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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Was ever a sitcom so funny for so long as Frasier?

I found a cache of complete episodes of Frasier on You Tube. Once I start I can't stop. One's too many and a hundred aren't enough. It gives new pleasure every time. A load of new things struck me this time around.

  • In every respect but their sexual orientation and the fact they're brothers, Frasier and Niles are a gay couple.
  • For all its fine talk British comedy has never come up with anything half as sophisticated as Frasier.
  • I think it was Andrew Collins who told me that in situation comedy character serves plot whereas in literature plot serves character. That's true. Once you've bought the idea of Daphne acting as the saucy maid you're prepared to overlook the fact that she's introduced as "Dad's physical therapist". 
  • The depiction of radio is ludicrous but you forgive it.
  • The set was said to be the most expensive in television. It was worth it.
  • Of course the script's good but what makes it brilliant is the acting. It's the energy and the precision of the business - a great deal of which, particularly in Niles's case, is physical - that makes it sing. The cast is even secure enough to let occasional guest turns like Bebe Neuwirth as Frasier's ex Lillith and Harriet Sansom Harris as his satanic agent Bebe Glazer (above) steal the show. ("Don't look her in the eyes, Roz!")

They did 11 seasons. That's a total of 264 episodes. It wasn't as funny at the end as it was in its purple patch but it was still funnier than most. Amazing.