|Dr. Frasier Crane|
|Cheers and Frasier character|
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane
"Rebound (Part 1)" (episode 3.01)
"Goodnight, Seattle" (episode 11.24)
|Created by||Glen Charles
|Portrayed by||Kelsey Grammer
Kendall Schmidt (flashbacks)
|Nickname(s)||Frase, The Doc, Old Man Crane|
|Children||Frederick Crane (son, with Lilith Sternin)|
|Birth year of character||c. 1952|
Frasier Winslow Crane, M.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., A.P.A. is a fictional character on the American television sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, portrayed by Kelsey Grammer. Grammer received award recognitions for portraying this character in these two shows, in addition to a 1992 one-time appearance in Wings.
The character debuted in the 1984 episode of Cheers as Diane Chambers's love interest to the "Sam and Diane" dynamic. Intended to appear for only a few episodes, Grammer's performance for the role was praised by producers, prompting them to expand his role and to increase his prominence. Later in Cheers, Frasier is married to Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) with a son, Frederick, and resides in Boston. After Cheers ended, the character moved to his spin-off series Frasier, the span of his overall television appearances therefore totaling twenty years. In the spin-off, Frasier moves back to his birthplace Seattle after his divorce from Lilith, who retained custody of Frederick in Boston, and is reunited with a newly created family: his estranged father Martin and brother Niles.
- 1 Concept and development
- 2 Cheers
- 3 Frasier
- 4 Other appearances
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Concept and development
Frasier Crane is a licensed psychiatrist who is, as Kelsey Grammer described, "flawed, silly, pompous, and full of himself, [yet] kind [and] vulnerable". He is "a child prodigy", theatre enthusiast, and "frequent target for bullies". He earned his undergraduate degree in Harvard University and a graduate degree in Harvard Medical School. According to Peter Casey, a writer on Cheers and co-creator of Frasier with David Lee and David Angell, Frasier has depths within the last three years of Cheers (1990–1993): he is "very complicated, very intelligent, but also very insecure". He "supposedly [has] all the answers" for others, but not for himself.
The character of Frasier Crane was created in the third season of Cheers (1984–1985) by series creators Glen and Les Charles as Diane Chambers's (Shelley Long) "romantic and intellectual ideal" following her breakup with Sam Malone (Ted Danson). Frasier Crane was considered Sam Malone's rival and opposite and part of the love triangle, "a different form to the Sam-Diane relationship", said Glen Charles. The show's writers saw the character as "the role Ralph Bellamy used to play in Cary Grant movies — the guy the lady falls in love with, but is not real. You just know he doesn't have the sexual dynamism Grant does." John Lithgow was originally chosen by Cheers producers for the role, but turned it down. Grammer believed that he had failed the audition because no one laughed, but was chosen because of the quality of his performance with Danson. Frasier was supposed to only appear on a few episodes before Diane left him, but Grammer's performance was praised by series executives, leading to an extended role in the series. His character was not universally popular, however, for coming between Sam and Diane; a fan approached Grammer asking "Are you that pin dick that plays Frasier?", and the show received fan mail denouncing Grammer.
When Cheers ended in 1993, at first the creators did not plan to spin off the character from the predecessor out of failure concerns. Instead, they wanted to star Kelsey Grammer as a paraplegic millionaire resembling Malcolm Forbes, "a magazine mogul [and] a motorcycle enthusiast". The idea was deemed unsuitable and scrapped. Then the creators decided to move Frasier Crane out of Boston to avoid any resemblance to its predecessor Cheers. The spinoff idea would have focused on "his work at a radio station", but they found it resembling an older sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati. Therefore, they decided to add in his private life, such as his father Martin and brother Niles. Since the spin-off Frasier, Frasier becomes "haughty, disdainful, and exceedingly uptight."
Sam and Diane
In the two-part episode, "Rebound" (1984), the third season premiere of Cheers, Frasier first appears as a psychiatrist to help Sam Malone recover from a brief return to his alcoholism and to help him cope with his breakup with Diane Chambers. As discovered, he also happens to be Diane's fiancé. Throughout the 1984–85 season, despite stability and security of the relationship, Frasier admits in "Cheerio, Cheers" (1985) that Diane is still in love with Sam. In the fourth season premiere "Birth, Death, Love, and Rice" (1985), Diane leaves Frasier at the wedding in Europe, leaving him heartbroken. A despondent Frasier loses his license and his job. Later in the 1985–86 season, he begins to regularly attend Cheers for drinks and finds himself depending more and more on alcohol. In "Woody Goes Belly Up" (1985), an under-employed Frasier finds work as a janitor primarily to annoy Diane. In "The Triangle" (1986), Sam fakes symptoms of depression, planned by Diane, to help Frasier recover from alcoholism and regain his own self-confidence. Later, Sam admits the whole plan when Frasier concludes that his symptoms indicate Sam's love for Diane. Furious, Frasier declares himself to be sober, refuses to be a part of their relationship, and vows to practice psychiatry again.
