New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: We asked and, as always, he listened – ‘Frasier’ is back

Kelsey Grammer triumphantly returns in a revival with a pulse. The show is now streaming on Paramount+.
(Courtesy of Paramount+)

In 1984, the world was introduced to Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), the pompous — yet relatable — Ivy-League-trained psychiatrist and regular of the “Cheers” TV show. By the end of the sitcom’s tenure in 1993, Frasier had grown a loving following that would spurn his own eponymous spin-off series that same year. The show ran for 11 seasons, garnering a total of 37 Emmys. 

Now, twenty years since “Frasier” left the building and fans clamoring for his return, Kelsey Grammer has returned to the beloved character. After it was announced that beloved original characters Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves) would not be returning, many of us wondered if that old expression would still ring true. As it turns out, it didn’t. Frasier’s third chapter keeps true to the show’s spirit, honoring its past and building a future for Dr. Crane back in Boston. 

When we last saw Frasier, he had pursued his then-girlfriend Charlotte Connor (Laura Linney) to Chicago, where the relationship would inevitably fail. In spite of this, he carved out yet another new career in a self-titled Dr. Phil-adjacent show that brought him worldwide fame. Twenty years later and after the death of his cherished father, Martin (John Mahoney), Frasier returns to Boston in an effort to reignite his relationship with his son, now-firefighter Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott), and live up to the kind of father the elder crane was. He finds his son now living with Eve (Jess Salgueiro) after the death of her boyfriend,  who also happens to be Freddy’s best friend. 

Frasier doesn’t come alone, as he embarks on his new chapter with Niles and Daphne’s son David, a Harvard student who shares his father’s neuroses and the compassionate heart of his mother. The show also brings in Alan Cornwall, (Nicholas Lyndhurst), Frasier’s old Oxford partner whose tenured and carefree lifestyle revolves around booze and a cat. As Frasier searches for meaning in his relationship with his son, his need to feel useful is met as he is recruited by psychology department head Olivia Finch (Toks Olagundoye), who is much more than an intellectual match to doctors Crane and Cornwall.

In spite of the show’s new character dynamics, “Frasier” never loses sight of what made it great. The dialogue is as witty as ever, as Freddy harnesses his intellect to drunkenly mentor his cousins David, Alan and Olivia and Frasier, in true form, stumbles to find his footing in his new life. Freddy and Eve, although completely unlike Niles and Daphne, have the same will-they-or-won’t-they relationship that keeps us on our toes, as the audience expects a kiss at any moment. We even have an off-screen evil in Olivia’s sister, much as we had in Niles’ wife Maris Crane. Hell, they even brought back the theme song. 

The series’ greatest strength may be its father-son relationship that, much like the original, is essential as the Crane boys’ differences mirror those of Frasier and Martin. Speaking of the Crane patriarch, the show never misses an opportunity to honor the late John Mahoney, with a touching tribute at the end of the first episode, the local bar lovingly named Mahoney’s and Eve’s son being named after the celebrated actor. 

“Frasier” is a revival with respect and soul. It honors its past while not distracting from the present. Instead of a nostalgia trip, Grammer and the cast deliver a fresh and hilarious polishing of an old friend in an old newfound place. At its heart, the show is about the same thing — Frasier just wanting to be a better man. Paramount+ has yet to give us any word as to whether they’re picking the show up for a second season but, as Dr. Crane would say, “we’re listening.”

Contact Joseph Paladino at [email protected]

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