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Halloween On Frasier

Suppose you were to watch a sitcom from the 90s that depicted a holiday, especially Halloween.  In that case, you'd likely see great, elaborate costumes on the characters as they attend heavily decorated house parties filled with Halloween spirit.  The houses would be filled with cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons, witches, black cats, and more.  Halloween was considered a special event on those shows, and it's how I feel that Halloween should have been in real life.

Given how much we all watched television as kids, many of us collectively feel that's how it really happened anyway.  

Honestly, though, we all had homemade costumes cobbled together at nearly the last minute or the very rare store-bought outfit.  We’d collect a small amount of candy and call it a night after hitting the 15 houses on our block before returning home to watch those Halloween specials we now all cherish.  

Don’t get me wrong, I had many fun Halloweens on which I look back fondly.  Especially that one year my parents got the itch and had a Halloween party with all of the kids from school.  My Mom came up with games and activities, and Dad made this elaborate haunted house in the garage that everyone loved.  They never did that again, and in a way, that makes that one time even more special.

Sitcoms in the 80s and 90s got the holidays right, and that's why for the past two years, I've covered classic sitcoms and their special holiday episodes.  You can find the series on Home Improvement and Roseanne in the Collections Section whenever you want, or click HERE for HOME IMPROVEMENT or HERE for ROSEANNE

This year, I've selected another classic sitcom of the 90s that my family always enjoyed watching together:  Frasier!  

Now, I know when you think of Frasier, Halloween doesn't immediately come to mind, especially when compared to Roseanne or Home Improvement.  However, there were a handful of memorable episodes that celebrated the season and even one that is often described as "iconic" or "classic" that makes many people's "Top 5" episode lists.

With the recent news of the Frasier "reboot" sequel series being greenlit on Paramount Plus, I thought the original series would be an excellent choice for our focus this year in the "Holidays On..." series.

Frasier was created as a spin-off of the classic sitcom Cheers, continuing the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer.  He returns to his hometown of Seattle as a talk radio host, where he reconnects with his father (John Mahoney) and his younger brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce).  Jane Leeves appeared as Daphne Moon, Martin's live-in caregiver, and Peri Gilpin played Frasier's friend and producer, Roz Doyle. 

Frasier aired on NBC between September 1993 to May 1994.  Originally airing after Seinfeld on Thursdays at 9:30 PM, the network showed its faith in the series by moving the show to Tuesdays to go head-to-head with rating juggernaut Roseanne.  In 1998, the show was moved back to Thursdays, taking over the timeslot at 9 PM long held by the recently concluded Seinfeld. 

The show produced 264 episodes over eleven seasons, receiving critical acclaim for its writing and humor.  The series amassed 318 nominations for a variety of industry awards, including 108 Emmy awards (with 37 wins), 24 Golden Globe Awards (with two wins), 26 Screen Actors Guild Awards (with 2 wins), 11 TCA Awards (with five wins), 9 Writers Guild of America awards (with six wins), and 9 Directors Guild of America awards (with two wins).

My Mom and Dad were big fans of Frasier, and I frequently watched along with them.  I didn't understand most of the humor as a younger kid, but I enjoyed laughing with my parents.  One episode, in particular, involved Niles pre-dialing "9-1-1" into his cellphone and was just waiting to hit send while he, Frasier, and Martin sat in their car in a sketchy neighborhood.  We were practically rolling at that scene, and it was one of several times Granny could hear us from next door.

I didn't start watching Frasier seriously until much later in life.  When The Hallmark Channel began airing Frasier later at right, for some time, it was all my wife and I watched as we headed to bed.

Frasier is often called "high brow" because its titular character frequently discusses things like wine and the opera.  Still, one just has to watch a handful of episodes to see that it contains slapstick and plenty of childish "low-brow" humor.  Much like its predecessor, Cheers, Frasier often used tongue-in-cheek humor filled with double entendres that appealed to high and low-brow audiences.  

