After years of rumor and speculation, word finally came down yesterday that Frasier is returning after a 17-year absence. The new show will air on the Paramount+ streaming service, which will also be home to nostalgic reboots of The Real World, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Beavis and Butt-head.
“Having spent over 20 years of my creative life on the Paramount lot, both producing shows and performing in several, I’d like to congratulate Paramount+ on its entry into the streaming world,” Frasier star Kelsey Grammer said in a statement. “I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr. Frasier Crane.”
Grammer originated the role of psychiatrist Frasier Crane on the third season of Cheers in 1984. When that show ended in 1993, Grammer was given a spin-off where the doctor moved to Seattle to host a radio call-in show. It was one of the most successful spin-offs in television history, airing for 11 seasons and racking up five consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Ratings dipped significantly by the eleventh season in 2003–04 when the show faced the same sort of creative fatigue that many long-running sitcoms face. By that point, Frasier’s brother Niles was married to Daphne Moon, who was his secret crush throughout the early seasons when she worked as a physical therapist to his father. They even had a son. Much like Jim Halpert in the early seasons of The Office, the Niles character worked better when he was pining for his crush from afar. Once they coupled up, a lot of the tension was gone.
At the end of the final season, Frasier is offered a television show in San Francisco just as he learns that his girlfriend Charlotte (played by Laura Linney) is moving to Chicago. As you can see from this clip of the final moments, Frasier says goodbye to his friends and family in Seattle, reads a portion of “Ulysses” by Alfred Tennyson to his radio audience, and then boards a plane. We’re led to think he’s off to San Francisco for the job, but when the plane lands, the pilot announces he’s in Chicago, presumably to start a new life with Charlotte. “Wish me luck,” he says to his seatmate as the final credits roll.
Almost nothing is known about this new iteration of Frasier. The biggest question is whether or not Niles Crane (David Hyde-Pierce), Daphne Moon (Jane Leaves), or Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin) will be a part of it. (John Mahoney, who played Frasier’s father, died in 2018.) It’s hard to imagine Frasier without Niles, Daphne, and Roz, but it was initially hard to imagine Frasier separate from the Cheers gang, and the show did just fine without them. That said, let’s hope they’re all deep into negotiations with Paramount+ and will be returning.