Okay, a brief recap of my history with Frasier. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Cheers with Frasier, as my current watch through of Cheers hasn’t reached the point where he debuts.
I loved Frasier in the 90’s, and watched it often in syndication, but I haven’t seen all of the episodes. I began watching the show a couple of years ago, and I’m about halfway through it currently. It holds up rather well and while I enjoy it, it’s definitely not my favorite sitcom.
But when rumors of a Frasier revival began, I found myself excited. Partly because I want more sitcoms on TV, but I’m always down for a good reboot of a property I enjoy. With that being said, sitcoms feel well… weird at times. The jokes come too fast, the scenes cut too quickly, and I don’t love the crystal-clear HD. So, I tempered my expectations when Frasier debuted especially after a very mediocre trailer.
When I started up the first episode of the new Frasier I cringed and wasn’t sure I would make it through. The opening scene is, well… terrible. Thankfully, it’s all uphill from there.
I was worried Frasier would attempt to channel the same energy and feel of the original show, but it does not. Instead, it approaches the character from a grounded (well-grounded for a sitcom) angle. Frasier’s TV show has been cancelled and he wants to spend some time in Boston with his son Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott). However, Freddy and Fraiser don’t really get along because Freddy is a fireman and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, and Fraiser is well… Fraiser. The first episode plays tribute to Martin Crane (John Mahoney) who was Fraiser’s father in the original series, a retired cop and blue-collar guy much like his grandson Freddy.
While in Boston, Fraiser meets up with an old friend from Oxford Alan Cornwall (Nicholas Lyndhurst) who teaches at Harvard. Fraiser then meets Olivia (Toks Olagundoe) the head of Harvard’s Psychology department who is desperate to convince Fraiser to join the faculty. The character of Olivia really stands out and while corny, does manage to steal quite a few scenes.
The other scene stealer tends to be Eve (Jess Salgueiro) a friend of Freddy’s who lives across the hall. She brings a certain energy to the show that is much needed and counters some of the obnoxiousness David Crane (Anders Keith) brings. Unfortunately, David Crane, the son of Niles and Daphne is the weakest link. The character is a bit too far out there and most of the time he distracts from whatever is going on in the scene. There are a few moments that are funny, but the less he’s on-screen the better it is for the show.
Between the touching moments, Frasier is still funny. The obnoxiousness has not gotten old and Kelsey Grammar’s delivery is what makes everything work. The supporting cast has its moments, and while the characters are as iconic as the original cast, they work well together.
I think the single biggest compliment I can give Frasier is the run-time. Thanks to it not being restricted by network commercials, Frasier runs closer to the 25-30 minute time that sitcoms in the past did. It gives so much more room for jokes to breathe and scenes to play out, without the before mentioned quick cuts (Night Court could really use some help with this).
I also have to take a minute and pay respect to all of the writers over the years as well as Kelsey Grammar. He’s played Fraiser Crane for forty years now and been relevant the entire time. That’s impressive.
I sincerely doubt Frasier is going to top anyone’s Best of 2023 television shows, but it is proof that more Fraiser Crane is welcomed. It’s a solid sitcom in a world where sitcoms are in short supply, and I look forward to watching the remainder of the episodes and hopefully further seasons.