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Becker - The First Season



DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008 (CBS DVD)
MSRP: $36.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: approx. 490 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital English
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned
Special Features: None


Take two aspirin before you see the doctor! Anchored by the hilarious performance of television star Ted Danson (Cheers), Becker arrives on DVD for the very first time! Dr. John Becker, who operates a small medical practice in the Bronx, is annoyed by his patients, co-workers, and practically everything else in the world. But don’t let the curmudgeonly demeanor fool you. As his friend Jake (Alex Desert) and beautiful diner owner Reggie (Terry Farrell) would tell you, the rants of the outrageous physician mask a softer side, which he only occasionally displays to his nurse Margaret (Hattie Winston) and wacky office worker Linda (Shawnee Smith).

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

This season is remarkably consistent in its quality from episode to episode. The pilot feels just a tiny bit slower, given that they needed time to establish the characters -- but after that, the series gets on a roll and doesn’t stop. The eighth episode of the season, “Physician, Heal Thyself” is quite good -- Becker throws out his back, and has to actually rely on other people for a change. For someone like Becker, this isn’t exactly pleasant. The next episode, “Choose Me,” has Jack and Becker fight amongst each other for the extra ticket that Reggie has to an upcoming hockey game. If guest stars are your thing, look no farther than episode thirteen, “Becker the Elder,” where a guest-starring Dick Van Dyke plays Becker’s easygoing father. Other guest stars include John Slattery in “Man Plans, God Laughs,” Kyla Pratt in “Limits and Boundaries,” and Earl Billings in “PC World.”

In “Drive, They Said” it is a CBS cross-over episode as Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond’s Ray Barone), Kevin James (The King of Queens’ Doug Heffernan), and Bill Cosby (Cosby’s Hilton Lucas) make cameos in Dr. Becker’s waiting room all together. HOWEVER, this scene is not on the DVD and it isn’t in syndication either...more on that later.


If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you may know that I find the hard plastic cases that CBS DVD uses for nearly all of their sitcoms to be deceptively cheap in their construction and remarkably fragile. The case used for Becker is of this variety, and is not an exception. Not only did a couple of the little plastic pieces of the ring on the disc holder break off, but one of the snapping connectors that closes the case broke as well -- in transit! Discs are the usual silver variety with the show logo at the top in a slightly debossed fashion. Cover art features the usual smiling cast, except for the visibly annoyed Becker.

Menu Design and Navigation:

Sub-menus and quality design on a CBS DVD release? I’m amazed! There’s still no background music or animations -- two features becoming standard in newer releases on TV DVD. However, this set does feature quality design and sub-menus, two things lacking from other sets (see: Wings). A cast photo appears on the right side, with the show logo in the top left. The season name appears on a band-aid below it. The menu options appear as a list at the bottom with the active selection being denoted by a check box with an X in it. The episodes menu is featured in the same fashion, using the lower half of the screen and again the checkboxes.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video quality is surprisingly good. I’m always a bit leery of shows released in standard-definition, particularly shows released by this studio -- they have a history of problems, either in VQ and/or AQ, or in the edits department. I’m proud to say that video and audio are good. Video is fine, colors are largely fine -- video is neither too warm nor too cool -- the video is incredibly good. Audio is a fairly well used 2.0 stereo track. As for edits, the box doesn’t mention any omissions, but I think there might be some because that CBS crossover scene with Cosby/Romano/James I mentioned earlier is missing! So, maybe a scene or something is missing on the rest of the episodes, too? Could these be syndicated prints? It would have been nice had CBS DVD bothered to include a disclaimer on the back of the box. Why remove it now?? The studio’s aversion to chapter stops remains unabated -- there are none -- but at least Play All *is* included.

Now for the runtimes:

Disc 1:
Pilot: 23:05
Take These Pills and Shove ‘Em: 22:25
Sex in the Inner City: 22:02
Tell Me Lies: 22:23
My Dinner with Becker: 22:21
Man Plans, God Laughs: 22:22
City Lights: 22:22

Disc 2:
Physician, Heal Thyself: 22:22
Choose Me: 22:22
P.C. World: 21:47
Scriptus Interruptus: 22:24
Love! Lies! Bleeding! 22:24
Becker the Elder: 22:22
Larry Spoke: 22:22

Disc 3:
Activate Your Choices: 21:32
Limits and Boundaries: 22:22
Partial Law: 21:50
Saving Harvey Cohen: 22:20
Truth and Consequences: 22:20
Drive, They Said: 22:20
Lucky Day: 22:22
Regarding Reggie: 22:20

Special Features:

No special features are on this set whatsoever. CBS DVD usually starts with some features on a season one set at least, but we get nothing here which is a shame.

Final Comments:

This is a better set than I’d featured, but still not as good as it could be. The lack of special features is always disappointing. More importantly, not only do the runtimes of a couple of episodes seem especially short, but in other episodes there are scenes which I swear I could remember not being present. The episodes may in fact be edited; though I can’t say for certain (my memory is not the most reliable instrument). I do know that the famous Romano/Cosby/James scene is not on this set!

Key Complaints:
[Medium] The deceptively fragile plastic case and overall standardized packaging.
[Minor] The lack of special features.
[Minor] No music during the main menu.
[Major] The possibility of edited episodes: We know that one scene for sure is missing and I am thinking these could be syndicated prints, so maybe a scene is missing from each episode?

Key Compliments:
[Major] The video is EXCELLENT for a ten year old series.
[Major] The show itself is consistently funny throughout the season -- no clunkers here.
[Medium] The audio is good, and takes good use of both channels.
[Medium] The menu is fairly well designed, albeit still static.

Ultimately, for casual viewers, catch the show in syndication or on cable and decide if you like the show, If you do, buy the DVD. If not, oh well. I can’t recommend the show as a blind buy as admittedly the show may rub a few folks the wrong way. Fans of the show may very well be disappointed if it turns out there ARE edits -- but there’s no omissions so drastic it completely ruins the viewing experience...well that Cosby/Romano/James scene is a big one if you saw it originally. Let’s get the original Becker tapes out and compare when you get the DVD and let us know if more scenes are missing!

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 0/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 03/31/08

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