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Frances Traynor: Goodnight Seattle, not before time; Frasier Channel 4, Wednesday Frasier should've quit years ago.

Byline: Frances Traynor

FRASIER has left the building and, like Friends last month, it's not a moment too soon. The telly shrink bowed out last night after 11 years of dispensing advice to the unhinged and unsound listeners of KACL.

The sitcom that was probably the cleverest and wittiest ever was a pale shadow of its former glory by the time pompous Frasier said goodnight Seattle for the last time.

The slow demise on this side of the pond wasn't helped by Channel 4 shunting it around the schedules.

Like Cheers before it, Frasier was always on on a Friday night. So what did C4 do? For the second last series, they put it out on Mondays at the unholy hour of 11pm.

For this last series, it's been on Wednesdays. What kind of dumb-ass scheduling is that?

Those of us who loved Frasier and Niles and Daphne and Martin and Roz have had to go looking for our favourites, so when the writing started to slip, the jokes weren't as quick and the farce just got farcically unfunny, it was easy not to bother.

For the finale, C4 pushed the boat out a little, though splitting two tribute shows and the final double episode with Big Brother was just typical.

Frasier: Analyzing The Laughter had Kelsey Grammer on the couch as Frasier, recalling the highs and lows of his 11 years.

It was a reminder of just how sidesplittingly funny Frasier used to be the sheer brilliance of Niles' unrequited love for Daphne (what a waste when they got together), Roz's rotten taste in men and Frasier's hopeless pursuit of true love and the perfect woman.

Inevitably, compared to that past genius, the last episode was such a letdown, not helped by disastrously embarrassing cameos from Robbie Coltrane and Richard E. Grant as Daphne's ne'er-do-well brothers.

According to their accents, Mancunian Daphne has a brother from the East End of London by way of New York (Anthony LaPaglia), one from the Home Counties (Grant) and one from somewhere oop north where everyone speaks in an utterly incomprehensible accent (Coltrane).

The inevitable farce came while Frasier was organising Martin's wedding and when Daphne went into labour at the vet's.

The latter scene gave the show its only laugh-out-loud gag, when Niles was bottle-feeding a sick monkey as his family arrived. At Frasier's aghast expression, Martin said wryly: 'Don't stare, you were no prize at that age.'

Kelsey Grammer has hinted this might not be the end for Frasier. But, as the shrink himself said in one classic episode: 'It's over. Sing, fat lady, sing!'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 24, 2004
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