Imagined as a third corner of a love triangle involving Cheers' Sam Malone and his employee/bantering partner Diane Chambers, Dr. Frasier Crane was everything the show's resident alpha male was not: pompous, cerebral, and a "perfect" match for the braniac barmaid. He eventually evolved from being a stock stuffed shirt to key part of the show, though we wouldn't have picked Crane as a natural for his own sitcom.
So when Cheers' producers announced they were creating a show around Kelsey Grammer's psychiatrist and relocating him to the Pacific Northwest, visions of The Tortellis redux danced through folks' heads. Imagine our surprise, then, when the result turned into what many consider to be one of the greatest network sitcoms of all time — the equivalent of a screwball comedy pleasurably stretched out over 11 seasons. Partnered with his equally pretentious brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce earned every one of his 11 Emmy nominations and four wins), Frasier suddenly blossomed as a character; it's as if this was the show he was meant to be on all along. Throw in theater veteran John Mahoney's crusty ex-cop dad and ex-Benny Hill Show eye candy Jane Leeves as daffy caregiver Daphne, as well as one of the wittiest writers' rooms around, and you had a series that quickly set the bar for small-screen superiority. Just try and find another spin-off worth its weight in tossed salads and scrambled eggs. DF