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Becker aired from November 1998 until January 2004 on CBS.

John Becker ( Ted Danson) may have been a good doctor but he had no bedside manner.Sarcastic, opinionated, and cranky with a short fuse that only made things worst , he could drive anyone up a wall.His attitude was a source of irratation to Reggie ( Terry Farrell), the attractive woman who had recently taken over the diner where he stopped for breakfast every morning on the way to his office.Becker had been practicing in the Bronx for years, and most of the people in the neighborhood, including Jake ( Alex Desert), the blind newstand operator , were used to his tirades. Margaret ( Hattie Winston), Becker's longtime nurse , kept things under control at his busy office and calmed him down when he got upset about something in the news or when he alienated one of his patients. New to the office was Linda ( Shawnee Smith), a young nurses aid who was part flower child and part airhead. Bob ( Saverio Guerra), an obnoxious sleazy guy who had gone to high school with Reggie and still had the hots for her ( despite being married) also frequented the diner.

Becker's bluster often masked a tender heart . In the premiere he used the money he had planned to spend on a new car to pay for special treatments for a 7-year-old patient whose mother couldn't afford them. He made sure that nobody knew it was his money.

In November 1999 Becker was accidentally shot in the shoulder trying to break up a fight. He and Elizabeth ( Frances Fisher) , the doctor who treated him, had an affair, but both were afraid of committment and eventually broke up. The following February Linda took pity on Bob, who was in the throes of a divorce and had no place else to live, and let him move into her fancy Manhattan apartment ( it was owned by her parents). That fall Bob was hired as the super of Becker's building and spent most of his time complaining about the work-which he rarely did, anyway.

In the spring 2002 season finale Becker found himself attracted to his perky new neighbor Chris ( Nancy Travis), who kissed him passionately in his apartment. In the last scene Reggie planted one on him at her restaurant and he looked very confused. That fall it was revealed that Becker had spent the night with Reggie, but decided he was really interested in Chris. Reggie, however, had realized how desperate she must have been to sleep with him and had left town to sort out her life. ( Terry Farrell had been fired from the series). When Becker tried to clear things up with Chris he made a fool of himself and she stalked out, refusing to date him-but they continued to spar verbally, particularly after she took over the diner.

Hector ( Jorge Garcia), the brother of a friend of Jake's, surfaced at the start of the 2003-2004 season. Unemployed and lazy, he hung out at the diner while looking for easy ways to make a fast buck. That November Becker and Chris, whose relationship had survived despite his personality, finally slept together. In the series finale Jake sold his newsstand and used $25,000 he had inherited from his grandmother to move to Chicago and attend classes at Northwestern University . And Becker -incredibly-decided to be happy.

A Review From Variety

(Sitcom -- CBS; Mon. Nov. 2, 9:30 p.m.)
Nov 1, 1998

Filmed in Los Angeles by Paramount Network TV. Executive producer, Dave Hackel; producers, Tim Berry, Andy Ackerman; director, Ackerman; writer, Hackel

Dr. John Becker - Ted Danson
Regina Costa - Terry Farrell
Jake Malinak - Alex Desert
Margaret Wyborn - Hattie Winston
Linda - Shawnee Smith
M.J. Johnson - Robert Bailey Jr.
Annette Johnson - Davenia McFadden
Mr. Capelli - Bill Capizzi
Beverly Stone - Amy Aquino
With: Rocky McMurray, Michael Reid Mackay.

Sometimes you want to go where everybody loathes your name. That's the case with Dr. John Becker, the ranting new alter ego of a fella named Ted Danson. He's giving this post- "Cheers" sitcom thing a second try, this time following "Everybody Loves Raymond" with his own "Everybody Hates Johnny" on Monday nights. If the retooled "Becker" feels a bit one-note from the outset, it also percolates with potential.
While some may outright reject the idea of Sam Malone with a stethoscope, Danson looks far more comfortable in this brash, cynical character than he ever did on his short-lived CBS effort "Ink."

And he has the benefit here of some unusually biting, sacred cow-slapping dialogue in the pilot from creator and exec producer Dave Hackel. But you get the feeling that Hackel weasels out a bit by ultimately giving Becker a heart of mush.

