Our reviews of Fan Favorites: The Best of Frasier (published March 18th, 2012), Frasier: The Complete First Season (published June 2nd, 2003), Frasier: The Complete Third Season (published November 24th, 2004), Frasier: The Complete Fourth Season (published February 16th, 2005), Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 10th, 2005), Frasier: The Complete Sixth Season (published February 8th, 2006), Frasier: The Complete Seventh Season (published December 12th, 2005), Frasier: The Complete Eighth Season (published June 28th, 2006), Frasier: The Complete Ninth Season (published May 15th, 2007), Frasier: The Complete Final Season (published January 12th, 2005), and Frasier: The Complete Tenth Season (published January 9th, 2008) are also available.
The doctor is in…again.
DVD sure is breeding entire TV show seasons like there's no tomorrow. Back in the heyday of VHS, you were lucky to get maybe a few of your favorite episodes on tape, maximum. Now we're getting seemingly every show ever created on DVD, season by season at a rate that would make Steve Prefontaine sweat. Back for another round on the couch is Kelsey Grammer as the pompous yet lovable Dr. Frasier Crane. Frasier: The Complete Second Season is now available in a four-disc set courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
If you're feeling like you may need more therapy, now is the time to go back to the doctor…Dr. Crane, that is! The irrepressible Dr. Frasier Crane (Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer) and his brood return for a second season in the immensely popular NBC sitcom Frasier. Along for the ride once again is Frasier's gruff but lovable father, ex-cop Martin (John Mahoney); rival Niles (David Hyde Pierce), Frasier's younger, stuffy socialite brother; Daphne (Jane Leeves), Martin's caretaker and the Crane's resident psychic; and Roz (Peri Gilpin), Frasier's promiscuous talk show producer.
In this newly released second season DVD box set, viewers find the Cranes once again entangled in various mishaps and misunderstandings, including Frasier inadvertently insulting the city of Seattle on his radio show, Niles' desire to have a child (and subsequent attempts at finding out what it's like by carrying around a bag of flour), and the classic episode in which Frasier attempts to set Daphne up with a new co-worker, only to discover that it's not Daphne he's after…but Frasier!
Included on this four-disc set are the following episodes:
• Slow Tango In South Seattle
By the second season of any TV show, you usually know if it's going to fish or cut bait. By this point, the show finally comes into focus: characters gel, the stories become stronger, and the laughs tend to be richer and more textured. Such was the case with Frasier, a rare breed that has consistently featured clever writing, engaging and endearing characters, and one of TV's longest running characters. Though I enjoyed Cheers when I was a kid, I wasn't what you'd consider the true "fan base" of the show. It wasn't until Frasier—a spin off of Cheers, as if you didn't know by now—that I really started appreciated the wit and often uneasy wisdom of Kelsey Grammer's Dr. Frasier Crane. In season two, the show finally distanced itself from its predecessor to truly stand out in the boob tube crowd.
Grammer will most likely be most associated forever with this character—Dr. Crane has been visiting viewers' living rooms now for a solid two decades. I've seen Grammer in various movies (a medium he hasn't had much success in) and TV movies, and each time I still see his character from Frasier. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I'll leave that up for him to decide—being remembered for such a funny character isn't the worst legacy one can leave.
During the second season of Frasier, Grammer's supporting cast truly shone bright. John Mahoney's Martin Crane is just as gruff and lovable, yet in a way feels more realistic—Martin is a man of old world values trying to make sense of his son's fey, upper crust ways. Season Two is also where Niles (played to unique perfection by David Hyde Pierce) really began an out and out infatuation with Daphne Moon, played with batty, sexy eccentricity by Jane Leeves. Hyde Pierce is hands down one of the funniest supporting characters in the history of television—I challenge anyone not to laugh as Martin's dog Eddie tears apart Niles' flour bag/baby, thus thrusting Niles into a sphincter-tightening tizzy. Though Dr. Crane's radio producer Roz, played sarcastically by Peri Gilpin, is funny, she seems to be the weakest link in the series because the writers never knowing exactly what to do with her. Than again, what is considered a weak link on Frasier would be grade-A material on most primetime shows. It tells you something when almost the entire cast has at one point or another won or been nominated for an Emmy award (and in Hyde Pierce's case, almost too many to count).
Frasier: The Complete Second Season contains some of the series' best and funniest moments. The classic episode "The Matchmaker" is a riot—watch how all of the cleverly constructed dialogue between Dr. Crane and his new boss Tom (Caroline in the City's Eric Lutes) is both ambiguous and straightforward (only Frasier could misunderstand a gay man's advances). In "Retirement is Murder," Frasier thinks he's figured out the killer in one of Martin's old murder cases, only to find his guess mocked by Martin's buddies (and there's nothing like a good ol' Scopes monkey trial joke to make you sit up, think, and chuckle). Other standout episodes include "Four Child" (in which Niles carries around a bag of flour to see if he really wants to have a child) and "The Unkindest Cut" wherein Frasier offends the entire city and must apologize on the air, which of course ends in disaster with the whole city against him.
Now that Frasier's end is officially in sight (the current 11th season is the last), this may be the opportune time to check out the series from the beginning. There's a reason Frasier has lasted over a decade on television—simply, it's one of the smartest, most laugh-out-loud shows on TV. Recommended.
Frasier: The Complete Second Season is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers on this disc look good, if not great—obviously since this isn't a big budget theatrical feature the picture isn't going to be perfect. However, I was fairly happy with how these episodes look. There are solid colors and dark black levels throughout and a minimum of imperfection in the image. Aside of a slight amount of bleeding in the colors I liked what I saw. Hey, it's a TV show from the mid 1990s—those who have seen the series should know what to expect.
The soundtracks are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. Nothing exciting to speak of here—the dialogue, music and effects are all crystal clear and for this reviewer that's what really matters. There aren't any true surround sounds or directional effects to be found here. Then again, none are really needed. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this disc.
While not jam packed with extra features, Frasier: The Complete Second Season includes its fair share of supplements. The best is a commentary by director David Lee and writer Joe Keenan on the classic episode "The Matchmaker." Because this is only a 25-minute or so episode, it's a fairly brisk listen—mostly there's some interesting tidbits about this particular episode (the original pitch didn't go well) and other stories about the script.
Five features are included, starting with "Marching On To Season 2," a short, five-minute featurette that includes interviews with executive producers Peter Casey and David Lee discussing their feelings about the second season. "The Mystery of Maris Continues" is a humorous, short look at Niles' off screen wife. "Roz's Dating Tips" includes interviews with Gilpin and Grammer, as well as clips of Roz doling out her trademark sarcasm. "The Niles and Daphne Attraction" is a short look at Niles' continuing infatuation with Martin's live-in physical therapist. Finally, there is "And Then There Was Eddie," a quick look at Moose, Martin's lovable dog who's always tormenting poor Dr. Crane.
Also included on each disc is a montage of the celebrity voices used in Frasier's call-in radio show, along with subtitles touting who the guest celebrity is.
This one is a no-brainer: if you're a fan of this series you'll want to pick up Frasier: The Complete Second Season. Even though it's a typical television DVD box set from Paramount, the set is worth getting for all the laughs it'll induce. Doctor's orders!
Dr. Crane is on the air…and off his rocker!
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary by Director David Lee and Writer Joe Keenan on "The Matchmaker" Episode
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