HTF REVIEW: Frasier - The Complete Fourth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Scott Kimball, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Frasier - The Complete Fourth Season



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1996 - 1997

    Rated: NR

    Length: 9 Hours, 13 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

    Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: None

    Estimated Street Price: $30, USD


    Release Date: February 1, 2005

    Of course, it’s only a matter of opinion, but I think Frasier, especially in its earlier years, was consistently the best written and wittiest sitcom on television in its day. That opinion, though, seems to be widely shared - what with countless Emmys, People’s Choice and Critics awards over the years.

    The strength of the show is the chemistry between the cast members. Frasier and Niles have obvious chemistry as the snooty brother psychologists, but the chemistry runs through the rest of the characters as well - Martin, Daphne, Roz and Bulldog... and of course, Eddie. It is an entirely believable dysfunctional group. The chemistry is backed by solid and smart writing that doesn’t always go for the obvious joke... and the jokes usually work on multiple levels, appealing to more people. I can only imagine the atmosphere in the writers meetings for this show!

    Season four opens in fine form with “The Two Mrs. Cranes.” One could say that the episode, like so many, is typical farce - but farce is what Frasier delivers like no other. In this episode, each of the Crane family must play the role of another - Niles is Daphne’s husband, Roz is Maris who is married to Frasier... As usual, the situation is set up in an entirely believable way before it spins wildly out of control. The cast are as much masters of delivery of this farce as the writers are masters of creating it.

    “Mixed Doubles” finds Niles missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally express his feelings for Daphne. Just as he is about to open up, Daphne reveals she has found a new man - but the man is nothing short of a Niles clone. This is one of the many episodes that not only has great humor, but it is bittersweet as well.

    There isn’t an unfunny episode in the lot. And it’s nice that the show dares to end the season on a bit of a down note, once again bittersweet, as Frasier is lonely - searching for a new love in “Odd Man Out.” Of course, there is a tease... a glimmer of hope at the end.

    Season four also features a hilarious Thanksgiving themed episode featuring Lilith.

    Season four shows no loss of steam in the characters or writing. Rest assured, there are several more entertaining seasons of Frasier yet to come on DVD.

    The Transfer
    The Video for Frasier season four is quite good, following up the first three seasons with similar qualities. Contrast is high, with good definition in the whites as well as in the shadows. The picture is adequately sharp. Color saturation is very nice. I didn’t notice any compression artifacts in the half dozen random episodes that I screened for this review.

    The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. Frequency response is good. Dialog sounds great - consistently clean, clear and broad in range. Music sounds excellent, with good bass response. Surrounds are used primarily for music reverb and laugh track. This sounds as good as one would expect a TV sitcom to sound.

    Special Features
    Paramount has eliminated special features from the Frasier and Cheers season sets. The special features included in earlier seasons were fluff, anyway - so there in no great loss. The set does have previews for other Paramount TV on DVD on disc one. These are available via the menu navigation - but they are also (unfortunately) included as forced previews.

    Final Thoughts
    Frasier is an outstanding sitcom, considerably smarter than most others on tv - including its progenitor, Cheers. Great farce. Great laughs. This set is a must for fans - even without extras. The transfers are pretty much identical to previous season releases.
     
  2. Andrew Radke

    Andrew Radke Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review Scott. I just picked this set up on Saturday and plan on watching some of it tonight. There are indeed a lot of great episodes in this season, but personally I can't wait until season 5 which features the ski trip episode. That by far is my favorite episode of the series.

    I've been less than impressed with the lack of extras from Paramount in regards to these sets. Don't get me wrong. The first 3 seasons were great. However, I fully expected the "Analyzing The Laughter" special to be featured on the final season set, since it originally aired just before the finale. It was disappointed to see that it was omitted.

    I also wish they could've kept the "Celebrity Voices" feature. We had fun guessing who the celebrity was before the name would flash on the screen.

    Minor gripes aside, I buy this solely for the episodes. The "extras" are just that......extra. I know I'll enjoy this set just as much as the others.
     
  3. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    I'm eagerly awaiting tomorrow as my all-time favorite episode of Frasier is in S4: Ham Radio. It deals with Frasier's tribute to KACL's 50th anniversary with a presentation of the first radio drama the station produced, "Nightmare Inn".

    "Could the McAllister sisters stand back-to-back? I'm running out of bullets..."

    Thanks for the review, Scott! I'm not a huge fan of Paramount's new No Extras policies, but at least we're still getting the shows.
     
  4. Jonathan Kaye

    Jonathan Kaye Second Unit

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    Surely not surrounds if it's 2.0?
     
  5. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    I didn't like season 4 a whole lot, thanks to one awful semi-regular they brought in (Sherry), but there are still a few gems, like the aforementioned Ham Radio. [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    There is almost always matrixed surround info in shows like these, for laugh track and music. The show works well in Pro-Logic.

    -Scott
     
  7. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Ham Radio is definitely one of the best episodes of Frasier ever produced. It failed to catch my attention by title, or I would have inserted this one into my random selection before I wrote the review.

    No matter... I will eventually be viewing the entire set... I just didn't have time to do that and get the review posted by a reasonable date.

    One of my other favorites is season two's "An Affair to Forget." Who else could have an argument in three languages? Classic stuff.

    -Scott
     
  8. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Scott I agree with your thoughts on the show as a whole, thanks for the great review, can't wait to pick this up.
     
  9. Romier S

    Romier S Producer

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    Niles: "En Garde!"

    Frasier: "Just what we need Niles...A FOURTH LANGUAGE!"

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  10. Jonathan Kaye

    Jonathan Kaye Second Unit

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    Absolutely, but it's not by intent. The way Pro-Logic equipment works means that some sort of surround info can be derived from any stereo source. Unless a show was originally mixed for Dolby Surround, then any surround info is by accident rather than by design.
     
  11. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I'm well aware of how Pro-Logic works. Intentional or not, my point was (as I stated):


    My personal preference for this type of program is usually to listen in Pro-Logic. The stereo channels remain active, but I find that dialog is more pleasing coming from the center channel.

    -Scott
     
  12. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    Is the Cruise ship one in this season? Another great scene with Frasier, Roz and Martin hiding in Maris' bathroom and Maris paying the waiter to toss drinks in Niles' face.
    Roz " You don't think she will "do" the barracuda?"
     
  13. David Williams

    David Williams Cinematographer

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    That's S5's Voyage of the Damned and if the recent announcement of Cheers S5 release is any indication, Frasier S5 should be out on 5/17.
     
  14. Jonathan Kaye

    Jonathan Kaye Second Unit

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    Scott, I don't disagree with you one iota, as my preference for stereo material is to use Pro-Logic II.

    However, your review stated "surrounds are used", implying intent on the part of the sound mixers, which there wasn't if they were mixing for stereo not Dolby Surround. I'm sure you're aware of quite how many multi-channel modes there are available these days (Pro-Logic, Pro-Logic II, DTS Neo-6, and heaven knows how many proprietary ones from Denon, Yamaha and other manufacturers). Had you added "When played in Pro-Logic" to this statement, then there would have been no confusion.

    Nit-picking aside, thank you for the review. Frasier is a great show, probably the most British of American sitcoms in its use of irony and sarcasm, and one that I'm more than happy to purchase![​IMG]
     

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