He still harbors feelings for Diane and hostility toward her concurrently. In "Diane Chambers Day" (1986), Frasier and his bar pals feel sorry for leaving out Diane of their activities, like watching The Magnificent Seven. To make things up to her, as Frasier had suggested, his friends take Diane to an opera, although Frasier decides not to go with them. In "Strange Bedfellows, Part Two" (1986), when an unsuccessful political candidate (Max Wright) wants to ask her out, a jealous Frasier tells him that she is a transvestite. After Diane leaves Boston in "I Do, Adieu" (1987), he and his buddies regularly make jokes about Diane. In "Airport V" (1988), Frasier and his friends laugh over his wishing that he had given Diane shock treatment at a psychiatric hospital.
Relationships with bar people
Initially, the prestigious and sophisticated Frasier is reluctant to be a friend of lowly people at the bar, especially Sam Malone. In "The Heart Is the Lonely Snipe Hunter" (1985), according to Diane, he did not have any friends back in his childhood. Over time, Frasier becomes the friend of every bar regular. His bar friends consider Frasier to be an "elitist." They, including Frasier, tend to mock each other. In "Dark Imaginings" (1986), Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) seeks psychotherapeutic treatment for his obsessive comparisons of his home-grown vegetables and celebrities, such as Meryl Streep, from Frasier, who claims that the sessions are free of charge. Then Cliff finds out that Frasier charges him hundreds of dollars for the therapy sessions, causing him to relapse. In "Airport V" (1988), Frasier intends to help a reluctant Carla overcome her fear of flying with sessions in an airplane, along with other passengers. The sessions are proven to be ineffective when the passengers, including Carla, ask questions about their own safety. However, Carla overcomes her fear of flying when she witnesses Frasier falling apart in an airplane landing in Seattle. (Coincidentally, in his spin-off, Seattle is Frasier's birthplace.) In "Sam Ahoy" (1989), Frasier's bar friends take $500 from Frasier's wallet against his will to enter a sailing race. They fail to finish the race because a bomb explodes their boat. However, Frasier forgives them for losing his $500. In "Don't Shoot...I'm Only the Psychiatrist" (1992), when Frasier brings a group of men with low self-esteem into the bar, his friends Norm, Cliff, and Paul (Paul Willson) make negative remarks about Frasier, tell stories of pranks on Frasier, and encourage them not to fear their negativity about Frasier. At first Frasier disapproves; however, the group regain their self-esteem and credit Frasier for this progress instead of the bar mates. Furious, the bar mates chase after Frasier in attempt to pull down his pants.
Frasier claims to be an orphan. In "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" (1988), Frasier confirms the off-screen death of his mother Hester, portrayed earlier by Nancy Marchand in "Diane Meets Mom" (1984). In "Two Girls for Every Boyd" (1989), he tells bar patrons he studied acting at university and wanted to be a performer, but his father, a scientist who was supposedly demanding and neglectful, wanted him to pursue a career in psychiatry. At first reluctant, Frasier realized that his father was correct before he died. In "Bar Wars III: The Return of Tecumseh" (1990), Frasier confirms the deaths of his parents to Sam. (This contradicts the premise of his spin off of his having a living, retired cop father Martin Crane in Frasier. In "The One Where Sam Shows Up" (1995), a second season episode of Frasier, he comments that the story he told in the bar was a lie because at the time he was angry with Martin over a fight on the phone.)
Family life with Lilith and Frederick
In "Second Time Around" (1986), Frasier's first date with a stereotypical "intelligent, ice queen" Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) does not go well. They exchange insults toward each other until she leaves the bar, disappointing him. Therefore, Sam sets him up with a ditzy woman Candi (Jennifer Tilly) for a one-night stand. Soon Frasier is close to marrying her, but Diane is able to stop their wedding. (For unknown reasons, his relationship with Candi is short-lived off-screen. Jennifer Tilly would later appear as Kim, Frasier's attempted one-night-stand in "Miss Right Now" (2004), an 11th season episode of Frasier.) In "Abnormal Psychology" (1986), they feel mutual attraction after Diane gives her a makeover. At first reluctant to start over again, they then decide to go on another date. For years afterward they live together, as first shown in "Dinner at Eight-ish" (1987). "Our Hourly Bread" (1988) reveals that they had wed one month before the episode. In "The Stork Brings a Crane" (1989), their son Frederick is born. In "Smotherly Love" (1992), they re-enact their wedding to please Lilith's mother Betty (Marilyn Cooper), seemingly unaware of their marriage. In "Teaching with the Enemy" (1992), Lilith admits her affair with another man Dr. Louis Pascal (Peter Vogt), dooming their marriage. In "The Girl in the Plastic Bubble" (1992), Frasier attempts suicide until Lilith swears that she will not leave him for Dr. Pascal. However, he decides that it is too late for a reconciliation.
