Frasier and The John Larroquette Show


Frasier (1993-2004)
The John Larroquette Show (1993-1996)
Type: Crossover
Group 2

   Every once in awhile someone comes along who tries to do a television shows that does more than entertains. They try to create a show that teaches and uplifts as well. And to those fine, noble and good hearted few I can say only one thing: you poor deluded bastards. Have ya been watching TV? We don't do that kinda crap. I mean we love to have crap shows on TV just not that kinda crap. If you want to teach and uplift us you are gonna have sneak it in under the radar my friend.

   And that was maybe the crux of The John Larroquette Show's problem. Now don't misunderstand that first paragraph. I have nothing but respect for someone trying to get a show on TV that is more than just another sitcom. But it is across the board a terribly tough thing to do. Give John Larroquette credit, he tried.

   Fresh off a long successful run on the NBC hit Night Court, John Larroquette was offered the chance to do his own show. A recovering substance abuser himself, Larroquette decided to try and do a sitcom that might also help some folks. On the new show his character, John Hemingway, would be a recovering alcoholic working as the night manager at a run down bus station and working through a twelve step program. The show could chronicle his progress through the different stages and all the problems he would run into along the way. Given the setting the show could and would also be populated with other imperfect struggling characters. The show would be able to tackle all sorts of relevant social issues as well as recovery plots. So even as some folks were just watching for the laughs, others might be getting something more out of it.

   That's a tough sell in a lot of ways though. Would the average viewing public want to watch a comedy about recovery and twelve step programs? Larroquette's name had drawing power but it still sounds like a potential downer plot to sell. But forget the audience, what about selling the show to the powers that be in the entertainment capital of the world? Many of them aren't necessarily the most "recovered" folks out there. Some might likely enjoy recreational illegal substances and to an even vaster amount of them booze ain't exactly the arch enemy. Selling a show to powerful people that made some of them look squarely at a problem they might be in denial about... well that's just not gonna go well.

   Larroquette did have the clout to get the show on the air. And in the first season he got the show on the air largely how he wanted it and got good ratings too. But the powers above him had the clout to make him tone down the twelve step aspects. Was this because they felt the material would put off the audience... which was tuning in so how put off could they be? Or was it because they themselves were actually put off by it? Bottom line is it got tamed and watered down bit by bit. And to my mind a show is never improved by taming and watering it down. End result was watered down ratings. It wasn't a disaster in the ratings but it also wasn't the hit it started as in ratings or content.

   As the third season rolled around it seemed the show needed a little something to attract some viewers. Hmmm.. what to do? Maybe let the writers go back to making it the edgy show the audience loved. Hahahaha... no, seriously. Hey! Maybe a crossover with another show would help. Sure, a one time stunt event would work much better than substantive changes and letting the show be what it was intended to be. Yeah! That's the answer!

   John Hemingway is a guy in recovery trying to get his act together. He should get advice on what to do from TV's favorite psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane! So the season three premiere found John finally getting the nerve up to ask his girlfriend Catherine to marry him only to then get cold feet and almost throw everything away on an affair with someone else. But he can't do it. What SHOULD he do? It's suggested to him that he should talk to a psychiatrist. He definitely needed to talk to an intelligent man of insight. Unfortunately, like I said, he got Frasier.

   Spun off of Cheers, on his own show therapist Dr. Frasier Crane found himself hosting a talk radio therapy show. You know, the kinda show where folks call in and the host tries his best to help them with their problems in about a minute and a half. John calls up not realizing he's on such a show. He thinks he's just calling a privately practicing... phone psychiatrist? Anyway, he doesn't know he's on the radio and ends up spilling not just all his problems BUT HIS NAME TOO. Whoops.

   Since The John Larroquette show tried to teach folks when it could, I can only hope they were trying to steer people clear of getting quick fix radio advice help. Folks, get real help. Please don't trust your mental well being to three minutes on air therapy with Doctor Laura... I beg you.

   In the end, John gets his act together and does get his relationship back on track even though he doesn't actually get married.

   So, Frasier helped John Hemingway, but did Frasier help The John Larroquette Show? Well, not enough to boost the show back into the pantheon of Must See TV. The show completed its third season and then went into a fourth season so utterly neutered that it was no longer recognizable as the edgy freshman hit it started as. The powers that be in trying to make the show viewer friendly had removed everything that might actually draw viewers to it. Before the end of the fourth season the show was canceled. A shame really.

   I'm telling ya, you wanna do this kinda edgy relevant material, you have to go under the radar so nobody sees what you're up to. Like Joss Whedon's show Angel. On the surface the show about a vampire turned good. Underneath, by it creators own admission, it's all about addiction recovery. See. John Larroquette should have had his character running around biting people. No wait, that's not what I meant...

Other Frasier Crossover Links
Frasier and Cheers
Frasier and Caroline In The City
Frasier and Wings

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