With this third season, Frasier
scored an impressive hat trick, winning its third successive Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. You don't need too much analysis to get to the bottom of this unprecedented success. The series was a primetime oasis of wit and sophistication, with welcome forays into farce that pricked Frasier's bubble of pomposity. His priceless reactions to the assaults on his dignity are worthy of Jack Benny. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) can be infuriating, as in "The Focus Group," in which he is obsessed with knowing why a lone focus group participant (guest star Tony Shalhoub) doesn't like him. But he is also endearing in his delusional view of himself as, in the words of one mocking bystander, a "man of the people." Frasier meets his match in new station owner Kate Costas (Oscar-winner Mercedes Ruehl). Their combative relationship turns to lust over the course of the first 10 episodes.
But the season's most pivotal story arc is the separation of Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Maris. "Moon Dance," which marked Grammer's directorial debut, is a series benchmark, as a crestfallen Niles tangos with his unrequited love, Daphne (Jane Leeves), at a high society ball. Not that the Crane family still doesn't have issues to work out. Frasier cannot abide being beaten at chess by Martin (John Mahoney) in "Chess Pains." Frasier and Niles ill-advisedly go into joint practice in "Shrink Rap," and find themselves on the opposite sides of a sanity hearing in "Crane vs. Crane." Lilith is sorely missed, but in this season's blast-from-the-past episode, Shelley Long returns in "The Show Where Diane Comes Back." It is a joy to see Cheers resurrected, if only in Diane's self-absorbed new play, which Frasier agrees to back. And any episode with Frasier's amoral agent Bebe (Harriet Sansom Harris) is must-see television. Frasier's humor was character-based, rather than topical, giving it a longer shelf life. For those who lament the end of one of television's gold standard series, this box set will be excellent therapy. --Donald Liebenson
All 24 episodes from the third series of the sitcom about a middle-aged Seattle psychiatrist beset by problems largely of his own making. In 'She's the Boss', Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) falls out with Kate (Mercedes Ruehl), the new station manager. 'Shrink Rap' has Frasier and Niles (David Hyde Pierce) deciding to work together - with disastrous results. 'Martin Does It His Way' sees Frasier discover a half-finished song written by his dad (John Mahoney). 'Leapin' Lizards' finds Frasier turning the tables on Bulldog (Dan Butler) and playing a practical joke all of his own. 'Kisses Sweeter Than Wine' has Daphne (Jane Leeves) get very excited about the man from the floor polishing service. 'Sleeping With the Enemy' sees Frasier attempt to represent the staff in a pay dispute. 'The Adventures of Bad Boy and Dirty Girl' finds Frasier and Kate taking their relationship onto the airwaves. In 'The Last Time I Saw Maris', Niles is thrown out of the house by his wife. 'Frasier Grinch' has Frasier embark on some last-minute Christmas shopping. 'It's Hard to Say Goodbye If You Won't Leave' sees Frasier and Kate spend the night in an airport lounge when she announces that she's leaving for Chicago. 'The Friend' finds Frasier looking for a new friend. 'Come Lie With Me' has everyone concerned that Daphne might leave the Crane household. 'Moon Dance' sees Daphne and Niles dance the tango together - but does it mean as much to her as it does to him? 'The Show Where Diane Comes Back' finds Frasier agreeing to finance the Seattle production of his ex-fiancee's (Shelley Long) play about a bunch of losers in a bar. 'A Word to the Wiseguy' has the Crane brothers get involved with a shady character. 'Look Before You Leap' sees Frasier getting ready to sing an operatic aria in public. 'High Crane Drifter' finds Frasier involved in a cafe dispute. 'Chess Pains' has Frasier suffer a chess beating at the hands of his father. 'Crane vs Crane' sees the Crane brothers back opposing sides in a court case. 'Police Story' finds Frasier falling for a policewoman. In 'Where There's Smoke There's Fired', Frasier must help his agent Bebe (Harriet Sansom Harris) give up smoking. 'Frasier Loves Roz' has Roz (Peri Gilpin) mistakenly believe that Frasier is declaring romantic intentions towards her. 'The Focus Group' sees Frasier get uptight when a focus group member declares his show less than perfect. And finally, in 'You Can Never Go Home Again', Frasier remembers the day he first came to Seattle.