The blues are calling — tossed salads and scrambled eggs! Frasier, home of pop culture’s favorite neurotic psychiatrist, returns on October 12 after 19 years off the air with a revival on Paramount+. To celebrate Frasier’s return to television (and return to Boston, where Frasier was first seen on Cheers), we ranked the ten best episodes of the series. Farce, failing restaurants, and Frasier Crane’s (Kelsey Grammer) funniest schemes abound in these 10 masterful episodes.
My Coffee with Niles (Season 1, Episode 24)
Reflecting on his first year in Seattle, Frasier spends an afternoon having coffee with his brother. The series’ first season finale, “My Coffee with Niles” is a bottle episode, taking place entirely at Cafe Nervosa, and unfolding in real time. Sitcom season finales are often grandiose with their gags, but this one is reflective and simple. It’s a touching, if unexpected way to end the first season, and spells promise of more sitcom greatness to come. (The series ran for a further 10 seasons.)
The Innkeepers (Season 2, Episode 23)
There’s a reason Niles and Frasier are known as Seattle’s best psychiatrists, not business owners. After saving their favorite restaurant from closing, the Cranes revitalize the place. The problem is they’ve never owned a restaurant before, and opening night threatens to be Maison Crane’s closing night. An ancient waiter, Bulldog’s love life, and many orders of cherries jubilee make “The Innkeepers” one of Frasier and Niles’ most hilariously underbaked schemes.
Ham Radio (Season 4, Episode 18)
To celebrate the radio station’s 50th anniversary, Frasier stages a murder mystery radio play, casting his friends and colleagues. Ever the perfectionist, Frasier’s overbearing direction kickstarts a chain reaction of disasters, all while the play is on the air. Forced to improvise a barely-coherent plot as the performance goes on, “Ham Radio” is one of Frasier’s funniest half-hours.
Halloween (Season 5, Episode 4)
Roz awaits the results of a pregnancy test during Niles’ annual Halloween party. In the world of Frasier, nothing is ever straightforward, and by the end of the night, there’ll be a proposal, misidentified costumes, mistaken identities (and paternity), and of course … trick-or-treaters.
The Ski Lodge (Season 5, Episode 14)
Frasier and Niles head to the mountains with Daphne and Annie (Cynthia LaMontagne), hoping the weekend will turn romantic. But by now, you know this is Frasier, televisual home of farcical genius. Mistaken crushes, bedroom assignments, and one French ski instructor (James Patrick Stuart) create a weekend to remember — just not the way lovesick Niles hoped.
Room Service (Season 5, Episode 15)
Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) returns to Seattle, heartbroken after her recent breakup. Frasier steels himself against being Lilith’s rebound, but Niles — also fresh off a divorce — gets to her first. What begins as a comedic attempt to hide their hookup from Frasier becomes one of the series’ most poignant moments. Lilith tenderly expresses her need to feel loved again after the shock of her divorce. It’s one of Bebe Neuwirth’s best appearances as repressed, icy Lilith.
The Seal Who Came to Dinner (Season 6, Episode 8)
Pop quiz: if the Cranes host a dinner party at a beach house, and a dead seal washes up on the shore, how many courses will be served before the guests find out what’s going on outside? Farces are Frasier’s specialty (half the episodes on this list are farces!), and lies have never been more exaggerated than here.
Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz (Season 6, Episode 10)
On Christmas Eve, Frasier’s girlfriend Faye Moskowitz (Amy Brenneman) asks him to pretend to be Jewish to impress her mother (Carole Shelley). Christmas decor comes down, Niles’ Jesus costume for a holiday pageant goes on, and no one knows what to do about the ham in the oven. Anchored by a hilarious guest performance by Carole Shelley, “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz” earns its place on our list, and should be on your annual holiday viewing roster, too.
The Show Must Go Off (Season 8, Episode 12)
Many of Frasier’s best guest stars appeared offscreen via Frasier’s radio show, but its onscreen guest stars shone, too. British acting legend Derek Jacobi appears as Jackson Hedley, an actor Frasier had loved as a teenager. Frasier stages a one-man show to revive Hedley’s career, only for Hedley to be a terrible performer. Secrecy and escalating lies are the height of the series’ laughs, and it’s never better when they come at Dr. Crane’s expense.
Star Mitzvah (Season 10, Episode 6)
Frasier plans to give a speech at his son’s (Trevor Einhorn) bar mitzvah, and enlists Noel’s (Patrick Kerr) help translating it into Hebrew. In return, Noel, a lifelong Star Trek fan, wants Frasier to get him a Scott Bakula autograph. Will everything go off without a hitch? The rules of Sitcom Logic say no, of course.
Photo credit: NBC