Like in our previous look-backs at other sitcoms, not every episode at the end of October covered, or even mentioned, Halloween.  As a matter of fact, only three episodes in the eleven-season series centered around the Halloween holiday.  

Get ready because here's a quick look at those three Frasier Halloween episodes.  

Fair warning, even though it's been nearly 30 years, there are spoilers below:

"Halloween" (S5, E3) Originally Aired October 28, 1997 -

This classic episode of Frasier finally marks the first foray into the Halloween holiday; it's an episode that is not only remembered for its comedic misunderstandings but creates a plot point going forward in the series.  Many fans also consider this to be one of their favorite episodes of the entire series, and I must admit, I laughed out loud harder than I had in a long time when I watched it back for this article.  

It may have taken five seasons to get to this point, and it doesn't really talk much about Halloween, per se, but it does indeed feature a costume party with some great seasonal decorations!

Earlier in the episode, Roz confesses to Frasier that she might be pregnant and is waiting for a call from her doctor to confirm it.  Frasier convinces her to take her mind off her worries and join him at Niles' costume party that evening.  

Niles is hosting a party to benefit the Library Association, requiring that all must come dressed in costume as their favorite literary characters.  Frasier and Daphne dress as The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer and the Wife of Bath.  Martin dons a cape and hat as Sherlock Holmes, while Niles dresses as Cyrano de Bergerac.  Roz arrives dressed as "O," the love slave from The Story of O.  Bulldog shows off his lack of literary knowledge when he comes as Waldo from "Where's Waldo?"  

At the costume party, Daphne and Frasier discuss having "accidents," Later, due to a misunderstanding, Frasier lets it slip that Roz is pregnant.  Daphne had been referring to the vehicular kind of accident.  Niles overhears a small portion of a conversation between Daphne and Frasier and concludes that Frasier and Daphne must be about to have a baby.  

Roz, misunderstanding what she then overhears, thinks Frasier told Niles about her pregnancy.  Martin overhears Roz and Frasier, and in a hysterical discussion with Niles moments later, the two assume Frasier is the father to either Roz or Daphne's baby.  Daphne's false eyelashes are causing her eye pain, and she asks Frasier to take her home, but he's in the middle of flirting with a woman dressed as Eve from The Bible.  Niles intends to propose to Daphne to take care of the baby he thinks Frasier doesn't want and then interrupts an argument between Frasier and Daphne about her "little problem."  Niles confronts Frasier in front of the whole party, leading to Frasier letting it slip to the entire room that it's Roz and not Daphne, who is pregnant.  

In a piece of trivia, the woman hitting on Frasier at the party (Eve) was played by Kelsey Grammer's then-wife Camille Donatacci.  Also, in a cute bit of continuity, Roz finds out that she's pregnant in Niles' apartment and then enters labor in his apartment during another party towards the end of the season.  Also, at both parties, Niles' carpet is soiled, in this episode by a dropped crab puff, and Roz's water breaks in "The Life of the Party."

"Room Full of Heroes" (S9, E6) Originally Aired October 30, 2001

Four years after the initial Halloween episode, Frasier finally circles back to the spooky holiday.  

Frasier, dressed as Sigmund Freud, is hosting a party where attendees must wear costumes portraying their personal hero.  When he asks why no children have arrived to trick-or-treat, Daphne explains to Frasier that all the children in the building are afraid of him.  They have begun calling him "Old Man Crane" and sing songs about how "Old Man Crane will eat their brain."  Just as Frasier wonders aloud how these rumors could be started, we find his father, Martin, telling a group of trick-or-treaters to beware of Old Man Crane.  

Martin dresses as baseball great Joe DiMaggio, while Daphne dresses as a young Elton John.  Roz arrives in a Wonder Woman costume, and shortly after, Niles arrives dressed just like Martin.

Everyone loves Niles' costume except Frasier, who had hoped Niles would show up to the party dressed as another classic psychiatrist.  Frasier sits everyone down to play his party game after having fielded calls from his other friends, who all came down with a mysterious "illness" and could not attend his party.

