That Grammer slips back into his role with ease should not be ignored. There are a lot of reasons why Kelsey Grammer was able to appear as Frasier Crane for so many seasons, and while deft writing is high on the list, so too is his ineffable and inimitable performance. Even as an elder statesman, Frasier cuts a similarly pompous air now as he did decades ago. Grammer has appeared on many other would-be multi-camera successes in the intervening 20 years, and it’s clear that there’s just no way for him to escape that he is, and always will be, Frasier Crane. It’s a role that fits him like the glove. The other performers do their able best — none of them are slacking, though Keith has a difficult task in attempting to recall the prissy style of David Hyde Pierce as Niles without quite copying him.
But that, of course, highlights the real issue. When you go back and rewatch the first few episodes of NBC’s “Frasier,” it’s honestly kind of remarkable how quickly the show found its footing. There was no need to stick around for half a season or a full season to get a sense that the writers were figuring out the actors or characters. Every part of the ensemble locked into place perfectly, which is no less rare now than it was in the 1990s. This “Frasier” is not exactly bad — it is exactly what you might expect it would be, just … without any of the incredible performers who also made the show more than just its title character. None of the new actors can be faulted for not being Pierce or Gilpin or Mahoney or Jane Leeves, but the absence of Niles, Roz, Martin, and Daphne is enough to remind you that shows like “Frasier” (or “Cheers,” which inspired Frasier as a character) come along so rarely that it’s hard to capture that lightning in a bottle twice.
The best that can be said about the “Frasier” reboot is that it could’ve been worse. Chris Harris and Joe Cristalli, the writers overseeing this new version, didn’t write for the original series but clearly have a good enough sense to grasp the style that made it so beloved. But the plain truth is that a new “Frasier” that only refers to characters like Niles, Daphne, and Martin feels like a shell of what it once was. Harris and Cristalli do a solid enough job of incorporating Mahoney’s death into the creative side with Frasier having lost Martin, but without the friends and family we saw associate with the radio host in Seattle, there’s something just slightly off about this reboot. It means well. And it knows the motions of what a show like “Frasier” should be. But it’s not quite right.
/Film Rating: 5 out of 10