Thursday :: May 13, 2004

Frasier Has Left The Building

by Steve

Tonight Frasier Crane departed prime-time TV after a twenty-year run over two different shows. Normally this would be plenty for one character, but TV is a wasteland these days, and I will greatly miss a sitcom that doesn't take me for a moronic lowlife. Although I enjoyed "Friends" as well, to me "Friends" was like empty calories as compared to the real meal that "Frasier" represented. Both shows will be missed, as they both successfully appealed to different audiences and had gifted casts.

To my surprise, I was pretty sad during the farewell scenes tonight, and I suppose it was because I realized that not only was this the last I would see this ensemble together, but also because the genre is disappearing as well. As Grammer himself has said in numerous interviews, we will go through a period where reality shows and lowbrow comedies will rule for the next 2-3 years while well-made and great ensemble shows like "Friends" and "Frasier" disappear from the schedule due to age or gradually diminishing ratings.

Yet broadcast TV as a whole will awaken one day several years from now and want to know why the "best demographics" don't watch their shows anymore. Our family would fit the ideal demographic for advertisers, based on income and spending patterns, yet we have no interest in most of what the networks put on their schedules these days. It was less than four years ago for example that I would be happy to sit for several hours and watch the NBC Wednesday night schedule without interruption, until the network began meddling with "The West Wing." Similarly, I had no problem with sitting for almost the whole evening on "Must See TV" Thursdays to watch Friends and Seinfeld, and whatever dreck NBC trotted out each year to fill in the gaps. The same went for Frasier on Tuesdays. But the push for trendy dramas and lowbrow comedies has pushed me away.

Reality shows will come and go as fast as "Millionaire" did. Perhaps then the Big Three networks will be forced to make the investment in building quality sitcoms again, but it is also a truth that the cost structure for these shows will have to come down from the high salaries that the "Friends" cast, Grammer, and Ted Danson got on "Cheers." Maybe then we will see quality sitcoms once again. In my dream world, NBC gets desperate after another year or so of chasing CBS downward towards the gutter and decides to reclaim the quality comedy market by luring either "Cheers" or "Frasier" back onto the schedule, albeit at a lower cost structure. But this would presume some degree of risk-taking and willingness to reach back for a successful formula rather than follow someone else, and I don't think many execs these days are capable of doing that.

Anyway, I digress. It was a sad night for me and I think for TV when Frasier left the building. Tonight's show was a gem and gave a glimpse to the rest of the sitcom world why "Frasier" will leave a large void.

Steve :: 10:51 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!