Has He Lost His Mind?: Frasier's Iron Man Streak to Continue
Above: Reports of Dr. Frasier Crane's death have been greatly exaggerated
SESAME STREET, Va. (SP) — When NBC announced that this would be the final season of Frasier, it was expected that Kelsey Grammer's 20-year streak of playing Dr. Frasier Crane on prime-time television would finally, mercifully, come to an end. The streak began with nine years on the popular sitcom Cheers, followed immediately by another eleven seasons on Frasier.
It was widely reported that Grammer had tied the longest such streak in television history, established by James Arness, who played Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1975. However, SP's crack team of investigative reporters has discovered that Arness was not in fact the record holder. That distinction belongs to actor Carroll Spinney, who has been playing the felt feathered fowl known as Big Bird for the past 35 years on Sesame Street.
When Grammer learned that he was still another decade and a half from equaling Spinney's remarkable record, his management team hastily arranged to have him join the cast of Sesame Street at the start of next season in order to keep the streak alive.
Above: Incredibly, Carroll Spinney is the voice behind both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, but some still question his range as an actor.
When reached for comment by Satiric Press at the Children's Television Network's production offices in Burbank, Calif., Grammer said that he simply couldn't stand the thought of playing second fiddle to a man in a bird suit. "I'm a classically-trained actor," exclaimed Grammer, who noted that he studied theatre at Julliard and played the title role in a recent Broadway production of MacBeth.
On the other hand, Spinney's most prestigious credit is arguably his starring role in the film Follow That Bird. "The San Diego Chicken is a more accomplished thespian," scoffed Grammer. "There is simply no way that I will allow myself to be shat on by that bird brain." The 48-year-old Grammer intends to stay on Sesame Street as long as is necessary to become the new record holder.
Some are skeptical that Dr. Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist, is an appropriate character to feature on a children's television program. However, Grammer is quick to defend his character's place on the show. "Take Cookie Monster, for example," he said. "I may only play a psychiatrist on television, but it seems patently obvious to me that his all-consuming obsession with consuming cookies stems from the fact that he is starved for affection. His self-professed love of cookies is a sugary substitute for the love that he never received as a child."
Above: Is Cookie Monster's obsession with baked goods simply a means of dulling the pain caused by a traumatic childhood?
Grammer submits that other regular cast members on Sesame Street also appear to suffer from a variety of psychiatric disorders. "First of all, there's the Count," said Grammer. "His neurotic need to express everything in numeric form is clearly a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He may require years of intense psychotherapy, and that's where Dr. Frasier Crane can be of assistance."
Grammer says that the producers of Sesame Street have already developed a storyline to introduce Dr. Crane on the show. It centers around the character Ernie, who is fired from his job as a cashier at Mr. Hooper's grocery store, after Mr. Hooper, a card-carrying Republican, learns that for years, Ernie had been living in a conjugal relationship with his 'roommate' and life partner, Bert. Ernie is devastated by his dismissal and falls into a deep depression, before seeking professional help from Dr. Crane.
Above: You'd need psychiatric help too if you'd had a hand stuck up your tuchus for the past 35 years
Creative considerations aside, Grammer argues that there are good commercial reasons to introduce a psychiatrist on Sesame Street. "As quaint as it might be to continue the tradition of having each episode sponsored by a variety of numbers and letters, the sad reality is that these sorts of commercial endorsements no longer generate much in the way of advertising revenue," Grammer explained. "On the other hand, episodes featuring my character have already attracted major interest among some of the nation's largest drug companies, which see the show as the perfect place to feature some of their many child-friendly pharmaceuticals."
In fact, Satiric Press has just learned that in exchange for a few minor product placements, the first episode of Sesame Street featuring Dr. Crane will be sponsored by the makers of Prozac and Ritalin.
Above: This program has been brought to you by the letters R, I, T, A, L, I and N, and the number 39.99 (plus applicable taxes and an $8.00 dispensing fee).
Grammer's legion of fans are confident that he will eventually surpass Spinney's record, given that the latter is 75 years old and likely to retire in the very near future. However, it's Matt Dillon - not the character on Gunsmoke, but the actor of the same name - whom they regard as posing the much greater threat. The 39-year-old star of such films as Drugstore Cowboy and There's Something About Mary has been acting steadily for the last 25 years, with no indication that he'll be slowing down anytime soon.
Given Dillon's nine-year age advantage, Grammer fans have begun lobbying Dillon to consider either retiring from the acting profession or legally changing his name. Otherwise, they fear that the only way Grammer will ever leave Sesame Street is in a wooden box or a body bag.