Revivals can be tough. On the one hand, it’s fun to think about how all of your favorite characters from old shows would do if they had access to modern technology, but on the other hand, maybe they actually got more annoying over the years. It’s a tricky balance.
The latest show to jump on the revival bandwagon is Frasier, which will be the second spinoff from the original Cheers character, played by Kelsey Grammer. Even though maybe fans are excited to see the snarky psychiatrist back in action, it seems like the actual show is a little lacking in the “good” department. Here’s what the critics are saying:
Deadline‘s Dominic Patten says that even though it might be the most innovative show on TV right now, it’s…something.
While clearly a subscriber lunge for Paramount+ in this age of streamer contractions, this 10-episode revival is indeed so blatantly a throwback to a very different era of television that to try to taint it as mere nostalgia is to miss the point. A little thinner on top, a little meatier around the middle, and sometimes a bit slower in its sitcom delivery, Frasier 3.0 emerges eternally itself in an ever changing world and media landscape.
From the too loud studio audience laughs, the staging, the set-ups and timing, the lighting, the improbabilities, the in-jokes (Yes, we are listening), and most of the conundrums and tropes the 2023 narrative employs, Frasier the revival strength is being exactly what you would expect if Frasier had never ended in the first place in 2004 after 11 seasons
IndieWire‘s Ben Travers insists that the series is a bit of a letdown:
Far from a catastrophe, the revival is still a disappointment (unless recent experience has taught you to lower the bar all the way to floor) because it so clearly lacks, for starters, the original’s zany energy. Frasier, at its peak, has a remarkably quick wit, deploying a flurry of jokes and quips that undercut the Crane brothers’ pretentious tendencies via their escalating embarrassments. But far more noticeable in its absence is the camaraderie that Frasier inherited in Cheers and came to love in Frasier; the stand-out supporting characters that have not only always been there for Frasier, but that Frasier has relied on to make his life —and his shows— that much better.
Meanwhile, Time‘s Judy Berman was not impressed by the “wilted salads and expired eggs” of the new series:
The tone feels off, too. It’s nice that the new episodes were filmed in front of a live audience, but their laughter, which reads as artificial in 2023, makes the revival feel too much like a kitschy throwback. Frasier’s quest to prove, after a couple of decades as an overeducated talk-show host, that he’s got more substance than, say, Dr. Phil, makes for a decent premise. But his guilt over passing his daddy issues onto the next generation is more of a bummer than a light comedy can support. The show needs more jokes and less earnest emoting, at the very least. Still, I’m not convinced that any amount of tweaking would be enough to justify its existence.
Rolling Stone‘s Alan Sepinwall was unimpressed with the lackluster jokes and the inconsistencies with Frasier’s character:
There are occasions that remind you of Grammer’s genius, like a silently pained Frasier struggling to choose between being loyal to Alan or getting admitted to an elite Boston club. There just aren’t enough of them to compensate for everything else, especially when the show takes such a pick-and-choose approach to all the things we know about Frasier.
Nick Hilton of The Independent says that Grammer does his best in the starring role, even if the content is nothing special:
The fact that there is something to enjoy in this return to the Craniverse is testament to the joys of Cheers and Frasier, not to mention Grammer’s effective turn in the lead role. Little may remain other than a title and an endearing snobbery, but, just like Theseus’s ride before it, the spirit of Frasier remains intact. Not quite seaworthy, perhaps, but just about afloat.
If you want to give it a shot, the series will premiere on Paramount+ on October 12th.