The 25 Best Episodes of 'Frasier,' Ranked
With its 11 season run and near-future reboot, the Kelsey Grammer sitcom is a certified classic.
Certain things popularized between 1993 and 2004 just aren’t worth revisiting, ie. the first five Kidz Bop albums (also the 35 subsequent ones), that Orbitz drink with the little suspended flavor-balls that made it look as though you were chugging a lava lamp. But Frasier, which won a record 37 Emmy awards during the course of its 11-season run and is getting the reboot treatment at Paramount+, never goes out of style. Though technically a spinoff of the sitcom Cheers, Frasier fandom does not depend on you having any awareness whatsoever about the Boston pub where everybody knows your name. Sure, the barflies from Cheers flit into the Frasier universe every once in a while, but from the very first scene of the Frasier pilot, we’re in a totally different milieu—one in which words like "milieu" are frequently thrown around by the charmingly pretentious title character.
You know the setup: Post-divorce, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) relocates from Beantown to his home city of Seattle and takes a gig as a call-in psychiatrist for the KACL radio station. His producer Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin) refuses to suffer fools, and certainly not fools boasting a Harvard education and utterly lacking in street-smarts. Her opinion of her egg-headed boss is shared by Frasier’s father, Martin (John Mahoney), a retired police officer who moves into Frasier’s condo, dog Eddie and hideous recliner in tow. Frasier also gains a housemate in Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), the kooky British healthcare worker hired to housekeep and lead Martin in his physical therapy exercises. In a neighboring mansion lives fellow therapist Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), Frasier’s younger brother, who proves even more stuffy and status-obsessed than Frasier. Though married to the never-seen Maris, Niles quickly develops feelings for Daphne that are obvious to everyone but Daphne herself. During the show’s run, the once-estranged Crane men regain their closeness, Daphne herself becomes a Crane (Mrs. Niles Crane, to be exact), and Roz becomes so friendly with the Crane clan that she’s family in everything but genetics.
What makes the Frasier-watching experience so satisfying is that, yes, the title character and his brother are snobs who kvell over opera recordings and drop French phrases into everyday conversation, and, yes, it’s funny to listen to their highfalutin repartee. But these men also strive to help their patients, to find lasting love, and to earn the approval of a dad from whom they couldn’t possibly be more different but who still commands their respect. It also helps that Frasier and Niles are surrounded by two women and one ex-cop that don’t miss an opportunity to deflate their windbaggery or counter their neuroses with common sense. 264 episodes may seem like a lot to take on, but Frasier quickly comes to feel as warm and comfortable as Martin’s trademark ensemble of flannel-shirt and elastic-waist pants. The Armani-clad Crane brothers would probably bristle at that simile, and would also, no doubt, quibble with my rankings. In response, allow me to (grossly) paraphrase the iconic theme song: “[Stellar episodes] all over my [queue]/What is a [ranker] to do?”
25. "Back Talk"
Season 7, Episode 10
Niles long has mooned (ha ha) after Daphne from afar, but both parties are now engaged to other people in "Back Talk," and Niles has resolved to commit fully to his current relationship. This episode, however, features the gasp-worthy moment where Daphne finally discovers what everyone else has known for the past six seasons. Frasier attempts to soothe his psychosomatic back problems by reciting his difficulties aloud to Eddie. As one of his issues involves Daphne’s upcoming departure from the Crane residence, he muses about how much he loves and is going to miss her. Daphne overhears this and misinterprets Frasier’s remark as a romantic declaration. Though Frasier ultimately assures Daphne that his feelings for her are platonic, his back pain medication chooses that very moment to kick in, causing him to reveal that Niles is head over heels for her. You can hear the studio audience lose their shit, and, indeed, your shit too will be misplaced.
