TV Review: The Frasier Reboot

Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane in “Cheers”

I have been watching Dr. Frasier Crane since his early days on Cheers, where he started as a love interest for Diane and a rival for Sam. He was initially stuffy, snobby and pretentious, but he soon found himself in humorous and sometimes over-the-top situations, which made him my favorite character on the show. I remember the time he wanted to prove that he was “dangerous,” so he ran around the bar yelling, “I’m running with scissors!” After Diane left him at the altar, Frasier stuck around and eventually met and married Dr. Lilith Sternin, with whom he had intense chemistry, both bad and good. The two also had a son, Freddy, and eventually divorced.

After Cheers ended, I heard about the spin-off, Frasier. I was skeptical at first. A rough-and-tumble father? A brother just like him? A radio station gig in Seattle?

TV Review: The Frasier Reboot

The original “Frasier” cast. From left to right: Peri Gilpin as Roz Doyle, David Hyde Pierce as Niles Crane, Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon, Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane and John Mahoney as Martin Crane.

Obviously, my doubts were laid to rest because the show ran for 11 seasons, and it was a really funny show. Frasier premiered in 1993 and was an instant hit.

TV Review: The Frasier Reboot

John Mahoney as Martin Crane

The cast was perfection. The great John Mahoney played Frasier’s father, Martin, a retired police officer who is very attached to his old recliner—much to Frasier’s chagrin. After being injured in the line of duty, Frasier takes him in along with his dog, Eddie.

Daphne, Martin’s physical therapist and housekeeper, is also living with them. She is down to earth and sometimes quite perplexing. We also have Niles, Frasier’s younger brother, who is very similar to a pre-Cheers Frasier. Niles is married, though we never see his wife, and he spends much of the series in love with Daphne from afar.

In the show, Frasier has a job hosting a radio program, The Frasier Crane Show, in which he gives advice to people who call in. Along the way, he builds a good friendship with his producer, Roz. A fun fact about the show is that it was known for having celebrities, sports stars and politicians all “act” on the show as callers. It was always fun to guess who the famous person was.

Here are just a few of my favorite moments from the show:

  • Frasier sets his father’s recliner on fire and throws it off the balcony. And it lands at Martin’s feet on the sidewalk below. Of course, Martin, knowing how much Frasier hated the chair, believes he did it on purpose. (S9.E7)
  • There’s the one where the brothers open a restaurant despite having no experience. Of course, everything that can go wrong goes wrong. Servers are injured, the head chef quits… and it all ends with diners fleeing the restaurant as Frasier looks on in horror. (S2.E23)
  • And then there’s also a Valentine’s episode that shows Niles discovering a crease in his pants, which somehow ends with him setting Frasier’s couch on fire. (S6.E14)

Eventually, the show ended, as all great shows must. Daphne and Niles got married and had a son, David. Martin got remarried. Roz became the radio station manager. And Frasier, despite his inept dating history, finally met “the one,” Charlotte, and moved to Chicago.

The Reboot

TV Review: The Frasier Reboot

Frasier (2023): Season One

Flash forward 20 years, and the show has been rebooted. I missed the character of Frasier. The show was initially just available on Paramount+, so I was really happy to see it was released on DVD. And we own it!

We find out that Frasier was doing a daytime talk show in Chicago. What started as a serious show to help people devolved into hawking cookbooks and ax throwing! He even had a fan club that called themselves “Craniacs”. He wore a big blue “thinking hat”. And while he made gobs of money, he had a lot of regrets over what it became. Even when he teaches his first class at Harvard, the students are more interested in his show than what he is trying to teach. Out comes the hat!

The second main character is his son, Freddy. The two have never really had a close relationship, even on the previous show. The cracks started when Freddy went through his Goth phase. But this was worse, much worse. Freddy, a highly intelligent man and a Crane, after all, dropped out of Harvard to become a firefighter, of all things.

The dynamic has now switched. While before, Frasier’s father was the more down-to-earth one, now that role is filled by his son. Frasier wants to repair the relationship, so he moves into Freddy’s apartment building AND buys the building. Freddy has been living across the hall with Eve and her infant since her boyfriend (who was Freddy’s best friend) was tragically killed fighting a fire. Frasier lets her live in there rent-free, and to give her privacy, Freddy moves in with his father. Like Martin, Freddy brings with him some things that just don’t fit in with Frasier’s “sophisticated” tastes… like a light-up beer sign.

TV Review: The Frasier Reboot

The “Frasier” reboot cast. Left to right: Jack Cutmore-Scott as Freddy Crane, Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane, Anders Keith as David Crane, Toks Olagundoye as Olivia Finch, Jess Salgueiro as Eve and Nicholas Lyndhurst as Alan Cornwall

It took me a bit to warm up to Freddy, but it dawned on me that despite turning his back on Harvard and his potential to follow in his father’s footsteps, he is just like his father. Just like Frasier was like Martin under the surface. I ended the first season really liking him. We find out that he and Martin had a very close relationship.

Then there is Frasier’s friend from their Oxford days, Alan Cornwall, who got him the teaching job. Alan, who is tenured, often shows disdain for the teaching job and his students while having a strong liking for alcohol. I really like his character. There is also Olivia Finch, played by Toks Olagundoye, who is the chair of Harvard’s psychology department and former “Craniac”.

The only character I’m still not 100% on is David, the son of Niles and Daphne. David is Alan’s student assistant, and that has helped as the two have good chemistry. Alan, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, who was once a child star in England, really seems to make those around him shine, bringing out something that was missing from David early on. The reindeer game they played at the Christmas party was really spot on. Try fitting “Donner” in a sentence.  And the Christmas party episode, the season finale, was pure Frasier in all his over-ambitiousness, which, of course, proved disastrous. But Frasier’s heart is in the right place, and he is a lot more accepting of what he can’t control than he used to be. But it is still funny.

And what would a sitcom be without a place to hang out? Instead of the coffee shop from the original Frasier, everyone now hangs out at Mahoney’s bar, where Eve works and the firefighters hang out. The name has a special meaning as a tribute to the late John Mahoney. Along the way, we do see a couple of familiar faces, which were most welcome. I’m not going to spoil it, but one really made me smile. I like this ensemble. It took a couple of episodes, but I think people are finding their “groove”. You’ll even hear “tossed salads and scrambled eggs” again!

Kelsey Grammar has made his mark on TV history with a character who has been on three hit shows and guest-starred on Wings (another show from the Cheers days that I would love to see a reboot treatment). I have already read that there will be a second season, and I look forward to it.

So, if you were a fan of the original show, I recommend catching up with this new aspect of Frasier Crane’s life. If you need a refresher, the Fountaindale Public Library owns all 11 seasons of both Cheers (Frasier appeared in season 3) and Frasier.

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