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STUDIO: Paramount Home Video
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 528 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
What Joey would have been if it had the little things: like a premise, good acting, good writing, a Jack Russell terrier…
Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, Jane Leeves, John Mahoney.
Spinning off of the highly successful Cheers, the loveably effete psychiatrist Frasier Crane (Grammer) moves back to Seattle where he hosts a radio show. Living with his father (Mahoney), a retired detective, and his father’s nurse and personal therapist, Daphne (Leeves), Frasier also spends time with his even more effete younger brother, Niles (Hyde Pierce) and his oversexed radio show producer, Roz (Gilpin). Together, they get into all kinds of situations which only a prissy, white collar, snobby head shrink will find himself in. Hilarity ensues.
"Okay, Niles, it’s all arranged then: I’ve hired a hitman to take out both Diane and Lilith."
"What about Maris?"
"Did she screw me over?"
"No, but she screwed me over."
"Then solve your own friggin’ relationship issues…"
Spinning off of one of the greatest sitcoms in TV history is a pretty tall order, as fans of the historic show The Tortellis can attest to. And to even aspire to be half as good as the source show is in many cases a pipe dream for the spinoff. But Frasier not only took the torch from Cheers, but ran with it for 11 seasons, matching its predecessor in almost every way, and even exceeding it in terms of being the first show ever to win five consecutive Emmys for best comedy. Frasier was an exceedingly funny show that was well written and featured a cast that played well off of each other.
"Level with me Martin, there’s nothing really wrong with your hip, is there?"
"Uhhhh..why do you think that Daph? A little lower please…"
Heading the cast was Grammer, who tied a record for portraying the same character on TV for 20 consecutive years (James Arness as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke being the other). Grammer was eminently likeable in the titular role and the seemingly infinite situations he found himself in as everyone’s favorite snob carried the show for an amazing 11 seasons. His best two foils to play off of were Hyde Pierce as his even more effeminate brother, Niles, and Mahoney as his father, Martin, who was nothing like either of his sons, but was instead a blue collar kind of guy who had beer and pizza tastes compared to his offspring’s champagne and truffle ones. Gilpin and Leeves rounded out the cast and brought their own charms to the show, Gilpin as the sexpot Roz and Leeves as the proper British housekeeper, Daphne.
"For the last time boys, I don’t really classify the men I know on a scale of manliness."
"The both of you together are still way below Sam Malone."
As the show went into its tenth season, the 10-year cocktease that was Niles’ and Daphne’s relationship culminated in a snap decision to run to Reno to get married in the episode "The Ring Cycle." But in typical Frasier fashion, things weren’t as simple as a quickie marriage as the happy couple had to go to multiple ceremonies in order to satisfy the wishes of friends and family to be there for the big event. There were also other major events such as the three episode arc involving Niles going under the knife for heart surgery ("Bristle While You Work", "Rooms With A View" and "Don’t Go breaking My Heart"). And Roz decided to go to work for another station, even as she tried to figure out her relationship with Frasier near the end of the season. Things come to a head when a new woman, Julia Wilcox (Felicity Huffman) enters Frasier’s life and Roz makes him choose between his romance with her or his friendship with Roz ("A New Position For Roz"). But not everything is so heavy handed as episodes such as "Door Jam" find Frasier and Niles bound and determined to weasel their way into a secret day spa which caters to the Seattle elite – except for them.
"Not manly? How could Roz say that…?"
Frasier held up the mantle established by Cheers proudly and was, if not quite as good a show, was merely the smallest measure below in terms of quality, which I attribute to Cheers having the advantage of Cliff Clavin and Normy. But while Frasier didn’t have as big a cast as Cheers, as a show it seemed to do more with less, as the five stars carried the show for its unusually long run. And how it managed to drag along the story line of Niles’ unrequited love for Daphne for nine plus seasons is amazing in itself. It also made good use of Eddie, Martin’s Jack Russell terrier for various bits throughout the years. But even going into it’s tenth season, the writing was still as sharp as ever and the actors were firmly entrenched in their comfort of their characters. And with the Daphne / Niles moneky off the show’s back, it gave the show a little more room to breathe in terms of exploring a new storyline here and there, such as Niles and Daphne dealing with her overbearing mother, Gertrude (Millicent Martin). There’s a lot to like about Frasier and, like its predecessor, it’s one of the best sitcoms in TV history.
Great show, and another satisfying season, but a disappointing 10th Season DVD offering as there’s no special features whatsoever.