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Frasier: The return of Kelsey Grammer’s beloved sitcom after 20 years is a massive letdown

Television: Kelsey Grammer is clearly enjoying being back as the egghead psychiatrist Frasier Crane, but the jokes and support cast are a big disappointment

Cheerful, relatively cheap and extremely bingeable, the traditional three-camera sitcom is the embattled streaming industry’s new obsession. The 2021 Friends Reunion was a large media moment while Netflix has successfully disinterred That ‘70s Show (as That ‘90s Show). Now it’s the turn of Frasier (Paramount+ from Friday), one of the defining sitcoms of its era – and a series which carved out a unique space in the 1990s by appealing to the intellectual vanity of its viewers.

The big selling point with Frasier was that it was a show about smarty-pants intellectuals for smarty-pants intellectuals. Whether or not that was true, Frasier was certainly beloved. Alas, its return after nearly 20 years is a letdown.

Kelsey Grammer is back as follicle-impoverished egghead psychiatrist Frasier Crane. He has swapped Seattle for Boston, where he is seeking to patch up his relationship with grown-up son, Freddy. Actually, Boston is merely intended as a stop-off before he heads to Paris.

But Frasier’s determination to mend bridges with Freddy is such that he decides to stay in his old Cheers stamping ground after all. That’s after he puts behind him the crushing disappointment of Freddy becoming a fireman – a plebeian pursuit to which Frasier struggles to reconcile himself.


Frasier wouldn’t work without Grammer and returning to the show clearly means a lot to the now 68-year-old. He’s great too: whipsmart as ever yet with an undertow of melancholy.

The other big star is, of all people, Only Fools and Horses’ Nicholas Lyndhurst. Yes, Rodders has made it to America. Only he hasn’t: Lyndhurst is playing a toff abroad named Alan who lectures at Harvard.

He affects a faux-posh accent – he sounds like Ian McKellen’s Gandalf chewing a toffee – and exudes an air of harried befuddlement. It’s an uncanny performance, particularly if you grew up on the adventures of Del Boy and Rodney. What’s Rodders doing in an episode of Frasier? What next – Uncle Albert sipping a soy latte at Central Perk cafe?

Sadly, Frasier 2.0 must slog on without the wonderful David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s even more stuck-up brother Niles. Likewise missing is the late John Mahoney as their grouchy blue-collar father Martin Crane (Mahoney, who was born in Lancashire but came to regard himself as Irish, died in 2018).

In their absence, Frasier huffs and puffs. An underpowered support cast doesn’t do Grammer any favours. As Freddy, English actor Jack Cutmore-Scott struggles to take up the salt of the earth baton from Mahoney. Meanwhile, the space where Niles would have slotted is plugged by Anders Keith as Niles and Daphne’s son David.

He is a Frasier Crane mini-me who walks around in a cloud of raffishness. Keith does his best – unfortunately David is an underwhelming stand-in for Niles.

Worse yet, the gags are so reheated you can practically hear the microwave ping every time Grammer opens his mouth. The “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs” song is the same. But, and perhaps it’s just me, wasn’t the theme-tune the most annoying thing about Frasier back the day?