Frasier is, quite simply, the one of best sitcoms of all time. This show proves that the studios don’t have to dumb down their product to appeal to a mass audience.(Are you listening, Hollywood?) If the writing is of a great enough caliber, the audience will always rise to meet the material. More shows in this sad era of reality television overkill would do themselves well to follow the lead of this wonderfully funny program.
What Frasier is better at than just about an other film or televisio… show I have ever seen is it’s mastery of farce. It is extremely difficult to make farce genuinely funny, and this show did it masterfully on a weekly basis. Any show can throw some lame jokes into a show, but it takes thought and attention to detail to craft jokes where the elements build up over time, and the punchline hits the audience out of nowhere.
This season is a particularly notable one, as it represents the big payoff of the story of Daphne and Niles, a saga that has been continuing since the shows very first season. Many times, such a payoff signals a shows death knell, but in this case it is just a wonderful and fitting conclusion to a very satisfying storyline. As the fact that four seasons followed this momentous event attest, the great revelation did not kill the humor, but instead, it opened the door to all new avenues of storytelling between Niles and Daphne.
The audio here is perfectly passable, but nothing extraordinary. The track is flat, and the laughter is tinny. Low end is virtually non-existent, but that is to be expected from a half-hour sitcom. Dialog is easy enough to hear, which is always a plus, and the theme song sounds pretty full. The important thing to remember here is that this is a show created in the mid-90’s, before anybody really had any thoughts of it being released on DVD, and no major improvements have been made to the source material since that time.
I was simply shocked with the transfer on these discs. After having seen the quality video on the Friends DVDs, I was expecting similar results here. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The picture here is less-than-desirable, with excessive levels of grain and an overall dingy appearance. Reds are particularly bad, as they are badly overblown, bleed over the edges and lean heavily toward orange. The picture is dark, it’s dull, and is really just about as depressing as the rainy Seattle weather. These episodes don’t look any better on DVD than they did on the original broadcast.
The only extras that are present in this set are a couple of ads for other Paramount TV-on-DVD products. While trailers are fine, they hardly constitute “extras” in my book. The lack of any real bonus content on this set just goes to prove that Paramount only halfway produced this disc. They owe more to the fans of this quality show than the lazy effort they have put forth here.
As for the show, it is first rate. Even in its seventh season, Frasier is just as smart and clever as it ever was. It really pains me to give it such a low overall rating, but the numbers just don’t add up. A product this good deserves the same quality treatment that Warner Brothers gave to Friends, not just a languid technical presentation of the episodes quickly slapped onto a couple of discs. Hardcore fans will undoubtedly pick this set up, but unfortunately, the quality is just too bad for me to feel comfortable recommending it to anybody else.
Special Features List