‘having all the charm of a cricket bat’ during rehearsals – it does seem to be an attempt at an apology for this ghastly performance.

With another actor playing Clive, a stronger first few scenes, and the insertion of the cut final scene, this could have been a classic. As it is, it is an episode that combines the brilliant with the cringe-inducing , making it a frustrating watch for me and actually one of the most uneven episodes of season 4.


Rating: 69%

 

So close and yet so far, Apr 13, 2009

Reviewer: Daniel Argent from Grays, Essex


This is an episode that could have been a classic, but failed. The script from Joe Keenan, while not quite hitting the heights of 'The Matchmaker', is very good and it is always good to see Martin beating Frasier and Niles at their own game, in this case lying to Clive. However, for me, the episode was ruined by Clive's accent. He is supposed to be a Mancunian, but instead he assays a 'Cockney geezer' accent ala Dick Van Dyke in Mary Popppins, which Americans seem to think we all talk like. Again, this should have been mentioned to the producers by Jane Leeves or John Mahoney, who grew up in Manchester and could have taught the actor how to talk like a Mancunian. This for me destroyed a potential gem.


Rating: 70%

 

This is entirely too overrated, Apr 21, 2009

Reviewer: AJ from Ontario, Canada


Not only have there been many better-done farcical moments in Frasier, but the actor who plays Clive alone is atrocious enough to eliminate any future episode re-watching desire I may have had in the first place.

Plain and simple, it's a good try, but considering how low some worthy episodes are rated here, this one probably deserves the title of Most Overrated Frasier Episode Ever.


Rating: 72%

 

The Two Mrs Cranes, Jul 06, 2006

Reviewer: Natalie from Seattle


While it is a fine episode, it doesn't come up to par with some other greats...ex. ham radio, high holidays, etc. Awesome use of classic Frasier people-walking-in-at-the-precisely-wrong-time! The actor of Clive wasn't that great, though.


Rating: 75%

 

The Good Farce....., Apr 03, 2006

Reviewer: JamesB from London


The hallmark of a truly great farce (on stage or TV) is, amongst other things, the delicate
balance of two factors: the set-up and the reveal. The former doesn't necessarily have to
follow the latter (there can be several of both and they can interact and overlap) and this
episode is perhaps one of the best examples of this. Joe Keenan is a master of the art (cf The
Matchmaker) and the Crane extended family is an almost perfect vehicle for delivery.

The set-up begins with breakfast chez Crane, with Niles "tweezing" his muffin to Frasier's
annoyance. Martin's reunion at Rattlesnake Ridge lands Frasier with the weekend from (his)
hell and Clive is established as Daphne's ex-fiance. Next we move to KACL (noting a nice
cameo from Gil Chesterton) and we establish that Frasier would like his opera glasses back
from Roz, who's been hogging them to ogle a bodybuilder in the building opposite her
apartment.

Quickly back to Frasier's apartment. It's the night of Clive's visit and Daphne wants to look as
dowdy as possible. Niles arrives, with a jigsaw, conveniently 'forgetting' that Clive is coming
round. Frasier then leaves to dress (setting up the first reveal) and Niles goes to the kitchen
leaving Daphne to open the door to Clive by herself. She's obviously not smitten. After Clive
jumps in with both feet, declaring his "undying love" for Daphne, Niles enters with nibbles,
only to be introduced by Daphne as her husband of 6 months. Niles and Daphne then depart
to the Kitchen, leaving Frasier to come in and meet Clive by himself, leading to confusion
over Niles's wife (wives). The first reveal comes when Niles and Daphne re-enter and Frasier
realizes that they are pretending to be married. Frasier goes with Daphne to the kitchen to
berate her for lying, which allows Niles to invite Clive to stay for dinner (a crucial element in
continuing the farce) and allowing Frasier to bargain about Rattlesnake Ridge.

