We’re over halfway through the season now, and staring down the barrel of some of the finest episodes the series, nay, the medium of television itself, have to offer humanity.
This is not one of those episodes. It is absolutely fine though, and that – that is fine! When you watch a show literally in the hopes of gently falling asleep, forgetting your troubles and c’mon, getting happy – a solid, workhorse, benign episode is entirely welcome.
You Can’t Judge A Crook By His Cover is a classic example of Frasier getting shown up. In the first instance, when he reckons he can pick, with all his psychiatric wisdom, who of his father Martin’s poker night buddies are cops and which outlier did time in jail. In the second instance, when Daphne goes on a date with the titular crook (who he of course couldn’t identify) and he causes a ruckus at the bar she’s at with his total inability to communicate freely with anyone less pretentious than his own brother.
The episode gives Jane Leeves as Daphne plenty to chew on and it’s a credit to her acting that the more surreal aspects of her character – her psychic abilities, her bizarre family life back in Manchester, her supposed oblivion to Niles’ amorousness – really work due to her somehow dignified bearing. She’s daffy, but she’s got gravitas. (Or as Niles puts it, her eyes gaze “directly into one’s soul with neither artifice nor evasion.”) When she tells Martin and Frasier, both horrified at her going on a date with Martin’s ex-con friend, to “belt up”, calls them “hens”, and admonishes them for wasting her time, it’s quite fearsome. (Swiftly undermined by her storming off into the wrong room and having to double back, because opening and closing doors are the blood that oils the machine of this show.)
She also gets some juicy stuff at the end, when, Frasier and Niles having descended clunkily upon the Topaz Room bar to rescue her, she ends up rescuing them. To avoid the brothers getting the highfalutin’ snot beaten out of them, she suggests a wager whereby she has to sink six balls in one shot, in a game of pool. She carefully lines up the shot, then yells “RUN FOR IT” and her, Frasier, and Niles scoot hastily out of there. Daphne, continuing on her shrewdness streak, jams the pool cue in the door, and the two brothers, finally emboldened by this relative safety, pull faces at the punters within. This is what it’s like when worlds collide: Daphne is resolutely working class while Frasier and Niles consider anything without valet parking to be tantamount to Hades’ netherworld, and her ability to navigate between the two is a pleasure to behold.
The recipe for this episode is chocolate truffles, inspired by some rich and sumptuous dialogue delivered by Frasier in regards to his ability to read people – “as truffles are to pigs, so are these charlatans and pettifoggers to my mental acuity.” (Martin: “we didn’t know better back then, his mother smoked during pregnancy.”) This is a pretty straightforward recipe and if you’re looking for something to serve to guests instead of dessert or to put in a box and call an elegant gift, I can highly recommend them. The coconut flavour is very subtle, although this will depend on the quality of your chocolate – I used Whittakers, the rich cocoa bitterness of which rides roughshod over any attempts from the coconut.
- 250g dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- a pinch of sea salt
- cocoa, for rolling the truffles in
Gently melt the chocolate in a saucepan or in short bursts in the microwave, and stir in the coconut cream, oil and salt until it’s all smooth and glossy. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until solid enough to be rolled into balls.
At this point, roll teaspoonfuls of the chocolate with your hands into rough spheres (this is messy, but deliciously so) and then in turn roll these truffles in a small bowl of cocoa powder to coat them. Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them.
My usual, please: It’s been a while since this segment has had any relevance but at last we’re back at Cafe Nervosa, with Niles and Frasier ordering this time two decaf lattes with skim milk. Or, as the server puts it, “two gutless wonders!”
Em-Maris-Ment of Riches: Maris isn’t up to much this week but it is hilarious to imagine her almost-sentience when Niles recalls telling her about Frasier’s time at the poker night – “it was all she could do to keep her eyes from dancing.”
Favoured quote: This is Daphne’s episode, and her little monologue when she’s holding court while playing pool at The Topaz Room is quite spectacular, especially since the scene is set up to make it appear quite intimidating.
“I never really have understood this game. Never understood it, when I started
playing with me older brothers, at the age of six. [she sinks a ball] And I never understood it during all my formative years, spent mostly in the pool halls of Manchester. [sinks another] Playing in local competitions and club tournaments. [another] Winning cup after cup after cup. Until our poor dad had to convert the pantry into a trophy room. [and another] And I can’t really claim to understand it – eight ball in far corner – even today. [sinks yet further another shot] But I certainly do enjoy it. Thank you, gentlemen. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and use the ladies room without touching anything.”