24. "Cranes Unplugged"
Season 8, Episode 10
It’s understandable to wrinkle your nose at the sight of child actors in sitcoms, they with their too-coiffed hair and cloying catchphrases. But I make an exception for Frederick Crane (Trevor Einhorn). It’s super plausible that Frasier Crane and Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) would spawn such a cerebral and unathletic kid, and also that said kid eventually would rebel with a goth phase. In response to his teen’s monosyllabic demeanor, Frasier drags Frederick and Martin on a tech-less camping trip. Frederick immediately befriends a group of kids from a neighboring campsite and ditches Frasier, who is devastated that his only child wants nothing to do with him. But when Frederick discloses to Frasier that he shared a first kiss with one of his playmates, Frasier finds the moment of connection he’s been yearning for. The bickering between both father-son pairs is delightful, with Frasier attempting to sell his family on the joys of bird-call-whittling and leaving at dawn while Frederick and Martin yearn for their electronics. Martin sums it up perfectly: "Television makes everyone get along."
23. "Caught in the Act"
Season 11, Episode 15
If you’ve ever wanted to see Kelsey Grammar hop around in a diaper but didn’t know where to look, you’ve come to the right article. Frasier reunites with his first wife Nanette Guzman (the hysterical Laurie Metcalf), now a touring children’s entertainer known to her young fans as "Nanny G." Nannette’s dissatisfaction with her job and current marriage manifests itself in a sexual hankering for Frasier, who has not made love in six months and therefore can’t hear his conscience over his libido. The two meet at the theater before Nanette’s performance, but they woefully miscalculate the amount of time available to them to paw each other atop Nanny G’s prop bed. Consequently, Frasier is forced to conceal his naked self under the sheets as Nanette sings her opening number—appropriately titled "Nanny’s Messy Bed"—to a theater of toddlers. Once Nanette slips Frasier a baby costume so that he may exit the stage with some semblance of clothing on, you’re treated to a Dancing Baby-Frasier scene designed specifically to make your eyeballs happy.
22. "Rooms With a View"
Season 10, Episode 8
"Do you think a hospital has memories?" Niles muses, loopy on the painkillers, before he is wheeled into the operating room for open-heart surgery. What follows is a poignant half-hour in which Frasier, Martin, Roz, and Daphne pace the waiting area as vignettes of their past hospital experiences play out in the adjacent rooms. A younger Martin sees from his wife’s X-rays that her cancer has spread. A pre-teen Frasier offers bribes to his cast-legged sibling in the hopes that Niles won’t tell Martin that Frasier was the cause of the broken bone. Roz rushes her infant Alice to a nurse, who assures the first-time mom that Alice’s facial rash is, in fact, just a bunch of lipstick-kisses. The conclusion of the episode finds Daphne striding down the corridor after learning of the operation’s success, her own hospital "memory" playing out in a nearby room: that of Daphne and Niles, sometime in the future, welcoming their second child into the world. Though people don’t necessarily watch sitcoms to feel their hearts lodge in their throats, the gorgeousness of the writing and performances make it worth all the blubbering.
21. "Agents in America, Part III"
Season 2, Episode 22
This list wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Bebe Glazer (Harriet Sansom Harris), Frasier’s gleefully manipulative agent. Here she demands that her client stay home "sick" until KACL’s station manager substantially raises Frasier’s pay. When the station’s higher-ups finally agree to renegotiate his contract, Frasier—full of gratitude and drunk on celebratory champagne—sleeps with Bebe. In the morning light, Frasier realizes that he has made a terrible mistake. He tells Bebe that they oughtn’t engage in hanky-panky ever again, and Bebe reacts to this rejection by threatening to hurl herself from the station manager’s ninth-floor office window. Frasier attempts to talk her down, and Bebe informs him that she’s doing this as a negotiation tactic; Frasier will counsel her off the ledge in front of the Channel 5 news helicopter, and Frasier’s value will skyrocket in the eyes of his boss. If all sociopaths were as charming and effective as Bebe, sociopathy would be the hot new thing.
20. "Seat of Power"
Season 2, Episode 11
After botching a self-repair to his toilet, Frasier hires a professional plumber to come to the rescue. The fellow who shows up is Danny Kreizel (John C. McGinley), Niles’s junior high-school nemesis. Danny used to shove Niles’s head in a flushing toilet, and Niles wants to return the favor now that his bully is hunched over Frasier’s loo. Frasier advises Niles to choose communication over violence, a tactic that proves easier said than done when Frasier discovers that Danny’s plumbing partner is none other than Billy Kreizel, Frasier’s childhood torturer. Unlike Danny, Billy has no interest in achieving closure with his victim, instead reliving his glory days of jamming a particular "poindexter" into lockers and thrusting fire extinguishers down his pants. The moral of this episode? Some people deserve grace, and some merit having their faces pushed into a commode. Never claim that sitcoms didn’t teach you anything.
