Frasier: TV’s Greatest Spin-Off
In 1993, Cheers, one of the great sitcoms, closed after an 11-year run. It would have been right to say that TV would never see success like that again—but it did, thanks to Cheers.
During the eighth season of Cheers, Kelsey Grammer, part of the show’s ensemble as psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, made a deal with the creators for a new gig once Cheers ended. When the time came, both Grammer and the creators initially wanted to move on from the Frasier character and do something different. New ideas and characters were bounced around… but eventually it all circled back to Frasier Crane. From there, a spin-off was born. The plot: A recently divorced Frasier moves back home to Seattle to work as a radio call-in psychiatrist, surrounded by madcap co-workers and reluctantly reconnecting with his estranged family.
Featuring excellent, witty writing delivered by oddballs such as Roz, Bulldog, Gil, Noel, Bebe and Kenny, the show became TV’s greatest spin-off with most of its success coming from Frasier’s family. Due to a work accident, Frasier’s ex-cop father Martin had to move in with him. This brought Frasier closer to him, his brother Niles, Niles’ unseen wife Maris, Martin’s live-in clairvoyant health aid Daphne and Martin’s dog Eddy. Oh! Can’t forget Martin’s chair! Comedy ensued immediately with series-long story lines beautifully played out by the characters (Daphne and Niles!). But, at its core, it was about a son reconnecting with his father.
Frasier was critically adored (winning multiple Emmys and Golden Globes) during its 11-year run. In 1994, the episode The Matchmaker was ranked #43 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. The show itself ranked #34 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and #23 on the WGA/TV Guide 101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time. Finally, when it ended in 2004, Grammer tied the record for the longest role portrayed by an actor on prime time TV at 20 years (tying James Arness for Gunsmoke). Frasier still lives on in syndication, fan sites, podcasts and publications, and there is a rumor it might return. YES!
- SOURCE: Behind The Couch: The Making of Frasier
- SERIES: Frasier
- WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT: It lasted 11 years. How many shows do that?