Kelsey Grammer’s Dr. Frasier Crane brings the “Cheers” outre humor with him to a new series certain to be one of the season’s winners. Smartly written, witty and absurdly human, “Frasier” looks to have an extended, successful practice.
The premise is a wonder of economy. The scripters have packed humor and exposition into the pilot without crowding. Frasier’s back home in Seattle from Boston and former wife Lilith. A radio psychiatrist, he sports a fine apartment and feels comfortable with life.
Until brother Niles, also a psychiatrist, warns him that their irascible father, Martin, can no longer make it alone. Niles’ frosty wife doesn’t like Martin, so he’ll have to go to a rest home unless Frasier agrees to take in crabby ol’ dad. And his dog Eddie.
To watch over Martin when Frasier’s not there, Frasier and Martin interview home-care folks, and the one Martin insists on, Daphne Moon, is “a bit psychic,” a frank English charmer Frasier doesn’t much like. The stage is set for a solid series loaded with amusing, original personnel.
Situations are on target, characters are strong, the dialogue bright. Nothing’s extraneous as director James Burrows keeps a tight rein on the brisk, smart exercise.
Casting is entirely happy. Credible David Hyde Pierce as Niles has Frasier’s brother down pat, and Jane Leeves, playing Daphne, hits the spot. John Mahoney as disruptive dad Martin is terrif, and Peri Gilpin as Frasier’s blunt producer at the radio station is fine.
Grammer makes the pompous Frasier Crane, the man with the tentative grand gesture and the sudden insights, sympathetic, funny and, with the writers’ sharp help, quotable. Everyone’s certain to cite Niles’ and Frasier’s mother’s comment about hugging; it explains a lot about both of her sons — and their father.
The doctor’s in — and will be for a long, happy time.