Frasier: The story so far from Cheers to Kelsey Grammer's upcoming reboot
Hey baby, I hear the blues a-callin', tossed salad and scrambled eggs
So, Kelsey Grammer is back as Frasier.
Nearly 39 years after Dr Frasier Winslow Crane made his first appearance on the sitcom Cheers (in the opening episode of season three, fyi), production is officially underway on the latest chapter in the life of TV’s favourite culture vulture psychiatrist.
It’s an unlikely resurrection for a character we last saw in 2004, en route to Chicago for a new life.
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So, in readiness for Dr Frasier Crane’s hotly-anticipated new show, here’s Yahoo’s need-to-know guide on one of sitcom-land’s most cherished characters.
Frasier – the Cheers years | 1984-1993
Running between 1982 and 1993 Cheers was one of the most popular TV shows of its time, winning an eye-popping 28 Primetime Emmy Awards from a record 117 nominations. Its final episode, meanwhile, was watched by 93 million viewers, that’s almost 40% of the US population at the time.
By the time Cheers signed off, Frasier — as played by Kelsey Grammer — was an integral part of that ensemble, yet he didn’t even join the show until its third season and hadn’t even been intended as a permanent cast member anyway.
Not only that, but Grammer wasn’t even the producers’ first choice. John Lithgow had already turned the role down (“I’d gotten two Oscar nominations in a row,” the actor told The Guardian in 2020, “a TV comedy series was so beneath my dignity”) before NBC turned to this 29-year-old with just a sprinkling of screen credits behind him.
“I thought to myself, ‘I can play this guy,’” Grammer told LBC’s Steve Allen in 2019. “You know, and it was kind of an instant thing before I’d actually put it in front of anybody.”
Originally contracted for just six episodes for a storyline where Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) hires a psychiatrist to deal with Sam Malone’s (Ted Danson) drinking problem, Grammer’s performance convinced producers that there was mileage in Frasier Crane.
Over the next nine years, the character would fall in love with Diane, get jilted at the altar, meet Dr Lilith Sternin, marry her, split with her, reconcile with her and have a son, Frederick. Grammar even turned up as Frasier in another sitcom, Wings, for which he was nominated for an Emmy.
The spin-off: Frasier | 1993-2004
After Cheers came to an end in ‘93, three of Cheers’ most senior scribes — David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee — pitched a continuation of Fraser Crane’s story to NBC. Frasier would pick up the psychiatrist’s story a few months on from Cheers’ final episode, with Dr Crane having upped sticks from Boston to Seattle.
Having left Lillith for good, the spin-off would find Frasier now working as a radio talk show host, and living with his retired police officer dad, Marty (despite Frasier having told Sam in Cheers that his father was dead and had been a research scientist, which was awkwardly retconned in Frasier when Dr Crane admits to a returning Sam he’d lied the first time) and his dog Eddie.
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Also added to the cast were Frasier’s even more pompous and pernickety brother Niles (a scene-stealing David Hyde Pierce), Marty’s live-in carer Daphne (Jane Leeves) and Dr Crane’s man-hungry producer at KACL, Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin).
A whole bunch of Cheers regulars would cameo on Frasier through the years, but Frasier never felt in the shadow of its parent series. Over its 11-season run, the show scooped a then-record 37 Emmys, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for five consecutive years.
Its impact was so colossal, even the dog that played Eddie got his own book.
The Frasier comeback | 2023
When Frasier bowed out with the episode ‘Goodnight Seattle’ on 13 May 2004, it looked like a full stop. Kelsey Grammar had, at that point, been playing the character for 20 years and that final episode suggested a happy ending at last for a character whose love life had been rockier than Mount Rushmore as he headed off to Chicago to be with his latest squeeze, Charlotte (Laura Linney).
There had been rumblings through the years of a brand new Frasier series, however, and, in February 2021, a revival was finally greenlit by Paramount+, with Kelsey Grammer referring to it as a “third act” for the character.
Sadly, none of the supporting cast of the 1993-2004 show will be returning (John Mahoney, who played Frasier’s dad, died in 2018) and neither, it seems, will be Laura Linney, suggesting that Frasier and Charlotte’s relationship went the way of his other love affairs in the end.
"Jane [Leeves] and David [Hyde Pierce] and Peri [Gilpin] were sort of on the fence and we couldn’t quite make it all happen," Grammer recently revealed. "In the end it turned out to be a great thing. Frasier’s going back to Boston to tie up some loose ends in his life.”
Instead of being based in Seattle — or indeed the Windy City — this new Frasier takes Dr Crane back to Boston. Joining Kelsey Grammer will be British actor Jack Cutmore-Scott as the now adult Frederick (or Freddy), Anders Keith as Niles and Daphne’s son David and Only Fools and Horses veteran Nicholas Lyndhurst – yes really – as Frasier’s old college bud, Professor Alan Cornwall.
Course, all this doesn’t mean that those old Frasier favourites such as Niles, Roz, Daphne and Bulldog won’t be cameoing. And given the new show’s relocation to Beantown, it’s entirely possible that we’ll be getting some walk-ons from Frasier’s old Cheers cronies (maybe even a return to the bar itself!).
"He's our brave little soldier that continues on in life, finding new challenges and a new love and new people and a new city and stuff like that," Grammer told People last year. "I'm really very excited about it, and we'll certainly always honour the past. We have to honour the fact that John Mahoney died and that Martin is no longer with us. We'll be dealing with that for sure."
Little else is known about the revival at this point. The latest intel is that Cheers and Frasier veteran James Burrows is directing the first episode, and that its title is ‘The Good Father’, a fan-pleasing nod to the original series’ debut, ‘The Good Son’. Oh, and we know that the series is due to drop in mid-2023.
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Though he’s headlined many shows and movies since the original Frasier went off the air, Kelsey Grammer will forever be Dr Frasier Crane and that’s something it appears the actor is completely fine with.
"He's like putting on a favourite old jacket," Grammer told Yahoo last December. "It was a fully fleshed out characterisation on my part, and I walked a lot of the same streets with him, you know, for a long time. So he's always in there somewhere, ready to pop out."
The Frasier revival will stream on Paramount+ in 2023.