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‘Frasier’ finale draws 25 million

"Frasier" went out with a bang. The veteran sitcom had its largest audience in 3 and a half years for its Thursday finale.
/ Source: Reuters

More than 25 million viewers tuned in for “Frasier’s” farewell to Seattle and one last chorus of “Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs” as the veteran NBC sitcom left prime time with its biggest audience in 3 1/2 years, ratings figures showed Friday.

Concluding the Emmy-winning comedy’s 11-year run Thursday night, the “Frasier” finale also brought down the curtain on Kelsey Grammer’s record-tying 20-year TV performance as the elitist but lovable title character, a role he first created on ”Cheers.”

(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)

“Frasier” ended on a somewhat ambiguous note. The radio psychiatrist says goodbye to girlfriend Charlotte (Laura Linney) as she heads home to Chicago, then tells his family he’s leaving Seattle to take a new job in San Francisco. But the final scene finds Frasier in the cabin of a jetliner as he lands in Chicago.

The hourlong, 264th episode also saw the birth of Frasier’s nephew -- the first child of younger brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves) -- in a veterinarian’s office, and the wedding of Frasier’s dad, Martin (John Mahoney) to his fiancee, Ronee (Wendie Malick).

Bidding a last goodnight to listeners in a final broadcast as host of his radio call-in show, Frasier even recites a bit of poetry.

The credits rolled over a last rendition of the show’s theme, “Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs,” performed, as always, by Grammer himself, who intoned: “Frasier has left the building.”

The 25.4 million viewers who saw the finale made it the most watched episode of “Frasier” since October 2000 and easily surpassed the night’s audience of television’s top-rated drama, ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” on CBS, according to Nielsen Media Research.

But it was less than half the 51.7 million viewers who tuned in for the departure of NBC stablemate “Friends” at the end of its 10-year run last week.

Debuting as a spinoff of NBC’s long-running hit barroom comedy “Cheers” in 1993, “Frasier” went on to amass a record 31 Emmy Awards, including best comedy for five straight years --the biggest winning streak of any TV series ever.

Grammer, whose Frasier character was introduced on “Cheers” in 1984, has now tied the record for the longest-running role portrayed by a single actor in prime time, first set in 1975 by James Arness as Matt Dillon on the CBS western “Gunsmoke.”