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Frasier: The Complete Final Season
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FRASIER THE COMPLETE FINAL SEASON is set in Seattle and chronicles the lives of an eloquently pompous radio show host, Dr. Frasier Crane, Grammer), his competitive, high-brow brother Niles (Hyde Pierce), their crotchety father Martin (Mahoney) and Niles wife Daphne (Leeves), who used to be Martins home care nurse. The final season marks a few milestones, including a wedding, a birth and a long-awaited chance at true love.
Midway through Frasier's redemptive final season (which earned Emmys for Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce), Martin Crane (John Mahoney) reassures his son, "Just when you think that you're in a rut and nothing exciting will ever happen again, pow, that's when it does." The same could have been said of Frasier's redemptive final season. Not that the multi-Emmy-honored series had ever really jumped the couch, but by its 11th season, it had lost some of its sparkle. And then, POW! Veteran Frasier writers Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan return to the fold. POW! Wendie Malick joins the seamless ensemble as brash lounge singer Ronee Lawrence, who becomes a love interest for Martin. POW! Daphne (Jane Leeves), underutilized since her marriage to Niles, becomes pregnant. POW! Frasier opens his own private practice. POW! Laura Linney guest stars as Charlotte, who becomes the hapless Frasier's own Miss Right. The series also benefited greatly from a stellar roster of character actors, who rose to the occasion of this gold standard series' final year. Penny Johnson (24), Sarah Silverman (School of Rock), and Dan "Homer Simpson" Castellaneta christen Frasier's couch in the episode, "The Return of Maris." Jennifer Tilly is at her ditzy, delectable best as a pick-up in "Miss Right Now." Laurie Metcalf replaces Emma Thompson as Frasier's first wife, children's entertainer Nanny G, in "Caught in the Act." Always welcome are Bebe Neuwirth as Lilith ("Guns 'N Neuroses") and Harriet Sansom Harris as Frasier's unscrupulous agent Bebe (the series finale, "Goodnight, Seattle").
But Frasier was never about stunt casting. It's the writing, stupid, which, actually, was anything but. Episodes such as "Boo," "The Doctor Is Out," "Coots and Ladders," and "Caught in the Act" recapture Frasier's unique blend of wit and farce. The series finale, in which relationships take a significant turn and Frasier finally breaks out of that rut to follow his heart, is as satisfying as fans could wish. --Donald Liebenson
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This eleventh and final season has to be considered one of its best, not only in resolving character issues but in overall humor. The writing staff and the cast were magnificent, dolling out consistently funny and poignant tales. When other shows resulted in "stunt casting" to boost ratings, "Frasier's" roster of guest performers were the best for the part and elevated the show to a level that others only wish they could attain. Patrick Stewart, Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart, Julia Sweeney, Felicity Huffman, Penny Johnson, Jennifer Tilly, Laurie Metcalf, Estelle Parsons, and Rosie Perez were just some of the talented guest stars that popped into the life of the fictional Seattle radio psychologist.
And the show would not be complete without the return of recurring characters Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), Kenny (Tom McGowan), Bebe (Harriet Sansom Evans), Simon (Anthony LaPaglia), Wendie Malick (Ronnie), Bulldog (Dan Butler), Gil (Edward Hibbert), and Frasier's son Frederick (Trevor Einhorn).
There is nary a bad show in the bunch and this is indeed a necessary purchase for those that enjoy comedy that is timeless, thought-provoking, and perfectly acted.
The bonus features are equally as well done, providing some closure to a character, that began on "Cheers", that became a television staple for twenty years.
"Dr. Frasier Crane" will be sorely missed!
Not hard to believe since some of "Frasier's" best writers come back into the fold like Joe Keenan with his contrabution, "The Doctor is Out". An instant classic in the mold of the second season farce, "The Matchmaker", this one has a great performance by Patrick Stewart and begs the question "would you change your lifestyle for three weeks on Capri in Bertalluci's villa?"
Other delights include the return of Maris in a very funny two parter ("Maris Returns" & "Murder Most Maris") along with "Boo!" when Frasier, tired of being scared by his father, manages to spook Martin to the point of a "cardiac event" (wearing a very creepy and disturbing clown makeup & suit). "Caught in the Act" brings back "Nanny G", Frasier's first wife (as seen previously in a "Cheers" episode) played by a very randy Laurie Metcalf.
