DEAR MR. GRAMMER,
I loved your show, Frasier, and I’ve loved your character, Frasier, since his first appearance on Cheers. I’ve also enjoyed your appearances on other shows, such as Wings, as Frasier. How can I get into writing for television? – J’Mel Davidson
When I was told that I’d be given the chance to command my own television series, I had a brilliant concept. I envisioned a bed-ridden stock market Guru that controlled the world around him like a Machiavellian puppet master: a business God with a heart of gold who just needed a push in the direction of love.
My idea was immediately shelved in order to create a show based on my character from Cheers, pompous yet lovable old curmudgeon, Foster Brookes Junior. We renamed him Frasier and began the show. Soon I knew our modest ensemble had a hit on its hands. We were critically acclaimed; we had a strong fan base, yet something was missing.
In our third season I decided the time was right to shift the balance of power. A character called Niles was created, a maverick lover of finer things who was confined to his bed, where he used his computer-like stock knowledge to rule the Seattle underworld. It was later brought to my attention that there was already a character called Niles. Needless to say, the third season was a wash — a wasteful failure. Nonetheless, I had to push on. With some creative editing and over-dubbing of the second season and old episodes of What’s Happening, we were able to pull it out of the fire. Later that year we won an Emmy.
I was sinking into a world of alcohol-fueled rage and found myself confined to bed. I couldn’t think of anything to do to pass the time. I began to work on a concept for a children’s show I’d had for years. It was called Kelsey’s Grammar. In it, children of different nationalities would learn about the English language while confined to sick beds.
Please rent Down Periscope. It’s a Freudian romp of enjoyable proportion!
No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t seem to get ahead with the ladies. Any advice?
– J’Mel Davidson
In 1984, I wanted nothing more than to bang the delightfully fit Bebe Neuwirth. I had become tired of the antics I’d been involved in with Diane Chambers and decided that a new love interest was called for, so I talked to the writers about adding Bebe to the cast as a sex slave that Frasier would keep in his basement. Our relationship would be completely consensual, mind you, but one of a purely carnal nature. Then, a few episodes into this story, I’d fall in love with her and convince her to accompany me to my favorite place of worship — Cheers!
What a wonderfully skewed and blackly comedic storyline this would have been! There was a planned episode in which Sam Malone tried to steal her away from me by pretending to be as well-educated and as worldly as I, and each attempt only led to Bebe and me having the most twisted carnal interludes at Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern!
Unfortunately, the writers had different ideas. First of all, they renamed Bebe “Lilith,” totally ruining the fact that I got to scream her real name during our entanglements. Then, the writers completely vetoed my sex slave storyline. They claimed that 1980s television and especially NBC and Cheers were no place for dark sex comedy. I pleaded with them to give it a chance, but they were unmoved.
Instead of me answering a master/slave ad from the Boston Globe, what the world got was a stuffy doctor that I was to fall in love with — and there was absolutely no coarse love-making.
This would all lead to my penning my own idea for a show that would allow me to explore the darker side of carnality while still maintaining the sort of banal Thursday night “humor” that NBC seemed to need so badly.
The show was to be about a handsome, slightly balding adventurer who wants to retire to his mansion and spend his later years reading the classics of Taiwanese literature. During this time, he meets a sassy yet sexually repressed helicopter pilot. The series takes place over the next few years as he introduces her to a world of pleasure and primetime-approved miscommunication.
I called the show The Dune Buggy Chronicles: Oh, No He Didn’t!
Not only did NBC laugh me out of their office but they threatened to release horrible rumors about my alcoholism if I tried to move ahead with my show elsewhere. Fraiser, they said, was at heart a kind and caring character. My attempts to make him into a three-dimensional person with real fears and desire were all dismissed. Furthermore, they didn’t want another show with a person that looked like Fraiser doing anything that might make the real Fraiser look bad. I explained to them that no matter what I did, it would look like Fraisier was doing it, because I am Frasier!
Sure, there was time for episodes about Cliff Clavin going on Jeopardy and The Tonight Show, and Sam could beat up Korean people in a flashback episode, but I couldn’t get one on-screen snowball!
Kelsey needs a nap.
Satire, serial fiction or some other form of scintillating prose by J’Mel Davidson appears in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org