BECKER centers on the life of Dr. John Becker, a cantankerous, yet dedicated and talented physician, who, in spite of his constant rants, has a decent heart underneath the sarcasm. BECKER will continue to unleash his views at the local diner, even in Reggies continuing absense. Jake (Alex Desert), the blind proprietor of the local newsstand continues to turn a deaf ear to John. Bob, Beckers brash, obnoxious apartment super (Saverio Guerra), persists in annoying virtually everyone. At the office, Beckers head nurse Margaret (Hattie Winston) continues to make order out of chaos, keeping John and his space-cadet nurses-aid Linda (Shawnee Smith) in line. New to the neighborhood is Chris Konnors (Nancy Travis), Beckers new neighbor, with whom he must contend on a daily basis. Although her positive attitude is a major annoyance to Becker, he slowly begins to have feelings for her. John Becker is a cynical Harvard Medical School graduate who is somewhat of a loner and has trouble letting people get close to him. He looks at the world around him and feels society has gone mad - full of inconsistencies and just plain backward thinking. Although he is a diagnostician by trade, Becker feels he can dispense diagnoses even when no one asks. He has no qualms about saying what comes to mind, never sugarcoats his opinions and often seems to offend somebody nearby. However, his friends and colleagues recognize the heart beneath the hate and so accept his gruff demeanor for what it is.
"Arent doctors supposed to be nice?" Running for six seasons, Becker broke the Cheers curse (RIP: Good Advice, Inc, Pearl). The role of Dr. John Becker was just what the doctor ordered for Ted Danson. Becker is, according to those who know, and grudgingly admire him, best, "a miserable human being" and "such an ass," but "a brilliant one." As for his bedside manner, he makes House seem like Marcus Welby. But this being a sitcom, the cynical and politically incorrect Becker also must have a heart. In the pilot episode, it is revealed that he will secretly pay for treatments for an HIV-positive seven-year-old. "You may go to heaven whether you like it or not," his chief of staff Margaret (Hattie Winston) tells him. Becker divides his time between his chaotic clinic and the local diner, where he alienates the patrons with his tirades on subjects ranging from Jerry Springer to reality shows. In its promising first season, theres nothing wrong with Becker that sharper writing cant cure. The first season suffers slightly from Night Court-itus; the gritty urban setting glimpsed in the shows interstitials undercut by the broadly-drawn character types who are either Beckers patients, or simply try his patience, like his flaky new nurses assistant (Shawnee Smith) or on the make diner (as opposed to lounge) lizard Bob (Saverio Guerra). Much better company are Jake (Alex Desert), the blind diner newsstand vendor, and "Reggie" (Terry Farrell), a gives-as-good-as-she-gets gal in the mold of Frasiers Roz. Becker and Reggie arent exactly Sam and Diane, but this season sets the stage for romantic possibilities (although the season finale, in which he wrestles with whether to ask her to a formal charity benefit, is anti-climactic). As the season unfolds, Becker more closely examines the good doctors misanthropy. One of the seasons better episodes is "Becker the Elder," featuring Dick van Dyke as Beckers estranged salesman father, who is as charming as Becker is abrasive. In "Activate Your Choices," we meet Beckers ex-wife, who has written a self-help book in which she diagnoses Becker as "Angry Man." There are no spoonfuls of sugar (extras) to help the medicine go down, but for those who made an appointment to see Danson and company every week, the DVD release of Becker is good for what ails you. --Donald Liebenson