Frasier Crane is no stranger to looking silly. It’s one of the original series’ central comedic devices: taking a snooty but charming character and constantly putting him in situations that highlight the absurdity of his sense of self. But there’s something about episode three of the revival series that doesn’t quite match the tone of his classic episodes.
Between the original “Frasier” and the new series, we learn that the titular doctor has been living in Chicago where he fronted a hugely popular TV show, “Dr. Crane.” Episode three expands on this backstory, after Frasier gives his first lecture as a Harvard professor and fails to wow his students who are mostly interested in his celebrity status and not in his attempts to, as Frasier puts it, lead them “on a challenging academic odyssey.” Head of Harvard’s psychology department, Olivia (Toks Olagundoye) then reveals that she hired Frasier for the media circus and not his (lack of) actual knowledge about psychology, and encourages him to play up his fame during lectures.
In an amusing montage, Frasier shows his colleague and former college buddy Alan (British comedy legend Nicholas Lyndhurst) a clip from the first season of his talk show, followed by a clip from the 13th season. Over the course of the show’s run, it clearly transformed from a straightforward advice show into sensational, over-the-top entertainment, with Frasier throwing axes, delivering a segment called “Frasier’s ‘Fra-vorite’ Things,” and interviewing the world’s smartest pig (Albert Sweinstein). All of which is actually pretty funny as a satire of “Dr. Phil”-style hucksterism and the general sensationalist daytime TV shenanigans that reigned as the original “Frasier” came to a close. But it also feels just a little off, and things only get worse from there.