Friday, July 12, 2024

Review: “Frasier” is the Worst Reboot of a Beloved TV Show Since the Disastrous “Murphy Brown”


The new “Frasier” on Paramount Plus is the worst reboot of a TV show since the disastrous revival of “Murphy Brown.”

I eyed it warily last week. Then yesterday I watched the first two episodes. I wish I could unsee them.

Kelsey Grammer is back as Dr. Frasier Crane, pompous and effete as ever. Grammer still has ‘it’, and know the character so well it’s a pleasure to see him return.

But the setting is all wrong. The premise and characters are cockeyed. The whole thing is painful.

In Seattle, Frasier could be as out of proportion as he liked because he was installed in an apartment with his family. Even though Niles, his brother, was just like him, their dad, Martin, was grounded. So were the people at the radio station, like Roz, his producer.

All of those characters are gone as Frasier has moved back to Boston, real mistake. The Cheers bar is around the corner, but he’s ignoring it despite being there every day for a decade. What?

Frasier and Lilith’s son, Freddie is now in his 30s and a firefighter after dropping out of Harvard. He, like his cousin David (Niles and Daphne’s son) is a stock character dullard who delivers brainless one liners from the sitcom playbook. These boys are a disappointment. Their parents were so smart and glib with natural panache. The progeny are one dimensional.

A radio and TV personality, Frasier now goes to teach at Harvard. His office is a windowless room that he shares with an older, British colleague who should have been a cameo. The set up so far is limited and laughless. The colleague, and a Black woman dean, are forced into the show for no reason. Did anyone think this through?

In the new scenario, Freddie has been living with a pal’s widow and their annoying, crying baby. Frasier moves in across the hall (ok, this made the least sense of all — Frasier is rich, is he bunking in a walk up?), invites Freddie the dolt to join him. Fraser is speaking in French, making obscure references that fall flat, and no one cares. At least Niles got it, and Daphne pretended to. Freddie just wants to lift weights, drink beer, and get laid. And he’s supposed to be the son of Frasier and Lilith! Ridiculous!

I’m not watching any more, not even hate watching. The real “Frasier” was like a Swiss watch with perfect 17 jewel movement. It was genius and only got better and better. This is like one of those knock off watches I saw once in the Moscow Underground. It looked good, but inside it was junk.

Also, the laugh track sounds like people from an insane asylum.

Just a thought but Grammer would have been better bringing the original cast to Broadway in a musical. Without David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves and Perri Gilpin, you can’t do this.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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