Becker is a Bronx doc who holds the world at arm's length and hangs out at a very un-"Cheers"-like diner, where his arrival clears the place of everyone but its comely proprietor, Reggie (Terry Farrell), and a blind customer named Jake (Alex Desert). Becker marches in and launches into a nonstop tirade about talkshows, pollution, used cars, car salesmen and humanity in general.

Back in his overcrowded office, Becker puts it on the line when an obese patient starts to get snippy: "If you care about your wife and kids, I want you to remember this one word: salad."

But the belligerent doc has a soft spot for an adorable kid named M.J. (Robert Bailey Jr.), who is HIV-positive. That diagnosis forces Becker to contact the doctor whose wife he stole. She's now Becker's ex, too. Dealing with a kid this sick causes Becker to say of Jesus Christ, "He and I don't have a real good working relationship."

The shot at organized religion almost qualifies "Becker" as courageous. The show surely wears its pessimism on its sleeve and invites viewers to reject its protagonist. But Danson's comic instincts are sharp enough so that he understands how to get in his licks and retain his considerable likability.

Yet while Danson is surrounded by a sprightly core of supporting players (Farrell in particular is very good), "Becker" will sink or swim based not on its acting (Danson's presence notwithstanding) but its attitude. This is a show that doesn't feel the need to constantly tap-dance. It dares to stomp a little bit, to have some sting, to risk some political incorrectness.

Not that "Becker" is a leap forward in primetime comedy. It's simply that watching it -- flaws and all -- makes you realize just how lily-livered most of the competition is.

A Review from The New York Times

TELEVISION REVIEW; A Doctor Whom Only A Cadaver Could Love
Published: November 2, 1998

At the start of the premiere episode of the new sitcom ''Becker,'' Ted Danson defines the cantankerous title character by delivering the first of many diatribes. The subject of this first harangue is the abysmal state of television programming: ''It's like America stepped in something, and it's scraping off its shoe directly over my TV set.''

Here's the best that can be said of ''Becker'': It's not that repellent.

The show, on CBS tonight, offers Mr. Danson as an angry urban doctor with a discouraging word on every subject, many of which cannot be repeated here. (The network, which has already maligned one New York borough with ''The King of Queens,'' says the series is set in the Bronx, although the name is not uttered in tonight's half-hour.)

Perhaps Mr. Danson's character is supposed to be a voice of reason in a world gone mad. Or maybe he's just a nasty jerk with a stethoscope in his pocket. Does it matter? This is a so-called comedy without one genuine laugh, although it does include a 7-year-boy who is H.I.V.-positive. That gives the script, written by the show's creator, Dave Hackel, a chance to show off the doctor's heart of gold.

Mr. Danson has fallen far from ''Cheers.'' His last series, ''Ink,'' was gone before it dried. Now, when he's not at the office yelling at the zany patients, he's hanging out in a seedy luncheonette, wiping off the counter with a succession of paper napkins while he yells at the attractive young proprietor, Reggie (Terry Farrell), who seems to like him in spite of his bitterness. When he shows up to order dinner and Reggie is dressed up for a date (with a dentist, yet), Becker seems angry or jealous or . . .

Wait a minute! Napkins. Waitress. Angry outbursts. Sick child. Heart of gold. Did somebody say, ''As Good as It Gets''?

And that would make this pale imitation, what? As bad as it gets? Don't kid yourself. There's worse where this came from.

CBS, tonight at 9:30
(Channel 2 in New York)

Dave Hackel, creator and executive producer; Tim Berry and Andy Ackerman, producers; Mark Petulla, associate producer; Tony Askins, director of photography; Roy Christopher, production designer; Darryl Bates and Skip Collector, editors. Produced by Paramount Network Television.

WITH: Ted Danson (Dr. John Becker), Terry Farrell (Regina Costas), Hattie Winston (Margaret Wyborn), Alex Desert (Jake Malinak) and Shawnee Smith (Linda).

An Article from the SF Gate

`Becker's' Bark Worse Than His Bite / Ted Danson as obnoxious doctor in new CBS sitcom

Sylvia Rubin, Chronicle Staff Writer Published 4:00 am PST, Monday, November 2, 1998

Los Angeles -- If you liked Jack Nicholson's politically incorrect character in "As Good as it Gets," Dr. John Becker can match him, rant for rave.

