This is, in my opinion, the finest season of 'Frasier', and I cannot understand why others do not think so. I feel I have to write a review of this box set because I think this season is so underrated. Some people had told me this season was not so good, so I was very pleasantly surprised. I am a huge fan of sitcoms of all types, and I think this is perhaps the finest season of the finest sitcom ever made. It is certainly the most sophisticated. The storylines are highly inventive and have great depth, the plotting is just as intricate as in season 4, but more subtly executed. The dialogue is truly outstanding, the writers letting their imaginations fly, coming up with some of the great comedy one-liners:
Niles: 'Well, no wonder you're devastated. You've just lost the only woman you could possibly, perhaps, sometime down the line, fall in love with. I'm surprised the country music people haven't jumped all over this one.'
Frasier: 'Imagine how a T.V this size will enhance the Metropolitan Opera, the thrilling artists of the Bolshoi!'
Niles: 'You're quite the Bolshoi artist yourself!'
Martin: 'Why don't you do what my friends and I used to do when we were young and hard up for dates?'
Frasier: 'Invade Korea?'
The writers were truly on fire this season, the scripts brimming with invention. More than any other season, season 5's episodes repay repeated viewings. Joe Keenan delivers both his most intricately structured and most hilarious farce (and perhaps the finest farce ever written for television) in 'The Ski Lodge', and the most hilarious ever 'Bebe' episode, 'The Zoo Story'. Christopher Lloyd produces Frasier's finest ever Christmas episode in the cleverly plotted 'Perspectives On Christmas'. Ken Levine and David Isaacs give us the show's finest ever Lilith episode, 'Room Service', which combines tightly written farce with each character applying psychoanalytic theory to the situation, and the brilliant Rob Hanning produces his masterpiece with the tender yet hilarious 'First Date', which is the finest ever 'Niles and Daphne' episode. Season 5 finds a show stretching itself and succeeding. We have episodes set on a cruise ship, on location on the streets of Seattle, even one with the characters playing various literary figures. But always the emotional and thematic depth is present. The storylines are adult, mature and thoughtful. For example, 'My Fair Frasier' examines male/female roles in a relationship. In 'Desperately Seeking Closure', Frasier examines the various strengths and weaknesses of his personality. The fact that these episodes do these things whilst also being hilariously funny just puts these 24 episodes at a level no other show has reached.
But perhaps where this season scores most above all the others is in its characterisation. This season marks the point in the show's run where the characters and relationships had matured considerably, but had not changed so much that their comedic potential was compromised. The rapport between the cast is unbeatable in this season, full of warmth and perfect timing. This is ensemble comedy of the highest calibre. Individual performances, too, were never better, before or since. Watch Kelsey Grammer's supreme, hilarious performance in 'Frasier's Imaginary Friend', or Peri Gilpin's funny and moving turn in 'The Kid'(probably the best performance she ever gave). Niles and Daphne's characters reach a perfect balance in this season. Daphne retains her eccentric charm, but is a fully rounded character rather than the caricature of earlier seasons. Niles is still hilariously mannered and uptight, but we see far more of the depth of emotion beneath. David Hyde Pierce is truly oustanding in episodes such as 'The Maris Counsellor' and 'First Date', combining hyterical physical comedy and immaculate verbal delivery with truly heartbreaking emotion.
Frasier's greatest strength was always its brilliant combination of wit, warmth and depth, and this season expresses that philosophy better than any other. It is best to watch this season after you have seen the first four seasons, and I urge you to watch the episodes several times. The episodes in this season really grow with repeated viewings, and you see more and more in them. Come to this box set with your head and your heart and you won't be disappointed. 'Frasier', and sitcoms, were never quite this good before, and would never be quite this good again.