Paramount // 1999 // 528 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // February 8th, 2006
"Hello Seattle. I'm listening."
One of the most successful spin-offs in television history, Frasier returns for the sixth season of fun and enjoyment, having already garnered a slew of awards. With the cast remaining the same for the show's 11-season run, the only thing left to worry about was the quality. So what's it like?
For the handful of you who don't know who the cast is, here's a quick look at them. Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer, X3) is a psychiatrist who managed to relocate to Seattle several years back from Boston, where he had a career as a psychiatrist and amateur barfly on Cheers. He is reunited with his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce, Sleepless in Seattle), who is also a psychiatrist, and his father Martin (John Mahoney, Say Anything), a retired Seattle policeman. Martin walks with the help of a cane, and is given physical therapy by his British caregiver Daphne (Jane Leeves, Seinfeld). Frasier hosts a radio call-in show and lives in an apartment in town with his father and Daphne. Then you've got Martin's Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie, who has a mind all his own sometimes.
The episode listing for Season Six is as follows:
* "Good Grief"
* "Frasier's Curse"
* "Dial M for Martin"
* "Hot Ticket"
* "First, Do No Harm"
* "Secret Admirer"
* "How to Bury a Millionaire"
* "The Seal Who Came to Dinner"
* "Roz, A Loan"
* "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz"
* "Good Samaritan"
* "Our Parents, Our Selves"
* "The Show Where Woody Shows Up"
* "Three Valentines"
* "To Tell the Truth"
* "Dinner Party"
* "Taps at the Montana"
* "Dr. Nora"
* "When a Man Loves Two Women"
* "Visions of Daphne"
* "Shutout in Seattle (Part 1)"
* "Shutout in Seattle (Part 2)"
Perhaps one has to reach a certain point where one can fully appreciate things like a good pinot grigio, the abstract works of 19th century abstract Danish artists, or sitcoms like Frasier. While there were parts of the season that made me laugh, a lot of the material on it felt forced, or didn't have a lot of imagination to it. "Frasier doesn't want to go to his high school reunion, must see TV!" Over the course of the season, much of what appeared seemed like it would be hit or miss. When it would hit, the episodes were good. Season Six's 23 episodes are spread out over four discs, with six episodes on each of the first three, and five on the last. Among the ones that I thought were worth a few laughs:
* "Dial M for Martin." Martin, Daphne, and Eddie move in with Niles, and when Daphne announces that she'll be leaving because Martin's health appears to be improving, Niles subconsciously sets off on a course to purposely injure his father so that Daphne will stick around a little longer.
* "The Show Where Woody Shows Up." Sure, reunion shows are normally crap, and as a rule I don't watch them, but to see Woody (Woody Harrelson, Natural Born Killers) back and playing, well, Woody, it was a guilty pleasure episode for me. Am I to be persecuted for that kind of crime?
* "How to Bury a Millionaire." Over the course of Niles' and Maris' divorce, he is forced to give up living in his posh apartment. When he is forced to live in an apartment with many more "bachelor" stylings, hilarity ensues.
* "Hot Ticket." Frasier and Niles try to get into a much-anticipated play without tickets, and then try to bluff the playwright at an after-show dinner. Come on, Niles smoking is worth looking at.
One reason that Frasier perhaps stayed successful is that it found its niche audience and kept them in a firm grip. Remember, NBC seemed to have a stranglehold on the sitcom for just about any demographic in the mid '90s. Friends was firmly entrenched as the show for the Starbucks and post-grunge rock set of 20-somethings. While it was winding down a little, Mad About You was the one that the 20-somethings' older brothers and sisters would watch. Frasier was for those forty and older and they all thoroughly enjoyed Frasier, Niles, Martin, Daphne, and Eddie.
While the writing was a little bit inconsistent, the writers did appear to push through with character advancement to their credit. But character advancement appeared to be nothing more than getting the boys dates (yes, even Martin). Among the women that appeared as guest stars for one blind date or another during the course of the season were Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives), Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy), Eva Marie Saint (North By Northwest), and Virginia Madsen (Sideways). And for those who are heavy intense into trivia, the "guest voices" as callers on Frasier's radio included director Ron Howard (Cinderella Man), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), William H. Macy (Fargo), and Beverly D'Angelo (National Lampoon's Vacation).
The thing that made the show worth watching was the casting. As Niles, Hyde Pierce is the proverbial younger, smaller brother, who sounds alarmingly like his older brother, but with more talents physically. There's a scene at the beginning of "Three Valentines" where Niles accidentally sets Frasier's couch on fire that is a series of potential calamities, and Pierce handles each very well. In seeing him over the course of this season, it made me appreciate the work he's done and the Emmys he won.
There are times in everyone's life where you have to give things a try. Like Brussels sprouts. Or the stand-up comedy of Ellen DeGeneres. While I had watched Frasier in the past, I'd never given it much of a plunge in the video world. And while I can appreciate Frasier now, it's still something I haven't been able to embrace with open arms. It is, how you say, an acquired taste.
All of the cookie-cutter treatments that seasons like these get from Paramount is silly. All that's here are some previews for upcoming Paramount releases, and that's it. No commentaries, no dated on-set featurettes, no retrospective interviews. Fans of the show should request, nay, demand for a better treatment to their show!
By now, fans of the show know what they're getting and will have picked this up. For newer people who may be not as familiar to the show, you may want to look at an earlier season, such as Season Two or Three, that's when the writers usually hit their stride with the show and the characters.
The courts finds for the filmmakers and against the studio, as their continued barebones treatment of television shows in their stable is growing upsetting to this justice.
Review content copyright © 2006 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 528 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review
* Season Three Review
* Season Four Review
* Season Five Review
* Season Seven Review
* Final Season Review
* Official Site (NBC)