The reboot, which picks up two decades later, is more of a pleasant throwback than a reinvention, and that seems to be the point. This new series does everything possible to echo the old, including replacing its missing characters with facsimiles.
Frasier is back in Boston, where he was the unlikely regular at the bar in Cheers before he got his own spin-off series. Mahoney died in 2018, so filling the working-class slot, we have Frasier’s son, Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott), who has dropped out of Harvard to become a fire fighter, as if salt-of-the-earthiness skipped a generation.
Hyde Pierce chose not to be in the reboot, but instead there is Niles’s son, David. He is played by Anders Keith, a newcomer with expert comic timing, who enlivens every scene he is in. He makes David a delightful echo of Niles, as a nervous, socially inept Harvard student, almost as grandiloquent in his speech as his uncle.
But with the exception of David, the new characters never take off. There is a Cheers-like bar where Frasier hangs out with his one-note old Oxford classmate, Alan (Nicholas Lyndhurst), a psychology professor at Harvard who loves Scotch whisky and hates to work. They also meet there with Olivia (Toks Olagundoye), the ambitious head of the university’s psychology department. She is desperate to recruit Frasier, who in the years between series has become rich and famous doing a television version of his old radio call-in show; this fictional Harvard is relentlessly silly. And Freddy’s roommate, Eve (Jess Salgueiro), is a waitress at the same bar (really, Boston isn’t that small) and vaguely echoes the common-sensical Carla from Cheers.
Grammer, as always, has impeccably sharp delivery and timing, and the show has fun skewering Frasier’s elitism. In a pompous tone, he tells the sleep-deprived mother of a crying baby, “Cherish these times. They disappear with a cruel swiftness”, only to find that the sound of his voice puts the infant to sleep. That’s funny once. That the joke is repeated gives Frasier its creaky sitcom feel. The reboot is full of such obvious tropes.