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"Frasier' stars see no reason to slow down

As Frasier marks its 200th episode tonight, beginning at 8 p.m., locally on WFLA-Ch. 8, the moment will be somewhat bittersweet for its cast and crew, according to star David Hyde Pierce.

"However much longer (the show) continues, we know that there's more of it behind us than ahead of us," says Pierce, who plays Frasier's (Kelsey Grammer) younger brother Niles. "To see that light at the end of the tunnel is a little sad."

Not that there are any plans to end the long-running NBC sitcom: Frasier is still one of the top-rated programs on television, and Grammer says he still enjoys the thought of getting up each day to play the fussy psychiatrist.

"I don't get tired of him because he offers as many possibilities as life itself," Grammer says. "It seems (the show's writers) always find new ways to challenge his imagination and his way of thinking."

The intrusion of the real world into the often rarefied sensibilities of Frasier and Niles is where the show finds much of its humor. "What makes it interesting is the context of Dad (John Mahoney), Daphne (Jane Leeves) and Roz (Peri Gilpin)," Pierce says. "If it were just us, that would get boring after a while, no matter how well the characters are drawn."

Episodes beyond the 200th _ which guest-stars Microsoft head Bill Gates _ will continue to explore that theme, Grammer says, along with possibly finding a relationship for Frasier and building on the romance between Niles and Daphne.

_ Times wires

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