“Look at Succession: those guys aren’t wearing those crazy suits everyday. I feel like he looks cool and hip, not just old and doddering – that’s never going to be who he is. He’s always going to be the most evolved, most intellectual, most fashionable person in a room… He’s just not as hyper-aware of what people think of him anymore.”
It raises a valid question about the low expectations and overt cynicism that typically greets reboots and revivals of much-loved shows. As fans of Frasier, we feel understandably protective of the character – but are we open to seeing how he might have grown and changed?
“A lot of these old neuroses come back to light,” says Harris. “But if the character was just as discontent as he was twenty or thirty years ago, I think it might be a little, you know – sad.”
As Cristalli – who stakes his claim as the true “Craniac” of the two executive producers – points out, in figuring out how to approach the revival, they had little hope of besting the original series. “Obviously I would have killed to see Frasier and Niles banter again, but the more Chris and I talked about it, it was like: well, what are we going to do – be better? They won all the Emmys! Like – come on!” (Over 264 episodes, it had 107 nominations and 37 wins.)
Instead of simply reviving the character, say Cristalli and Harris, they have sought to refresh him, with his new wardrobe and new apartment reflecting his new priorities and outlook on life. And they had an asset, of course, in Grammer, who has been embodying Dr Frasier Crane since 1984 – nearly his entire television career.
Early on in the process, Harris says, they would present Grammer with scripts full of the “flowery speeches [and] three- and four-syllable words” that were a hallmark of the original show. But, they learned, not every line had to have “a soupçon of whimsy,” Harris says self-effacingly. “Sometimes it would take three or four sentences for [Frasier] to say something affirmatively – then [Grammer] would be like, ‘Oh, he could just say ‘yes’.”
“You’d just kind of get a look from him, like…” – on Zoom, Cristalli affects Grammer’s professorial bearing and stern tone – “‘Boys…’”