A Crane's Critique is the 4th episode of Season 4 on NBC series Frasier.


Frasier and Niles are frustrated by Martin's effortless bonding with a famous, but legendarily reclusive, novelist.


While at Café Nervosa with Martin, Frasier and Niles spot T.H. Houghton (played by Robert Prosky), the reclusive one-hit wonder author of Time Flies Tomorrow, a classic novel. Desperate to have a conversation with him, they track him to a bar. While the brothers continue looking for Houghton, Martin parks himself in front of a TV. Houghton joins him and they start making small talk. After a long search, Frasier and Niles come back, see him and try to compliment him about his book, until another one of his fans approaches him and Houghton brushes him off. Shortly afterwards, Frasier and Niles come back to Frasier's apartment after going to an art exhibit and run into Martin and Houghton as they are leaving. Learning from Daphne that Houghton spent the entire afternoon at the apartment, the Crane brothers become frustrated that Martin is able to spend so much time with him and learn so much about him while he isn't interested in talking to them.

The next day, Frasier finds out that Houghton is picking up Martin for a double-header Mariners game, which will give him another chance to approach Houghton. When he and Niles learn from Martin that Houghton has written another book, they become ecstatic and want to learn more about it. After Houghton leaves with Martin, Frasier and Niles find the manuscript for Houghton's new book, The Chameleon's Song. After bribing Daphne into leaving them alone, they sit down and read the entire manuscript from beginning to end and find it a breathtaking masterpiece even better than Time Flies Tomorrow. Just as they've finished, Martin and Houghton come back from the game. Martin is upset that they went through his things, but Houghton asks them what they thought of it. As Houghton is about to leave, Frasier and Niles praise him for his work. However, when they compliment him on how the book's plot structure mirrors Dante's Divine Comedy, it turns out that Houghton didn't do that on purpose. Now feeling that the book is worthless, Houghton throws the manuscript out the window and thanks Frasier and Niles for saving his reputation. After Houghton leaves, Niles begins to consider that they may have cost the world a literary masterpiece, but Frasier advises him not even to think about the possibility. Niles offers a rare, unconditional compliment, saying this is why Frasier is the elder brother.

Title Cards

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