We have become familiar with ‘pop psychology’ over the years. So we even employ our amateurish skills to deal with tricky situations and people. Frasier was a popular sitcom that one enjoyed. Kelsey Grammer essayed the lead role of Dr. Frasier Crane who had a ‘radio show’ in Seattle for folks to dial in and talk about their problems. And Dr. Crane would provide some nice ‘bite-sized’ solutions to them over the phone call.
Frasier’s support cast was interesting as well – his younger brother and a fellow psychiatrist Niles, his dad Martin who has been an ex-cop, the ‘British’ physical trainer Daphne and Frasier’s radio show producer Roz. And of course the adorable Eddie, a Jack Russell pet dog who would keep looking in a bemused manner at Frasier.
Frasier’s key appeal as a sophisticated sit-com was in its moorings – it did not pander to mass appeal and didn’t ‘dumb down’ its play in an effort to reach wider audiences. It was a classy act and it drew its followers accordingly.
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane was a popular character and will be remembered by numerous fans who watched the drama unfold during the 11-year run, 1993 – 2004. His character was well-placed to draw in the eccentricities of his support cast. Dr. Crane is a middle-aged, erudite, widely respected psychiatrist who is trying to juggle the ‘multiple balls’ so to say in his own life.
Recently divorced and a doting father of a 5-year-old, he is trying to be a good son and build a relationship with his father. Martin Crane is a retired copper who is typical action guy, he is bewildered by his Harvard educated son’s finesse and sophistication. Frasier and Niles get along well though they have their professional and personal quirks.
Niles in particular appears to be fastidious and lily-livered. He is married to a long-suffering wife Maris who never appears on the screen and is shown to be dominated by her. He is enamoured with Daphne who is a live-in physiotherapist looking after Martin. Daphne is a spirited gal and dabbles a bit in psychic practice as well. She is perceptive and ever ready with a witty comment. She gets along well with Martin and in the initial seasons doesn’t quite know that Niles has fallen for her.
Frasier’s professional setting is interesting as well – Roz Doyle is his producer who can be funny and cranky on occasions. She regales Frasier with her sexual escapades and seems to go in for freaky characters for want of something better.
The episodes tackle a wide range of topics but there is a pattern that is recurrent. The pet themes are –
- The opening usually features Frasier taking a call from a listener of his radio show. The caller presents a weirdest problem and Frasier dons his psychiatrist hat to dish him some witty advice. He pulls in Roz on quite a few occasions to illustrate his point.
- Eddie, the Jack Russell, has a running battle with Frasier. He has to sit next to him and look at him with his sad,doleful eyes. This infuriates Frasier to no end, but the routine carries on as usual.
- In episodes focussing on Martin Crane, we get to see a cranky relationship between the father and son. They come from different worlds and have communication issues. But at the heart of it all, they do care for each other.
- Frasier and Niles tend to meet often at Coffee shop. They snipe at each other discussing professional and personal issues. They can collaborate and plot at times; herein Frasier tends to be more creative while Niles tends to have some funny ideas.
- Niles often visits Frasier’s home and if he chances on Daphne, he gets to look as drooly as a shy young teenage boy meeting his heart-throb. Frasier tends to spot this and usually this leads to bit of witty dialogue.
- Martin and Daphne get along with. In particular Daphne can chaff Martin and get away with it.
- Seattle adds its own style and spice to the tale. We can feel the pulse of the city, its night-life, its people … they are indeed the material on which Frasier thrives and regales us.
Frasier’s episodes provide the right mix of humour and emotions. Often the story’s end up warming the cockles of our heart. Frasier goes through tough times – he looks temper, he can make sarcastic comments and he even confronts his gang on issues. At the end of it all he reconciles himself and chooses to smoke the ‘peace-pipe’ if one were to call it that. He is the centre of it all as we hear the voice-over say at the end of every episode, ‘Frasier has left the building … ‘.