In 1993, after Cheers ended, Frasier and Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) divorce offscreen, and Lilith is awarded custody of their son Frederick, with Frasier granted visiting rights. In the pilot "The Good Son", as announced in the radio show, Frasier left Boston because he felt that his life and career had grown stagnant. Therefore, he moves to Seattle, where his brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) lives, to establish a new beginning.
Frasier works for the radio station, KACL, as the host of his psychotherapeutic radio show, The Dr. Frasier Crane Show, produced by his producer and friend, Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), who has many ex-boyfriends. Later, his father Martin (John Mahoney), a retired Seattle Police Department detective who was shot in the line of duty, ends up living with him. Frasier becomes worried about his father in his current state as he can barely walk, and requires a cane to move. In Cheers, Frasier says that his father is dead, and that he was a scientist. He also says that he is an only child. This inconsistency is later explained in "The Show Where Sam Shows Up": At Frasier's apartment, Sam Malone tells Martin and Niles what Frasier had said about them, and Frasier explains that he was trying to distance himself from his family at the time.
Frasier hires a live-in physical therapist, Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), to look after Martin. Daphne is an eccentric, working-class Englishwoman who professes to be "a bit psychic". Moreover, Martin brings his beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie, whom Frasier despises. After some initial discomfort, Frasier grows very close to his new family.
In "The Late Dr. Crane" and "Back Talk" (1999), his birth date is revealed to be December 1952. He becomes nauseated whenever he does something that goes against his ethical principles.
Life with Martin and Niles
During the course of the spin-off's run, especially in scenes at Frasier's apartment, Frasier and Martin regularly bicker over the living arrangements and each other's personalities: Frasier is sophisticated, intellectual, and erudite, while Martin is a rugged man of simple tastes who speaks (according to Frasier) in words that no "sophisticated, educated" person could understand. While Frasier has many common interests with Niles and shares adventures (or misadventures) with him, he has little in common with his father.
In "Dinner at Eight" (1993), Martin takes Frasier and Niles to a themed steakhouse, where health-conscious, snobby Frasier and Niles mock the food, the restaurant's customs, and the clientele. Martin becomes embarrassed and angry and leaves, remarking upon departing that their mother Hester would be ashamed of their behavior. Frasier and Niles try to prove that they are not "snobs" by finishing their meal, although it takes them until after closing time.
In "Chess Pains", Frasier teaches Martin how to play chess, but is mortified when Martin becomes a better player than him. Frasier becomes obsessed with winning against his father, until Martin does not want to play with Frasier anymore. One late night, Frasier wakes Martin up and asks him whether he lost the chess match on purpose. Martin responds that Frasier "won, fair and square" and nothing more.
In an episode of the seventh season "A Tsar Is Born" (1999), Martin takes an old family clock, which Frasier and Niles consider hideous, to exhibit on the television show Antiques Roadshow. As the boys soon discover, the clock is related to their ancestors and royalty, and may be worth a fortune, and heightens their expectations of being descended from royalty. Unfortunately, when they try to sell the clock later, the brothers learn from an antique specialist that it was stolen from the daughter of Tsar Alexander II. Moreover, their great-great-grandmother was discovered to have been the clock thief and the daughter's scullery maid, and is discovered to have later been a prostitute in New York City. Therefore, the brothers are left without a fortune, a clock, and their royal dreams are dashed, as Frasier puts it, they are descended from "thieves and whores". Much to their chagrin, Martin buys a Winnebago RV with money Frasier claimed were the proceeds from selling the clock.
