Spin-offs can be a bit hit and miss. For every show like Angel or Better Call Saul, which supplement the rich worlds they are set in while also introducing new compelling characters, there is a show like Joey or AfterMASH which somehow manage to be both forgettable and insulting to the original series they spawned from. Once in a lifetime however, a spin-off comes along that is so , clever, well executed and perfectly cast, that it manages to surpass the original series it came from. That spin-off is Frasier.
Frasier was never the focus of attention in Cheers. He was introduced as a love interest for Diane and a foil/friend/therapist for Sam but ended up being popular enough to be brought back as part of the main cast. Despite his popularity, it is beyond strange that Frasier was the one chosen for a spin-off. Woody and Sam were both more popular and seemingly better options for another show. The existence of a show about Frasier is a beautiful anomaly.
Kelsey Grammer’s performance in Frasier is incredibly charming, perhaps even more so than it was in Cheers, and the clever writing never fails to deliver comedy. From witty jokes involving philosophy and art to far more lewd jokes (and occasionally some funny references with incredibly crude undertones), the comedy is always balanced.
While Kelsey Grammer’s performance as the titular Frasier Crane is delightful, there is little room for argument that the true shining star of the show is Niles Crane. Niles’ combination of little quirks, oddities, and snobbery – combined with his genuine good heart – make the audience both laugh at his antics and root for his happiness. The cherry on the cake that is Dr Niles Crane however, has to be Hyde Pierce’s mastery of physical comedy; from prat falls to full body shudders. Some of the funniest moments of the show involve Niles passing out, freezing up, or stripping completely naked in a café.
The chemistry between the main cast is excellent. Frasier, Niles, Martin, Roz, and Daphne are all integral parts of the show and each interacts with the others uniquely. The love the characters have for one another is always clear, and there is always a sense that the actors genuinely enjoy their time on the show.
Overall, Frasier may just be one of the cleverest, funniest, and most heartwarming shows ever put on TV. If one is ever feeling down and in need of solace, Frasier is an ever reliable place to turn to. Watching the show is like being hugged or sitting by a fire on a cold winter’s day. It’s a comfort show.
Image: Tenebrae @ Wikimedia Commons