Case Number 05668: Small Claims Court

FRASIER: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

Paramount // 1996 // 543 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 24th, 2004

The Charge

Hello, Seattle...I'm listening...again.

The Case

Dr. Frasier Crane and his nutty family and friends are back for another round of laughs in the third season of the critically acclaimed hit television show Frasier. In this third season the dysfunctional but lovable Dr. Crane (Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer) finds themselves in various situations of equal parts love, embarrassment, and high-class comedy. Dr. Crane comes face to face with a woman from his past, the prissy Diane Chambers (Shelley Long), and also finds himself with a new love interest, Kate Costas (Mercedes Ruehl)...who also happens to be Frasier's new boss! Niles continues to pine for Daphne's attentions, even as his marriage to prissy Maris begins to unravel. And Frasier's father, Martin Crane, is...well, still Martin.

Unlike many sitcoms, Frasier got funnier as the show grew older. Not content to delve into fart jokes and crude humor to find its laughs, the show has always been able to maintain a high standard that continued through to the final season. By the third season it was more than obvious that Frasier was now a bona fide success -- top-notch actors were vying to be call in guests on Frasier's radio program show. The show finally came to a close this past year -- after a decade run -- and with dozens of Emmy nominations and a lot of wins under their belt, the creators, stars and writers of Frasier can be confident in knowing that show is truly in a class by itself (and should air in reruns for decades to come).

The show was always very good at keeping top-notch writers on staff, and this third season is no exception. Some of the highlights in this third season:

* Frasier and Diane together again! If you missed Shelley Long's caustic, snobby Miss Chambers, here is your chance to catch her sparring once again with Dr. Crane. Further proof that Cheers was a classic sitcom and sorely missed, but it's nice to know that we always have/had Frasier.

* Frasier and Niles go head to head in competitive psychiatry when they see an outside shrink together to get their brotherly relationship back in order after a disagreement. Of course, both hard-headed men won't let the other get them best of him, which in turn create some truly memorable moments.

* Niles's infatuation with Daphne deepens as he finally finds the courage to leave his odd, mysteriously absent wife Maris (for those who don't know, a nod to Norm's always absent wife Vera on the original Cheers).

* Frasier and his father, Martin Crane, continue their cantankerous ways, and Martin's dog Eddie and his beloved dilapidated chair continue to annoy Frasier to no end.

Frasier's third season continues a trend that the first season started: sharp, witty writing that is never too smart for the average Joe nor so stupid that it looks like something broadcast on UPN. Once again Kelsey Grammer is able to find the right balance for Frasier -- he is equal parts cocky elitist, humble doctor, and bumbling fool (all the while staying one of the most lovable and complex characters on television). David Hyde Pierce steals the show -- as he did show after show, season after season -- as Frasier's wonderfully absurd brother Niles. The rest of the cast -- including John Mahoney and Jane Leeves -- find the right niche for their characters and allow them to blossom with each successive episode.

Star Kelsey Grammer said that he always wanted Frasier to match Cheers in terms of how long the show ran. They were able to do that, and much more; Frasier is a show that was able to not only find its audience, but also proved itself to be a worthy successor to its predecessor, and in some ways even better. Here's hoping that Dr. Crane will be doling out his psycho-babble through our TV screens for many decades to come.

Each episode of Frasier: The Complete Third Season is presented in its original aspect ratio, 1.33:1 full frame. I have no real complaints about these transfers -- the colors are vibrant and bright while the black levels are dark and solid. The picture really doesn't have many flaws to speak of -- overall fans should be very happy with how this show looks.

The soundtracks are each presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 in English. Much like the video presentations, these soundtracks are each in good shape without any major imperfections in the mix. The dialogue, music, and effects (as well as that fun canned laughter sitcoms are known for!) are all free of distortion or hiss. In other words, when you pop these discs into your DVD player, it'll be just like you were watching a real broadcast TV show!

This four-disc set includes a few decent extra features for Frasier fans to drool over. Once again there is a short feature about the celebrity voices for Frasier's call-in radio guests (including Matthew Broderick, Joan Allen, Jodie Foster, et cetera), a few short interviews with some of the cast members (David Hyde Pierce, Kelsey Grammer, et cetera) called "The Crane Brothers Remember Season 3," commentary tracks, a featurette/conversation with art director Roy Christopher, a feature on Bulldog called, aptly enough, "Bulldog Crazy," and "The Mystery of Maris: The Breakup Begins," which deals with that every elusive Maris Crane and her relationship with Niles.

Frasier Crane has left the building!

Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 543 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* "The Crane Brothers Remember Season Three" Interviews
* "Bulldog Crazy" Featurette
* A Conversation With Art Director Roy Christopher
* "Celebrity Voices" Featurette
* "The Mystery of Maris: The Breakup Begins" Featurette

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0106004/combined