Frasier Season 1 Episodes, Ranked (Part 1)

Frasier Can't Buy Me Love

24. Episode 14 – “Can’t Buy Me Love”

“Can’t Buy Me Love” is an episode of odd pairings, featuring Frasier and a vengeful teenage girl (the child of a woman who bought Frasier at a bachelor auction hosted by his father), and Daphne and Bulldog – which is as odd and pointless as you’d expect it to be. Unfunny and thoroughly forgettable, “Can’t Buy Me Love” makes the error of keeping Frasier’s potential romantic partner (one of the few he has in season one) offscreen for the entire episode, forcing Frasier into stilted dialogue with a teenager he just can’t seem to understand. It also forces the audience to sit through a four-minute scene of Bulldog and Daphne in a cab outside of a Sonics game – which is something nobody should have to sit through.

Frasier Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast

23. Episode 13 – “Guess Who’s Coming to Breakfast”

It’s not often, at least in early seasons, a Frasier episode focused on Marty and Frasier is disappointing – “Guess Who’s Coming to Breakfast”, however, proved the show’s core dynamic wasn’t completely infallible. Though a fun reminder of Marty’s far superior dating skills, watching Frasier talk about his father’s sex life on his radio show offers diminishing returns, especially when it happens multiple times in the same episode. Also, this is the episode where Roz goes on a date with radio station nerd Noel Chomsky, in season one’s strangest, most regrettable subplot.

Frasier And the Whimper Is

22. Episode 18 – “And the Whimper Is…”

Roz Doyle, despite her earned status as one of the iconic sitcom women of the 1990’s, doesn’t get a whole lot to do in Frasier‘s first season. She’s around for a few sex jokes and throwaway bits each episode, but not much else – that is, except for “And the Whimper Is…”, an episode which misappropriates many of character traits into a particularly ugly version of the character. Though this is somewhat by intent – the plot revolves around Frasier and Roz trying to schmooze their way into a local broadcasting award – it just doesn’t work, leading to one of the season’s most weightless, disappointing entries.

Frasier Fortysomething

21. Episode 20 – “Fortysomething”

Part of Frasier‘s charm is its ability to explore the existentialism of middle age; reflecting on mortality, the loss of youth, time lost to mistakes, etc. Often, that manifests in quirky, interesting stories about Frasier’s anxiety propelling him to comedic places; in “Fortysomething”, it just leads to him to awkwardly try and date a 22 year old department store employee, a plot mostly designed to consider whether Frasier will consider sleeping with someone approximately half his age. It’s as good an idea as it sounds.

Frasier A Mid-Winter Night's Dream

20. Episode 17 – “A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream”

If i were to rank season one episodes on aesthetics alone, “A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream” would far and away be the winner; how the episode lights and films the interiors of Niles’s home during a winter storm is captivating, and adds an incredible amount of visual texture to an otherwise pedestrian episode. As the first episode really starting to dig its nails into Niles’s marriage and his attraction to Daphne, one would hope to see some sparks in the show’s suddenly baroque, Victorian-era setting. Unfortunately, those sparks just aren’t there – which, considering what a focal point their dynamic would become in later seasons, makes for a pretty underwhelming introduction here, despite a few solid physical gags.

Frasier Call Me Irresponsible

19. Episode 7 – “Call Me Irresponsible”

Frasier‘s first romantic interest of the series presents an interesting dilemma for the tortured psychiatrist, when he tries to date the ex-girlfriend of a recent caller to his radio show. The episode’s script just doesn’t give Frasier, or his interest Katherine, any room to grow beyond the premise – and that just results in a hacky, repetitive episode, one that fully undersells how desperate Frasier Crane would get when he gets horny – a plot point the series would use to much greater effect at different points in this season, and throughout the series.

