In the Better Know a TV Formula series, we look at seminal episodes of television shows that rely on (or subvert) classic narrative structures. Woof. That sounds pretentious. Really, we just like to know what makes our favourite television work, and structure can be a huge part of that success. Dive in with us!
The classic TV comedy Frasier is known for a number of firsts and bests. The critically-acclaimed series netted over 35 primetime Emmy wins over its 11-year run, and countless other awards and nominations. Critical acclaim and awards don’t always translate into watchable or lovable programs, but in the case of Frasier (and in my not-so-humble opinion), the show is both watchable and lovable, even 10+ years after its series finale aired. Of course, this isn’t an automatic feat, and if you are looking for a contemporary program from the time that hasn’t aged well (why would anyone look for that?), check out an episode of Will and Grace. Acting strength of Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes aside, that show is pretty terrible on re-watch. So what sets Frasier apart? It’s a strong narrative structure that supports well-developed comedic instincts that don’t show their age the way some other shows do.
Let’s look at an example episode. One of my favourites is “Look Before You Leap” which aired in 1996 during the show’s third season.