Unlike most spinoff series, Frasier may be one of those rare instances where the spinoff was equally if not better than the original series. Much of the writing that made Cheers a phenomenon was continued with Frasier, with the exception that there was a smaller cast of characters and as such the stories became more involved and the characters were allowed to grow. The second season adds a great amount of depth to Frasier, his equally quirky psychiatrist brother Niles, and their gruff but lovable father, Martin. …uring the second season, Frasier annoys the entire city of Seattle by complaining about the weather, Martin’s favored bar faces the threat of a wrecking ball (which may be the fault of his own 2 sons), Roz gets a new job offer, Niles lusting after Daphne continues, and Frasier once again comes face-to-face with his ex-wife Lilith ruining his island getaway.
During its run, Frasier won several Emmys for best direction, best comedy series and best actor. Watching the second season will remind any viewer why the show was worthy of its high praise. The jokes are fast paced and work well. The writing was very clever, especially the use of Frasier and Nile’s elitist vocabulary which often was used to poke fun at them. Fans of the show quickly grew to love the characters in the first season and the second season allowed the writers the opportunity to really sink their teeth into them and truly produce one of the greatest television shows in history.
As we might expect, the episodes are presented in their original full-frame format. Colors are bright, warm and vivid and I couldn’t find wrong with the images here. Being in Seattle, you would think that the colors would look washed out and oversaturated with all of the rain, but most of the scenes take place inside. The skin tones were well reproduced and the black level was well set.
The audio has been improved as well with the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that works really well. While dialogue is constant and clear throughout, the stereo effects do kick in at the right moments and sound great. There is some mild use of the bass but that’s not really surprising given that the show was produced in 1994-1995 and there wasn’t much separation of sound or attention placed on the use of bass effects.
Following much of the same format that “Cheers” does, the season contains a couple of commentary tracks and four featurettes. The tracks are standard, yet informative but I feel only true fans will want to give them a listen. There is a commentary track by director David Lee and writer Joe Keenan on “The Matchmaker” Lee is one of the series’ original masterminds (Frasier’s radio station’s call letters, KACL, are the initials of the executive producers, and Lee is the “L”), and Keenan one of its most celebrated writers. The Matchmaker was one of the first episodes to prove the plot could hinge upon a ridiculous, farcical misunderstanding (someone assumes Frasier is gay) and still remain original and intelligent, and Keenan and Lee discuss crafting the episode and maintaining the fragile balance.
As for the featurettes, they’re mostly filler, but the cast reflects on the upcoming (Season Two) season and we have some rather obvious subject matter here. Niles lusts after Daphne, though his wife Maris is nowhere to be found; hence we have a featurette on “The Mystery of Maris”. Eddie, the housedog, is rather talented and there’s a section devoted to him as well. Roz, Frasier’s loyal assistant on air, has her “Dating Tips” and that rounds out the supplements. Each of the set’s four discs also includes a brief Celebrity Voices montage that reveals which celebrities contributed their pipes as callers on Frasier’s radio show. It’s a welcome feature, as the callers usually aren’t credited and there’s nothing so annoying as a familiar voice you can’t identify.
“Frasier” is a show that only gets better with age with excellent acting, writing and directing- so we’re all looking forward to Season Three.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director David Lee and writer Joe Keenan on ‘The Matchmaker’
- Marching On to Season 2 (featuring interviews with cast members and producers)
- The Mystery of Maris Continues
- Roz’s Dating Tips
- The Nile & Daphne Attraction
- And Then There Was Eddie