The Beautiful Way The Frasier Reboot Mourns The Passing Of John Mahoney

Spoilers for the "Frasier" revival follow.

'90s kids will be pleased to hear that Kelsey Grammer hasn't ruined "Frasier" for us all. When it was first announced, the revival show that just premiered on Paramount+ seemed likely to sully the memory of the beloved sitcom, which ran from 1993-2004 and racked up 37 Emmys across its 11 seasons. But in the age of streaming where the sitcom format seems beyond outdated and everyone's binge-watching high-production value premium dramas, reviving "Frasier" seemed like the perfect way to tarnish our cherished memories of the show.

Thankfully, the "Frasier" revival is actually quite charming, and while it doesn't seem entirely necessary, it at least makes for a return that's neither disappointing nor remarkable. Which, all in all, is a pretty good outcome for those with fond memories of Frasier Crane and his family's Seattle-based exploits.

It might seem a little excessive to worry so much about any of this. But "Frasier" often managed to transcend the sitcom genre. The show had a real heart, which, along with general nostalgia for the golden age of '90s sitcoms, means that any mention of it elicits a real pang of emotion for anyone who grew up watching. And arguably the most crucial element of that heart was John Mahoney's Martin Crane. The blue-collar everyman father of Frasier and his brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), Martin was often the one to cut through his sons' pomposity, bring them back down to earth, and remind them of what's important. Sadly, Mahoney passed away in 2018, making his return for the revival impossible.

But just as Grammer and co. avoided dishonoring the original show with this new series, so too did they manage to properly honor Mahoney's memory in the premiere episode.

'The world cannot afford to lose a kind man'

John Mahoney's Martin Crane wasn't just the no-nonsense foil to his sons' pretentiousness. He brought a sense of warmth and everyman charm to "Frasier" which seemed to extend behind the scenes, where Mahoney was clearly just as beloved. As Kelsey Grammer told Fox News:

"His loss is and was devastating and must be given the proper attention in honor of the extraordinary man he was and the contribution he made to the show and to the acting profession. We will most certainly be honoring him according to his merit. A man of merit he remains to this day. John was a kind man, and the world cannot afford to lose a kind man at any time."

Grammer lived up to that promise, too. In the inaugural installment of the revival series, as the "Frasier" trailer promised, Frasier arrives in Boston and soon reconnects with his son, Freddy (Jack Cutmore-Scott). But despite not being physically in evidence, Mahoney's Martin maintains a strong presence throughout the episode. Almost immediately after Frasier steps off the plane in the opening moments, he mentions his father's funeral, which by the end has become a sticking point between him and Freddy, who chose not to attend. We soon learn why the younger Crane was reluctant to make the trip, as Freddy reveals that his grandfather actually flew out to Boston to comfort him after his friend died in a fire. In other words, Martin meant too much to him and he couldn't face the loss head-on — a feeling Grammer and the crew no doubt confronted when faced with the loss of Mahoney. And as if that wasn't enough to provoke a few tears, there was more to the show's Mahoney tribute.

'It all works out'

Kelsey Grammer and his writers infused their revival show with some very real emotions related to John Mahoney's passing and the enormity of having to face such a loss. But there was more to come after Freddy's revelations of how much his grandfather meant to him. Having shared his reasons for forgoing the funeral, Freddy is gifted by his father the flag that flew over the Seattle capitol to honor Martin's passing. Frasier then promises to be a better dad, not only to make up for being absent in Freddy's life, but to honor his own father's dedication to being a dad. It's all very upsetting in a warm and touching way, and a lot more poignant and moving than you might be expecting going in.

But not content with reducing us all to a blubbering mess, the "Frasier" revival packs in one final tribute to Mahoney by ending on a shot from the original series in which Martin sits in his favorite tartan recliner, smiles, and reassures us all that "It all works out." There are unconfirmed reports of this writer shedding a tear or two. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Alongside this surprisingly touching tribute to his former co-star, Grammer also made sure to honor longtime "Frasier" script supervisor, Gabrielle James, as well as Archie Lyndhurst, the young son of reboot star Nicholas Lyndhurst. Along with Mahoney, the revival's first episode is dedicated to both, making for a dignified opening to the new show that manages to preserve much of the heart that Mahoney brought to the original. All of which is a bit of a relief considering Grammer seemed to want to make the whole thing about him prior to the show's debut.