Reunion with Lilith and Frederick
Actress Bebe Neuwirth left Cheers for fear of becoming typecast and to do theatre (mostly Broadway); she did not expect to appear recurrently in Frasier. Cheers and Frasier writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs found chemistry of Frasier and Lilith "special" enough to compare them with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on Prozac. In "The Show Where Lilith Comes Back" (1994), Lilith surprises Frasier by dialing to the radio show. They later make love in a hotel room, but end up regretting it, prompting them to part ways again. They decide to remain friends and help each other raise their son Frederick (Trevor Einhorn), who also appears occasionally in this spin-off. In "Adventures in Paradise, Part Two" (1994), Lilith gets engaged, much to Frasier's dismay. In "A Lilith Thanksgiving" (1996), Frasier and Lilith have Frederick admitted into a private school after they annoy the administrator (Paxton Whitehead) several times on Thanksgiving. In "The Unnatural" (1997), Frasier is proven as unathletic and bad at softball, which he reluctantly admits to Frederick. Then Frasier tells him that, when Frasier was a third-grade elementary student, Martin was bad at math.
In "Room Service" (1998), Lilith is recently divorced from her husband Brian, who is gay. Frasier is almost tempted to make renew the relationship, but changes his mind when he finds out, to his horror, that Lilith and Niles had a drunken one-night stand. Lilith last appears in "Guns 'N Neuroses" (2003), in which she Frasier are accidentally set up to go on a blind date. Lilith and Frasier are close to restarting a relationship in the hotel room, but they are interrupted by a loud argument between a young married couple next door. Frasier and Lilith are able to resolve the couple's dispute, spend the night together watching television, and finally fall asleep on the couch without intimacy. The next morning, they part ways at their final onscreen moment together.
Reunion with Cheers characters
With the exception of Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), all the surviving main cast members of Cheers appear in the show at various points. In "The Show Where Sam Shows Up" (1995), Sam Malone reunites with Frasier in Seattle. Later, Frasier is discovered to have slept with Sam's fiancée Sheila (Téa Leoni), but Sam has not discovered the affair, much to Frasier's relief. Nevertheless, Sam finds out her dalliances with Paul Krapence (Paul Willson) and Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), which ends the romantic relationship. In "The Show Where Diane Comes Back" (1996), Frasier is reunited with Diane Chambers and learns that her recent relationship failed and that a foundation refused to fund her upcoming play, prompting him to support it. The play turns out to be based on their relationship in Boston, including her leaving him at the altar. Frasier angrily confronts her about it, but they end up reconciling.
In "The Show Where Woody Shows Up" (1999), Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), still married to Kelly with his son and daughter, accidentally reunites with his old friend Frasier after landing in the wrong destination, Seattle. However, they realize that they no longer enjoy their time together, as their lives are too different. Nevertheless, they admit that they had good times together in Boston, and they will always care about each other. In "Cheerful Goodbyes" (2002), Frasier arrives to Boston for a psychiatric conference. At the airport, Frasier unexpectedly bumps into old friend, Cliff Clavin and is invited to Cliff's retirement party the following evening, where he is reunited with waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) and then briefly Norm Peterson (George Wendt). Later, Cliff confides in Frasier that he fears that his friends will not miss him. Frasier tells everyone to say a nice farewell to Cliff - even Carla, who hates him. Touched, Cliff decides to stay in Boston, much to Carla's chagrin.
Final years: 2003–04
In "Caught in the Act" (2004), Frasier's ex-wife Nanette Guzman (Laurie Metcalf), tries to rekindle their relationship, but Frasier refuses. (The character was previously portrayed by Emma Thompson in Cheers episode "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't" (1992) and by Dina Spybey in "Don Juan in Hell, Part 2" (2001) as part of Frasier's imaginary dream.) Later, he falls in love with Charlotte Connor (Laura Linney), but the romance turns out to be short-lived when she moves to Chicago. In the 2004 two-part series finale, "Goodnight, Seattle", Frasier is offered a job as the host of his own television talk show, located in San Francisco and has decided to take it. However, in the final scene of the show, It is revealed that Frasier has taken an airplane to Chicago, presumably to be with Charlotte.
- Mickey's 60th Birthday (1988)
- Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Season 34, Episode 15, "Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration" (1990)
- The Earth Day Special (1990)
- Wings Season 3, Episode 16, "Planes, Trains and Visiting Cranes" (1992)
- The John Larroquette Show Season 3, Episode 1, "More Changes" (1995)
- Dr Pepper TV Commercial (2008)
According to an April 1–4, 1993, telephone survey of 1,011 people by the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press (now Pew Research Center), before the Frasier premiere and the Cheers finale, Sam Malone (Ted Danson) scored 26 percent as a favorite character, and Frasier Crane scored 1 percent. For a question of spinning off a character, 15 percent voted Sam, 12 percent voted Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson), 10 percent voted Norm Peterson (George Wendt), and 29 percent voted no spin-offs. Frasier Crane, whose own spin-off Frasier debuted in September 1993, was voted 2 percent to have his own show.