Enter Martin. Frasier and Niles have a chance to explain things while Daphne and Clive do the
tour of the apartment and Martin, insulted at the suggestion he might not be up to
continuing the charade, refuses to leave. He meets Clive and says he's a retired astronaut.
This scene is perhaps the most important as it sets up the rest of the show as then Roz
arrives, with opera glasses, and Martin announces her as Maris (technically married to Frasier
at this point). Frasier takes her to the balcony to explain but Roz/Maris is smitten by Clive.
We then learn that Clive has transformed from a layabout to a "captain of industry" which
then means that Daphne is suddenly interested and regretting the situation she's landed in,
especially as the seductive Roz/Maris is then encouraged to stay to dinner by Martin.

To dinner. Martin retires after retelling his tall tales of space adventure. Frasier and Niles clear
the table leaving Daphne and Roz/Maris to flirt with Clive. Daphne, horrified by the rivalry
corners Frasier in the kitchen and tells him to get rid of Roz or it's "Rattlesnake Ridge" for
him, with Stinky in tow (Frasier's reaction to this is a joy to behold). Daphne and Roz/Maris
then escalate matters by dropping personal issues into their conversation: Roz capping her
"blackouts" by revealing that Daphne is pregnant, Daphne countering that she is "barren"
and Niles saying Frasier is "impotent". Clive then exits to the bathroom leaving the two ladies
to fight over him, which culminates in Daphne screaming "how am I supposed to get rid of
this bloody baby". Clive re-enters to hear this. Horrified, he announces his disgust at the
family and how Seattle ("this vile, coffee-swilling sodom") has changed Daphne.

We are then spoilt, for there are not one, but two, great punchlines. Daphne appeals to Clive:
"but we're not the awful people you think we are" to which Frasier adds "No, the truth is
we've been lying to you all night". Clive still says goodbye, but just before he goes says "I'll
never understand how two men like you could have been spawned by that sweet courageous
old astronaut". The look on Niles' face is a picture and really sums up the "how-did-we-get-to-
this-mess" of the show.

That's the structure. But there are so many great small moments with overlaps of set-ups
and reveals. And there are almost no dud lines, particularly in the dinner scene, and so this
episode sparkles like few others in sitcom. It is unbelievably fast-paced: the last 15 minutes
feel more like 5.

It is such a damn pity casting lets the whole thing down with Clive (Scott Atkinson). Just
imagine if Hugh Grant had played the part (and sod the cost: he couldn't have charged more
than the regular cast per ep). Instead we have someone with the personality [and looks] of a
"cricket bat", to use Niles' quip, an accent sourced from the four corners of Britain (let alone
east London or even, as we're considering it, Manchester) and a voice of someone who's
constantly trying to swallow his adam's apple. Think "Gollum". He is also not really at ease
with the cast and very mannered. I don't think I've ever seen anyone quite so out of their
league in the first four series of Frasier. Even Roz's cameo boyfriend in The Innkeepers
managed to convey more character in a few seconds on screen than Clive did throughout this
episode. A shameful waste of a leading guest part in a stunning script.

That aside, this is a great ep. On repeated viewing, Clive just vanishes (thankfully) into the
background. He becomes a static, sterile figure (?stooge/dope) round whom the main
characters dance their fantastic dance. It is telling that the best moments (barring the
punchlines) don't involve Clive. But you are left with the tantalising sense that the whole
gavotte could have been slightly tighter and more realistic, elevating a very funny and clever
episode to the worship the script really deserves, if only the central character was, well, more
charismatic. In short, great farce needs believable characters (amongst other things...)

JB


Rating: 88%

 

Great!!, Dec 04, 2008

Reviewer: Hannah Robinson from South Africa


this episodee is really funny!.I think its one of the funniest episodes of frasier.Niles really loved it to play daphne wife


Rating: 88%

 

A farce ! , Nov 09, 2008

Reviewer: Tid from SW England


An unusual episode for Frasier - plotted somewhere between a Whitehall farce
and a Mozart comic opera, it abandoned the cool dry witty dialogue in favour of
belly laughs from the situation. As such it could well have fallen flat on its face.

That it didn't owes everything to the sharpness of the writing and the tip top
performances. Niles exacting the "love toll" from Daphne at every opportunity
was sublime, and the parting shot of "how you were all fathered by that sweet
old astronaut" is one of the best in the show's history!