19. "The Show Must Go Off"
Season 8, Episode 12
In an Emmy award-winning role, Derek Jacobi sends up his classical theater background as Jackson Hedley, a Shakespearian actor who for years has been relegated to corny sci-fi television roles. Frasier and Niles remember how Jackson’s one-man performance of soliloquies opened their young eyes to the magic of Shakespeare, and they decide to remount the production. But they learn in rehearsals that Hedley puts the 'ham' in Hamlet, punctuating all his lines with a melodramatic wheeze. The Crane brothers hope that the past few decades of playing cyborg roles have just temporarily softened Jackson’s thespian instincts. In reviewing a tape of Jackson’s old Bard performances, however, they discover that their acting idol has always been godawful. Watching Frasier and Niles attempt to save their reputation by sabotaging their own sold-out show is hilarious, as is the sight of a maimed Jackson dragging himself onstage by his hands. You have to be a great actor to play someone this uniquely sucky at his craft, and Jacobi is a great actor.
18. "Death and the Dog"
Season 4, Episode 12
When Eddie exhibits signs of being depressed, Martin hires pet therapist Dr. Arnold Shaw (Zeljko Ivanek) to diagnose the problem. Frasier and Niles spend the whole session mocking the idea of a canine psychiatrist, but they are stopped short by Shaw's assessment that Eddie is mirroring the unhappiness of one of his surrounding humans. This sends the Crane men, Daphne, and a visiting Roz into an emotional tailspin as they consider all the negative things in their lives that could be causing them to exude gloom. Their thoughts turn increasingly morbid, with Niles expressing a concern about the afterlife that any neurotic fan of deceased celebrities will find relatable: "What if it’s like high school and all the really cool dead people don't want to hang out with me?" Tune into this episode for a fantastic array of dog psychiatry puns; stay for Niles’s mournful piano rendition of "Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone" in a minor key.
17. "The Two-Hundredth Episode"
Season 9, Episode 8
Of course Frasier, a man enamored with his own voice, would have a cassette collection of every single show he’s done for KACL. When Daphne accidentally destroys Tape 893 in a faulty boombox, Frasier becomes obsessed with obtaining the missing show, plowing through the KACL archives and imploring his listeners to contact him if they have a copy. Niles points out that Frasier is grinding his life to a halt in the pursuit of a tape he likely will never listen to, but Frasier can’t resist visiting the apartment of his biggest fan Tom (a wonderfully unhinged Adam Arkin) in pursuit of the recording. Tom lovingly has taped every one of Frasier’s programs, created transcripts for each, and papered over those pesky windows of his with Frasier’s headshots. Frasier departs the creepy residence tape-less, having embraced the idea of imperfection. He’ll need this new sense of Zen when he later discovers that Martin has broken Frasier’s prized fertility statue and replaced the most fertile part with a Tootsie roll.
16. "Good Grief"
Season 6, Episode 1
Frasier and his work friends are out of a job when KACL switches formats from talk-radio to Latin music, and Frasier experiences the loss of his call-in show in the same way he would mourn a death. Accordingly, each scene-starting title card lists the stage of grief that Frasier is experiencing at that particular moment. The first stage, Denial, finds Frasier throwing himself into writing an operetta. Anger has him violently thrashing the candy guts out of a picnic piñata, and Bargaining manifests in an invitation toward his fan club to have dinner at his home. The club ends up consisting of three oddball people who have just held a three-person City Hall rally in Frasier’s honor, the absurdity of which turns Frasier into a citywide laughingstock. Frasier uses title cards to amusing effect in most of its episodes, but the final card of this particular installment is particularly spot-on. After Frasier and Niles toast Frasier’s passage through Depression and into Acceptance, Niles cheerily declares that he expects his divorce from Maris to go quite smoothly. The subsequent title card reads: DENIAL.