Ted Danson plays an obnoxious, opinionated Bronx physician in "Becker," a new CBS sitcom premiering at 9:30 tonight.

The good doctor insults fat people, illegal immigrants, the homeless, talk show hosts, old people -- whoever and whatever happens to be on his mind at the moment.

But he's a marshmallow. When a little boy needs special treatment his family can't afford, Becker quietly reaches into his own pocket to pay the expenses. That was the setup in the pilot episode shown to TV critics at the annual press tour this summer.

CBS had planned to air "Becker" as a midseason replacement, but since "The Brian Benben Show," was killed off early, "Becker" takes over that slot just in time for sweeps.

Airing after "Everyone Loves Raymond," a family show of gentle humor, this misanthropic character may scare some viewers away.

To an obese patient seeking sympathy for slipping off his diet, Becker growls: "What am I supposed to do, give you a pat on that continent you call a butt?"

Parking himself in his neighborhood coffee shop he throws jabs at the good-natured blind man who runs the newsstand. "Just because you're blind doesn't give you insights. . . . It just means you're blind."

To the Middle Eastern guy across the hall in Becker's apartment building, who plays ethnic music too loud, he yells: "Hey foreign guy! Do we have to go through this every night? Just finish killing your cat and go to sleep."

Creator and executive producer Dave Hackel, who was a creative consultant on "Frasier," swore his idea for "Becker" came way before "As Good As it Gets" was a gleam in Jim Brooks' eye.

"I completed the script and then people said, 'You know, you ought to see this movie -- that Jim Brooks just did,' " he said. "You can believe that or not, but that happens to be the truth."

Having a little fun in this era of political correctness appealed to Danson after meeting with Hackel. If viewers express outrage, Hackel is ready; he's heard it all before.

"I did a show once where we made a joke about a massage therapist, and they called the next morning -- the National Association of Massage Therapists," Hackel told critics. "They didn't like that. . . . These are jokes. These are observations. So what I finally decided -- I was so frustrated with it that it was time to just write about everything and let the chips fall where they may."

Former model Terry Farrell ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") plays Reggie, the lovely leggy one who runs the neighborhood coffee shop, which Becker uses as his daily soapbox. She and Becker are polar opposites and naturally there is sexual tension immediately.

Alex Desert plays Jake, the blind newsstand owner, who takes Becker's insults with a grain of salt. Veteran actress Hattie Winston plays Margaret, the no-nonsense head nurse and Shawnee Smith plays a ditzy nurse's aide.

Danson had just about sworn off CBS and sitcoms after the disastrous "Ink," which co-starred his wife, Mary Steenburgen. They played newspaper people, but from the lack of computers in the newsroom to nearly everything that came out of their mouths, the show was not believable. It sank quickly. "I was definitely through with CBS and through with half hour," Danson told critics. "Having done the half-hour dance for 11 years, I think creatively what was making me sad and not wanting to do a half hour was that I had gotten kind of jaded. And when I read this ('Becker'), it felt like an hour show. There is no story; also I loved that. You know, he needs to buy a car. That's the story . . . the rest is all behavior."

In a brief private conversation in Los Angeles, Danson said he learned his lesson after "Ink." A hugely popular star after playing bartender Sam Malone for 11 years on "Cheers," producers thought an actor of his caliber could survive even the flimsiest of scripts. It didn't work for Tom Selleck in "The Closer" last year, and it didn't work for Danson.

"I went about it ass-backwards," Danson said. "I wanted to do a show. I found the producers and then they created a script. Although I loved everyone connected with 'Ink,' we got off on the wrong foot from the start, and when something is not right, nothing can fix it."

With a character like Becker, Danson said, "I could feel the passion that went into it. With a good script, you want to tighten your belt and aspire to the character, reach for it; you don't want the character to come down to your level."

Danson doesn't have the Nicholson eyebrows that shoot skyward or the crazed grin, but he's just about the right age -- 50 -- when crustiness begins to set in. "My job is to make the character lovable, but I don't think we'll soften him up too much; he'd lose too much if we did," Danson said.

