The Eleventh and Final Season
For twenty years Kelsey Grammer has been starring as Dr. Frasier Crane. His character was introduced in 1984 on the highly celebrated sitcom Cheers. When Cheers ended after its eleventh season, Dr. Frasier Crane lived on in the very popular 31-time Emmy winning sitcom Frasier. In May 2004, the final episode of Frasier aired on broadcast television, which marked the end of a television legend. In this series, Kelsey Grammer starred as Dr. Frasier Crane, a radio psychiatrist who over the years has been plagued with more problems than the people he helps. Joining him are Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), his brother and fellow neurotic psychiatrist, Martin Crane (John Mahoney), Frasier's father and retired police officer, Daphne Moon-Crane (Jane Leeves), Martin's former physical therapist and Niles' wife, and Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), Frasier's radio producer and longtime friend. The eleventh and final season continues to provide the same level of comedy and excitement found in the earlier seasons. There are some truly stunning developments in this season, some of which give you proper closure to the characters you've come to know and love, and others that leave you wanting more. I'm personally quite sad to see this series come to an end and quite frankly, I was slightly displeased with the way that the final season was handled.
My displeasure with the final season has nothing to do with the lack of entertaining episodes (because I loved them all), but rather that I didn't like the approach that some of these episodes took. With season eleven being the final season, I was hoping that there would have been more stories that trickled throughout the season. While there were a great many, I wanted more. I wanted to see this final season end with a big bang. However, there were a few episodes that really had nothing to do with the season in general. They didn't add very much. For instance in "Freudian Sleep", everybody has unusual dreams, which prey upon some of their worst fears. It's a funny episode, found midway through the season, but it really doesn't add anything to the final season overall.
Of course, this is the most minor compliant possible, because these kinds of episodes can add lot. For instance in "Crock Tales", the second to last episode, we have an episode that adds nothing to the reoccurring stories of the season. Instead, the episode takes a look into the past, running from 2004 to 1993, skipping a year here and there. While this episode adds nothing to a reoccurring story of any kind, it does add a very nice development to the season as a final season. I enjoyed it, because the past was revealed, Frasier and company were shown in different lights. It's quite amazing to compare them year to year and you can really see how much the series has developed after eleven years.
In general the final season of Frasier offers some really great stories. One of my favorites revolves around the mysterious Maris. The story is introduced in "Maris Returns". It is a shocking development about Maris and one that I can't discuss, because I would hate to ruin it. It's not exactly comical, but rather dramatic. In the latter half of the season, we have a few interesting developments. Frasier falls in love with a woman that he can't have, which becomes an important aspect of the season. It's always fun to watch someone blindly chase after another, to only run into a few obstacles. Also at one point, Niles falls in love with fast food, which is simply hilarious. Can you imagine the uptight elitist eating a greasy burger and French fries?
More specifically, the season has some wonderful episodes. One of my favorite episodes guest stars Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as a gay elitist in "The Doctor is Out". Things get a little awkward for Frasier when the entire city of Seattle thinks he's gay, including the character played by Stewart. It's a deliciously funny episode. In "The Placeholder" Julia Sweeney (Saturday Night Live) guest stars and Frasier proves once again that comprising situations that result from lying are always funny. Frasier gets mixed up in two dates and tries to lie his way out, but gets caught in the act. After this mix up things aren't looking good between Frasier and Sweeney's character. It's too bad in "The Ann Who Came to Dinner" Frasier needs her help.
There are also episodes like "I'm Listening", where similar plotlines from previous seasons resurface. Frasier loses another girl to his father. This becomes an important development for the rest of the season. There's also an interesting and shocking episode, "High Holidays". Frasier's son turns out to be a very different kind of kid, a goth. It's fun to see the reaction of Frasier, Niles, and Martin. They don't seem to know how to handle the situation. It also introduces another comical story, where Niles is intent on showing that he can be a bad boy. The last episode I will mention, "Caught in the Act", guest stars Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne). Metcalf plays Nanette Guzman, Frasier's first wife. All I can say is, uh-oh. It's a great episode that allows Frasier to relive his past and puts him in a pretty sticky present, not to mention diapers.
Overall, the final season of Frasier has some very delightful episodes that are filled with countless hours of entertainment. For the most part, each of the aforementioned episodes (and many others not mentioned) assist the final season in developing various stories. In turn it helps us, the viewer, to find closure with the characters we've come to know and love. Considering this is the final season, we don't want to be left with too many unanswered questions. In addition, there are a number of happy events that occur for the cast, which leave us feeling good about their characters. In this respect I really liked how the series concluded, but on the other hand, I really wish there had been more. Overall, I think that this final season was very strong, but it could have been stronger if all of the episodes had really focused on developing the season towards its concluding episode. Of course, this desire mainly stems from the fact that I really didn't want to see this series end. I still enjoyed the eleventh and final season of Frasier and can't wait to see seasons four through ten on DVD.
1. No Sex Please, We're Skittish
2. A Man, a Plan and a Gal: Julia
3. The Doctor Is Out
4. The Babysitter
5. The Placeholder
6. I'm Listening
7. Maris Returns (1)
8. Murder Most Maris (2)
9. Guns N' Neuroses
10. Sea Bee Jeebies
11. High Holidays
12. Frasier Lite
13. The Ann Who Came to Dinner
14. Freudian Sleep
15. Caught in the Act
17. Coots and Ladders
18. Match Game
19. Miss Right Now
20. And Frasier Makes Three
22. Crock Tales
23. Goodnight, Seattle
The final season DVD release of Frasier is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is rather good, but suffers from very minor compression issues. In comparison to the earlier DVD releases in the series, i.e. Season One, Season Two, Season Three, the quality is substantially better. The picture offers sharper detail and colors look richer.
The eleventh and final season release of Frasier's audio track is an English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound track. The audio in this release comes off fairly flat. However as with most TV on DVD releases it's not necessarily bad, as the majority of the audio is spoken dialogue. The sound quality is very good, providing an audible and clean audio track. In comparison to previous releases, the audio sounds clearer. This release also is closed captioned enabled.
I was hoping that the final season of Frasier would have been given the grand treatment, an abundance of special features. Unfortunately and not surprisingly, there aren't a lot of extras. This box set comes equipped with two featurettes that together run about thirty minutes. The featurettes are fairly interesting, worth a watching once. The first feaurette is the longer of the two. In "Observations, Analyses and Good-Byes (00:16:47)" the crew: producers and writers, talk about their opinions regarding the series. More specifically, they talk about the writing, guest stars, their favorite episodes, and memorable moments in the series. "Frasier Says Farewell (00:13:18)" is various comments from the cast regarding their feelings with the series ending, their opinions on Frasier's effect in television, plans for the future, things they will take with them as the series ends, and what they will miss about the show.
The final season of Frasier does a wonderful job continuing a tradition of great comedy. Each episode in this last season is filled with great laughs that will leave you entertained beyond your wildest dreams. I really enjoyed this season and if you've ever enjoyed a single episode of this series, the eleventh season should be no different. Despite my (minor) dissatisfaction with the way this season was handled, it was still very good in the manner which it provided closure to the characters we've come to know and love. The bottom line is that this is a great season of Frasier and is highly recommended and an absolutely must for the fans of the series.