So what could so easily have been over-ambitious and over-plotted became a
triumph, and rightly described as a "must see".

The only poor note was the toe-curlingly awful English accent of Clive, spawned
not within a million miles of Manchester (not that Daphne's is either, but at least
hers has a "cobbles and whippets" tinge to it). No this was Marlon-Brando-meets
Dick-Van-Dyke-in-Mary-Poppins BAD! But we forgive on this occasion ...


Rating: 89%

 

Wonderful but what planet did Daphne's ex-boyfriend come fro, Aug 22, 2006

Reviewer: Pawawal from Manchester, UK


I have just seen this episode on Paramount UK and as with every episode I loved it and laughed my way through in a way I cannot with 99% other sitcomes UK or US.

I would like to ask though. Who the hell played Daphnes ex? and where the hell does he think Manchester is? Somewhere between Australia and South Africa by the sounds of it.

I mean, Daphne does not do a Manchester accent, more a Yorkshire accent but I always wonder why the hell did John Mahoney never tell these so called Mancunians what a Manchester accent actually sounds like. After all he is from Manchester.

(for those who want to hear a Manchester accent listen to Liam and Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis)

It really does do damage to the shows credentials when they screw the accents up so much. OK, I understand the show was made primarily for the US audience who would not know about the many hundreds of different accents in the UK (the UK has more accents than any other country in the world by a massive number) but the show is loved equelly as much by the (unimportant?) peoples of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland who when listening to these errors will immediately have bad feelings to the show. This is one reason why I have never been able to introduce my friends to this show (Me and my friends are born and bred Mancunians).

The actors accent in this was Dick Van Dyke esque in its uselessness and I am sure this could be quite insulting to many. Think about it this way, it is the equivelant of a film with an actor with a strong Texas droll whose story background is supposedly Bonx New York of Jewish family. Now, no one in the Us would be able to take that seriously, would they? So can you expect us to do the same when the difference is so vast?

As I said before The UK has more accents than many countries put together, Manchester itself has 10's of varying accents and dialects which is noticable when you travel around the conurbation. Mancunians speak with hard vowels, not the soft vowels of the south east (and only the south east!) It is ony those in from the south east who would pronounce "Pass" as "Parse" and "Plaster cast" as "Plahster Carsst" and that is the accent Daphnes Manc boyfiend had (ontop of the Australian, New Zealand and South African accents he seemed to like so much as to adopt into his regular speach).


I'll end it here. I'm sorry fopr being so long winded but I hope you can see why this would be offensive to EVERYBODY in Britain. Brits are very tribal and seek seperation from other areas which I guess is why England and Scotland have the highest crime rates and especially violent crime rates (not murder, you Americans proudly hold that wee medel:-) ) of any 1st world country and why there has been so much violence between the regions of the UK (England, Scotland, Norn Ireland and Wales).

Apart from that

Cracking show!;-)

P.s. for those above who have already questioned the characters accent, may I just advise that a "cockney" accent belongs only to those in the east End of London. Traditionally those within the sound of Bow Bells (The bells from the cathedrel of the town of Bow). Cockney covers only a small area of London.


Rating: 91%

 

'The Two Mrs Cranes' review, Jun 10, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK


This is another masterfully written farce from the pen of Joe Keenan in which we see how a little white lie can snowball into a whole avalanche of untruths to the point where every character has to pretend to be someone they're not. Everything works brilliantly here from Niles not being able to contain his delight when Daphne introduces him to ex-boyfriend Clive as her husband to Martin making an already complicated situation ten times more so by introducing Roz as Maris, not to mention his own stories of having been an astronaut! However, better still is to come with Roz and Daphne fighting over Clive's affections which is where the lies become ever more extreme such as Roz claiming that Daphne is pregnant and Niles claiming that Frasier is impotent! The only downside to this episode is guest actor Scott Atkinson's woeful attempt at a cockney accent. It seems strange that with all the British actors who have featured on 'Frasier' over the years that the producers chose not to use one here, but ultimately it's a minor niggle in what is an otherwise hilariously funny episode and one which blasts off Season 4 magnificently.


Rating: 92%

 

 
 

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