The Eighth Season
For those unfamiliar with the series, Frasier was a spin-off from another popular sitcom Cheers. Over the years, Frasier has proven to be one of the best sitcoms on television. It is highly celebrated, holding many awards for acting performances, writing, and as an overall comedy series. The show is about Frasier, a neurotic radio psychiatrist, and 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 (Jane Leeves), Martin's physical therapist, and Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), Frasier's radio producer and longtime friend. Basically, each episode takes a look into their daily lives and interactions. The quirky behaviors of each character are what make this series really stand out. For instance, both Frasier and Niles seem to have more problems than the people they treat, which make for some sticky situations that are worth a laugh. Another wonderful aspect about the series is how a character can incorrectly interpret a situation, blowing it way out of portion. There is also a long running joke about Niles' obsession with Daphne or Roz being a very 'friendly' first date. In general, there is quite a bit to love about this series. It is easily one of my favorite sitcoms. For more detail about this series please refer to my reviews of season two, season three, season four, season five, season six, season seven, and the final season.
Season eight sees some pretty big changes in the character relationships and their dynamics. The biggest is the long running story arc about Niles and Daphne. The two finally get together and become a couple. Their relationship does not come easily though, as Daphne's ex-fiance Donnie and Niles' ex-wife Mel are in the way. And neither intends to go without a fight. Daphne also puts on a lot of weight, which the cast comes to terms with in "Daphne Returns". Frasier rekindles his friendship with Lana Gardner (Jean Smart), Roz produces her own radio show for the first time, Martin dates two girls at once, and a lot of other fun stuff. All in all, season eight takes this goofy cast and puts them in even more fun and silly situations with several solid guest stars like Alan Tudyk, Bebe Neuwirth, Gary Cole, Jean Smart, Rene Auberjonois, and Victor Garber.
In the two-part seventh season premiere episode "And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon" Niles and Daphne call it quits with their respective significant others. Niles asks for a divorce with Mel, despite being married to her for only a few days. In retaliation, Mel demands Niles play husband until a later date so she can save face in the eyes of her snobby friends. Daphne leaves Donnie at the altar and his response is to sue for emotional distress. Both Niles' fake marriage and Donnie's lawsuit continue throughout the early portion of the season and make for some great stories. "The Bad Son" is a classic episode. Frasier's car breaks down and he is forced to use public transportation. While on the bus, he noticed a beautiful woman named Miranda and overheard that she worked in a retirement home. Wanting to see her again, he takes Martin to the home to pretend they are looking for a place to put Martin. What makes this episode so fun is how Martin reacts to the situation.
"The Great Crane Robbery" is another fun story, with Alan Tudyk (Firefly) guest starring as Todd Peterson. Todd is a young computer genius who made it big and bought KACL. After meeting Frasier, one thing led to another and Frasier unofficially became his mentor. Todd, however, took on Frasier's guidance to heart a little more than expected and practically mirrored his lifestyle. In "Taking Liberties", Victor Garber (Alias) guest stars as an English butler named Ferguson. Ferguson was previously employed with a wealthy socialite, who recently passed. Jumping at the opportunity to have a real English butler, Frasier hires him. Ferguson turns out to be a lot more than just a butler. He advises Frasier on a variety of issues that help him advance in the social ranks. It is a really fun episode and Garber gives an excellent performance across the Frasier regulars.
In "Mary Christmas", Frasier's old pal Dr. Mary (Kim Coles, Living Single) returns to KACL. If you recall, Dr. Mary filled in for Roz while she was on leave in the season seven episode "Something About Dr. Mary". By the end of the show, Dr. Mary had her own radio show and it drove Frasier nuts. In this episode, she returns to KACL and her fame and success doesn't put on a smile on Frasier's face. Things get especially bad for Frasier when he finds out he will be co-hosting the annual Christmas parade with her. "Motor Skills" is a fun episode with Niles and Frasier feeling less than men. While out on a double date with their girlfriends, the car broke down. Their egos were really hurt when the girls fixed the car while they waited inside. Afterwards, Roz suggests they enroll in an auto repair course to overcome their shortcomings. As it turns out, they fall quickly behind in class and they realize it doesn't matter. Instead of studying like the perfect students, Niles and Frasier act like disruptive slackers. It is a refreshing change of pace to see Niles and Frasier bed the "bad boys" of the classroom.
In "Hungry Heart" Frasier is put in quite the predicament. Kenny, the KACL station manager, comes to Frasier asking for help and advice. He met a woman at a bar and agreed to join her for dinner. The catch is that he is married and doesn't want to cheat on his wife. Frasier offers to go in Kenny's stead to inform his date about Kenny's marriage and such. And as circumstances would permit, Kenny's wife found out and came to catch him in the act. When Frasier arrives at the restaurant, he mistakes Kenny's wife for the mistress and starts dating her under false pretenses. It makes for a fun episode, especially when Frasier finds out the truth. "It Takes Two To Tangle" is an episode where Martin tries to juggle two women. And despite Frasier's poor results with dating multiple women, Martin believes he can make it work. Of course, it does not. He crashes and burns, but the journey is well worth it.
As previously mentioned, "Daphne Returns" is an important episode in the development of Niles and Daphne's relationship. Despite Daphne having put on a lot of weight throughout the season, Niles never noticed. In this episode, she returns from a weight loss camp back to normal. Frasier, Niles, and Daphne begin to unravel the truth about Niles' feelings for Daphne. It is a touching moment in the show. In the two-part episode "Semi-Decent Proposal (1)" and "A Passing Fancy (2)", Frasier rekindles his friendship with his former high school friend Lana Gardner. For the remainder of the season, the two develop an interesting relationship together that blooms into something more. Throughout the development of their relationship, there are some fun moments that include Frasier tutoring her son, Frasier chasing after Lana's friend Claire, and other such things.
Without a doubt fans of this series should be more than happy with this season. There are plenty of funny episodes and great moments with the cast running into the same kinds of issues as before, but with different people. Things like Frasier's big ego and his neurotic behavior all continue to play a vital role in what makes these characters so fun to watch.
1. And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon Parts 1 & 2
2. The Bad Son
3. The Great Crane Robbery
4. Taking Liberties
5. Legal Tender, Love And Care
6. The New Friend
7. Mary Christmas
8. Frasier's Edge
9. Cranes Unplugged
10. Motor Skills
11. The Show Must Go Off
12. Sliding Frasiers
13. Hungry Heart
14. Hoping Cranes
16. It Takes Two To Tangle
17. Forgotten But Not Gone
18. Daphne Returns
19. The Wizard And Roz
20. Semi-Decent Proposal/A Passing Fancy
21. A Day In May
22. The Cranes Go Caribbean
The video is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is rather good and only suffers from minor compression artifacts. However, there are a few occurrences of low frame rate, where the picture gets slightly choppy and there are also some hints of edge enhancement.
The audio track in this release is an English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound track. The audio in this release comes off fairly flat. However as found with most TV on DVD releases it's not necessarily bad, since the majority of the audio is spoken dialogue. As for the stereo setup, there is little distinction between left and right channels. This release also supports closed captioning.
There are no extras included with this release.
Season eight is a pretty important season for Frasier. There are some big developments for the cast (Niles and Daphne getting together, Frasier and Lana's developing relationship, etc.) and many general episodes with silly and fun situations and guest stars. As a fan of the series, I'm happy to give this box set a highly recommended recommendation. It's a great collection of episodes with a wonderful and hilarious cast.