Run Time: 9 Hours 3 Minutes, with 24 episodes each approximately 22.6 in length
Not many actors can say that they've played a role that has lasted for twenty years. However, Kelsey Grammer is one of those individuals. His role as Frasier has lasted for twenty years. Frasier first graced primetime television in 1984, guest starring on the third season of Cheers, which led to a fulltime role. After nine years on Cheers, Grammer went on to star in his own series, Frasier, which lasted for eleven years (just ending in May 2004). Over the course of the series, Frasier has become one of televisions most celebrated sitcoms. The show mainly focuses upon the neurotic insights and interactions of Frasier, Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), Martin Crane (John Mahoney), Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), and Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin). While in most cases, some of these day to day interactions might not be very funny, it's the tremendous cast and downright excellent writing that make this show a winner.
The first two seasons of Frasier were definitely enjoyable, where we saw the characters and their relationships develop. In the third season, the cast fits in their respective roles like an easy fitting glove. Frasier is an elitist psychiatrist, who hosts his own psychiatric radio show on KACL. He is joined by his overly neurotic brother Niles, who ironically is also a psychiatrist. Oddly enough, both of the brothers seem need their own psychiatrist, which is perhaps one of the greatest elements of the show. Joining the brothers is the father, Martin. Martin is pretty much the opposite of his sons, a former Seattle police officer, who prefers a more straightforward life. Daphne, an English woman is his physical therapist and poses some kind of strange psychic abilities, who is constantly at the center of Niles' attention. Last but not least, Roz is Frasier's radio producer, who has a man-hungry appetite. Which puts her at the butt of a few jokes! These five unique personalities join together to form the exciting cast of Frasier. With the character roles previously defined, the third season opened the door to myriad amounts of fun.
This was accomplished by some very well written storylines and the cast executing their roles with perfection. Some of the very well written plots in season three revolve around the fabled Maris, a woman we continue to never see. There are also some new elements added, including a new definition for working relationships, a look at some of Frasier's obsessions, and even a journey into the past.
The story surrounding the mythical Maris is taken to the next level as the biggest storyline of season three. This storyline covers the separation of Niles and Maris, which is debuted in "The Last Time I Saw Maris". This storyline continues to resurface throughout future seasons of Frasier. However, being introduced in season three, the Niles and Maris break up provides some very hilarious episodes to the series. "Moon Dance" features Kelsey Grammer's directorial debut and touches upon the reoccurring friction between Niles and Daphne. In another episode following the break up, "A Word to the Wiseguy", Frasier and Niles try to win back Maris by conjuring a favor from a guy who walks in the shadows. This proves to be a great episode, as we get the opportunity to see the neurotic Crane brothers take a walk on the wild side. An episode that has a Soprano's feeling, yet maintains the hilarity of Frasier. These episodes are just a few examples of the great stories that unfold as a result of Niles' crushing relationship. It's one that is reused time and time again, but continues to be humorous each time around.
In another reoccurring story of season three, things for Frasier and his co-workers change down at the radio station. The new station manager, Kate Costas sets a few hardships upon Frasier and his coworkers. Friction between the two ensues, which eventually sparks an extremely heated office relationship. The wonderful writing of season three continues some other great stories. Another wonderful plot that occurs in a couple of episodes puts father against son. In "Chess Pains" and "Police Story", Frasier loses to his father in more than one way. There's also a look into Frasier's past, all the way back to his time in that Boston bar, Cheers. In "The Show Where Diane Comes Back", Frasier's old flame Diane returns in an hour of need. In my favorite episode, Tony Shalhoub (Monk) guest stars as the central figure of Frasier's growing obsession that resulted from one phrase, "I just don't like him". While it isn't Shalhoub's greatest performance, he does a wonderful job interacting with Grammer, turning Frasier's obsession into a montage of laughs.
Like the first two seasons of Frasier, the third season's writing continues be excellent. Not only are the stories of season three great, but they seem to be even better. The third season of Frasier is filled with excellently written stories that promise to leave you laughing and grinning from ear to ear. Fan or not, the third season of Frasier is definitely worth checking out.
The third season DVD release of Frasier is presented in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The quality is rather good, but suffers from minor compression issues. At times the picture can look a little rough during quick movement or dramatic changes in the picture. However, this will mostly be an issue for those with an eye for detail. Overall, the picture is clear and crisp, with a definite improvement from broadcast/cable television quality.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The audio track itself isn't anything too impressive. As with most television series, there isn't a huge demand for hard hitting sound effects or glorious soundtracks. As a result, the audio track is very flat, as it is mainly spoken dialogue. However, the quality is still very good. Like previous releases of Frasier, this DVD release is not equipped with subtitles. Fortunately, for the hearing impaired, it is closed caption enabled.
The third season extras provide some fairly entertaining featurettes, a few season three montages, and the reoccurring celebrity voices. In The Crane Brothers Remember Season Three, Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce discuss their experiences with season three. They mainly focus upon the fabled Maris and Grammer's directorial debut, "Moon Dance". Grammer also discusses his feelings about other actors/actresses on cast. The next featurette, A Conversation With Art Director Roy Christopher covers various set designs of Frasier. Christopher talks about the radio booth at KACL, the coffee house, and Frasier's glorious apartment. Located on each disc Celebrity Voices are found. This extra provides clips of famous voices that call into Frasier's radio show. Some of the highlights include Billy Crystal, Jerry Orbach, Carrie Fisher, Ray Lolita, David Duchovny, and Matthew Broderick. The last two extras are montages of clips from season three that each follow a different theme. The first is Bulldog Crazy, which provides a set of clips covering Bulldog. The second is The Mystery of Maris: The Break-Up Begins, which covers a variety of Maris related comments from season three.
I wasn't really pleased with the extras that came with this release. Similar to previous releases, they are a bit light. However, what is presented is fairly entertaining. The most notable extra is Grammer and Pierce's insights into the various elements discussed in The Crane Brothers Remember Season Three. Another extra worth mentioning was the Celebrity Voices, which provided some decent entertainment. It's pretty nice to be able to see the hiliarious celebrity call-in's without scanning the DVD set. Matthew Broderick's call-in was the funniest of the season. Anyways, fans will be slightly disappointed with the limited selection of extras. Well, like many things in life, it's better than nothing.
I'm a big fan of Frasier, it's one of my favorite sitcoms. Perhaps it's the cast or the writing or maybe it's because the show gets better with each episode. Personally, I really enjoyed the first two seasons, but season three was even better. The bottom line is that if you haven't met Frasier yet, now is the time. Frasier: The Complete Third Season comes highly recommended.