Between “Cheers” and “Frasier,” Kelsey Grammer spent over two decades embodying the erudite yet pompous character, and “Frasier” was a rare spinoff series that rivaled the success of the original, harkening back to the golden era of network TV. Now, he returns in a show that employs an overt gimmick, evident to even the casual viewer, and raises questions about whether Frasier should have stayed retired.
With only Grammer reprising his role, the show’s writers had the challenge of recreating the dynamic of “Frasier” without the beloved supporting cast. They achieve this by introducing younger characters who serve as modern-day counterparts to the original ensemble, much like how Woody Harrelson took over the role of Coach in “Cheers.”
The core of this setup features Frasier Crane’s return to Boston to visit his son, Freddy, a grounded firefighter, echoing the role and associated tensions in the relationship that Frasier’s father, Martin, once occupied. Frasier is accompanied by his fastidious nephew David, a Harvard student who embodies the traits of his father, Niles.
Having previously hosted a TV show following his radio-advice gig, Frasier unexpectedly finds himself in demand at Harvard’s psychology department. Here, he reunites with an old college friend, Alan, who is a university professor desperately seeking to avoid teaching. He also encounters Olivia, the department head, who alternates between buttering up Frasier and trading barbs with Alan.
“Frasier” was known for its farcical comedy, characterized by misunderstandings, romantic entanglements, and precisely choreographed comedic sequences involving opening and closing doors. This revival retains the classic sitcom format, shot in front of a live audience, even as contemporary television trends lean toward single-camera productions. Kelsey Grammer, who also serves as an executive producer, reunites with the renowned comedy director James Burrows for the initial episodes.
However, while “Cheers” and “Frasier” evoke nostalgia for NBC’s “Must-See TV” era, this revival, coming nearly two decades later and streaming on Paramount+, feels like a somewhat forced attempt to capitalize on a recognizable title with a star who eventually agreed to return. The show’s atmosphere might be more at home on corporate sibling CBS rather than a streaming service, where it appears a bit out of place, akin to Martin’s old chair awkwardly positioned in Frasier’s posh apartment.