A Frasier reboot could only succeed if it goes in a radically different direction and re-examines the central character’s relationship with his son.
A Kelsey Grammar-led Frasier reboot will only succeed if it completely flips its premise. A Frasier reboot is on the horizon for Paramount Plus; Kelsey Grammar has mentioned it in interviews all year, with only vague references to the plot. John Mahoney’s death in 2018 requires the show to radically rethink its premise, but even if he was available, simply picking up where the finale left off would not be the right course of action.
Premiering in 1993, Frasier was wildly successful and lauded through its entire run. But one of the reasons for its popularity and success was that it very much reflected its time. To achieve anything like those results now, it will have to reimagine the entire conceit of the show — simply finding a way to entice the original cast back for the revival won’t be enough. Since no other original cast members are currently attached, a radical new approach is clearly needed.
Frasier the character was never a loveable protagonist. Created as a counterpoint to the barflies on Cheers, his show required an appealing ensemble around him to bring the audience back week after week. While much of the humor was sparked by the snobbery of Frasier and his brother Niles (Hyde Pierce), working-class characters like Roz (Gilpin) and Daphne (Reeves), in addition to Frasier’s cop dad Martin (Mahoney), made the show broadly relatable and palatable. If those characters do not return, who can counterbalance Frasier and deliver the class and generational conflict the show requires? The answer is simple: since the original is a show about a father moving in with his son, Frasier should in turn move in with his son, Frederick.
A recurring character on the original series who never lived with his father, Frederick is both familiar and new. Unlike Niles’ obscenely wealthy wife Maris, who was wisely kept off-screen, viewers of the original show have a connection to Frederick. His tensions with his father, which echoed those between Frasier and Martin, were part of his storyline. Yet he was still a teenager when the show went off the air. Who Frederick Crane became is unknown. This, therefore, provides an opportunity to reflect the reality of many millennial streaming viewers’ lives, and have Frederick be forced to move into his father’s luxurious retirement community. Were Frederick to have a podcast, for instance, it’s easy to imagine the ensuing tensions between father and son. Frasier could maintain his dominant position economically, allowing the audience to enjoy his wine, gourmet food, and opera music vicariously, while his attempts to “advise” Frederick on his podcasting career based on Frasier’s radio experience will offer opportunities for Frasier to fail.
The original Frasier was fundamentally a show about family. With Mahoney dead and David Hyde Pierce uninterested in returning, only Frederick is available from the original show’s universe to provide this crucial element. Done right, this could potentially solve all the reboot’s problems, and deliver a revived Frasier with its heart and its humor intact, familiar yet fresh.
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