Season 5, Episode 3
Niles is hosting the Library Association’s Halloween Ball, to which all attendees are instructed to come dressed as a literary character. Roz, clad in bondage-wear for her Story of O costume (says the crowd in response to her ensemble: "Ohhh"), suspects that she has gotten pregnant, and she swears Frasier to secrecy. Frasier accidentally reveals Roz’s conundrum to Daphne, whose eyes are watering as a result of her eyelash adhesive. Niles sees Daphne’s tears and overhears just enough of the conversation to conclude that his brother has knocked up Daphne. The booze-fueled host concludes that the chivalrous thing to do is to divorce Maris and make an honorable woman out of Daphne, and the whole drama eventually becomes so loud as to attract the attention of the entire party. Your milage may vary with Halloween episodes, which are often just an excuse to stick characters in ridiculous outfits and have them misinterpret things they wouldn’t remotely be confused about if everyone were in streetwear. But if those kind of hijinks don’t win you over, the appearance of Kelsey Grammar’s ex-wife (and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star) Camille Grammer-Meyer just might; she plays a party-guest dressed as Eve (of Bible fame), and "Frasier" spends the majority of the episode ogling her. Ah, must be nice to be the star of your own show.
14. "Mixed Doubles"
Season 4, Episode 6
Daphne gets dumped by her hot contractor boyfriend Joe, and Niles decides that this is the perfect opportunity to ask this goddess in the form of a home health care worker out on a date. But Frasier advises his brother to give it a day before he bombards a grieving Daphne with his amorousness, and Niles agrees. Chagrined when Daphne immediately nabs a rebound guy at the singles bar Roz drags her to, Niles decides to make the best of his Daphne-less situation by trying his luck at the same bar. There he meets Adelle Childs, who is so lovely and intelligent that Niles forgets about Daphne’s new companion—until he actually meets the guy. Rodney Banks (Kevin Farrell) is Niles’s double in every way, from his wardrobe to his fastidious hand-wiping to his propensity toward sniffing Daphne’s hair. To see Niles’s reaction to the sight of Daphne’s heart pitter-patting for Doppelganger Niles is, to mangle a Victor Hugo quote, to see the face of God.
13. "Martin Does it His Way"
Season 3, Episode 3
If you can complete this episode without getting Martin’s Rat Pack-inspired love song lodged in your brain, you’re made of stronger stuff than I. Martin divulges to his sons that he’s spent the past three decades writing lyrics for Frank Sinatra. Frasier and Niles jump at the chance to put one of the ditties to music and send it to Sinatra’s people, deflating a bit when they hear the guttural honks that Martin emits in his attempt to vocalize the big-band sound playing in his head. Meanwhile, Frasier struggles to compose a eulogy for his Aunt Louise without lying about positive characteristics the crone didn’t have, and Niles is at a loss about where to scatter the woman’s remains. By the time the service rolls around, Frasier and Niles have managed to spill Louise’s cremains on their suits ("Aunt Louise touched us all," Frasier says to the congregation, picking ash off his coat. "In fact, she touches us still.") and Martin has learned that his song has been rejected. But in the end, there’s no problem—in the episode or, truly, in general—that can’t be remedied by a church choir singing about a "hubba hubba groovy lady."
12. "Room Service"
Season 5, Episode 15
Lilith turns to Frasier for comfort and sexual validation after her current husband leaves her for a man. While Frasier struggles not to give in to his ex-wife's feminine wiles, Niles struggles simply to stay awake; he's begun suffering from bouts of narcolepsy ever since starting divorce proceedings from Maris. A night of tequila shooters leads to Niles and Lilith entangled in Lilith's hotel bed, and they realize their transgression only minutes before Frasier belatedly succumbs to those pesky wiles and knocks on the door. Sure, there's an adjacent bathroom Niles can hide in, but narcolepsy and a toilet-flusher prove an uproariously bad combination, concealment-wise. Special shout-out to John Ducey, who plays a hotel waiter who—in making multiple room-service deliveries to Lilith's suite—witnesses with barely-concealed bafflement all amalgamations of Lilith and the Crane brothers.
