TV Review - Frasier, Season 5
He's listening, but everyone's laughing...
Season summary: Martin breaks up with Sherry while Niles ends his marriage with Maris for good. The major new element is Roz's pregnancy, which comes to light on Halloween. (Frasier Wiki)
When I checked the episode list for Frasier's fifth season before starting to watch it again, I saw that "The Ski Lodge" was in there (episode 14) and knew that I was going to enjoy this season no matter what, as that is one of the greatest episodes of any comedy ever broadcast. What I wasn't expecting was just how many other fantastic episodes there were to accompany it.
Apart from some dodgy British accents in "Where Every Bloke Knows Your Name" - which would otherwise still a very good episode for any other show - the only sub-par showing in the entire season is "Beware Of Greeks", involving a side of the family that we meet for just this one episode. This includes Martin's brother, who was never mentioned before now and never will be again - a rare failure from the show.
I would list my favourite episodes of the season, but I might as well list them all then as there's so many of them. If "The Ski Lodge" is a certain #1, then it might have to be "Halloween", "Voyage of the Damned", "Room Service" and "Roz And The Schnoz" to round out a top five, but that's still leaving out some other pretty great episodes.
As if producing amazing episodes one after another wasn't enough, there's also longer-term development - including some that affect the rest of the show - as Martin finishes things with Sherry (thank god) and Niles ends things with Maris. The latter is obviously the bigger event, freeing up Niles to pursue Daphne even if he's still unsure how.
The biggest change is Roz's pregnancy which, strangely enough for a TV show, goes from conception to birth in the same season rather than dragging things out - helped by Peri Gilpin not actually being pregnant, so there was no need to cover up a real baby bump. The skill of Frasier's writing team also means that almost all pregnancy clichés like exaggerated mood swings are either used for one or two laughs, if not avoided entirely.
Every member of the casts rises to the material too, all proving wonderfully comfortable in the roles and refining them even further, helped by the bigger changes mentioned above allowing them and the show to explore new territory for everyone - although John Mahoney once again gets the most moving part of the entire season in "The Gift Horse" early on.
It's not an over-statement to say that season 5 of Frasier is one of the best for any comedy show ever, especially when taking into account how many episodes there are compared to a lot of modern series - never mind the far smaller number of episodes in UK shows. To have only one real clunker out of twenty-four episodes is just an astonishing hit rate.
Frasier's fifth season is incredible, with the majority of the episodes being great or better, with "The Ski Lodge" being the series' best. It's remarkable just how many amazing episodes there are back-to-back at times, with even the merely 'good' episodes having some brilliant moments/lines of their own. Plus, it really sets in motion longer-term plots with the changes to Niles and Roz's lives.