Frasier The Crucible

18. Episode 6 – “The Crucible”

“The Crucible” is one of the more by-the-book episodes of Frasier‘s first season, and the debut of a creative crutch the series would lean on many, many times throughout its 11-season run; Frasier, whether accidentally or purposefully, walks himself into a social faux pas and spends the episode awkwardly recovering from it. In this case, it’s being swindled into buying a piece of fake art, the likes of which Frasier thinks will allow him to waltz into Seattle’s upper echelon. It’s not a complete loss, though: this is the episode where Niles commits a felony in a moment to try and feel something, after all.

Frasier Oops!

17. Episode 10 – “Oops!”

Frasier would flirt with being a workplace comedy at various times throughout its run, to varying degrees of success. Its first foray into the format, however, is quite a mixed bag; after rumors start flying about a KACL host being fired, Frasier takes it upon himself to get everyone worked up into a panic, leading to Bulldog Briscoe throwing a tantrum and getting himself fired. It’s not a great episode, though – save for one good Frasier/Bulldog scene, “Oops!” is a bit underwhelming, never able to turn Dan Butler’s energetic performance as Bulldog into anything kinetic for the story, and lacking in any other kind of story to give the episode a pulse.

Frasier Frasier Crane's Day Off

16. Episode 23 – “Frasier Crane’s Day Off”

Stuck between the superior “Author, Author” and “My Coffee With Niles”, Frasier‘s penultimate season one episode finds itself in a strange place – and for better or worse, leans into it. While sick with a virus, Frasier becomes incredibly paranoid when Niles successfully fills in for him as a radio host, throwing him into a feverish sweat – and, importantly, letting Frasier slightly dip its toes into surrealist comedy. Of course, “Frasier Crane’s Day Off” doesn’t quite commit to the bit, willing to rest on the laurels of Grammar’s slapstick performance rather than make it something truly experimental and different, one of few real missed opportunities of the first season.

Frasier You Can't Tell a Crook by His Cover

15. Episode 15 – “You Can’t Tell a Crook by His Cover”

At first, “You Can’t Tell a Crook by His Cover” feels like a major letdown; the episode’s first half doesn’t take full advantage of its premise, where Frasier tries to figure out which one of Marty’s friends is a former felon. It’s not terrible, but it’s instantly forgettable – especially as the episode shifts its attention to Daphne’s ability to hustle a pool table, bringing unexpected dimension to a character that was mostly relegated to ditzy jokes and British stereotypes. Her foray into the dirty underbelly of Seattle’s dive par pool scene is a highlight for character and performer, the rare instance in Frasier‘s freshman offering Jane Leeves is allowed to explore the enigma that is Daphne Moon.

Frasier Selling Out

14. Episode 9 – “Selling Out”

One of Frasier‘s strengths over the years are its recurring side characters; and though she’s hardly ever seen in episodes with any real meaningful material, Frasier’s agent Bebe Glazer remains one of my favorite of Frasier’s rogue’s gallery of personalities. After hiring Bebe to manage his professional affairs, Frasier quickly falls victim to hypocrisy, throwing his ethics aside to hawk an embarrassing collection of products. While he eventually recovers his sense of morality, Bebe’s mesmerizing effect on Frasier, and its protagonist, would last throughout the series, her random appearances always a comedic highlight of the series. It’s certainly given a proper genesis in “Selling Out”, even if the story around her character’s introduction is a bit flimsy.

Frasier I Hate Frasier Crane

13. Episode 4 – “I Hate Frasier Crane”

“Radio host gets into a pissing contest with a local newspaper columnist” is a decidedly late-20th century plotline; and for Frasier, comes after an impressive trio of episodes to start the series. Though “I Hate Frasier Crane” focuses too much on its external conflict to hit the highs of its first three episodes, it ends on an incredibly strong note, when Marty saves Frasier from a self-imposed test of masculinity (one he should’ve never felt compelled to experience in the first place, which Marty regrets). It’s a subtle sign of Marty’s growing willingness to open up to his sons and begin to heal their intergenerational rift, and an important building block for the young comedy.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Want to share your thoughts? Join the conversation below!