11. "Travels With Martin"
Season 1, Episode 21
Jealous of the bond Roz has with her mother, Frasier lets Martin pick a vacation destination that father and son can enjoy together. Martin opts to cruise through America in a Winnebago, but feels so uncomfortable at the thought of being in a confined space with Frasier that he asks Daphne to accompany them as a buffer. Frasier asks the same of Niles, who only agrees to this plan when he learns Daphne is coming. The Cranes decide to go wherever the impulse takes them, causing them to steer the RV into Canada while Daphne takes a snooze. Upon realizing that she's ended up in the Great White North, Daphne hyperventilates; she does not have her green card and therefore isn't supposed to leave the US. Watching Daphne attempt to convince the border patrol guard that she's a Yank by grunting the only word she can say in an American accent—"sure"—is a sight to behold, as is Niles's surreptitious inspection of Daphne’s derriere. It's also just lovely to see Frasier and his father—men so different and so predisposed to butting heads—opting to bypass the road back to Seattle and continue their journey just a tad longer than they originally planned.
10. "They’re Playing Our Song"
Season 7, Episode 13
If only the DSM-5 were this catchy. KACL Station manager Kenny Daly (Tom McGowan) asks Frasier to find a theme song with which to open his show, and Frasier opts to write one himself. What comes of his brainstorm is a two-minute Gilbert-and-Sullivan-esque extravaganza that utilizes a full orchestra, a choir, a mid-song dramatic monologue (delivered by Niles), and the phrase "lewd desires" represented by a slide-whistle. When Kenny demands a simple 10-second tune, Frasier finds that he has a far easier time sprinkling an operetta with German phrases than writing an unfussy little jingle. The majority of this episode consists of characters crooning about mental disorders; you probably never knew you wanted to hear "Claustrophobia" rhymed with "probe ya," but you’ll be tickled that you have.
9. "A Tsar is Born"
Season 7, Episode 7
The Antiques Roadshow comes to Seattle, and the Crane men take for appraisal a hideous pewter bear clock that has been in the family for years. To the shock of Frasier and Niles, the clock is one of only a handful that were designed exclusively for the Russian royal family. The brothers come to discover that their great-grandmother emigrated from Russia right around the same time that the item last was spotted in Moscow, and they conclude that they are direct descendants of the Romanoff family. Gleefully, they make an appointment to have the timepiece inspected by the attaché of the Russian embassy; once he sees it, surely he will confirm that the Cranes are of imperial blood and grant them license forevermore to dangle their royalness in front of their friends’ faces. Instead, the attaché breaks it to them that their relative was the Romanoffs’ thieving scullery maid, a woman who later supported herself as a streetwalker. It’s always super entertaining to watch the siblings’ pompousness get punctured. More entertaining still is the Cranes’ Antiques Roadshow drinking game, where Frasier, Niles, and Martin take a slug of booze every time they hear the word "veneer." Don’t try this at home.
8. "The Innkeepers"
Season 2, Episode 23
When Frasier and Niles learn that a beloved Seattle restaurant is closing its doors, they decide to buy it, slap a French name on it, and turn it into the spot for Seattle’s hungry elite. But even though opening night is booked up with a classy clientele, the brothers’ differing ideas about how Chef Maurice (Jay Bell) ought to serve the souffle quickly impel the cook to storm out. The rest of the kitchen staff skedaddles once they learn that the head of the immigration bureau is sitting in the dining room. It is now up to Daphne and Niles to recreate Maurice’s eel-based cuisine, which leads to a chef’s kiss of a moment in which Daphne whips an eel against the kitchen counter to demonstrate to Niles its deadness. Two waiters end up bloodied as a result of the Crane boys’ failure to read the In and Out signs on the kitchen’s doors, forcing Roz to step in as the sole server. Of course, it is at this moment that Gil Chesterton (Edward Hibbert), KACL’s resident food critic, arrives with his fellow foodies, all of them eager to review the city’s new culinary hotspot. I for one would give a glowing review to a restaurant experience that ends with jubilee’d cherries being catapulted across the cafe, but that’s just me.
