Aired On: Paramount+
Release Date: 10/12/23
"Frasier is off to a different city with new challenges to face, new relationships to forge, and an old dream or two to finally fulfill. Frasier has re-entered the building."
Frasier may have ended its 11-season run 20 years ago, but fans like me have never stopped hearing those blues a callin’. Frasier was a revelation in that it took the “spin-offs are never as good as the original” unwritten rule and proved it to be patently false. The character of Frasier Crane is lightning striking twice, personified: he’s unique and doesn’t come around often. When is the last time you met a character who was snobby, but likeably so; a womanizer, but in a non-offensive way; and so adorably pompous you just can’t help but root for him? Throw in one of the best casts of supporting characters in sitcom history, and you’ve hit that proverbial pot of gold.
All that said – and allow me to briefly step on my soap box here – some of Frasier’s most die-hard fans have become more like their favorite uppity radio psychiatrist than they likely realize. Since rumblings of Frasier’s return arose, cries of “this show is going to suck!” hit the internet faster than you can say, “Sherry, Niles?” Every concern, from it won’t be the same without Martin (actor John Mahoney passed away in 2018) to news that several original cast members chose not to return seemed to immediately turn people off. I was so excited to get the opportunity to preview the first five episodes of Frasier 2.0 and I can confirm that – sure – it is not the same as the original. But it’s still good.
For one thing, Frasier’s original run was, like all shows back then, shot in a different aspect ratio. You know those black bars you see on the side of your screen on old shows? That’s why. It was also obviously not filmed in HD, and that creates a totally different “feel” when watching. Finally, it was more customary in classic sitcoms to utilize bigger sets and wider shots, thus creating that hard-to-describe “watching a play” experience. They may seem like small things, but they can seriously affect your views on reboots before any character even speaks a word. So, if a sitcom 20 years later “feels” different, that’s because it is. Shows are not the same in 2023, and that’s OK! Different doesn’t mean bad.
While those core sitcom building blocks have changed, Kelsey Grammer’s much-loved character is, refreshingly, no different. David Hyde Pierce’s absence as Frasier’s scene-stealing little brother Niles is noticeable at first, but the introduction of Nicholas Lyndhurst as Frasier’s old college chum takes the edge off Pierce’s AWOL status. Anders Keith steps in as the adult version of Niles and Daphne’s son, David – born during the show’s original run. He’s a somewhat arbitrary but harmless addition to the show and appears to have taken a cue from the Jim Parsons as Sheldon school of acting. Stepping into the shoes of Frederick “Freddy” Crane is Jack Cutmore-Scott; a puzzling recast over fan favorite Trevor Einhorn. Without giving too much away, the show’s conflict hinges on the fundamental differences between Freddy and Frasier, and Einhorn’s Poindexter-esque character from the original run clashes noticeably with Cutmore-Scott’s laid-back demeanor. He’s enjoyable to watch and has solid comedic timing, but it is a somewhat curious retcon of the OG Freddy. The Boys alum Jess Salgueiro rounds out the main cast as Eve – Freddy’s free-spirited roommate – and serves as a nice balance to Frasier and Alan’s stuffiness.
New Frasier is witty, fun, and a perfectly acceptable way to spend 30 minutes of your time. If you go into this show expecting a copy-and-paste of the original, you’re going to be disappointed – but I urge you to give it a shot. He’s our same old Frasier, and I’m happy to have him back.