Paramount // 1997 // 540 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 10th, 2005
The Crane Brothers are at it again!
Dr. Frasier Crane and his comedic psychobabble return to the small screen for a fifth season of the award-winning television series Frasier. Dr. Crane (Kelsey Grammer, Toy Story 2) and his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce, Down with Love) still share the same comedic sibling rivalry that has haunted them through the first four seasons. Patriarch and Frasier's roommate Martin Crane (John Mahoney, Say Anything) finds himself a new love interest, but will it work out exactly as planned? Niles still pines for Martin's batty live-in nurse, Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves, James and the Giant Peach). With his separation from his never present wife Maris, things could begin heating up. Also experiencing changes is Frasier's radio producer Roz (Peri Gilpin, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), who is expecting a visit from the stork!
By the fifth season (1997-98) of the Emmy Award-winning show, the cast, writers, and directors had all hit their stride. The show had officially bypassed its Cheers spin-off label to become a bona-fide hit with both critics and viewers. In fact, I think it's safe to say that by this point Frasier had become a true classic television sitcom.
I've reviewed a few of the past seasons of Frasier, so there's little original I can say. The fact is that -- in this humble viewer's opinion -- Frasier had one of the funniest, most talented casts ever assembled for a major sitcom. Kelsey Grammer is the near pinnacle of his comedic timing. His delivery of witty lines and execution of physical comedy (something not often associated with the show, though present in heavy doses) is perfection. His multiple Emmy wins were well deserved.
Grammer is of course complemented by a deservedly Emmy-showered David Hyde Pierce as Frasier's prissy brother, Niles Crane. By the fifth season things had really begun to heat up between Niles and Daphne (played with sharp, sly wit by Jane Leeves), making for some of the funniest and most poignant moments on the show. Though John Mahoney's Martin Crane was given a love interest for a short time, he still surfs his golden years looking for affection from the opposite sex (and, one presumes, hopes to finally get a place of his own, away from his stuffy sons).
Season five sports some very funny episodes, none better than "The Ski Lodge," a classic by any definition of the word. During a ski trip high in the snowy mountains, the three Crane men, Daphne, a buxom friend, and a homosexual ski instructor all collide under the guise of misunderstandings about who wants to bed whom. Taking madcap comedy and confusion to new heights, this episode is a shining example of how good the show often is. In yet another great episode Frasier beds a beautiful woman (Sela Ward, The Fugitive), but can't get anyone to believe he's snagged a supermodel! Other episodes -- including a Halloween show with enough costume comedy to fill Elvira's cleavage, and a rivalry between Niles and Frasier to get their father a great birthday gift -- make this season one of the highlights of the show's successful 11-year run.
Needless to say, if you've been collecting Frasier on DVD since the first season, you'll easily want to add this to your collection. Though it can be seen weekly in syndication on various stations, it's always nice to have the therapy of laughter right at your fingertips and in your DVD player.
Each episode of Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Generally speaking, these transfers are in very good shape. Colors and black levels are sharply rendered without any major defects or imperfections. Overall, fans of the series will find this DVD set's transfers to be consistent with the previous releases.
Each soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 in English. In keeping with the video -- as well as the previous DVD season sets -- Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season boasts well-heard, crystal clear sound mixes. There's nothing here in the way of surround sounds or directional effects, but then again, it isn't needed. All aspects of each mix are free of any hiss or distortion. Also included on these discs are English subtitles.
Surprisingly, Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season doesn't include any substantial extra features, unless you consider a few Paramount trailers substantial. Otherwise, this is a rather barren four-disc set.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 540 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Trailers