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The new Crane boys?

Rewatching Frasier as my current background noise while I work. It’s my favorite sitcom of its era, such that I still enjoy it even twelve years after it ended. It’s famously one of most successful sitcom spinoffs, possibly the very most, of all time. Now and then as I watch it, ideas about the show occur to me, that fact in particular has made my thoughts drift to possible further stories from there. If you don’t mind a slight spoiler, all of the characters end up with children by the end of it— Frasier already had his son Frederick, Roz had daughter Alice in season 5, and the series finale featured the birth of Niles and Daphne’s son David. Could there possibly be a show in focusing on the next generation of the Cranes?

It would be tough, of course, and not just because spinoffs seem to have a stigma as being pointless coattail-hangers. The biggest problem is the age differences between the cast characters. Freddy was born in 1989, Alice in 1998, and David in 2004, making them in 2016 ages 27, 18, and 12. Those are large enough gaps to make it so they couldn’t really be peers growing up.

So, if I were going to do it, how might I pull it off? The main theme of Frasier’s presence in both Cheers and in his own show was the conflict arising between his intellectual, upper crust delicacy and snobbery and the more down-to-earth, average sensibilities of his family and friends— but finding ways to reach out and make connections despite it. The secondary major theme, I would say, is the irony of having the drive and even talent to help other while usually not having any ability to help oneself. It would be true to that spirit to find some way to continue these into a spinoff about the next generation.

So say we focused on Freddy as our new central or central-ish figure. We last saw him at age 13 or so, and though he was still a fairly young child, he had an established personality. He was in many ways like Frasier— very intelligent, academically gifted, but a bit awkward and alienated from more regular people, with a fragility due to a slightly neurotic upbringing. In that way, he could stand in as a new Frasier figure, special and advantaged in many ways, but struggling to find belonging and connection in a world he doesn’t fit into. (I have always said that was Frasier’s true driving issue— that he’s never felt like he belonged and will do just about anything to get a taste of that feeling.)

So that covers half of it, but where’s the other half—the conflict of a guy with those particular qualities and those particular emotional needs clashing with less rarified people in his life? There, it occurs to me, is where David Crane could come in.

Since he was just a baby when Frasier ended, his characterization is completely up in the air. It strikes me that he could have the opposite personality from Frederick’s. The idea came from an episode where Daphne is pregnant and Niles is worrying what if his son takes after her blue-collar side of the family and he has no ability to relate. So instead of a refined, patrician kind of person like his cousin, uncle, and father, older David could be a more typically masculine young man— tough, broey, interested in sports and cars, even rebellious, getting into trouble and not following the rules. Not only would this give him that opposition to Freddy, it would spiritually echo the central conflict from the parent show— instead of a regular-joe father struggling to get along with his snobbish sons, David is a regular-joe son who doesn’t get along with his snobbish father.

The question then would be how to get Freddy and David into a situation of appropriate proximity for this conflict to play out in a show. Freddy grew up in Boston while David is from Seattle, but their age difference presents the greatest challenge. Freddy is 15 years older than David— what scenario could put them in regular contact that also wouldn’t be a grown man fighting with a child that isn’t his? I think you’d have to cast David as something APPROACHING a peer of Freddy’s for this to work at all.

So I gave it some thought and came up with the following idea. I’d set the show in Boston in the year 2022, six years from now and nineteen years after we last saw Frasier. A 33-year-old Freddy still lives and works there. He’s in some sort of professional job that he’s kind of a workaholic at— it’s probably too cheesy to have him be a psychiatrist too, but not sure what instead, maybe adjunct professor —but he’s pretty lonely because he’s kind of awkward and doesn’t relate to other people that well. (He probably sees a psychiatrist for it!) His dating life is nonexistent. He’s in contact with his mother, who still lives in Boston but who he tries to avoid seeing, and his father, who he talks to most on the phone because he lives in San Francisco with his wife. (I decided Frasier and Charlotte work out.) He’s doing okay, but his status as a child genius led to high expectations he never could really meet, and the vague disappointment and pressure from his parents seriously stress him out.

The change comes when David shows up on his doorstep. He was never that close to his cousin David— he’s fifteen years older and lived all the way across the country —but he knows they don’t have much in common. David played varsity sports, is obsessed with working on his car, and was constantly in and out of trouble at school. Basically the polar opposite of Freddy. Last he’d heard was that Uncle Niles had pulled some strings to ensure that David got accepted to college at his alma mater, Yale. But it turns out that partway through his freshman year, David got expelled for an incident that involved a prank gone wrong. Now he’s in Boston at Freddy’s, the only person he knows on the east coast, not sure what to do with himself.

Now Freddy gets tasked by the family to keep an eye on David, help him find his way and keep him out of trouble. Maybe Freddy helps David get enrolled at another Boston-area college, one more suited to him than Yale. In the process of respectively looking out for and needing one another, they could have their high-low personality clashes, as well as find common ground and each help the other learn what they lack. The age difference could mirror the parent show’s father-son dynamic, but it’s not so extreme as to shut out also playing on a brothers dynamic.

Much as I like focusing on the brothers thing, which could nicely echo the best part of Frasier, I’d really love to get Alice Doyle in there, somehow. An early idea I had is that she and David ended up in Boston is that a lovesick David followed her there and she rejected him, leaving him directionless and in need of Freddy’s support. But not only might that be too much on the bad side of sitcommy, Alice is also six years older, so I don’t know If that would really make sense. But otherwise it’s a bit coincidental that they both ended up there after growing up in Seattle. There are a ton of colleges in the Boston area, so maybe I could use that to say she’s going to grad school there? I’m not sure. Also, Niles and Daphne could have had other kids in the intervening time— one episode implied to give a future glimpse of their next child, a daughter —who could maybe appear sometimes too.

It wouldn’t have any of the main Frasier cast as regulars, probably— at one point they were the best-paid actors on television, and even though they’re not the superstars they were then, they’re still probably too expensive for that. I mean, if one of them wanted to, I could probably work them in, but there would be plenty of opportunities for guest appearances. I'd love to have Lilith pop up semi-regularly as his horrifying mother. Hell, in Boston, you could even have folks from Cheers.

If I could get any of them for regular guest spots, it would be David Hyde Pierce. And not just because I adore him, though I really do. Him appearing would allow for the demonstration of the tension between him and David, a son he doesn’t really relate to and is somewhat disappointed in. It would be a fun way to harken to Martin’s relationship to Niles and Frasier without reproducing it exactly. Of course, if you have Niles, you’d need Jane Leeves to be Daphne too.

What would I call it? I guess, in keeping with precedent, the obvious title is “Freddy,” but it doesn’t have the same power as the Freddy character isn’t firmly established in viewer’s minds the way Frasier was coming off of Cheers. But what else would work? "The Cousins Crane"? "Crane Boys"? I'd want something that uses the connection to the original as marketing, but still is representative of the new piece.

The child actor who played Freddy, Trevor Einhorn, is still working as an adult. He never blew me out of the water with his acting or anything, so I don’t know if he could carry his own show, but I like the continuity of it. Though I did see him in a role on Mad Men, where he had the distinction of giving Don Draper the frankest, most on-point read he ever received— “You have no character! You’re just handsome!” —a line that one day I will include in an analytical essay on the Power of Pretty in storytelling.

For tomorrow’s entry of 31P31D, I’m going to post a scene I wrote for this. Looking at how long this got, I decided to post the musing and “pitch” information separately today. It’s not the best use of my time to work on something like this, but 31P31D require writing something. And this was on my mind right now. Though I know it’s basically a pointless exercise.


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About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

Latest Month

April 2017


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