Judge David Johnson's family practice doctor is kind of a jerk, too. He swapped his pain meds for laxatives as a prank.
The TV doctor who's a chronic pain.
Before Hugh Laurie made it gauche to be a dickhead doctor, Ted Danson reinvented himself as the title character in this milquetoast sitcom.
Facts of the Case
Dr. John Becker (Danson) is cynical, abrasive jackass working at a clinic in the Bronx. What he lacks in bedside manner, he more than makes up for in medical skills. Each episode finds Becker dealing with a mélange of quirky patients, supported by his quirky clinic staff, the strong-willed supervisor (Hattie Winston) and the flighty airhead nurse's assistant (Shawnee Smith).
To blow off steam, Becker lounges at a nearby diner, run by the smart-ass duo of the attractive proprietor Reggie (Terry Farrell) and the blind newsstand owner Jake (Alex Désert), who take it upon themselves to listen to Becker's unending rants.
Season One: three discs, 22 episodes.
Becker is a slightly-better-than-mediocre sitcom. Episodes are a major mixed bag in the humor department—as most "traditional" sitcoms tend to be—punctuated occasionally by some solid jokes. The premise has some legs, though, and the settings of the doctor's office and the diner offers different opportunities for amusing scenarios. These scenarios bear comedic fruit of wildly uneven proportions.
Here's a handful of additional observations from my time spent with Dr. Becker:
• There's a Huge Disparity of Humor Between the Diner and the Clinic. The show is about evenly divided up between these two locales. The clinic leans more on Becker's interaction with his patients and staff for the humor and the diner sequences basically rests on the incessant ego-harpooning Reggie and Jake dish out to Becker. In addition, the limited melodrama that presents itself in the series is of the medical kind, so-and-so is suffering from a mysterious illness and Becker reveals that's he's not completely heartless as he attempts to save his patient's life.
As far as laughs, there a far more to be found on the diner end. Despite the weakness of the writing overall, the good jokes belong mainly to Farrell and Désert, who have some decent chemistry with Danson. Their supporting counterparts, Winston and Smith, frankly, portray uninteresting characters and the comedy suffers for it.
• Hey, That Guy's Blind!
• Danson Lays It On Thick
• Radio Play?
There you go. That's about what I've got to say on this season. Again, "slightly-better-than-mediocre" would be my capsule review. Paramount, feel free to use that on the disc case of Season Two.
A no-frills release: full screen and 2.0 stereo, both of which do the trick with little fanfare.
I borderline chortled more than a few times.
The accused is sentenced to file paperwork at an HMO of their choice.
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