An Article from The New York Post


By Michael Starr

January 17, 1999 | 5:00am

BECKER” star Ted Danson is poised to join one of the most exclusive clubs in TV.

Like Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith – his boyhood TV idols – or Raymond Burr and Bob Newhart, Danson appears to have found a second TV hit after starring in in a once-in-a-lifetime smash success.

But like his heroes, Danson didn’t find his second act as one of TV’s most popular stars without a stumble or two along the way (anyone remember ‘The New Dick Van Dyke Show”?).

After finding fame and considerable fortune on the long-running ‘Cheers,” Danson pursued a lacklustre film career that went no where.

After he was lured back to series television with a megabucks contract – had a disastrous half-season on CBS’ ‘Ink,” in which he co-starred with real-life wife Mary Steenburgen playing a feisty newspaper columnist.

But with his new CBS series ‘Becker” picking up steam, Danson says he’s learned from past mistakes.

‘Are we considered a successful show? That’s good to know,” he said, seemingly surprised at ‘Becker” being labeled a bona fide hit.

‘I think what happened with ‘Cheers’ is that I thought, wow, this is what happens when you do television. It was a free ride and I had no idea what the real world was like. Then, when Mary and I did our show [‘Ink’] I realized [TV success] is not a shoo-in, obviously.

‘I don’t think I was all that nervous in coming back to do ‘Becker,”’ he said. ‘What I decided to do was really smart for me, I think, in the way the show was conceived.

‘Unless you’re a [Jerry] Seinfeld or [Bill] Cosby who has his own voice and knows what that is…you’re better off finding a really good script and asking if you can be in it. That, to me, is when you really stand a chance.”

Still, Danson is uncomfortable with comparisions to Van Dyke and Griffith. When asked how it feels to be in elite company, he is blunt.

‘I gotta tell you,I know this sounds like a lie, but I’m trying to stay out of [those comparisons],” he said. ‘The tough part is that all of this feeds right into your ego – and that’s a lose-lose place to hang out.

‘I’m just trying to show up, go to work and be like Dick Van Dyke. Either you get inflated or deflated – and both of them are beside the point.

‘I know that sounds bogus but I’ve spent a lifetime trying to discipline myself to do that,” he said.

‘And it’s less of an apology now. I’m starting to care less about what you guys [the press] think of me and the show. It jars me sometimes, but I’m beginning to stay within myself more.

‘When ‘Becker’ started there was a lot of anger out there, both at the show and at me. And I that surprised me.’

Danson sounds a bit like his character, Dr. John Becker, a cranky Bronx physician – ‘aggressively middle-aged,” as Danson puts it – whose rants on everything from gun control to smoking hide a soft heart and a caring soul.

‘Becker” wasn’t supposed to debut until mid-season, but when ‘The Brian Benben Show” tanked early, ‘Becker” was forced into the prime-time game as an untested rookie.

But so far, it’s worked. ‘Becker” has helped CBS build a strong Monday-night schedule and, following ‘Everybody Loves Raymond” at 9:30 p.m., has retained most of ‘Raymond’s” audience and advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.

‘To me it starts with the writing,” Danson said. ‘Like ‘Cheers’ this was not developed for anyone in particular . . . and that’s the way ‘Cheers’ was done. And that’s the way a show stands a chance.”

An Article from the New York Daily News

BY David Bianculli
Monday, February 15, 1999, 12:00 AM

BECKER. Tonight, 9:30, CBS. 1 1/2 STARS In tonight's installment of the CBS sitcom "Becker" (at 9:30), the casting of Dick Van Dyke as the father of series star Ted Danson is inspired. Too bad the script isn't. Instead of giving Van Dyke and Danson some sparkling adversarial comedy scenes, writer Dave Hackel stressed dramatic conflict. Van Dyke's Fred Becker, it turns out, is an estranged figure who shows up every seven years or so ("like locusts," his son growls) to make brief contact, and superficial small talk, before hitting the road again. This time, John (Danson) turns him away and when the father seeks him out one more time, it sparks a cathartic argument that touches on lots of long-suppressed sore spots and bad memories. Van Dyke and Danson are more than up to the dramatic conflicts here; both of these gifted comedians have strong dramatic muscles, too, given the right opportunity to shine. But that's the point: this isn't really the right opportunity. Dramatically, this "Becker" episode, down to its silent final scene, is much too pat, and predictable, to be either involving or surprising. Danson and Van Dyke try hard, which is what keeps the show from failing even more painfully, but in most of their scenes together, they seem to be carrying the momentum forward on little more than sheer will. And while these scenes would be excusable if the laughs in other scenes were big enough, there just aren't any big laughs. No small ones, either, other than one of the younger Becker's tirades against an inarticulate patient. If you're importing Van Dyke from "Diagnosis Murder," and giving him a chance to revive his old comedy rhythms from the classic "The Dick Van Dyke Show," the least you can do is give him something good to play, and someone good to play against. "Becker," in tonight's show, succeeds in the latter but fails in the former. Maybe next time if there is a next time.

