Episode Nine: Selling Out, and Pasta with Three Nut Pesto
Oh how a good recurring character thrills me. Joan Callamezzo in Parks and Recreation, Troy McClure in The Simpsons, Harry the Hat in Cheers, the game (I would argue) of True American in New Girl, they invigorate the status quo but maintain the comfort of familiarity. Celebrity agent Bebe Glazer is introduced to the show of Frasier much as one might cautiously add chilli sauce to a dish (betraying my leaning-towards-mild tastebuds here, I admit) - she appears roughly once per season to steal the show and then backs off again, a perfect foil without being a distraction. Because of course Frasier’s main thing is that he’s resolutely moral and driven by his integrity, and Bebe Glazer is, well, not, there’s marvelous humour to be had by pitting them against each other.
TFW you have to mind your knickers.
The plot device is there in the episode’s title - Frasier is unwilling to do promotional spots on his radio show, but after witnessing sportscaster Bulldog Briscoe (himself a juicy recurring treat) making bank off endorsing a local Chinese restaurant, he can’t help but want in. Enter Bebe Glazer, who appeals to Frasier by implying that he can put his advertising money towards his son Frederick’s college tuition. Harriet Sansom Harris plays Bebe like a cross between a femme fatale in a 1930s noir film, Mama Rose in Gypsy, and Judy Garland on one of her final tours, constantly vamping and pouting and delivering every line with such oily unctuousness and urgency and full-mouthed performativeness, it’s absolutely delicious to watch. Like, when Frasier tells her he’s planning to send Frederick to Harvard, she purrs “ouch! Kiss it and make it better!” One half expects her to start doing jazz hands.
Ya gotta have a gimmick.
Bebe’s conniving carnality will be played up further and further with every re-appearance that she makes, but for now she’s only really evil by implication. Frasier goes along with her scheme of having him endorse a brand of nuts, despite his protestations that they are full of cholesterol, he then has to further put himself on the line when his co-stars in the ad are dressed up as walnuts and almonds and he’s all “I’m a psychiatrist and I know a nut when I see one.” In the end though he can’t go through with it - story of his LIFE - and the episode concludes with him watching Dr Joyce Brothers, herself a real-life famous psychiatrist, playing the part in the commercial instead.
For the recipe to go with this episode I am - partly out of laziness, partly out of economy, partly out of showmanship - linking to my actual food blog, where I posted a recipe for pasta with three nut pesto. Look, nuts are expensive and not all of us have the luxury of backing out of an endorsement deal, and the recipe just goes with this episode and honestly? I feel like self-promotion on this level is the only true way to honour the introduction of a character like Bebe Glazer.
Favoured quotes: One of my favourite lines from the entire eleven year series is in this episode, care of the breezily daft Daphne Moon. When Bebe comes over to talk shop with Frasier, Daphne implies that she has knowledge of showbiz, and then upon prompting, reluctantly comes out with:
“I starred in a TV series. It was quite popular in its day, maybe you've heard of it? “Mind Your Knickers”? It was about a group of high-spirited, ethnically diverse twelve-year-olds in a girls’ private boarding school. I played Emma, the short, spunky one. Of course, by the end of the series, I was sixteen, five foot ten, and they had me boozies bound up tighter than a mummy. Well, I'm off.”
Her artlessly sincere delivery of “maybe you’ve heard of it” followed by “mind your knickers” is genuinely incredible.
Em-Maris-ment of Riches: After being sadly absent from the last episode we’re rewarded with some Peak Maris ludicrousness. Niles and Frasier are at Cafe Nervosa (and no, we aren’t told what coffee they’ve ordered) and Niles is, as per usual, looking down his nose at Frasier for his titular selling out - he already felt like he was a discredit to psychiatry by hosting a radio show but appearing on an advert really cooks it. They get onto the subject of the movie Basic Instinct, without actually mentioning the title, and Niles is all, “have you seen that movie? Maris and I rented the video and, I don't mind telling you, we pushed our beds together that night!”
He then pauses.
“And that was no mean feat. Her room, as you know, is across the hall.”
TFW you have to mind your knickers.