The situation comedy Frasier, which debuted on NBC in 1993 and remained on the air in 2002, depicted the neurotic misadventures of Dr. Frasier Crane, a conceited psychologist living in Seattle, Washington. The series, a spin-off of the popular sitcom (situation comedy; see entry under 1950s—TV and Radio in volume 3) Cheers, was widely recognized as one of television's most sophisticated programs. In 1998, the show became the first program to win five consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. Frasier offered viewers witty, literate dialogue and often-absurd humor not evident in other sitcoms.
Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammar, 1955–) first appeared on Cheers (see entry under 1980s—TV and Radio in volume 5) in 1984 as a rival suitor to Sam Malone (Ted Danson, 1947–) for the affections of barmaid Diane Chambers (Shelley Long, 1949–). Frasier was highly educated, somewhat effeminate, snobbish, and a perfect contrast to the jock bar-owner Malone. When Cheers left the air in early 1993, NBC announced the character Frasier would be spun-off into his own show.
The premise of Frasier was that Dr. Crane has moved to Seattle following his divorce from his wife. He landed a job as host of a radio call-in show. Surrounding Grammer on the series was one of television's best ensemble casts. (An ensemble cast refers to a group of regulars who act well together.) David Hyde Pierce (1959–) portrayed Dr. Niles Crane, Frasier's arrogant younger brother. Peri Gilpin (1961–) appeared as Roz Doyle, a radio producer weary of trying to find the right man but always on the lookout. Frasier lived with his father, Martin (John Mahoney, 1940–), a gruff, blue-collar former policeman who was often frustrated by his sons' highbrow mannerisms. Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves, 1961–) was Martin's British physical therapist and the object of Niles' lust. Rounding out the cast was Eddie, Martin's dog who constantly annoyed Frasier. Many celebrities made guest voice "appearances" on the series as the irritating callers to Frasier's radio program. Most episodes revolved around the sibling rivalry of the Crane brothers who constantly tried to top each other.
By 2002, Frasier Crane was one of TV's longest-running comedic characters and a true icon (symbol) of popular culture.
For More Information
Angell, David, Peter Casey, and David Lee. The Frasier Scripts. New York: Newmarket Press, 1999.
Bly, Robert. What's Your Frasier IQ?: 501 Questions and Answers for Fans. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing, 1996.
Graham, Jefferson. Frasier: The Official Companion Book to the Award-Winning Paramount Television Comedy! New York: Pocket Books, 1996.
Grammer, Kelsey. So Far. New York: Dutton, 1995.
Moose, also known as Eddie, with Brian Hargrove. My Life as a Dog. New York: HarperEntertainment, 2000.
Paramount Pictures. Frasier.http://www.paramount.com/television/frasier (accessed April 4, 2002).