At the time Cheers originally aired, Rick Sherwood from Los Angeles disdained Frasier Crane and his existence as part of the "Sam and Diane" dynamic. Sherwood found Frasier's frequent appearances in the bar setting ("his [former] girlfriend's former lover's bar") responsible for turning Cheers into "as believable as [conservative] Archie Bunker [from All in the Family] voting for a liberal Democrat." Later, while the character became more prominent in the series, inspiring a spin-off Frasier, in a 1999 book Writing and Responsibility, Beverly West and Jason Bergund noted that Frasier's father Martin was supposed to be dead in Cheers but turns out still alive in Frasier, calling it inconsistent with "a bout of amnesia[,] poor scriptwriting", or a desperation to elicit more laughter. (In "The Show Where Sam Shows Up" , Frasier addresses the inconsistency by explaining that he presumed Martin dead after an argument with him.) In another book TV Therapy, Frasier Crane in Cheers is considered "high-strung [and] pseudo-sophisticated" and an attraction to 1980s demographics of "anti-intellectual snobbery", but Frasier in Frasier is considered a good, positive role model for intellectuality and sophistication. In 2004, he was ranked by Bravo No. 26 of Bravo's The 100 Greatest TV Characters of all-time. In 2009, the National Lampoon website ranked him No. 20 of "Top 20 Sitcom Characters You'd Kill in Real Life" and called him "hilarious" in the fictional world and "unbearable" in the real world.
Robert Bianco from USA Today considered Frasier Crane masculine in the days of "Fred Astaire and William Powell" instead of recent "beer-belching" days of the reality show, Survivor. Bianco found series of Frasier's love life repetitive and "tiring". Gillian Flynn from Entertainment Weekly considered Frasier Crane's "diction" an inspiration of Fringe's Walter Bishop (John Noble), who has an addition of "daffiness" of roles portrayed by actor Christopher Lloyd. Joe Sixpack, a pseudonymous name for writer Don Russell, called Frasier an "insufferable twerp". An internet user from Ken Levine's blog considered Frasier a successor to more prestigious, experienced Bostonian medical doctor and surgeon Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) from the television series M*A*S*H. However, Levine did not acknowledge it when Frasier was the new character in Cheers in 1984. (Coincidentally, in the Frasier episode "Fathers and Son" (2003), actor Stiers, portrayer of Winchester, appears as Hester Crane's former lab assistant Leland Barton, who is suspected as Frasier and Niles' biological father.) Television Without Pity called Frasier "snooty and pretentious", even if he may be "smart" on television and a "rare" species of all characters. Steve Silverman from Screen Junkies praised Kelsey Grammer's performance as Frasier Crane but found them "predictable". Silverman thought that Grammer did not deserve an Emmy, especially in 1998. In note, Silverman deemed the character Frasier as "a windbag with a sense of humor" and "a whining schoolboy with a series of lame excuses." Lance Mannion from his Typepad blog depicted Grammer as partially responsible for turning Cheers "from a light romantic into farce" by physical comedy.
Reviews on Frasier and Lilith
Martha Nolan from The New York Times called Frasier and Lilith "repressed" when married together in Cheers. Josh Bell from About.com called Frasier and his ex-wife Lilith Sternin one of the "best sitcom divorced couples" of all-time. Steven H. Scheuer from Sarasota Herald-Tribune considered Lilith's significance to and marriage with Frasier "fun" to watch, especially when, in "Severe Crane Damage" (1990), she used comparisons between "the duller good boy" Frasier and "the interesting bad boy" Sam Malone as "psychiatric examples of the good boy-bad boy syndrome". Faye Zuckerman and John Martin from The New York Times called their marriage in Cheers a hilariously "perfect mismatch". Television critic Kevin McDonough from New York praised Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth's performances as "repressed individuals" and "separate couple on TV" with "acidic and hilarious" chemistry together. Lance Mannion referred Frasier and Lilith as separate halves of Diane Chambers.
For his performance as Frasier Crane in Cheers, Kelsey Grammer was Emmy Award-nominated twice as an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and did not win in 1988 and 1990. For the same role in Wings episode "Planes, Trains, and Visiting Cranes", he was Emmy-nominated for the same category in 1992. For the same role in Cheers spin-off Frasier, Grammer was consecutively nominated as an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series during the show's whole run except in 2003. He won that Lead category in 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2004. Grammer won the Screen Actors Guild Award as part of an ensemble cast of Frasier in 2000.
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