A Review: Frasier

With its strong themes of family and friendship, Frasier went on for 11 wonderful seasons.   It’s not a show I would normally watch as it is devoid of any hot guys or supernatural elements (excepting Daphne’s infrequent psychic visions).   However I was sold on the stylish French suits, elite restaurant/ opera culture, extensive vocabulary, as well as my fascination in the subject of psychology.  I mainlined the series within a month, such is the state of idleness. 

Dr. Frasier Crane
An intellectual prone to analyze obsessively while attempting to climb social heights.  He is brilliant in dispensing advice and insights while blind to his own faults until he is called out by those close to him.  He is unlucky in love as he is uncompromising and set in his ways therefore feels empty despite success with his career.  Even though he acts overly pretentious he always strives to see the good in people and he learned his ethics and compulsion to help others from his father.  His rambling and oversharing is difficult anyone to bear.  It’s frustrating when Frasier repeatedly tries to keep up a deception instead of coming clean and communicating like an adult (that is not comical, that is stressful, says I). When he was younger his father complained he would read during camping trips and miss out on experiencing anything firsthand which matches my childhood.  Also, his crisis was that he was alone because he is afraid to be alone resonates with me.  I wish I had his ability to speak healing words and other times fly into a refined outrage.

A fussy hypochondriac with plenty of allergies and a fear of bugs, he can be arrogant at times just like his brother.  He is actually the closest to my type of guy, with his lean looks and understated countenance.  It is adorable when he takes to hiding under the piano in times of distress.  He suffered much with his ex wives and had to lose his social circle while taking pains to cut down on luxuries.  The Montana where he resides is quite grand and I get into the image of his sitting neatly the library perusing a novel while dressed in a suit like the old timey nobles.

A conventional man’s man, he served in the Korean war and is the traditional tough guy who doesn’t make problems out of minor things.  He does not understand why men whine and cry like his sons often do, preferring to choose his battles.  He is adept at taking stripes and respecting authority.  To his sorrow he lost his prestigious position as a police officer and has to deal with living with Frasier along with his burden of walking constantly with a cane.  Like myself he has trouble expressing his feelings and likes to just sit and watch tv.  Instead of being bothered by everything he says little and internalizes things to avoid the noise.  I don’t envy his job of raising superior acting sons who are both “delicate doilies”.  His fondness for beer and quirky attraction to young Korean women in general rounds out his character well.

Supporting characters

Daphne: a sassy and intelligent physical therapist who grew up with 8 brothers in England
Eddie: Martin’s buddy –  snarling and begging reminds me of my old terrier Mimi.
Bebe: the vicious and effective viper of an agent
Roz: the promiscuous producer of Frasier’s show with a warm heart
Bob “Bulldog”:  I love his barking and unnecessary tantrums
Gil: uppity food critic whose sneers are hilarious
Donny: casual appearances hide the tough effective lawyer – shame about his jilting
Maris: running gag is that she is never shown – I love hearing the jokes about how skinny she is
Lilith: the stoic vampire mother of Frasier’s son Frederick
Kenny: a pushover manager – very dorky but lovable
Kirby: the teenage son of Frasier’s friend, he is a riot in contrast to Frasier’s stuffiness!!!
James: such a hot barista at Cafe Nervosa who handles any order with ease

Outstanding moments

  • Roz rating Frasier’s performance
  • Martin outsmarting Frasier in talking the radio personalities into banding together
  • Dream sequences when all the obvious fears surface and Martin puts them all down with a few short words
  • Frasier meeting his professor and they parry with psychological concepts
  • Daphne preparing to reject Niles and unable to do so when she realizes her feelings
  • All the tacky Christmas decorations
  • Frasier visiting Niles’ memories of Daphne
  • Martin being proud of Niles’ free throw success for a hot minute
  • Frasier and Lilith supporting each other emotionally during rough times
  • Memories in the hospital when Niles is having surgery
  • Frasier & Niles being bad boys in their auto class passing notes in French
  • Crane men go ice fishing and Martin tells his sons he loves them
  • Frasier consoling Roz over her breakup telling her it will take time and turn to family and friends
  • Anytime another language is spoken or the piano is played
  • Wine off between Frasier & Niles
  • Martin’s fear of both Maris and Lilith
  • Frasier’s epic music score for his radio program
  • Niles following the whim of his dog who has the same appearance and demeanor of his ex wife
  • Dr Nora’s coming undone when her mom visits
  • Victor Garber as the butler, Aaron Eckhart the environmentalist, plus tons of celebrity callers!
  • Frasier instinctively recognizing Daphne’s status change as part of the family
  • Niles dressing down Daphne when she looked into his files
  • Frasier besting the teenage journalists when he guest stars
  • Frasier & Niles trying to fix the toilet and learning to ride bicycles
  • Roz embracing getting older and letting go of her past flighty self
  • Frasier commissioning a replacement for Martin’s chair
  • The beautiful and emotional rewind over the years with the cheese crock

