Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Best: Sitcoms of All Time #19- Frasier

11 Seasons (1993-2004)

This is the best spin-off ever.

Frasier is the story of Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) who moves from Boston to Seattle to host a radio show as an on-air psychologist.  His life is complicated when his

I had a good friend of mine say once that Frasier is the type of show that makes you feel smarter having watched it.  I agree, but it is not because the characters are highly educated.  But the use of the 20 dollar words was used to fantastic effect because it showed how some people can educate themselves into imbecility.  It was the wit and not the large vocabulary that made the show smart.

It's even better than the original.  I know there are many who would strongly disagree and say that Cheers is superior, but I disagree.  This show wisely took a character that was never at the forefront and brought him together in a show that was familiar enough and different enough.

Kelsey Grammer stepped up and made his supporting character into a leading man.  Frasier is a hard character to attach to because of his innate pompousness.  But his new supporting cast made him shine.   One of the big mistakes most spinoffs make is that they don't let the other character's come into their own and have their own stories.  But Frasier was confident enough in its writing that it made some fantastic stories.

David Hyde Pierce made Niles, Fraiser's brother, even more pompous so as to make Frasier more relatable by comparison.  John Mahoney was tragically under appreciated as Martin Crane, Frasier's father.  His no-nonsense, blue-collar attitude helped sharpen the Frasier's comedic edge.

And let's not forget about romance between Daphne (Jane Leeves) and Niles.  Some of the funniest little moments throughout the show occurred when Niles let his passionate love for her break through is shell of sophistication.

"Frasier Crane's Day Off."  (1x23)
This episode very much cements the elements of the show that made it so funny.  Grammer was at his comedic best.  In the episode, Frasier is afraid that someone is gunning for his time slot on the radio. When he gets sick he tasks Niles to fill in for him, hoping he'll be boring.  But things spin out of control quickly and Frasier melts down in fantastic ways.  

"Something Borrowed, Someone Blue" (7x23-24)
This episode is not only the best episode, but it is also the episode that jumps the shark.  This is the culmination of a 7 year build-up of the will-they-won't-they Niles and Daphnee relationship.  Not only was it horribly romantic, but the writer's didn't forget to bring the funny.  When Niles and Daphnee finally let all of their feelings be known, they interrupt the romance with fantastic little comedy bits, but this actually ratchets up the romantic tensions.

But this episode also jumps the shark because, like the Moonlighting curse, the show was never the same.  There were some great episodes, but the writers were never able to capture the magic again.


Frasier is a wonderful example of spin-offs done right and gave us over a decade of laughs.

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