Judge Ryan Keefer doesn't listen as much as Frasier Crane, ask anybody.
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 Second Season (published January 20th, 2004), 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 Final Season (published January 12th, 2005), and Frasier: The Complete Tenth Season (published January 9th, 2008) are also available.
Seriously, it's been nine years, just how much more listening can one person do?
Of course the cast and crew of Frasier had to return, there was a 200th episode to be done this season!
Facts of the Case
The episode listing for Season Nine is:
• "Don Juan in Hell" (2 parts)
While the title character (Kelsey Grammer, Down Periscope), his younger brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce, Sleepless in Seattle) and their father Martin (John Mahoney, Say Anything) get down to business for one more season of television set in the Emerald City, things have somewhat changed. Niles and his longtime love Daphne (Jane Leeves, Seinfeld) have finally become a more visible couple, while things are the same for Frasier, who continues to pine away as host of a radio call-in show where he sits besides his host and producer Roz (Peri Gilpin, Spring Forward). However, the most dramatic event that impacted the cast occurred before Season Nine aired. It started off rather ominously for the cast and crew even before the first episode aired, as co-creator and the series' most prodigious writer David Angell was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. While this incident would presume to throw off the creative flow of the show, there were a few episodes that managed to dig a little deeper and more dramatically into the lives and motivations of the characters of the show than one would presume.
"Don Juan in Hell" was a good illustration of this. Season Eight had left Frasier in a bit of a personal quandary, where he was torn between the interest of Claire (Patricia Clarkson, The Green Mile) and his interest and pursuit of Lana (Jean Smart, Garden State). It becomes a larger rumination on Frasier's success, or lack thereof, with female relationships, and more specifically an internal discussion between himself, his more recognizable loves in ex-fiancee Diane (Shelley Long, The Brady Bunch Movie), ex-wife Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth, How to Lose a Guy a 10 Days), and his mother (Rita Wilson), the latter two in uncredited appearances. What I really liked about this is that because everyone involved seems to know that the end was coming, to see episodes done like this without cheaply adding on a gimmicked ending was heartening. And along those lines, I enjoyed "The Return of Martin Crane," which shows Martin getting ready for a job as a security guard, but flashing back to his time on the force, when he was shot and forced into retiring. It's a bit darker than the average episode of the show, but well worth looking at. "Mother Load" is a long two-part episode with Daphne's mom Gertrude (Millicent Martin, Alfie) coming into town with her son Simon (Anthony LaPaglia, Empire Records). The primary story is kind of silly, but the secondary story where a neighbor of Frasier's hangs an excessively large flag on the side of the condo building obscuring Frasier's view is quite good. It quietly covers the patriotism post-Sept. 11 effectively and brings Angell's death to a place that he certainly would have appreciated. Then you have "The Proposal." In Season Eight, Daphne left her groom at the altar for Niles, and in this one, Niles manages to get the proposal done. While it might not have been to his desire, he sees her in her purest form and realizes that he's never loved her more than at that moment. I felt that same way when I proposed, but to my wife who is reading this now, I never saw this episode until I reviewed this set honey, I swear!
All of this isn't to say that you don't have your normal run of the mill cookie cutter sitcom episodes here. There are a couple of episodes where (fill in character's name) gets into a hilarious quandary and the other characters have to contort themselves comically to resolve it. I just wish that they could have allowed their characters to continue in a more introspective vein, as it would have been an interesting change of pace for what had became a somewhat stale sitcom.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I'm coming fresh from watching Season Eight of Everybody Loves Raymond, where there were loads of commentaries, deleted scenes, a blooper reel and a two-hour discussion on the series. Season Nine of Frasier has nothing except some preview footage. Pity. And with the recurring character of Kirby, the young 20-something trying to bring life into the older cast, we see a tactic that reeks of Poochy invading the Itchy and Scratchy show.
In its ninth season, Frasier aspired to some new and interesting directions. However, it didn't follow through on some of those directions. Sure, Niles and Daphne got closer to closure, but with these season sets being released in a lackluster fashion, why not actively put out a season set that rewards the loyal fan? Tivo the ones you want, and skip the ones that you don't.
Paramount is sentenced to time with Maris for their negligent treatment of their viewers.
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