When it was revealed that there were plans to revive Frasier over two decades after the series ended, fans were understandably concerned – and with cause.
Kelsey Grammer returned as the stuffy psychiatrist, but this time he was accompanied by a totally new ensemble rather than the family and friends we had all grown to know and love.
Peri Gilpin and Bebe Neuwirth will make a temporary return as Roz Doyle and Lilith Sternin, respectively, while David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves have left the show.
Only Fools and Horses’ Nicholas Lyndhurst will play Frasier’s colleague Alan, while Jack Cutmore-Scott will play the KACL icon’s son, Freddy, and Anders Keith will play his nephew, David.
The Good Father, the opening episode of the ten-part season, finds Frasier in Boston to guest lecture at Harvard, and he pays a visit to his son while he’s there, which the fireman finds annoying.
It is revealed that Freddy, who lives with single mother Eve (Jess Salguiero), did not attend Martin’s (John Mahoney) funeral, and their relationship is now more strained than ever.
During a visit to a pub named Mahoney’s in honour of the late actor, Frasier switches from sherry to beer to stew over their problems, with Alan unhelpfully questioning whether his kid dislikes him – a subject that prompts him to take dramatic action.
True to form, he avoids the customary method of talking things out and instead accepts a post at Harvard, due to some persuasion from department head Olivia (Toks Olagundoye), in an attempt to mend their relationship.
In addition, he purchases the flat opposite from Freddy and Eve in the hopes that the tight quarters – which worked well for his relationship with his own father – will help bring them closer together.
The original series ended in 2004, but because to streaming sites and innumerable re-runs, the doctor has never truly left our screens.
However, there is no denying that the relaunch seems considerably different from the episodes that won an incredible 37 Emmys over the course of the show’s 11-year existence.
The pilot episode spends a lot of time introducing viewers to the gang, explaining current connections and exploring the potential of new ones, yet it seems hurried and disorganised.
The pacing is somewhat too rapid for jokes to develop, leaving us with a disappointing number of brief gags that rely on cheap cliches rather than being actually humorous.
Whereas fans are accustomed to the language brilliantly leading to a massive pay-off, the laughs fade as everyone rushes to the next set up – something that only minimally improves in subsequent episodes.
Unsurprisingly, Kelsey returns to the part of Frasier with ease, having played the character since his Cheers debut in 1984, but those around him require more time to fill out their own personas, resulting in odd interactions at times.
Anders has the most difficult task of following in David’s shoes, striving to replicate the magic of Frasier’s connection with his brother, and while there is potential for the character to evolve, it simply reminds viewers of the enormous gap left by Niles’ departure.
This changes as the players find their feet and get more comfortable with their characters and each other, and by the fifth episode, it is more like the sitcom we’ve come to know and love, with the chemistry between Kelsey and Jack improving with each scene.
Viewers will also appreciate Frasier’s attempts to save yet another dinner party, his enjoyment of sherry while ‘amalgamating with the hoi palloi,’ and the reminder – not that we needed it – that he’s listening.
The series contains everything needed to produce a traditional tossed salad and scrambled eggs; all it needs is some additional time in the kitchen.
Frasier premieres on Paramount+ on Thursday.