7. "Slow Tango in South Seattle"
Season 2, Episode 1
Thomas Jay Fallow (John O’Hurley), Frasier’s author buddy from the Cheers bar, pens a bestselling romance novel about a sexual dalliance between a teenaged boy and his middle-aged music teacher. The story happens to be true, and it also happens to belong to Frasier; as a 17-year-old, Frasier lost his virginity to his piano tutor Clarice Warner (Constance Towers). Frasier fumes about Thomas’s failure to inform the masses that he has ripped off a formative moment in Frasier’s life without bothering to give Frasier any credit, but Niles helps him to realize that he actually is more upset with himself. He never did tell Clarice what she meant to him; perhaps, as the book suggests, this lonely 40-something woman has languished since Frasier left for college. Guilty about his behavior, he goes to visit the teacher he hasn’t seen for 25 years, and discovers that she is still sexy as hell and dating hunky men now one-third her age. Clarice Warner: a role-model for us all.
6. "Moon Dance"
Season 3, Episode 13
Oof, the heart-punch heard ’round Seattle. Niles takes dancing lessons from Daphne so that he may make a favorable impression on his date—the first he’s had since his separation from Maris—during his club’s upcoming Snow Ball. It’s Niles’s personal paradise to be body-to-body with Daphne, so he hesitates to tell her when the date cancels on him and he no longer needs waltzing tips. Luckily, Daphne volunteers to be Niles’s escort to the gala, and she impresses Niles’s haughty social set with her grace on the dance floor. But those snobby onlookers ain’t seen nothing yet. A tango starts up, and Niles and Daphne move together as though possessed by some steamy Argentinian dance-demon. Niles becomes overwhelmed with desire for Daphne and blurts out that he adores her. She repeats the sentiment, the two share a kiss, and Niles is over the moon (get it again?) to see his long-held feelings reciprocated… until he realizes that Daphne has behaved in this manner merely to quiet the gossipy Maris-groupies that have been looking down their noses at Niles. I don’t know if David Hyde Pierce’s script direction read, "Convey the feeling of your aorta being obliterated by a blender," but if so, he nailed it.
5. "The Ski Lodge"
Season 5, Episode 14
What happens if you put two horny psychiatrists, a lustful healthcare worker, a dim swimsuit model, a hearing-impaired sexagenarian, and a chiseled ski instructor into a cabin that—conveniently—boasts a side-by-side bedroom configuration? Farce! Frasier, Niles, Daphne, her braindead but beddable pal Annie, Martin, and a hottie ski-enthusiast named Guy spend a winter weekend in what is essentially a love-pentagon: Frasier has the hots for Annie, who has her eye on Niles, who is ever-focused on Daphne, who wants to get into the pants of Guy, who develops a crush on Niles. Then you have Martin, whose ears are so stuffed up that he mishears and miscommunicates intel about whose loins are afire for whom. Though you’d never say that Frasier was a program wildly ahead of its time, for a '90s sitcom, it’s pretty darn casual about homosexuality. Guy’s gayness isn’t made a punchline—it’s the group’s collective randiness and room-hopping that’s the joke. Also Frasier’s penultimate line is simply killer: "All the lust coursing through this lodge tonight, all the hormones virtually ricocheting off the walls, and no one... was chasing me?" We’ve all been there, buddy.
4. "The Seal Who Came to Dinner"
Season 6, Episode 8
I’m not sure you need to know any more about this episode than the fact that it involves a sea mammal in a slinky bathrobe, but I’ll continue anyway. Niles has lost most of his money during his divorce from Maris, and is now living in a seedy apartment complex he’d rather die than allow his judgmental peers to see. So when his gourmet club offers an award to the host of the best dinner party, he knows he must hold his shindig in a posher spot. Frasier’s apartment is out, as he has a tiny crack in his balcony window and the gourmet club won’t stand for such an eyesore. He decides, therefore, to break into Maris’s beach house and hold the event there. Problem is, a large seal has perished right next to the back deck, and it is emitting an odor that persists even after Frasier and Niles douse the beast in Maris’s perfume and drape it in a frilly peignoir. By the episode’s conclusion, the Crane brothers are being dragged out of the dinner party in handcuffs, their guests under the impression that the beached body wearing cologne and a dressing gown is the murdered Maris. Really, after 14 months in quarantine, don’t we all identify with the smelly, bloated seal?
