Frasier season 1 episodes 9 and 10 review | Age and melancholy for Christmas

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Frasier’s return comes to the end of its run, and here are our thoughts on the Christmas-themed season finale.

The first season of Frasier’s successful revival draws to an end with the good doctor reflecting not just on his own mortality but the passing of his father, as the looming Christmas season dawns.

The Fix is In firstly examines the Frasier (Kelsey Grammar) and Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott) relationship in terms of age. We have previously seen episodes explore their differences, culturally and socially, not to mention the existing distance between them thanks to years living in different parts of the country. As Reindeer Games makes clear, the central arc of the new Frasier run pivots around him trying to be a father to his adult son that his own father Martin would be proud of.

The penultimate episode of the series tackles this through the combination of Frasier’s anxieties about growing old, and Freddy’s own frustration that Frasier still treats him like a kid. As always, the common ground is somewhere in the middle. Robb Chavis’ script gets plenty of solid comic material out of Freddy trying to pass off Frasier as a doddering old man he cares for to his date Nicole (Amber Stevens West), and it’s even funnier when Frasier ends up on the joke and leans into that.

This all just works as a comedically strong central premise. Freddy wants Frasier to let him exert his influence as a thirty something man and Frasier has accept that he can’t fix everything or everyone anymore. The rare one-shot character of Roland, a smart mouthed plumber, throws this into sharp relief (in an extra casting fact, he is played by Andy Daly, a talented improvisational comedian, hence why Frasier makes a crack about his improv skills). In the end, Frasier and Freddy reach another increased level of understanding and rapprochement.

One of the more tender moments in The Fix is In we see is where Frasier reminisces about Martin, with the shadow of John Mahoney’s late character dropping back into the sequel series. Though deceased, Marty’s presence is felt across this new series, especially given the age-reversed nature of the Frasier and Freddy relationship. Frasier in Reindeer Games, the season finale, reminisces about his father’s love of tacky Christmas decorations through a dancing Santa he cannot bear to put up, yet understands as a reminder of the man he loved.

Reindeer Games ends up being one of the strongest episodes of what has turned out to be an unexpectedly solid revival series, in no small part because it dials into what Frasier has always been about – not just class but the reconciliation of it.

The Crane boys might have had their late mother’s prim pretentiousness and obsession with psychiatry, but both also contained Marty’s sense of charm, romance (in the broader sense of the term) and strong moral code. The original series was both men, Frasier in particular, coming to realise they were more like their father than they ever believed.

This revival is also about a similar reconciliation of character, only with Frasier in the role of father. The previous nine episodes have done an excellent job of placing Frasier’s dynamic with a grown up Freddy, a man who has intentionally worked to emulate his grandfather at the expense of his more Frasier (and Lilith)-type aspects. While we may laugh at Frasier’s own inadequacy as a father historically, Freddy himself has struggled with being the good son. He too has the qualities of the men who came before – kindness, morality, intelligence – but he finds them harder to bring together.

Reindeer Games therefore uses Christmas, and Frasier’s wistfulness that leads him to throw a lavish and typically unsuccessful party, as the touchstone whereby both of these men can be placed as the first season comes to an end.

Frasier seeks ostentation in order to tackle the unreconciled grief around Martin’s passing, while Freddy goes into caring overdrive – between his father and a, herself grieving, Eve (Jess Salguiero) – to compensate for his own inability to examine where he is in life. Both men reach a greater understanding of this as the episode comes to a close, which sets the scene for what will hopefully be a further season.

Along the way, writers Janene Lin, Jenna Martin and Naima Pearce have fun. Frasier’s party is typically farcical, from a tuneless children’s symphony, to a live goose, through to guests who would rather be next door watching Hallmark movies and drinking. Pairing the misfits Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst) and David (Anders Keith) continues bearing fruit, both playing a fun game of getting guests to include Christmas reindeer names in conversation.

While both are elastic enough to develop independently, future seasons should give Lyndhurst and Keith much more together, as they play off one another very well. I also hope the budding romance between Olivia (Toks Olagundoye) and Moose (Jimmy Dunn) isn’t just for comic purposes here, as it again would tie into the class reconciliation themes of the show. It’s also just very sweet.

Though spoiled on it ahead of time, it was lovely to see Frasier’s old radio producer Ros Doyle pop up again in a cameo to cheer Frasier up. We had Niles on the phone earlier (though we didn’t hear him) which suggests Frasier is continuing to ramp up toward what will surely be a full reunion of the old main cast, Mahoney aside. Peri Gilpin looks tremendous still and though Ros doesn’t get to be at her fiery or flirtatious best, simply there to prop Frasier up (it feels as much like Gilpin and Grammer as old pals chatting), but there are flickers. It would be great to see her pop in for perhaps a bigger chunk of time.

All in all, a fine finale to what has been a genuine treat of a series. Frasier has displayed his continued malleability as a comic creation, transitioning into a new, modern day paradigm which has plenty of legs to run for numerous seasons. Let’s hope it does. I, for one thing, am listening for it.

You can find A J. on social media, including links to his Patreon and books, via here.

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