Ah, dear, dear Kelsey, his voice so often inflected with that Bette Davis-style hauteur which made you love him even as you laughed. Whatever the faults of late-period Frasier (why, why, why let Niles marry Daphne? Or was that to prepare us for the long goodbye? And let's not even mention that Dick Van Dyke brother - who was meant to be Mancunian anyway), it was, for a long time, a superb sitcom, moving from farce to pathos in a heartbeat: key to its success was trusting the audience to stay with the characters for those pages when the cast weren't cracking wise.
At the core of the show is the relationship between Frasier and his dad, and the melancholy fact that whatever they feel about each other, they can never share that much. One of my fave moments (not in this series) was when Martin's relationship with the cheerful vulgarian, banjo-playin' Sherry, ended. Frasier meets his dad in a bar and seems to want to reassure him, tell him he'd find someone else. But both men know that at Martin's age that's unlikely - and eventually, rather than insult his dad with platitudes Frasier does the only thing he can : he pretends to take an interest in watching the sports on TV with his dad. It's a beautiful scene because, for all their differences, they are offering each other something simply in spending time together. Incidentally Niles, the brother, is really Frasier mk.1 - ie the super-neurotic shrink in Cheers. The new sitcom's creators realised if Frasier was to be at the centre he'd have to be more three-dimensional than his earlier persona allowed. And the happy coincidence that David Hyde Pearce resembled Kelsey Grammar when young swung it. Of such chances are great sitcoms made.
Why did it eventually run out of steam? My friend Mr Bennett said that it was that all the permutations had been tried - there was nothing new to say. I don't know; but I do know that the freshness and verve here is worth cherishing. And if you have been, thanks for reading.