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"Frasier," the TV sitcom set in Seattle, airs its last show on May 13, 2004.

HistoryLink.org Essay 4306 : Printer-Friendly Format

On May 13, 2004, the television sitcom set in Seattle, "Frasier," airs its last show after an 11-year run. Although the show was set in Seattle, it was filmed in Los Angeles. It began in the fall of 1993, just as Seattle was beginning to receive international notoriety for its “grunge” music, its coffee, and its dot-com business boom. Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) portrayed a call-in psychiatrist at a fictitious Seattle radio station, KACL. The cast and crew filmed on location in Seattle for the 200th episode, which aired in November 2001.

Seattle, L.A. Style

"Frasier" was set in the radio station offices, in Frasier’s home, and in a coffee shop called Café Nervosa. The view from Frasier’s ritzy condo looked out over a compressed downtown with a conspicuously impossible view of the Space Needle. Other cast members included Frasier’s brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce); his disabled retired policeman father, Martin (John Mahoney); a British live-in physical therapist, Daphne (Jane Leeves); and Frasier’s producer at the radio station, Roz (Peri Gilpin).

The episodes centered on the father-son relationships and the brothers’ mid-life romances, and were written with a sophisticated emotional wryness. The working-class ethic and outlook of the father was played against the elitist snobbery and delicate sensibilities of the two brothers. “We tried not to write down to the audience,” said executive producer David Lee, “If there was a joke we felt was genuinely funny that we thought people might not understand, we just went, ‘Well, then they don’t get it.’ ” “I think that networks, by and large, don’t feel that upscale, intellectual sorts of characters are relatable to a large audience,” said executive producer Joe Keenan (McFadden). Peter Casey, David Lee, and the late David Angell co-created the show.

Why Seattle?

In a 1993 article, Casey described how Seattle was chosen. One reason was to be as far from Boston and "Cheers" as physically possible, another was Casey’s view of Seattle as a beautiful place with interesting people and a wonderful cultural life -- “sort of the new happening place in the country.” Kelsey Grammer joked, “We thought about all those people living in all that rain and thought, ‘Where would a psychiatrist go to make a living? A suicidal place,' ” (Engstrom).

Grammer first appeared in the role of the pompous yet insecure intellectual, Dr. Frasier Crane, in September 1984 in the third season of the sitcom "Cheers." With "Frasier," Grammer tied James Arness of "Gunsmoke" for the longest portrayal of the same character in prime time (20 years). The show garnered critical acclaim, winning 31 Emmys in total, including the Emmy for Best Comedy Series five years in a row (1994-1998). The show ranked in the Nielsen top 20 for nine seasons, and approximately 650,000 Western Washington viewers watched its final episode.

John Engstrom, " ‘Cheers’ Spin-off Gives Seattle Another Shot at Sitcom Stardom," Seattle Post-intelligencer, July 22, 1993, p. B-6; Rick Porter, "As ‘Frasier’ Hits Milestone, Its Future is Unlimited," The Seattle Times, November 13, 2001; David Bauder, " ‘Frasier’ Will Call It Quits in May After 11 Years," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 13, 2004; "Readers Respond: Did ‘Frasier’ Get Seattle?" The Seattle Times, May 13, 2004; Melanie McFarland, "Final Analysis for ‘Frasier,’ "Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 13, 2004; Melanie McFarland, "Local Professionals Weigh in on ‘Frasier,’ " Ibid., May 13, 2004; Kay McFadden, " 'Goodnight': Stellar 'Frasier' Series Ends on a Sub-par Note," The Seattle Times, May 14, 2004; "The Doctor Is Out: Frasier Bids Seattle a Final 'goodnight,' "Ibid., May 15, 2004; "Frasier Has Left the Building," Editorial, Ibid., May 15, 2004.

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The principal cast of "Frasier," L to R, Daphne, Niles, Frasier, Martin, and Roz, May 13, 2004
Courtesy NBC

Niles (David Hyde Pierce), and Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) on the set of the sitcom "Frasier," 2004
Courtesy NBC

Kelsey Grammar at the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards, November 4, 2001
Photo by Michael Caulfield, Courtesy Wireimage.com

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