An Article from The New York Times

Aging and Grumpy but With a Bit of Sam Malone
Published: December 12, 1999

THE food at the corner coffee shop, albeit cooked and served by a comely ex-model, is terrible. Parking in the Bronx is bad and getting worse. Every car on the street is a rolling rap concert.

Whining hypochondriacs live stubbornly into their 90's; sweet-faced inner-city children waste away from H.I.V. You can center a sitcom on an egotistical, self-righteous misanthrope, if he's played by a famous actor associated with a well-loved comic character in his past.

In short, the world is nasty, brutish and almost totally unfair. God -- whether you believe in him or not -- almost inevitably acts in an irritatingly inscrutable manner, and all of the above, serious and frivolous, fairly comprehensively sums up the concept, execution and comedic underpinnings of the most unconventional and underpublicized hit comedy on the air today.

''He's the most flawed character I've ever written,'' says David Hackel, proudly, of Dr. John Becker, the middle-aged lead character played by Ted Danson, the ex-''Cheers'' matinee idol whose sitcom star seemed permanently eclipsed after the failure of his heavily promoted ''Ink'' in 1996. Becker is a politically incorrect malcontent with no real counterpart in today's youth-obsessed sitcom world.

Positioned neatly at 9:30 p.m. on Mondays on CBS behind the hit ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' ''Becker'' the show regularly finishes in the Nielsen top 20 and has become what Mr. Hackel, a 51-year-old veteran sitcom writer and producer, a bit nervously calls a ''stealth'' success.

''CBS has to be very happy with it,'' says Tim Spengler, executive vice president in charge of national broadcasting for Western International Media, a Los Angeles media management company. ''It drops off only one share point from its hit lead-in, which in this day and age is very good.''

What the ''Becker'' audience seems to be responding to is Mr. Danson's portrayal of a man who, for pure irascibility, recalls bygone characters like ''Taxi's'' noisome dispatcher Louie De Palma and Bill Bittinger, the scabrous talk show host of NBC's short-lived ''Buffalo Bill.''

During an interview in his Paramount Studios office, Mr. Hackel described Becker this way: ''He has clear attitudes about things. You may not agree with them, I may not agree with them, but when he speaks, everybody listens.

''I think he is an unhappy person, but not all the time. I think he is a very frustrated person, and sometimes depressed. I think he is also one of those guys who sometimes thinks the rules are for everyone else besides him. He is not a consistent character, and he is often dead wrong. But by being consistent and wrong, I contend that he is the most human character I've ever written.''

To be precise, John Becker is a twice-divorced general practitioner with a lower- and lower-middle-class Bronx practice, and -- astounding for a sitcom character -- a car and an apartment considerably junkier and dingier, respectively, then the ones he would probably own and inhabit in real life.

Becker usually opens each episode with one of his trademark jeremiads against some form of societal absurdity or injustice, real or imagined.

For example: ''Parents are too permissive. Today, you let the kid cry; 10 years from now, he's running a chain of crooked lemonade stands. Next thing you know, he's got a gun in my back at an A.T.M.'' Or: ''The only people dumber than talk radio listeners are talk radio callers. It's an entire audience made up of the infirm, the unemployed and the insane.''

Becker's outbursts are usually met with scorn or censure by the supporting characters, including Margaret (Hattie Winston), his efficient nurse and office manager; Linda (Shawnee Smith), the dingbat receptionist; Reggie (Terry Farrell), the model-turned-hash-slinger with whom he has a warily platonic relationship, and Jake (Alex Desert), a blind newsstand operator with whom he has the closest thing to a male friendship.

