Age of Dad writers explain their favourite icons of fatherhood. First up, Marty Crane.
There is no doubt Frasier and Niles Crane are their mother’s sons. Successful shrinks with a love of the opera and a cheeky sherry before their filet mignon, they are a world away from dad Marty, a retired cop who is happy with a beer, bowl of crisps (we don’t call them chips round these parts) and Monday Night Football (their football).
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But that is why he is the world’s greatest dad. He may share Frasier’s Seattle penthouse but Marty is about as impressed by his son’s high-rise digs as he is the high society circles he and his brother move in, frequently reminding them to clamber down from their backsides to take a sobering look at just how far up them they tend to disappear.
Their plan – in only episode three – to “improve” his tastes by taking him to a pretentious restaurant, only for them all to end up at Marty’s favourite steakhouse, was an early insight into what sort of man and dad he is.
Marty is a stand-up guy, despite a bullet to the hip rendering his efforts to his stay on his feet for any significant length of time largely futile, forcing him to spend most of his time sitting down on a skanky chair in the middle of Frasier’s swanky pad.
Not that he has a chip (crisp) on his shoulder about being thrust into the centre of his sons’ world. How Frasier and Niles are his, even he struggles to understand, but all that matters to him is that they are. He loves them, supports them and guides them without them realising. As Frasier writer Joe Keenan said in tribute to late actor John Mahoney, Marty is the sitcom’s moral centre – a cranky, embarrassing and uncouth single dad who just wants to be there for his kids.
If it was up to all three of them, he would still be a cop with two good hips. But whether any of them know it or not, his boys need him more than the Seattle PD needs him.
Cops are replaceable, dads like Marty are not.