Love above all
The main romantic plot of the show over the years is Niles’ intense and impossible attraction to Daphne while he was married.  I can relate to longing for someone for years but do not agree with the way the characters acted in the name of love.  He ended things with his first wife Maris because she was controlling and inconsiderate.  The second wife he left in a heartbeat because he would throw anyone over for his true love who makes him feel “alive” and “excited”, Daphne.  This from the show that describes divorce as “ripping apart two lovers bound in a sacred union.”  It is a blow to see marriages tossed aside for convenience.  The show also depicts everyone being rampantly promiscuous which is another minus.  On the plus side, the disastrous aftermath of Niles & Daphne’s relationship was realistic, making them fight and earn their choice.   I also appreciated the angle that Daphne took on weight as a way to deal with the pressure of living up to Nile’s illusion and ideal of her over the years.

Literal bromance
Frasier & Niles are obscenely close. They are in sync with their interests and always have each other’s back (sometimes for stabbing) when it comes to their schemes.  They often have petty spats and take their competitiveness to the next level.  However, they acknowledge respect for their sibling and recognize their successes are due in part to their intense rivalry.  It’s such a treat to see their overlapping bickering or geeking out over elite subjects.  Their mini selves in flashback scenes are first-rate!

Witty dialogue
–  On my show I sometimes compare the human psyche to a sailboat that’s borne along the surface of the conscious mind, while the deeper waters of the subconscious navigate the rudder. 
–  There is no such thing as healthy superstition. 
–  Do you have any idea what it’s like to play the same character for twenty years?!
–  [to Daphne] You’re gonna lose your looks? Happens to everyone. [to Frasier] You’re afraid you’re gonna end up alone? You’ll still have your family. [to Niles] You’re afraid you’re gonna be a bad father? Join the club! [to all three] Now just clam up and go to bed!
–  I’ll never forget the look of wonder on her face at touching vinyl for the first time. She said it made her feel cheap and dirty, and she liked it. I was her first bad boy.
– I’m a humane man, but right now I could kick a kitten through an electric fan.
–  If truth be told, it’s been a while since I…romped with abandon through the perfumed gardens of Eros.
–  We all have a tendency to freeze people into roles with which we are most comfortable.
–  Anything else in the box, Pandora?
–  Would you get Eddie off of the couch? Or else it’s out to the garbage chute for the thrill ride of his life!
–  Manicurists, pedicurists, facialists. Whenever you see a man who’s well-groomed, you can bet he’s not gettin’ any.
–  Damn, baby, that’s cold!
–  I almost feel sorry for her. Just another helpless woman suffering from an unslakeable thirst…for Crane
–  People of Seattle, listen to me! We are not barbarians, we are not Neanderthals and we are not French! Do you hear that, you up there?!
–  Oh, I didn’t even know it was boxing season.
–  I’d like to strike you, of course, but you speak the truth!
–  You know, by the way: you have an alphabetical misfile, but I’m not telling you where!
–  Dad? I thought we had an agreement. Eddie doesn’t roll around on my sofa and I don’t throw him in front of a bus.
–  Strange, I usually get some sign when Lilith is in town: dogs forming into packs, blood weeping down the wall…
–  Popularity is the hallmark of mediocrity
–  He asked me to take him, but then I suggested that, when it comes to guns, perhaps he would prefer someone of…(pause for effect) Niles’s calibre. (chuckles to himself) I’m in rare form today.
–  Remember what mom always said: A handshake is as good as a hug
–  My God, woman, I’d drive a stake through your heart but I don’t think anything could kill you!
–  In the end what we regret most are the chances we never took

Clever sayings:  Stay loose, not a whit, I require cocoa, high marks, reality sandwich, being dissed, poppity-pop-pop-pop!

Insult bank: egomanaical gasbag, dink, eat crow, nightmarish carp, going for master’s degree at fat academy, she is like the sun without the warmth, unprincipled charlatan, unconscionable fraud, Isn’t there a zebra carcass somewhere you should be hovering over?

Thank you for all the lessons and classy conversations!  I now have a better awareness of Mongolian throat singing and the Samisen. God bless all the actors and the writers for keeping it fresh all those years!


2 responses to “A Review: Frasier

  • Lil

    Nice, I’ve enjoyed Frasier from time to time but never drew this much from it! Though I clearly remember Niles with the dog who looked like Maris (aka. She Who Shall Not Be Named for that episode, which amplified the humor XD ).

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