Frasier: A Cultural History (The Cultural History of Television)

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9781442277960: Frasier: A Cultural History (The Cultural History of Television)
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After America’s most pompous barhound left the Cheer’s gang in Boston, he returned to Seattle and found himself surrounded by an equally colorful cast of friends and family alike. For eleven seasons, radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane contended with his blue-collar ex-cop father Martin, English caretaker Daphne, coworker Roz, and his younger brother Niles. Looking at the world through Frasier’s aristocratic, witty lens, the show explored themes of love, loss, friendship, and what it might mean to live a full life. Both fans and critics loved Frasier, and the show’s 37 primetime Emmy wins are the most ever for a comedy series.

In Frasier: A Cultural History, Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski offer an engaging analysis of the long-running, award-winning show, offering insights into both the onscreen stories as well as the efforts behind the scenes to shape this modern classic. This volume examines the series as a whole, but also focuses on the show’s key characters, including Eddie, the canine. Close looks at set design, class issues, and gender roles are also provided, along with opinionated reviews of all 264 episodes, highlighting the peaks and dips in quality across more than a decade of television.

Despite the show’s focus on an elitist intellectual—and his equally snooty brother—Frasier often embraced farce on a level previously unseen in American sitcoms, a mix of comedic elements that endeared it to viewers around the world. Frasier: A Cultural History will appeal to the show’s many fans as well as to scholar of media, television, and popular culture.

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About the Author:

Joseph J. Darowski teaches English at Brigham Young University and is the editor of The Ages of Superheroes essay series which has volumes on Superman, Wonder Woman, the X-Men, the Avengers, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Justice League. He is the author of X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor: Race and Gender in the Comic Books (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

Kate Darowski has a Master’s degree from Parsons School of Design, where she studied the History of Decorative Arts & Design, with an emphasis in 20th century modern design and pop culture in design. She attended Brigham Young University-Hawaii, where she majored in Cultural Studies. She has written about design for Modern Magazine.

Review:

He was originally called Frasier Nye, and, way back when he was conceived as a supporting player on the hit sitcom Cheers, the people who created the character imagined John Lithgow in the part. But eventually the he was renamed Frasier Crane, and Kelsey Grammer played him for 20 years, in Cheers and then in its spinoff, Frasier. The authors’ focus in this 'cultural history' of a fictional character is on Frasier, but they can hardly ignore Cheers, since the differences between the two shows, and, indeed, the differences between Frasier as he appeared in both shows, which range from the obvious to the subtle, are central to the character and his development. Obvious: Cheers and Frasier had vastly different comic and dramatic tones. Subtle: in Cheers, Frasier once said his father, a research scientist, was dead, while in Frasier his father, Martin, a former cop, was very much alive. The authors explore various elements of Frasier— the show’s production design, its use of intertitle cards, its casting (Niles, Frasier’s brother, was in the show only because somebody noticed how much David Hyde Pierce resembled a younger Kelsey Grammer)—to show how the producers were determined to make a spinoff that was markedly different from the original show and to make a comedy unlike anything else on television. For fans of Frasier, and for anyone who enjoy solidly researched, entertainingly written books about the making of a television show, the book is absolutely a must-read. (Booklist, Starred Review)

Frasier, the story of a Boston-psychiatrist-turned-Seattle-radio-show host, aired on prime-time television for 11 seasons, received 27 Golden Globes, and garnered a record 37 prime-time Emmys. A spin-off of the long-running bar-room comedy Cheers, Frasier stepped out of the typical trajectory of many Hollywood spin-offs and found a way to become its own show. Based on family relationships, Frasier portrayed interactions between elitist intellectuals (Frasier Crane and his brother, Niles) and a colorful cast composed of their father, Martin Crane (a blue-collar ex-cop who had been shot while on duty), Roz Doyle (Frasier’s sassy producer), Daphne Moon (Frasier’s live-in housekeeper and Martin’s physical therapist), and Eddie, the Jack Russell terrier really named Moose. The book discusses all elements of the program—character development, class issues, set design, gender roles, and even Martin’s favorite Eames lounge chair and ottoman. For those less familiar with Frasier, the authors included synopses of all 264 episodes. Siblings Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski have written an engaging, enjoyable analysis of this long-running, award-winning show. This easy-to-read cultural history is ideal for the general reading public, as well as undergraduate and graduate students.

Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)

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