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Second seasons of television shows often better in their sophomore year, owing to tighter scripts, more experience with the format and a general improvement from the actors. With Frasier’s second time out, this industry trait falls into place perfectly. The big question though is this; just how much more improved can the show get over the classic first season? The answer to that would simply be, a lot. Read on to find out just why this season happens to be one of television’s ultimate pinnacles of exquisite writing and contains some of the finest half-hours your likely to run into.

With Frasier Crane confessing he’s happy with his life at the end of season one, Niles longing for Daphne and Marty finally settling into Frasier’s apartment, things look rosy this time out. Season one built up enough foundations to construct an entire city onto and season two takes every advantage to live up to its name and reputation.

The season opens with a bang when Frasier discovers an author has written a book based around events in his life and failed to mention him in the acknowledgements. Disgruntled at this travesty, Frasier is even more angered when the novel sweeps Seattle and becomes a bestseller. This story, while amusing on the surface has deeply emotional roots. Frasier, who feels unhappy with this incident in his life, finds that the book opens a door that he wants to shut for good. He goes on a quest in search of the piano teacher he had a romance with many years before and finally closes that chapter in his youth. Of course, right at the end, and when emotion had been built up so strongly, the story delivers a comedic smack to the face which is quite unforgettable. This kind of storytelling resonates throughout the entire series, delivering unexpected laughs and sometimes tears along the way.

Some other standout episodes would undoubtedly have to be ‘The Matchmaker’, where Frasier tries to set Daphne up with a date, only to find out that the date is homosexual and thinks Frasier is the date himself. ‘Adventure in Paradise, parts I and II’ delivers some hilarious moments when a trip with a new lady friend is interrupted by Frasier’s ex-wife, who happens to be accommodated in the next room with her new boyfriend. ‘You Scratch My Book’ is another novel based episode, this time pairing Frasier with the attractive Dr. Honey Snow who asks him to write the foreword to her psychological-pop novel. Probably the single most persistent moment this year would have to be honoured to Nile’s sword duel with a butch German fencer in the episode ‘An Affair to Forget”.

‘Daphne’s Room’ is one of the funnier shows in the season but the absolute standout episode and perhaps the best thirty minutes you’ll ever have in your life is ‘The Innkeepers’. The episode was so funny that during its peak I had to pause just to catch my breath. It’s an absolute classic and my favourite show in the season, perhaps the entire series. Rounding out the set, ‘Dark Victory’ ends the season with potent messages for the third year; characters have realised their places and the board is set for plenty more. Season two has twice the laughs, twice the drama and twice the charm than its predecessor. If season one was perfect (which it was) then season two is a god amongst insects. Enjoy.

There’s nothing special to be found here, unless you consider an average television transfer to be special that is. As mentioned in my Season One review (to which this season remains unchanged) the image can often be very grainy and plagued by smudging from time to time. Similarly, the print remains ample to the original source, and in this regard the image is more than acceptable.

Once again Paramount serves up a healthy Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that does its job with diligence; at least from a centre-channel perspective. Just as season one, the audio is crisp with dialogue cues and vocals remain strong and determinable.

Once again, the lack of directional audio and lower frequencies is to be expected but (and as with all sitcoms) it’s the centre channel that has to deliver. The Dolby soundtrack remains unchanged in quality from season one, which provided excellent midrange sound and is certainly more than good enough for this release.

The second time around, Paramount has doled out slightly more features, but sadly not enough to induce a higher final-rating. One again a commentary was given, this time for the episode ‘The Matchmaker’. It’s a great shame that the fan favourite ‘The Innkeepers’ wasn’t given the commentary treatment. Of all the shows in this season it’s that one that should have been pampered with this luxury.

The remaining features are once again slightly mundane, but somehow mange to be charming enough to pass as decently satisfying. A much welcome return is the ‘celebrity voices’ feature that can be accessed on every disc and once again reveals the mystery callers of Frasier’s radio show.

Packaging and disc holders are slightly different this time around. Instead of the glossy finish season one had, this set has a more matted finish to it. I prefer neither season to the other, both offer nice packaging all around. As for the disc holders, the change is nothing major, but you may just find it tad harder to remove and insert the discs with this set.

As a final note and this goes out to the folks at Paramount (if your listening, and you should). I have noticed that these sets are being released at an awfully slow pace, one set every six months, or so it appears. To be frank, I honestly think that the pace needs to be quickened. From what I understand, the demand for this series has rose since it ended and I think its time to acknowledge that.

Once again Frasier delivers. Only this time the show is so good that no words can do it justice enough. It simply is one of the best things on the box (and now on DVD) and deserves a place in anyone’s collection. Season two nearly doubles on everything from season one and even that was a flawless year. Upon completing this season you may just find yourself asking; how on earth can it get any better? To be honest, season two is as good as it gets, but if its any consolation, for the next couple of years it levels out to this kind of quality. That’s a good thing, believe you me.

Technical specs are just okay, as you may expect. The video and audio are nothing to shout home about but will complement each other to achieve a smooth blend between picture and sound. The features are modest though pleasantly cheery.

For my season one review I said “Miss it at your peril”…the same statement applies here.