"Match Game" introduces Laura Linney who goes on to become Frasier's love. And the awesome finale "Goodnight Seattle" which brings back the wonderful Anthony Lapaglia as Daphne's wayward brother Simon along with Frasier's agent, Bebe. Oh, and Daphne & Niles have a baby, too.
Not every episode is a gem, however. The ones with Lilith (Guns 'n Neuroses) and Frederick (High Holidays) falls a bit flat. As well as the final outing of the KACL staff in "Frasier Lite". "Freudian Sleep" ventures into the dreams of the characters which seems very similar to another, better episode from 3rd Rock From The Sun's 3-D spectacular "Nightmare on Dick Street".
"Crock Tales", a very ambitious episode where Frasier remembers events from the previous 11 years is nearly derailed by some of the terrible wigs/hairpieces that Jane Leeves, Peri Gilpin, & David Hyde Pierce had to wear.
But these are minor nits, especially when compared to the previous three seasons when "Frasier" certainly lost some of its edge.
This DVD collection includes two "specials" which document the final episodes of "Frasier" and include interviews with cast & the writing staff. They are somewhat short, but interesting. It would've been nice to include the special "Analyzing the Laughter" which ran before the final episode "Goodnight Seattle", but given the lack of extras on the DVD sets since season 4, I shouldn't complain too much...well, maybe a little.
It was certainly great that "Frasier" managed to go out on a high note and this DVD set does a wonderful job of presenting
the final season of one of the great sitcoms of all time.
- I love the promo photos used on the DVD box cover and insides (the one on the back with Kelsey, David, & John fawning on Jane Leeves is very warm & funny). But it's interesting to note that the inside photo of David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, & John Mahoney together is clearly reversed, you can tell by the parts in their hair.
- Martin's dream in "Freudian Sleep" has John Mahoney dancing without a cane, one of the few if only times we see his character fully mobile.
- Do you remember the original "Nanny G" from "Cheers"? That was Emma Thompson.
- Rosie Perez makes an appearence in "Crock Tales", she was one of the candidates for the physical therapist role until Jane Leeves was picked. Also, she "phoned in" a performance in the second season classic "Roz in the Doghouse".
- In "Goodnight Seattle", most of the patrons watching Frasier's final radio broadcast from the hallway are the writing staff of the show.
- I still have the original airing of "Goodnight Seattle" on tape which has no "official" end credits (just the tiny ones used during a commercial break). On the DVD, we get the "Thanks for Calling" and publicity photos which includes Helen Mirren, the very LAST caller of the Frasier series.
However, I was able to get a hold of Seasons 1 - 3 on DVD and fell in love with the show again. And I have now seen the shows of this final season (which I never saw when they first aired). The shows of this season were great and I found myself cracking up like I did when watching the older episodes. Episodes that stood out for me were "Murder Most Maris", "High Holidays", "Boo!", "The Doctor is Out", "Maris Returns", "No Sex Please, We're Skittish", and "Caught in the Act". However, I found something was lacking here that I had seen in the earlier episodes. I can't put my finger on it, but it seemed that the show had fallen into a rut. You could tell that there are only so many ideas that TV writers could come up with. It was a wise move to end the series now before it got stale and unwatchable. I'm sure many probably think that the show by season 11 was already unwatchable, but I disagree.
In my opinion, Season 11 is definitely not Frasier's best, but it's pretty darn good and it provides excellent closure for all of the characters. It's definitely a season that every Frasier fan should see and own. However, I am more anxious for Seasons 4 - 7 to be released. I'm rather mystified by Paramount's decision to release the final season now and keep us waiting for older shows that many consider to be better than more recent episodes.
And for those you who don't already know, Paramount will be releasing the other season at an accelerated pace with Season 4 being released in early 2005. So, be patient, it will be here before you know. However, I think season 11 is entertaining enough to pass the time until that happens. But, I can't help but feel that Seasons 1 - 3 are a bit better.
Things certainly start out strong: the season opener features Felicity Huffman at her acerbic best as radio newswoman Julia Wilcox. Also, Patrick Stewart makes a guest appearance as an actor with designs on Frasier in "The Doctor is Out", the funniest show of the season. Other highlights include an appearance by Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth, fantastic as always), another round of "Seabee Jeebies", the sentimental Crock Tales, Laura Linney's guest appearance as a matchmaker who hooks Frasier, and the hilarious (and touching) series finale.
Granted, some of the episodes were less than Emmy-worthy (Freudian Sleep was particularly bad) and some went over the top (Detour) in search of laughs. By and large, though, the result was good, and this set should make a welcome memory for fans of the show.