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Scripps Howard News Service

Thursday, May 4, 2000

"Daphne, and she's the wiser"


(Yet another reporter who made the common mistake of thinking that DHP's last name is Hyde Pierce.)

"Moon and Crane": It sounds like an exquisite little Japanese movie playing at the local art house.

As the "Frasier" faithful know, however, it's actually one of the tube's longest-running romances, if you can use such a bold word to describe the desperate yearning of psychiatrist Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) for Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), the dishy, mildly loony physical therapist and in-home aide to Niles and Frasier's father.

NBC has been hinting madly that the relationship will take a dramatic turn in the weeks just preceding the series' May 18 season finale, even though Niles has been dating a woman named Mel, who happens to be the plastic surgeon of his ex-wife, the bizarre Maris, and Daphne has been planning her wedding to the sweet but boring Donny. But the network says Daphne's trip down the aisle will be interrupted by -- well, by something.

Daphne recently learned of Niles' seven-year-old infatuation, but we don't yet know what she plans to do about it. So NBC made both Hyde Pierce and Leeves available to chat with critics about the situation -- without, of course, revealing what's going to happen.

Leeves, who in real life is married to a Hollywood executive, sounds more like the private-school graduate she is than like the working-class Daphne. Hyde Pierce, who is single, sounds remarkably like Niles, though without that violin-string-about-to-break quality.

The actors talked in separate phone interviews, but I've interwoven their comments. After all, what's a Crane without a Moon or a Moon without a Crane?

Hyde Pierce: "I think Niles has the purest love imaginable for Daphne. He adores her ... They have a great rapport beyond just his idol worship of her. But he also respects her and understands that as painful as it is, she's found someone else. He basically missed his chance."

Leeves: "I don't think she was clueless [about Niles' feelings], I think it was just something she was scared to consider. She didn't think she was worthy of his attention."

Hyde Pierce: "It's almost like an English-class thing. [In Daphne's mind], Niles is so far out of her league that it never would have occurred to her that he would have feelings for her."

Leeves: "You meet her family [in a future episode], and they're a pretty rough bunch from Manchester."

Hyde Pierce, on Niles' feelings for the prissy Mel: "I think Niles genuinely loves her. But [his] family thinks that Mel is a Maris retread -- that she's a little persnickety, a little uptight."

Leeves, on all those seasons of will-they-or-won't-they romantic suspense: "When something works that well, you don't want to mess with the formula."

Hyde Pierce: "Were we pushing for it to be resolved? Not so much just us as actors, but the writers and everyone else realized that we were getting to the point that there would be diminishing returns."

Leeves, on the season finale, with great sincerity: "We honestly don't know what's going to happen. Honestly."

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Copyright © 2000 Scripps Howard News Service.
Posted 5/4/00