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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 4 -> Episode 4.21

Are You Being Served?
Episode Details

Written by: William Lucas Walker

Directed by: Gordon Hunt

Original US airdate: 13th May 1997

Original UK airdate: 5th December 1997

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
Bulldog .... Dan Butler
Recurring Cast
Guest Cast
Leo .... Alan Wilder
Messenger .... Michael McFall
Waitress .... Luck Hari
Tom .... Gerry Gibson
Guest Callers

Episode Synopsis

Leo Pascale is leaving KACL, but Frasier tells Roz he isn't going as he hates not only the frozen Sara Lee cake that accompanies these occasions, but also the modern pre-occupation with hugging everyone. Frasier then goes to join Niles in Cafe Nervosa, who tells him he has been to see Maris and told her in no uncertain terms that either they seek counselling or consider they mariage over. Niles newly found sense of confidence is severely dented when a messenger delivers Niles to package to the table - Maris has filed for divorce!

At Frasier's apartment, Martin returns from walking Eddie to find Daphne having a clearout of Martin's old things - or junk as Daphne calls them - which include his Hot'N'Foamy shaving set and the SteamMaster 2000 ("Live life wrinkle free", the advertising slogan went). Frasier and Niles are thrilled when they discover an old notebook of their mothers in the box, but when they start to read some of their mother's comments about Niles and Frasier, it hits a little too close to home: she describes Frasier as fearing physical contact, while Niles is cowed and dominated by females. Frasier tells his brother that he has broken that cycle, only to learn that Niles has sent back the divorce papers with a note begging Maris to take him back!

Niles finds his resolve again, and the two brothers decide to sneak into Maris' house retrieve the divorce papers before she has had a chance to open them. They successfully get in, thanks to Niles still having a key, but Maris has bough two new dobermans to guard the house, which they manage to escape from by lacing some meat with some of Maris' sleeping pills! Back at Frasier's, Niles is having second thoughts about going through with the divorce so Frasier reads him more of their mother's thoughts from her notebook, whereupon they learn that all along their mother was writing about her 2 lab rats, called Niles and Frasier! This sends Niles into a state of panic as he has ended his marriage based upon his mother's obsession with vermin, and has an unfortunate encounter with Martin's Hot'N'Foamy, before calming down and signing his divorce papers once and for all.

Episode Title Cards
  • Ties That Bind
  • Thank God Tuesday Isn't Soup Day

Episode Highlights

- Frasier can't understand why Bulldog and Leo can bring themselves to hug each other:
Roz: Bulldog and Leo were tight.
Frasier: Bulldog certainly is (!)

- Niles is recalling the time that Maris was trying to lose weight to fit into a dress she had bought:
Frasier: Yes, I remember her struggle to lose that holiday pound.

- The sight of Eddie is his knitted outfit.

- Martin in trying to give Niles some advice about his divorce settlement:
Martin: You gotta make sure you get your fair share.
Niles: According to the terms of our pre-nuptial agreement, I believe I'm wearing my fair share!

- Niles is enjoying his experience of 'breaking into' Maris' house:
Niles: I always thought I would make a 1st rate society cat burglar.
Frasier: Yes, all you need to stealth, cunning and a key to the door (!)

- Maris has had Niles painted out of one of his and Maris portraits:
Frasier: I wouldn't look too closely at the face of that skunk in the flower bed!
[Niles looks at the skunk, horrified]

- Niles is on the verge of signing his divorce papers:
Frasier: If you choose, you never have to see Maris again.
Niles: Oh please - half the time, I couldn't see her when she was standing right in front of me!

- Niles goes a bit manic when he finds out his mother was referring to her lab rats, and heads off to the poweder room:
Frasier: Niles! Niles!
[Sound of a 'gunshot']
[Frasier opens the door to the sight of Niles (and the powder room) covered in Hot'n'Foamy foam.]
Martin: You know what must have happened? My Hot'N'Foamy must have exploded.
Daphne: He was a detective, you know (!)

Frasier Online Episode Review

A great episode that is helped along no end by a very funny script that contains lots of brilliant 'little' moments, like when Frasier and Niles discover their mothers notebook is about her 2 lab rats, and skillfully blends the comedy with farcical moments - of which the Hot'N'Foamy explosion ranks as one of my all-time favourite moments in the whole show - but also manages to find space for some quite touching moments towards the end as Niles finally signs his divorce papers and takes in that his marriage is finally over. Top notch fun, really, and one of the best episodes in the whole of Season 4.


88 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 91.7%
Total Number of Reviews: 9

Hot and foamy, May 11, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Another good instalment of "Frasier", although I don't see it as quite the highlight that many do.

This episode is another in the Niles/Maris arc, with Maris sending divorce papers and Niles agonising over whether to sign them. Frasier and Martin attempt to offer advice, but they can't deny their own bias in the situation. What's important here is how well David Hyde Pierce plays his various stages: grief over the initial news, his weak-willed desire to have Maris back, and then his gradual anger and righteousness as he decides not to give in. And then, of course, the inevitable return to Maris. (Hyde Pierce's reaction to Maris' painting is a particular highlight.)

I enjoy this episode, with the highlights being the scene at Maris' home and - of course - Frasier and Niles' discovery of their mother's research diaries. Hester Crane named her children after her lab rats: another unexpected touch!

Still, I find the structure of the episode a little odd, with a token Nervosa scene, a KACL farewell party that exists primarily to start a running gag about Frasier's inability to hug, and a hoary subplot for Daphne and Martin involving gadgets from infomercials. It feels a little bit like someone writing a "Frasier" episode from a blueprint, even if the second act is redemptive.

The climax is filled with energy though, and does feature the explosion of Martin's Hot & Foamy, so I can't fault it too much!

Rating: 89%


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