After a very successful 11 year run on NBC, the cast, crew and writers of Frasier decided to call it quits. Unlike other series that went on far too long and seemed to die a slow and painful death, the Frasier team left an indelible mark on television history with excellent writing and great comedic performances. Just to give you an idea about how important this series was in the history of television, over the course of its run it garnered over 37 Emmys for excellence in acting, writing and direction in a comedy ser…es.
While so far there are only three seasons of Frasier available on DVD from Paramount, they followed a successful formula set by Friends – release the final season/episode while the hype is at it’s maximum. So I guess if you have not watched the series during it’s original broadcast and are only familiar via the DVD format, then you really should not watch this and wait for another 3 years for Paramount to release seasons 5 – 10 (Season 4 comes out February 1, 2005).
The final season brought to a close a lot of story lines that have presented over the years and yet left the future open for other possibilities. While the series may have reached its peak from a writing perspective in the 3rd or 4th season, the final 11th season is by no means a letdown. There are some logical progressions as the 10th season culminated in the long awaited marriage of Niles and Daphne, the final season takes it to the next logical step. As if Frasier’s brother Niles was not neurotic enough, watching his antics as he becomes a father to a son is worth the price of the DVD set alone. In addition we see Martin, Frasier and Niles’ father get remarried to Ronee in a non-stop comedy of errors. The romantic relationships also catch up to Frasier himself as he hopefully finds what he has been searching for in Charlotte.
The final episode brings the series to a close with some nice symmetry – the series began as a spin-off from the legendary Cheers with Frasier moving from Boston to Seattle to begin a new job and life. The series ends with Frasier preparing to move yet again to San Francisco and begin anew.
Frasier is presented in it’s original 4:3 broadcast aspect ratio. As with the other seasons, the color reproduction is very well done. The image is sharp with no bleeding of colors and a well set black level. The skin tones are natural and the light levels are well set, there is no loss of detail during either daylight or evening/night scenes. There is the occasional encoding “hiccup” with some distortion of the image but it occurs so rarely and it happens so quickly that it does not really detract from the viewing experience.
Frasier is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. Once again as it is a broadcast sit-com, don’t expect a lot from the audio. If you expect a solid sounding TV show then you won’t be disappointed. There is clear dialogue that comes through the centre channel, and as this is a situation comedy, the dialogue is what needs to be emphasized. The musical soundtrack is well reproduced through the right and left speakers.
Unfortunately, while the episodes themselves were very entertaining and satisfying, the extras do leave something to be desired. There are two featurettes that are included. The first is entitled “Observations, Analyses and Good-Byes” which runs just over 16 minutes. This is a collection of interviews with the crew as they reminisce over their experiences of the last 11 years that they have spent together. One would have thought that 11 years would take more than 16 minutes to summarize. The cast are given their opportunities to share their thoughts and insights in “Frasier says Farewell” which runs about 13 minutes. That’s really all that the special features have to offer. You wonder if they really rushed to get this set out as soon as possible and spent as little time as possible filling out the set with useful extras as opposed to transferring the episodes to a digital format.
The final Season of Frasier succeeds on every level that that a TV series should end on. There is closure to many of the ongoing story lines – the ultimate resolution to the Niles/Daphne relationship, Martin finds true happiness and hopefully Frasier does the same. The end comes with Frasier getting a new chance on life and the hope that the character that Kelsey Grammar has brought to life for nearly 20 years may not yet have said his final goodbye ( and even if he does, we’ll always have Sideshow Bob to look forward to).
Special Features List
- “Observations, Analyses and Good-Byes”
- “Fraiser Says Farewell”