Frasier Revival Didn't Quite Revive

Critics describe bad jokes, disappointing writing, odd character additions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2023 9:01 AM CDT

The first two episodes of the Frasier revival from showrunners Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli will be released Thursday on Paramount+, giving audiences their first look in two decades at the psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer. As expected, he followed a girlfriend to Chicago, where he became the long-running host of a daytime talk show. But after 15 years, he's ready for a change and jumps at the chance to return to Beantown, and to Harvard specifically, so as to reconcile with his estranged son Freddy, a firefighter played by Jack Cutmore-Scott. Here's what critics are saying:

  • It's an "unfunny, uninspired dud" that "struggles to deal with the detailed and familiar history of a man who previously appeared in 20 seasons of television," writes Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone. He points to a couple bad jokes—and there are "plenty"—in which Frasier's past knowledge of Boston is ignored. The revival also attempts to fill the hole left by David Hyde Pierce's Niles by inserting Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst) as Frasier's oldest friend without explaining why we've never met him before.
  • "When you figure in the absence of virtually every original cast member besides Grammer, as well as new leadership behind the scenes ... the project starts to sound especially dire. And it is," writes Judy Berman at Time. The absence of Frasier's brother and "one true sparring partner" leaves the character "adrift." Plus, the writing "disappoints," Berman writes. She suggests the show add "more jokes" but "I'm not convinced that any amount of tweaking would be enough to justify its existence."

  • "All that effort just to bring back this?" asks Jackson McHenry at Vulture, who concludes the revival is "not quite Frasier, but not quite far enough from Frasier to stand on its own legs." He notes all the new characters have "Frasier-ish personas." Freddy lives with a Daphne-like woman named Eve (Jess Salgueiro), while Harvard's psychology department is run by Olivia (Toks Olagundoye), who is "a little like Roz." Then there's Niles and Daphne's son David (Anders Keith), a Harvard undergraduate who's "clearly intended to be a stand-in for [Pierce]."
  • The series struggles to find its footing initially, but soon "the chemistry and the magic are back, all helmed by its lead's faultless performance—and it is a joy to watch," writes Lucy Mangan at the Guardian. "Grammer plays his man as perfectly and with as light a touch as ever, moving seamlessly into emotional scenes from comic ones and out again." Though the other cast members take awhile to catch up, "by the fourth episode, the chemistry, the ineffable magic, the ease, the unbottleable perfect combination of them all is there."
(More television review stories.)

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