After nearly 20 years away, Dr. Frasier Crane has returned to television thanks to the Paramount Plus revival of the classic sitcom Frasier. Kelsey Grammar reprises the role he originated in Cheers to catch up with the renowned psychiatrist as he begins a new chapter of his life in this continuation of the beloved spinoff. Although, in order to take his next steps forward, the good doctor is taking a few steps back.
Premiere date/time: Thursday, Oct. 3 at 3:01 a.m. ET
Where to stream: Paramount Plus
Episodes: 10 total (half hour)
Two air on premiere day, then one weekly on Thursdays
The series catches up with Frasier as he finds himself in Boston once again after spending some time in Seattle and Chicago. But rather than holding up the bar with Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson this time around, the Harvard graduate finds himself at his alma mater as a member of the esteemed faculty.
But when he isn’t navigating the treacherous waters of the Ivy League, Dr. Crane attempts to reconnect with his son Freddy, who is played by Jack Cudmore-Scott. Much like his own father, Frasier finds himself trying to get closer to a kid that he shares very little in common later in life. But no matter how well-intentioned he plans to be, nothing works out as planned and hilarity ensues.
This Frasier review covers the first five episodes and contains no spoilers.
Frasier review: Cheerful goodbyes
As the audience says hello to Frasier’s new status quo, the new series begins with a goodbye. The first part of the two-episode premiere finds him in Boston after Martin Crane’s funeral to visit Freddy, who could not make it due to his work as a firefighter. Unfortunately, this is a case of art imitating life as John Mahoney passed away in 2018. But over the course of the episode, not only is Martin honored, but the entire history of the character of Dr. Frasier Crane is honored as well.
The first half of Frasier doesn’t feature any returning stars other than Grammar. This is understandable since the revival wants to stand on its own two feet at first, which is similar to what the original did after spinning off from Cheers. But there are still plenty of references to Frasier’s past. He mentions his former KACL colleague Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe and the old bar that he used to frequent. He also frequently encounters his nephew David Crane. While the audience may remember his birth in the Frasier series finale, the son of Niles and Daphne played by Anders Keith is all grown up and attending Harvard like his uncle.
And in addition to being David’s professor, Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Alan Cornwall is an old friend of Frasier’s from Oxford. Though that wasn’t a large part of the character’s history we saw previously, we have the opportunity to learn more about that time as we see Alan and Frasier grow as colleagues and reunited chums who haven’t missed a beat.
Frasier review: Big Crane on campus
One thing that does stand out as odd is the inclusion of Harvard University in the revival. It’s easy to see why Frasier would accept a position at a school he attended in a town where his son lives, but it doesn’t make much sense for the college to pursue him in the way that things play out.
Toks Olagundoye’s Olivia is a fun addition to the Cheers-verse, but it's a bit unrealistic for the head of one of the most prestigious psychology departments in the world to go to great lengths to enlist this former radio and television personality to her faculty in an effort to attract more students. The name Harvard should be enough of a draw, right? After all, many establishments claim to be the Harvard of their field or area because Harvard is supposedly the best. It’s a small detail that probably doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, but I would be curious to know what the actual Harvard psychology department thinks once the show premieres.
On the flip side, David Crane stands out in a more amusing way. Anders Keith captures Niles’ particularness and David Hyde Pierce’s knack for physical comedy. He also embodies Daphne’s aloofness and empathy that Jane Leaves brought to the character. And depending on the storyline, Keith may even be channeling Martin’s canine companion Eddie since David’s reactions to things can be comical punchlines in and of themselves. Despite those three characters not being present, David is a solid spiritual successor.
Frasier review: Verdict
Overall, Frasier hasn’t missed a step. It’s certainly not what I expected from a new chapter of this beloved series and franchise, but it’s still pretty good. I’d say it’s comparable to episodes in the latter part of the 11-season run as opposed to the ones from earlier on. But just like a slice of pizza, this Frasier is better than no Frasier at all.
Paramount Plus delivers a classic sitcom with modern sensibilities. The new creative team even manages to retain the show’s signature farcical nature as seen in landmark episodes such as “The Ski Lodge” or “Halloween.” Hopefully, they continue to turn up the dial on that aspect as the show goes on rather than fall back on too many played-out tropes.
My biggest hope is that this show continues to honor what came before it. While Pierce and Leeves aren’t likely to appear in this season, Bebe Neuwirth and Peri Gilpin are set to reprise their roles as Lilith and Roz at some point. Plus, even though Frasier is preoccupied with new things, it would be nice to check in on Sam Malone and the gang at Cheers to see what they’re up to since they’re so close again. And the way that the pilot incorporated Martin into the plot was so heart-warming.
Obviously, we won’t get into spoiler territory, but the Cranes are always more alike than they think and that’s really a message that we should all carry out into the world. Dr. Frasier Crane may be a lovably pompous academic with a taste for the finer things in life, but the things he experiences and the comedy surrounding them are universal. Generations of fans from very different backgrounds have come together to enjoy his antics (and his comeuppance) and it’s nice that we can do that again.