‘Frasier’ Executive Producer Says That Making the Reboot Without All the Funny Characters Was A ‘Blessing’ in Disguise
According to Chris Harris, executive producer of Paramount’s rebooted Frasier series which premieres tomorrow, his sequel show doesn’t need the writers, producers or actors who made the first Frasier great to be a success — all they need is Kelsey Grammer’s guiding star.
Even more so than Freddy Crane, the anxiously awaited Frasier reboot is, in its very DNA, the progeny of its lead. Just months after the passing of his co-star John Mahoney in 2018, Grammer postulated that Dr. Frasier Crane’s third act would take him far away from where we left him at the end of the show’s original run — in love and in Chicago. For the last five years, Grammer has been the biggest booster for a Frasier reboot, making regular suggestions and eventual promises to fans that, some way, somehow, Frasier would return. And he was right — Frasier, and only Frasier, is back.
Lacking supporting performances from series staples such as David Hyde Pierce as Niles, Jane Leeves as Daphne and, of course, the late Mahoney as Martin, the Frasier reboot series will open to a mixed response from critics who feel that the show’s revival left its charm, wit and heart back in Seattle. Speaking to TV Line, Harris explained that the absence of elements from the show’s original run isn’t a deficiency — it’s their secret weapon. Someone must have scrambled his egg.
“Kelsey had always envisioned it as more a continuation or the next chapter of Frasier’s life,” Harris explained, “versus, ‘Let’s go back and have the exact same people in the exact same place.'” Grammer, who was not credited as writer on any episode in the original run, now serves as executive producer and creative visionary for Frasier 2023, plotting out his defining character’s arc entirely without the guidance of the creatives who took Frasier from a bar in Boston to stardom in Seattle before Grammer brought him back home — though Cheers co-creator James Burrows happily returned to direct the first two episodes of the reboot.
Despite his confidence in the new characters of Frasier, among whom are the offspring of off-screen original characters and stand-ins for the established dynamics, Harris admitted, “Originally, yeah, we wanted to bring everyone back.” Harris noted how fan-favorite Pierce “is on the record as saying he just decided he didn’t want to go back to that character. Obviously, we would have loved to write for his character and work with him. But we absolutely respect that.”
However, argues Harris, those key absences opened the door for fruitful exploration that will take the Frasier reboot to new heights. “Now we think it was a blessing because instead of having one foot in the past and one foot in the present, it did help us to shift focus and say, ‘Okay, let’s really make this a third chapter. Let’s really make this its own creature, even if it still has the name Frasier, and let’s build up a new world around Frasier,” Harris posited. “Instead of writing hopefully really good fan fiction for the previous characters, now we’re doing our own show that hopefully will feel organic and feel like it fits with where the character should be in his life.”
In tomorrow’s premiere, the place where audiences will find their favorite snooty psychiatrist will be a familiar one — a bar in Boston surrounded by a class of people unfamiliar to him and unnerved by his presence. Beantown, like Frasier fans, isn’t sure yet if it’s happy to have Frasier back.