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Review: Frasier Has Entered a Different Building

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Frasier has entered the building, as the old theme tune goes.

Fans of the beloved comedy series which ran on NBC from 1993 to 2004 will see the first episodes of an eagerly anticipated reboot on Paramount+ on Thursday, Oct. 12.

The new series is also called Frasier but don’t worry, you’re not likely to mix them up. (More on that in a moment.) The setup sees Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) making a return to Boston following Martin’s death. He’s there for a college lecture and to check in on his estranged son Freddy (now played by Jack Cutmore-Scott).

During his visit we are introduced to a small collection of new characters — Frasier’s old Harvard friend Alan “Corny” Cornwall (Nicholas Lyndhurst), Freddy’s single mom roommate Eve (Jess Salgueiro), Niles and Daphne’s son David (Anders Keith), and Alan’s Harvard boss Olivia Finch (Toks Olagundoye). Each character has the potential to complicate Frasier’s plans in personal and professional capacities, and the small ensemble cast feels, at first glance, fittingly tight and Frasier-esque.

We quickly learn that Freddy has dropped out of Harvard to become a fireman, and in a callback to Frasier’s differences with his own father in the original series, Freddy worries his Dad won’t be able to find common ground among the trappings of his blue-collar life. With Frasier now deciding to settle in Boston, the stage is set for all manner of misunderstandings, father-son bonding, a dollop of physical comedy, and the sharp clever wit that made the original series such a hit.

Or is it?

The most glaring difference between the old Frasier and the new is perhaps the absence of David Hyde Pierce’s Niles. Gone too are the other key characters from the original series including Daphne, Roz, and of course Martin. It would be remiss to dismiss a new show on the basis of missing fan favorite cast members. After all, when Frasier spun off from Cheers, a similar character cull saw Frasier as the only returning character. However, although such a move is in no way unprecedented, it does hurt the reboot’s nostalgia value.

Gone too are the original Frasier writers. This reboot is from Chris Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Joe Cristalli (Life in Pieces), and although great pains have clearly been taken to preserve the character of Crane himself (James Burrows, creator of Cheers and the original Frasier series directed the first two episodes), the rest of the show feels like a blank slate at best, and more often like any regular CBS sitcom, often expounding on the obvious, containing set ups with punchlines that lack subtlety, and dialogue that feels pulled from another show.

With the exception of the always excellent Nicholas Lyndhurst’s Corny, the remaining characters have an almost puppet-like quality, there for whatever moment requires a setup, instead of having real lives, desires, and foibles of their own. This would perhaps be forgivable on a show with a larger cast, but for a series that aims to reboot the comedy benchmark for the back-and-forth between a small group of larger than life personalities, it feels less like a missed opportunity and more like a misstep. (Imagine if Seinfeld found himself living alone in a new city without George, Elaine and Kramer, and across the corridor from a group of generic millennials? ok, actually don’t. Let’s not give anyone any further reboot ideas.) Although there are moments of wit and wisdom that will remind you of the original series, they are simply too few and far between to invoke any lasting sense of the original.

In its day Frasier was one of the most critically acclaimed comedy series of all time, in addition to being one of the most successful spin-off series in television history. In years to come, this lacklustre reboot will be nothing more than a footnote in the pages of a better show’s legacy.

Frasier may have re-entered the building, but it’s one on another street.

The 10-episode season of Frasier premieres in the U.S and Canada on Thursday, October 12 with two episodes, and on Friday, October 13 in all other international markets with Paramount+.

New episodes will then drop weekly on Thursdays, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and Canada, and on Fridays internationally.

Follow The Bulldog Edition @TheBulldogEd on X for more TV Scoop this season.

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