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Frasier is a vile, low-brow, crude, immature television show whose humour derives from the star of the show, Frasier "Fat Bastard" Crane (Kelsey Grammar) wreaking havoc on Seattle. Typical misadventures include exploiting people's trust to get money out of them and deliberately giving out poor advice on his radio show. Nevertheless, Crane's rebellious antics have made him popular with young viewers, although he has received much critism from television regulators and the Christian right, who have repeatedly tried to get the program banned.
Almost as shocking as Frasier is the character of Niles, Frasier's brother, in the programme. Niles, whilst putting on the persona of an emotionally repressed homosexual, is in fact a sexual predator and much of the programme focused on his ploys to ensnare the innocent maid Daphne into his twisted web of sexual deviance. This finally occurred when Niles left his wife-to-be on their wedding day and drove off with Daphne. The later series focused on his abusive relationship with Daphne, culminating in the birth of their child which Niles promptly sold into sexual slavery to buy more expensive suits. David Hyde Pierce was blasted by Feminist groups for his portrayal of the misognistic and abusive Niles and has been refused many high profile roles as a result. He stands by his decision to play the character, however, stating 'There's a Niles in all of us waiting to come out. Those who can't accept that don't deserve to watch television let alone criticise it.'
The show also regularly features supposedly witty one liners and smug references that appear on a black background, referring to the events of the following scene. Over time, however, these became more and more overtly racist in tone and soon bore little relation to the actual content of the programme. The now infamous phrase 'Rights for Whites' recurred more and more frequently until by the Eighth Season it was the only message displayed during the show. When asked for comment Kelsey Grammer said 'The show was so shit by that time very few people noticed'.
The character of Frasier Crane can be traced back to the lovable '80s sitcom Cheers in which Crane was a regular at the Boston bar. His trademark violent behavior and maniacal laugh were not yet developed, so Frasier's role in Cheers was limited to drunkenly berating his fiancee Diane, and later his wife Lilith and their infant son. As the series progressed, the show's writers expanded Frasier's role at the insistence of Grammer himself, who used violence and blackmail to get more screen time. By the eleventh season, entire episodes would often consist of Frasier drunkenly abusing his family, other patrons of the bar, and, at times, even the audience, breaking the fourth wall. Grammer then used his considerable pull with the suits at NBC, owing to his rank within a secret paedophile ring existing in the upper echelons of television, to have a spin-off show produced.
edit Frasier's exploits
- In one episode, after hearing about an Indian immigrant's negative opinion about his radio show, Frasier plots his revenge. He manages to trace the man's location down to a news-stand, where the gentleman worked for a living. After threatening the owner, Frasier scares him off and razes the news-stand to the ground. He is last seen dancing round the fire singing 'Burn Baby Burn' before giving his trademark maniacal laugh.
- In another, Crane hatches a mischievous plan to take money off some homeless people. On Christmas Day he goes to a cafe full of homeless men, eats a meal there and pretends that he can't afford to pay. In an act of kindness, the tramps gather what little money they have to pay for the meal, including an entire day's donations for playing the guitar on a street corner. Frasier then takes out his wallet, burns a 50 dollar bill in front of all in the shelter and drives off in his expensive car, while laughing like a maniac.
- One horrifying episode of season "whatever" titled "Beware the Greeks" has Frasier's Greek cousin Nikos invite the Cranes to his wedding. Frasier having sent Nikos down the lowly path of street-juggling rather than pursuing a career in medicine, Nikos' mother Zorah is furious with Frasier. In an attempt to regain her trust, Frasier seduces her in her restaurant and has sex with her, secretly videotaping the proceedings. At Nikos' wedding, he replaces a family member's wedding video with his voyeuristic sex tape, and convinces Nikos to rejoin his heroin-addicted ex-girlfriend, rather than marrying his affluent fiancee. The scene ends with a fade-out shot of the fiancee hanging from a noose, while Frasier laughs maniacally and masturbates.
- Another shocking episode sees Frasier and Niles joining a car-repair course in order to psychologically torment the teacher. After writing a litany of insults in French concerning the teacher's terminally ill sister, the pair are kicked off the course. As the credits role, Frasier and Niles are seen accosting the teacher behind Cafe Nervosa before assaulting him and forcing him to perform oral sex on them. Niles and Frasier laugh maniacally throughout the abuse. It was disturbingly revealed some years later that the final scene was unscripted and unsimulated; the actor who played the teacher was forced into a witness protection program to prevent him from talking.
- Another controversial episode featured Frasier savagely beating Roz and forcing her temporarily out of a job. He then hires an poor inner-city black woman as her replacement. Mary tries to speak her mind during Frasier's shows but this just enrages Frasier, causing him to send a tirade of racist comments towards her. This deeply scars Mary and turns her into a nervous wreck, until one day she finally breaks out and tells one of Frasier's callers something that contradicts Frasier, causing him to beat her to a bloody pulp. She is near death when Kenny, the station manager, enters to offer Mary her own show. At this point the scene fades out with Frasier turning to Kenny with a menacing glare in his eyes. This episode drew heat for it's constant use of racial epithets by Frasier. He uses words like "nigger" and "monkey fucker" ad nauseum and the graphically violent beating scenes (these were later revealed to be real, and the actress who played Mary was reportedly on life support for 4 days after shooting wrapped up).