The game consists of asking and answering relatively boring questions in the character of their costume, but when the gang gets into the game and begins having a lively discussion, Frasier quickly puts a stop to it.  Jealous of Niles' costume earning Martin's approval, Frasier storms out of the apartment. 

In the lobby of the apartment building, Frasier finds a young boy whose candy was stolen by his brother.  Frasier quickly bonds with the kid over having problems with their brothers, but then steps over the line by suggesting he place a piece of fiberglass insulation in his brother's bed to cause him skin irritation.  

Realizing he may have overreacted, Frasier returns to the apartment after reassuring the little boy he does not, in fact, eat human brains.  

When he returns, the group begins playing his game again, but a drunken Niles insults Martin by suggesting his two sons were his biggest disappointment in life since they have never learned to be regular guys.  After everyone calms down, Frasier goes to help Niles take his wig off.  In what was probably the biggest laugh of the episode for me, Frasier is pulling and yanking on the wig only to rip it off just as the children arrive at the door to see the appearance of a brain-eating moment.  

As a bit of trivia, this is the first time we see the lobby of The Elliott Bay Towers, Frasier's apartment building.  Steven Anthony Lawrence, best known as Beans on the Disney Channel Original Series Even Stevens, appears as a trick-or-treater afraid of Old Man Crane in this episode and again in the next season's Halloween episode "Tales from the Crypt" as a boy in Nile's building who goes to war with Daphne's mother.

"Tales from the Crypt" (S10, E5) Originally Aired October 29, 2002

The final Halloween episode of Frasier aired just a year later in this Season Ten episode.  We open the episode with another prank on Frasier from Bulldog.  Bulldog says he was just trying to get Frasier into the Halloween spirit, but Dr. Crane isn't in a good mood as he begins his show.  Going into a commercial break, he's pranked again after he discovers Bulldog has replaced his advertisement audio with the audio of Frasier crying from the last prank. 

Niles forgot to purchase Halloween candy for the neighborhood kids and is hiding inside his apartment.  Daphne's mother, Gertrude, answers the door and a boy named Jason from down the hall asks for candy.  When she tells him to get lost, he promises a "trick" since he didn't get a "treat."  After a few moments, he covers the front door with eggs.

Frasier makes plans to get Bulldog back, but Roz points out that his plan of placing a balloon on Bulldog's car when the Seattle Seahawks lose is pretty weak.  Niles and Daphne have brought Gertrude to the coffee shop to meet with Frasier, where she admits that she placed a glob of vaseline on Jason's doorknob.  Behind her back at the coffee shop, Jason had ordered a bunch of cookies and cakes on her tab and ran off.  Later on, she steals the pedals off his bicycle.

Meanwhile, Frasier has hired actors to dress as zombies to scare Bulldog.  Marty and Roz try to talk Frasier out of competing with a master of pranks like Bulldog, but he continues with his plans anyway.  The next day, Roz and Martin show up to apologize to Frasier and watch him execute his practical joke.

Meanwhile, Gertrude and Jason continue their feud but wind up being forced to apologize to each other.  After apologizing, the two team up to prank Jason's Mom and Niles to get back at the two of them for forcing them to apologize.  

In the basement of the radio station, Bulldog is frightened by the zombies and pulls out a gun, shooting one of the zombie actors.  Distraught, Frasier runs to the basement and reveals he was behind the prank, begging for an ambulance.  Marty, Roz, and Bulldog begin laughing and reveal they teamed up to get Frasier with the fake gun.  The actor staggers to his feet, only to fall over again with a large pair of scissors sticking out of his spine.  Everyone in the room panics, only for Frasier to reveal that he is the mastermind behind the final prank, having teamed up with Bulldog to prank Roz and his father.

This was the least "Halloween-ie" of the three episodes but still accounted for the holiday with some decorations in the radio station's studio and the frequent mention of Halloween pranks.  Jason's trick-or-treating early in the episode was also the only mention of actual Halloween night.