Binge Watchin’ TV Review: Frasier

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.

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Series: Frasier

Number of Seasons: 11 (264 episodes)

Where to watch: Blu-Ray/DVD, Netflix, Amazon Prime. Hulu

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What’s the show about? 

A spin-off of the long-running NBC sitcom Cheers, Frasier follows supporting character Dr. Frasier Crane as he relocates to his hometown of Seattle. A licensed psychiatrist, Frasier takes a job as a radio host while also taking in his retired police officer father. Frasier and his father often clash as the white collar doctor often doesn't see eye to eye with his blue collar dad. Frasier's brother, NIles, is also a psychiatrist who visits his brother often to ogle his father's live-in nurse, Daphne. Frasier's circle of friends also includes his sexually voracious producer Roz and many other minor characters in and around the radio station. Frasier's life is full of hijinks and a comedy of errors as he tries to navigate family, work, and a romantic life.

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Why should I watch it?

The word "spin-off" doesn't always evoke confidence in viewers. For every Frasier, there are countless shows like Joey that just don't work. Cheers is often regarded as one of the best network sitcoms of all time which meant that Frasier had an incredibly high bar to meet. Somehow, Frasier is a superior series to Cheers in almost every way because it sets itself apart with a totally distinct format and sense of humor while still retaining the heart that made Cheers so relatable. Like Better Call Saul in relation to Breaking Bad, Frasier expands the fictional world started on Cheers but sets it's own path and stands fully as an independent series. What makes it so good is the overlap between the two series is handled in such a way that you can get a little extra if you watch Cheers, too, but you don't have to.

Frasier is a show that I came to late because the few clips I had seen didn't strike me as very funny. It was not well into syndication that I began to appreciate just what a great show this was. With over 200 episodes, Frasier was already airing five nights a week on some stations while new episodes premiered weekly on NBC. In a lot of syndication situations, Frasier would be aired in blocks of two or four episodes, meaning you could easily binge the show. Frasier, like the majority of sitcoms, is a brisk 22 minutes without commercials which makes it perfect for a binge session. Each episode tends to be self-contained and is structured with title cards that tease what is to come in that act of the episode. Frasier would often resort to cliche sitcom tropes like broad humor, double entendres, and relying heavily on the laugh track, but it still feels more genuine than countless other studio sitcoms of the last thirty years.

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Harkening back to the days of shows like The Jeffersons and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Frasier serves as a showcase for the entire ensemble cast. Peri Gilpin took the character of Roz from a sexy caricature to a fully realized woman who deal with single motherhood. Jan Leeves turned Daphne from a kooky British trope into a funny foil for Martin and Niles. John Mahoney, always a great character actor, started out playing the senior Crane as a gruff old man but soon turned him into a lovable grouch with a heart of gold. But top honors should be split between Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce who play the dueling psychiatrist siblings as the perfect enemies and best of friends. Grammer took Frasier from a stock character on Cheers to a snob that you love to watch. Between Frasier and Niles, not a single episode felt repetitive as they took wide glances and insults from low comedy to the highest art.

Best season:

Later seasons of the series began to rely too heavily on sexual comedy of errors like Three's Company, but they still are heads and tails better than most shows airing today. The best seasons were the early years of the show which had the tightest writing and pacing. Frasier never pandered to it's audience and the first two seasons are the best examples of that. The Crane clan were the least integrated in the first season of the show which heavily relied on the disconnect between father and sons along with Niles' hidden desire for Daphne. It also was in the first season that recurring jokes involving spouses Lillith (Bebe Neuwirth) and the never seen Maris. It may seem dated visually compared to more recent seasons, but the best part of Frasier is that it doesn't rely on contemporary pop culture too heavily which gives the show a timeless quality.

Final thoughts:

Frasier is highbrow comedy that never talks down to the viewer. Even when the show was dealing with rotating characters entering the wrong rooms in hotel suite or getting a pie in the face, Frasier always felt more like a stage play than a sitcom. The jokes are often easy to anticipate but it is the way the cast performs them that makes them so much more enjoyable than any other show. Frasier as a series is proof positive that casting is vital to the success of any comedy. NBC lucked out with this group of mostly unknown performers who turned out one of the single best television comedies of all time. Few of these actors have gone on to make additional sitcoms (outside of Grammer and Leeves) and for good reason: you can rarely improve upon perfection.


About the Author

5929 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.