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Frasier Online Episode Guide -> Season 8 -> Episode 8.04

Taking Liberties
Episode Details

Written by: Sam Johnson & Chris Marcil

Directed by: Kelsey Grammer

Original US airdate: 21st November 2000

Original UK airdate: 26th January 2001

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
Dr Mel Karnofsky .... Jane Adams
Guest Cast
Ferguson .... Victor Garber
Alan Murchie .... Nicholas Hormann
Diane Murchie .... B.J. Ward
Ted Fisher .... Francis Guinan
Lois Fisher .... Heather Ehlers
Henry Worth .... Noel Conlon
Guest Callers

Episode Synopsis

In Cafe Nervosa, Frasier is searching the classifieds for a new help around his apartment as he doesn't feel it's right to keep on asking Daphne now she is Niles' girlfriend. Then Niles arrives in a very depressed state, prompting Frasier to ask what's wrong. Apparently, Mel forced him to go to a friend's funeral and leave his mobile phone on - during which it rang twice. He also mentions that his butler was there - lighting a bulb over Frasier's head. Both Niles and Frasier want the butler, but Frasier wins by telling Niles that Daphne won't have to clean again! And so Ferguson joins the Crane household and is every bit as good as Frasier hoped he would be. He soon proves his worth to Frasier by suggesting that he send a particular bottle of wine to Alan Murchie, newly elected president of the opera board as a way of trying to get his vacated spot on the board. He does, however, tell Daphne that from his experience employer-employee relationships don't work because of the status difference - something Daphne dismisses.

Alan Murchie's bottle of wine was a great success, and he has intimated to Frasier that he is opera board material. To continue the charm offensive with the rest of the opera board, Frasier has an idea of a post-Turandot party at his apartment. Ferguson has the idea of changing this to pre-Turandot party because of the older members of the board - which Frasier agrees to. On the night of the party, Niles drops by to pick up Daphne for their secret trip together to the Tacoma Mall, but his delight at being with Daphne soon turns to despair when Ted and Lois Fisher bring a guest - Mel! She, of course, forces him to stay by her side but when she agrees to go to the Fisher's New Year's Eve party, Niles snaps. He drags Mel to the kitchen and demands she stop being so vindictive - but Mel will do no such thing. Niles then causes a scene in front of the rest of the guests by saying he loves Daphne and that their sham of a marriage is over! All of this leaves Frasier without a place on the board, and without Ferguson as he tenders his resignation after seeing Niles break rank and wants to pursue a lady he once buttled for.

Episode Title Cards
  • What The Butler Saw

Episode Highlights

- A depressed sounding Niles orders coffee at Cafe Nervosa:
Frasier: Niles, whatever's wrong the answer doesn't lie at the bottom of an espresso cup.

- Ferguson tells Frasier his family has a history of buttling:
Ferguson: Even my father's father was a gentlemen's gentlemen.

- Frasier joins the rest of the household for breakfast:
Martin: Where's Lord Weirdo?

- Frasier is shocked by something he reads in the paper:
Frasier: That politicking Alan Merchie has just been elected president of the opera board!
Martin: Yeah, I'll never forget where I was when I heard the news (!)

- Daphne is telling Ferguson about the complex history of Niles' crush on her:
Daphne: He was married for much of the time.
Ferguson: But now your prince is free?
Daphne: Almost - he married someone else.

- Niles is excited about his trip to the Mall with Daphne:
Niles: She's going in MY car, on MY backseat under a pile of MY coats and blankets!

- Frasier is worried his father will ruin his opera board party:
Frasier: He'll be here swigging from a can and guessing women's weight - I'll be blackballed!

Frasier Online Episode Review

After seven years, you wonder why it took the show's writers so long to give him his own butler, but they finally do and the result, rather disappointingly, is a workmanlike episode of 'Frasier' with some funny lines and moments along the way but I felt the whole butler situation was rather underused. That said, it was fun to see the effect Ferguson had on the Crane household - most notably Martin using him to flick TV channels - and I liked the way he helped Frasier try to win a place on the opera board. Even better was Niles finally standing up to Mel and letting everyone know he is in love with Daphne, as this particular plot line was in danger of becoming rather too drawn out. It was sad to see Ferguson go after just one episode - I felt the show would have been better served by having him in several episodes - but overall this was a rather average episode of the show that didn't seem to make the most out of a good situation.


76 %

Latest Viewer Episode Review

Avg. Viewer Review: 78.4%
Total Number of Reviews: 9

Ferguson, May 15, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia

Season 8 delivers its first solid (if not great) episode, buoyed by the inestimable presence of Victor Garber. As others have remarked, it's funny it's taken this long for Frasier to get a butler - and perhaps to realise that Daphne really is a physical therapist, as she's been saying for seven years! I remember on first viewing assuming that Ferguson was going to have a negative effect on Daphne and Niles, instead he helps us with the needed transition.

The writers of the show clearly faced a couple of dilemmas. 1) After seven years, there was little point in creating further roadblocks to the couple. They could have had some fun with the discrepancies between Niles' fantasies of Daphne and the reality, or between Daphne's expectations of a man and what Niles could provide, but instead they decided to just throw the couple into commitment. And 2) Even as the season began filming, Jane Leeves had confirmed she was pregnant and would thus be reduced in her involvement with the series. This perhaps had the effect of altering the Niles/Daphne storyline in season 8 -- although thankfully the writers found a unique way to incorporate these elements!
To smooth both of these out, stories like this basically convince us that - in spite of having only run off together recently - Daphne and Niles are very much in love. (At the time, I recall some commentators speculating that ending the UST between these characters was what derailed the show; I heartily disagree, but we'll get to that.)

It's a shame that Ferguson didn't stick around, because he brings out a fun side of both Martin and Frasier. (Although I suspect that a show with an already pompous lead character might've been too daunting for the masses if he had a butler!) It's no surprise that Frasier would come to enjoy relying on someone who can advise and assist. It's also no surprise - although unpredictable enough to be a delight - that Martin relishes in having someone to look after him in a far more patient manner than Daphne! This is not grand comedy, but it's more promising than the first couple of episodes of the season.

Elsewhere (or, I suppose, in the same where) we bid farewell to Mel Karnofsky. Mel's final scenes border on character destruction. I ultimately think they're saved by the groundwork laid for this: given the pressure Mel believes she faces, it makes sense that she would ultimately dig deep and commit to her grand plan. It's a bit of a shame that she has to bow out like this though, but ultimately it is Niles' story. The series needs to give him the chance to stand up for his love, and it's here.

Perhaps the weak opening to the start of the season is the writers absorbing the effect of the 7th season finale. After they've finished clearing up the rubble next week, things will begin to look up.

Rating: 72%


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