After ending season seven with a fan-pleasing twist, Frasier returned in its eighth iteration to fulfill it. This is the season that Niles and Daphne begin to date, and even though this development did take a lot of tension out of the series, it is possible that the writers felt they had nowhere else to go. Frasier proved an oddity while on the air: most sitcoms peak in their first two seasons and go steadily downhill after that, but while Frasier certainly had a strong opening, it had several renaissances during its run. This season was one of them, as it brought several surprises: Frasier having an existential crisis, Niles becoming a sports celebrity, as well as some others. In short, this was hardly a weak season and has more than its share of laughs.
Frasier's crisis manifests itself in "Frasier's Edge", which has Frasier reuniting with his old mentor (Rene Auberjonois of Boston Legal and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and coming to grips with a feeling of emptiness. Funnier still is the subplot in which food critic Gil is primarily happy about being nominated for an award so as to avoid going to the annual awards show his wife throws when he's not nominated. The episode also starts off the joke about Daphne growing fatter in order to disguise Jane Leeves' real-life pregnancy. In "Hooping Cranes", Niles (almost magically) sinks a half-court charity shot at a basketball game and becomes a local hero, which, of course, causes Frasier to become jealous. The final showdown takes place over an arcade-style basketball machine and unfolds much as would be expected. Perhaps the best episode of the season is "The Show Must Go Off", in which Niles and Frasier are reacquainted with an aging Shakespearean actor (Derek Jacobi) who inspired them in their childhoods to delve into the Bard. In hopes of allowing their childhood idol to get over the heavy typecasting that came with being on a successful science-fiction show and get meatier parts, the two decide to put on a play and have him star in it. It doesn't take long to discover that the actor is horribly untalented, and then Niles and Frasier have to do everything in their power to sabotage their own production.
These are only a few of the highlights, but if you've enjoyed the show so far, chances are you'll like this. Enjoy.