Kelsey Grammer has returned to television as the iconic Dr. Frasier Crane, roughly 30 years after the original NBC sitcom first premiered. The Paramount+ revival sees the titular character return to Boston for the next chapter of his life, with new challenges to face, new relationships to forge and an old dream or two to finally fulfill.
In addition to Grammer, the show’s cast includes Jack Cutmore-Scott as Frasier’s son Freddy, Nicholas Lyndhurst as Frasier’s old college buddy turned university professor Alan, Toks Olagundoye as Olivia, Alan’s colleague and head of the university’s psychology department, Jess Salgueiro as Freddy’s roommate Eve and Anders Keith as Frasier’s nephew David.
Co-showrunners Joe Cristalli and Chris Harris told TheWrap that, while there are multiple Easter Eggs and references sprinkled throughout the series, they didn’t want to rely on them as a crutch.
“We’re trying to stand on our own two feet … so I don’t think we can do a ton of them. I think we have to pick our moments very sparingly and very smartly. But when we do do them, we want them to land at least,” Cristalli said. “None of them should ever feel shameless and I don’t think any of them feel shameless. They feel like they’re subtly and elegantly done.”
“We’re not trying to impress people with our knowledge of minute trivia of the old show,” Harris added. “Ultimately, if you know the character of Frasier Crane, if you’ve watched him over the last few decades, then of course this will be a richer experience. But if you haven’t, the story should still be familiar.”
Throughout the series, there are several references to John Mahoney, who portrayed Frasier’s father Martin Crane on the original NBC sitcom. Mahoney passed away in February 2018 from throat cancer.
The premiere of Paramount+’s “Frasier” is titled “The Good Father” – a reference to the original series’ premiere episode “The Good Son.” In episode 1, it is revealed that Martin Crane died – and a major point of contention between Freddy and Frasier, as the former missed the funeral.
The pilot, which picks up after Frasier returns from Martin’s funeral, sees the character reference his late father as “a hell of a guy” and a “tough act to follow.”
The bar that the professors congregate at near Harvard is also named Mahoney’s and the bottles that they drink from are called Mahoney’s ale. Freddy’s roommate Eve also has an infant son named John, a nod to Mahoney.
There’s also a tribute to Mahoney in the end credits of episode 1, where he can be seen smiling at the camera before saying “It all works out.”
David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves
Also absent in the new “Frasier” series are David Hyde-Pierce’s Niles Crane and Jane Leeves’ Daphne Moon – though the pair are still referenced through interactions between Frasier and his nephew David.
At one point in the pilot, Frasier tells David that he is “perpetually optimistic” like his mother before being interrupted by David putting in eye drops.
“Now you remind me of your father,” Frasier laments.
In episode 4, Frasier references a shadow puppet rendition of the Mikado that he did with Niles. Meanwhile, in episode 5, Frasier talks about an “intense sibling rivalry dynamic” between him and Niles while talking with Olivia. David also refers to his father as “such a ladies’ man” when he plans to ask Eve out.
Bulldog, Charlotte Connor and Eddie Crane
In addition to Niles and Daphne, there are references to other characters from the original NBC sitcom.
In episode 1, Frasier reveals that Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe (Dan Butler) sang “Ave Maria” at Martin Crane’s funeral. There’s also a reference to Frasier’s love interest Charlotte Connor (Laura Linney), who is set to marry him and move to Chicago at the end of the original series. In the pilot of the Paramount+ revival, we learn that Charlotte left Frasier – another reason for his return to Boston.
In episode 4, one of the firefighters is named Mousse – a reference to Moose, the wire-hair Jack Russell Terrier who portrayed Eddie Crane in the original series. Another reference to Martin Crane’s canine companion is also made when Frasier is approached by a Dalmatian in the firehouse.
“You are wasting your time. I’m not a dog person, shoo,” he says. “Think you’re gonna wear me down? Trust me, I’ve had years of experience. I outlasted that little mongrel, I’ll outlast you.”
At the start of the series, a sign can be seen in the airport that reads “Boston’s calling, are you listening?” – a reference to Frasier’s famous line from the original series when he would take calls on his radio show at KACL.
Meanwhile, in the episode “First Class,” Frasier struggles to teach his students at Harvard without them referencing his career as a radio personality. It also reveals that he had a Dr. Phil-style talk show, which Olivia claims to be a fan of as part of an effort to get Frasier to embrace that part of his life.
Callbacks to Episodes from the Original NBC Sitcom
In the pilot, Frasier says “I’m no stranger to an underperforming dinner party,” a callback to several episodes from the original series, including “To Kill a Talking Bird,” “Daphne Does Dinner,” and “The Seal Who Came to Dinner.” In episode 3, Freddy mentions the restaurant that Frasier and Niles opened and closed in one day – a reference to “The Innkeepers.”
References to Cheers
While sitting at Mahoney’s in episode 1 of the Paramount+ revival, Frasier admits that he may have “spent too much time at a certain bar” – a callback to “Cheers,” the NBC sitcom that ran 1982 to 1993 and led to the creation of the original “Frasier.”
Meanwhile, in episode 5, titled “The Founder’s Society,” Frasier and Alan attempt to join an elite group at Harvard. Later in the episode, Frasier talks about how he always wanted to fit in and that he felt out of place despite being a frequent visitor of a bar in Boston – to which Alan responds with the sitcom’s iconic tagline: “Nobody knew your name.”
New episodes of the Frasier revival air every Thursday on Paramount+
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