3. "The Dinner Party"
Season 6, Episode 17
Frasier does many things well. It does impeccable farce (see: "The Ski Lodge"). It’s great at pathos (see: "Rooms with a View"). It rhymes "nymphomania" with "explain ya" (see: "They’re Playing Our Song."). But when you’ve got sitcom writing and acting of this caliber, a 30-minute bicker-fest between two codependent brothers is a hoot in and of itself. Frasier and Niles decide to throw a dinner party, but they instantly have problems compiling a guest list they both can stand, finding an available caterer, and picking a date that doesn’t conflict with Martin’s sacred poker night. When two of their invited guests leave a message on Frasier’s machine to confirm their party attendance, they forget to hang up the phone properly, resulting in Frasier and Niles overhearing an exchange about the strangeness of the Crane brothers’ relationship. This causes Frasier and Niles to finger-point at one another about which sibling is the more dependent, and then to fret about a possible future in which they’re "wearing matching pajamas and washing each other’s hair." Golly, do I hope that’s the plot of the upcoming Paramount+ Frasier reboot.
2. "Look Before You Leap"
Season 3, Episode 16
It’s a leap year, and Frasier encourages all the poor suckers in his orbit to mark the occasion by doing something out of their comfort zones. Daphne gamely tries for a new hairstyle, and returns home with tresses resembling a cockatoo poof. Roz ventures onto the airwaves to locate a missed romantic connection, only to the discover that her lost stud is actually a married cretin. Martin takes Frasier’s advice to fly to Montana for a friend’s birthday, then experiences a hellish emergency plane-landing when geese careen into the aircraft’s engine. Frasier is set to sing a challenging piece from the opera Rigoletto for the PBS pledge drive. But when he sees how abysmally everyone else’s leaps have gone, he launches into "Buttons and Bows," the simple number he has performed on the broadcast for the past three years. His loved ones get their revenge, however, when Frasier thoroughly forgets the lyrics and is forced to improvise on the spot. Though ignorant of the actual words to the song, I know instinctively that "Let’s all go/To the taco show" is superior to whatever the lyricist actually composed.
1. "Ham Radio"
Season 4, Episode 18
Frasier directs an old radio drama entitled Nightmare Inn, which is set to be performed live in celebration of KACL’s 50th anniversary. He casts himself as the inspector investigating a hotel slaying, gives Roz, Gil Chesterton, and KACL sports-commentator Bob "Bulldog" Briscoe (Dan Butler) the roles of suspects, and assigns the smaller parts to professional voice actor Mel White (Richard Easton). The beauty of this episode is that we first get to witness, during its rehearsal, what the play is supposed to sound like. Then comes the live broadcast, where we watch a perfectly straightforward murder mystery devolve into a total fiasco. Roz struggles to speak through a mouth numbed with novocaine, Bulldog experiences crippling stage-fright, and Niles gets saddled last-minute with Mel’s six roles. Add far more balloon-pops than the radio-script has gunshots, as well as the incongruous melody of an ice cream truck, and you have the most guffaw-inducing mass-slaughter ever put to radio.
Season 6, Episode 14
David Hyde Pierce gives a nearly wordless six-minute master class in physical comedy that will have you enrolling in a decorative metalworking class for the sole purpose of bestowing several more Emmys to the guy.
"The Three Faces of Frasier Crane"
Season 7, Episode 21
Frasier becomes obsessed with obtaining the perfect Frasier-doodle to adorn the wall of a Seattle eatery, and we come away with a newfound respect for a lead actor who can endure countless punchlines about the bulbousness of his head.
"The Two Mrs. Cranes"
Season 4, Episode 1
Daphne tries to let an old flame down easy by involving Roz and the Crane trio in an elaborate lie, which was how people in the '90s rejected their pursuers before the invention of ghosting.
Season 3, Episode 9
The merriness of Frasier’s Christmas is threatened when Frederick’s presents mistakenly get delivered to a Crane family on the East Coast; I hope that whichever staff writer penned the line, "The Cranes of Maine have got your 'Living Brain'" received an immediate and hefty raise.
"A Midwinter Night’s Dream"
Season 1, Episode 17
The episode in which horniness is represented by a glockenspiel. ’Nuff said.