- The infamous episode "Sweeney Doc" sees Frasier's most disastrous dinner soirée yet(this time held at Niles' apartment) take a turn for the worse with Frasier savagely beating a snooty wine club member over a trivial remark made at the expense of his signature chanterelle sauce. Panicking, and left without an entrée due the damage caused by the fight, Crane juliennes the man and hides the remains in a vat of gourmet seasonal chili Niles had been stewing for months. As the rest of the guests arrive, Daphne unknowingly serves the macabre meal while Frasier and Niles are forced to juggle an increasingly complex web of lies and misdirection to keep guests from entering the blood-streaked kitchen, wondering about the missing wine club member, or discovering that Roz is not actually reclusive fashion designer Minola DeFranc(in an unrelated subplot). The dish proves a huge hit in the dining room, but when an obese, despised heiress (whose seat on the Seattle Opera Board Frasier has long-coveted) discovers the grisly scene one room over, Frasier hatches a plan to systematically do in a number of his bitter rivals while simultaneously gaining popularity among well-connected socialites by continuing to host upscale dinners centered around the popular recipe. He silences the heiress with a poison dart from an ornamental tribal blowgun while Niles ushers out the rest of the guests, and the two begin making preparations for future dinners featuring more of their newly-dubbed "Chili Con Crane". The massive network of lies eventually comes crashing down in the third act when the entire Seattle Epicurean Society, drawn by Eddie's barking, witnesses a psychiatric rival of the Cranes' stagger from Frasier's kitchen impaled by an antique shrimp skewer. As the victim collapses before he can name his attacker, a quick-thinking Frasier's passionate, three-minute long speech(filled with showy but false deductive reasoning) is able to direct all suspicion toward his nemesis Cam Winston. The episode ends with Winston being carted away by police, screaming revenge in front of the terrified dinner guests as Frasier devilishly savours the last bite of his meal.
- During the last seasons of the show, Niles and Daphne finally became a couple. This was planned as a storybook romance, but David Hyde Pierce's on-set drunkenness and violent behavior forced hasty rewrites. Niles was soon regularly beating his beloved Daphne while Frasier distracted their father by dangling his dog over the balcony. An ongoing storyline in the final season was Daphne's unplanned pregnancy, occurring after Niles drunkenly raped her. This story arc ended when Niles pushed her down the stairs, and Frasier ran in to kick her in the stomach for good measure.
- A later episode sees Martin and Frasier bickering over their eight-year "anniversary". Frasier decides to drive sweet-natured Martin out of the house by hurling his favorite chair over the balcony (this scene was filmed on-location in a Seattle hotel; a mother of three was killed by the falling recliner). When this fails, Frasier drowns Martin's dog Eddie in his own en-suite toilet, and leaves the canine corpse in Martin's bed. When Martin still remains committed to sticking by his troubled son, Frasier dresses as a murderous clown with the intention of giving his father a fatal heart attack. This backfired when Martin's actor John Mahoney, who had not been informed, had a genuine heart attack on-set. The producers wished to rush Mahoney to hospital but Grammer refused, insisting that it was for the integrity of the show that the cameras keep rolling. He then used this extra screen time to read from his upcoming autobiography/political manifesto, My Struggle. Mahoney dragged himself to a phone booth where he rang for an ambulance, and narrowly avoided death.
- All alcohol drunk in the show was real, and Grammer and Hyde Pierce would intentionally flub lines in order to force multiple takes. Grammer briefly died of cirrhosis of the liver while shooting a season nine episode, but a standing deal with the devil brought him back.
- Jane Leeves, who played Daphne, was often the victim of cruel on-set pranks from Grammer, such as putting starved rats in her costume and setting fire to her hair, which forced her to cut her hair unattractively short. She came down with a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome, however, and remains a close friend of Grammer's to this day.
- Eddie was played by not two dogs, as is commonly stated, but by hundreds, as single episodes could go through as many as five terriers, as Grammer forced them to perform dangerous stunts. He and Hyde Pierce would also regularly go on "Eddie hunts" in which they would set a number of prospective Eddies free in the studio, and hunt them for sport. The last dog left alive would be allowed to appear in the following episode. A 60 Minutes investigation entitled "Frasier's Puppy Farm" was bought off by Grammer before it could air.
- David Hyde Pierce has attributed his monstrous behavior on-screen and behind-the-scenes to his drinking problem, though he has looked favorably upon Niles in recent years, stating in an interview, "There's a little of Niles in all of us... it shows the strength of the writing and my performance that the show so closely portrayed characters we see in real life all the time".
- The "writers" that have been lauded for the show's success were all fictitious. Shows would be based off a loose script typed by Grammer and Hyde Pierce the night before shooting, and depend on the actors' ability to improvise. This is why certain episodes seem to be entirely without form or structure, such as an early episode which entirely consisted of Grammer and Hyde Pierce drinking heavily and watching late-night informercials, drunk-dialing the numbers and angrily berating whoever picked up. The showrunners would also encourage audience participation; this would inevitably devolve into an on-set brawl with Kelsey "Knuckles" Grammer coming out on top most of the time, falling only when he passed out mid-fight from drinking too much.
- Many of Frasier's callers were celebrities who offered their talents in order to wipe debts they owed to Grammer or Hyde Pierce.
- Niles' never-seen wife, Maris, was originally intended to appear, but her actress was so severely beaten by Hyde Pierce prior to her appearance that she could not make it to the shoot. Hyde Pierce's elaborate (improvised) excuses for why she could not be there were deemed so funny by Grammer that he decided to make it a running gag.
- Frasier and Niles' mother died before the show's events began. This was added to the show when the actress supposed to play their mother died mysteriously weeks before shooting began on season one. Grammer has denied any involvement in interviews, attributing her death to a "tragic dance accident".