The plots are basically extensions of Becker's peevish tics and obsessions. In one episode he insists on his right to call an Asian-American motorist he has collided with a bad driver. In another, after being shot during a robbery, he's as rude to the female emergency physician treating him as he normally is to his own patients; in another he deals with a woman excessively grateful to him for saving her life (''Jesus sent you to me!'') as if she were a crazed stalker.

In the end, of course, Becker's basic decency is reluctantly revealed. In the episodes above he (1) eventually convinces everybody that he was simply venting his spleen at bad drivers in general, (2) starts an awkward, prickly love affair with the E.R. doctor and (3) discovers to his embarrassment that the grateful woman is a Roman Catholic nun in mufti.

Along the way, too often to be accidental, Becker and his colleagues discuss a matter not often dwelt upon in sitcoms: the presence or absence of a Supreme Being.

''We do debate God's existence,'' says Mr. Hackel. ''The existence of a sort of greater good, of an arbiter of right or wrong.'' The main combatants are Margaret, a devout Christian who insists that Becker and his healing powers are a gift from God, and Becker, who protests shrilly that nobody or nothing could be at the helm of such a messed-up world.

In one episode, a supposedly psychotic shoe salesman (played by the comedian Steven Wright) comes to Becker's examination room and says he often hears the voice of God -- who goes by the name Larry. Becker refers the patient to a psychiatrist, who silences the voice with drugs, but in the end the salesman confesses to Becker that he has stopped taking his medication, because he misses Larry's advice.

In another episode, Becker angrily shakes his fist at the sky (for reasons too complex to recount here) and declares that ''they'' are out to get him. ''That's interesting,'' Margaret says acidly. ''You're being persecuted by a God you don't believe in.''

Mr. Hackel admits readily that a character as abrasive and unlikable as Becker is almost by definition unsuitable as a sitcom figurehead. And that only Mr. Danson's skills as an actor -- plus the reservoir of audience good will he built up playing Sam Malone, the charming ladies' man of ''Cheers'' -- made ''Becker'' a viable comedic vehicle.

Over coffee at a West Los Angeles restaurant, Mr. Danson agrees with the second part of that theory.

''The baggage I bring to anything new after 11 years of 'Cheers' is that Ted is a nice guy,'' he says. ''I think that there is a comfort zone I bring to the part that allowed me a bit more time to establish this character.''

''Sam Malone and Becker have something in common also,'' he adds. ''Both are lonely men, very lonely.''

Mr. Danson, now 51, says he is pleasantly surprised to be able to shake off old typecasting and establish a new sitcom character, especially after ''Ink,'' the much hyped and reworked CBS project in which he played a swaggering newspaper columnist still in love with his ex-wife and editor (his real-life wife, Mary Steenburgen).

''My theory about that one,'' says Mr. Danson, ''is that if you're not a stand-up comedian -- a Cosby or a Seinfeld -- it's a mistake to hire people to find your comedic voice, which is what happened. What we are is actors, and what we need to do is find somebody else's passionate self-expression and then ask very nicely if we can be in it.''

Mr. Danson adds that after the demise of ''Ink'' (after one season) he was extremely pessimistic about ever returning to sitcoms. ''We still totally believe in him as a TV star,'' says Leslie Moonves, president of CBS Television, ''but after 'Ink' went off we'd sent him a number of things that he rejected. There was a real chance he wouldn't be coming back.''

Meanwhile Mr. Hackel, after stints on shows like ''Webster'' and ''Wings'' and as a consultant on ''Frasier,'' decided to take a chance and develop a sitcom about a spokesman for political incorrectness. It eventually became ''Becker.''

Mr. Danson (and Ms. Steenburgen, he adds) saw the role as an interesting challenge for him. CBS planned to introduce the show in January 1999 but rushed it onto the air in November 1998 in place of the quickly canceled ''Brian Benben Show.''

In the lee of ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' ''Becker'' quietly prospered and, according to Mr. Moonves, is a cinch for renewal. As for Mr. Danson, he notes with some satisfaction that although he is still usually hailed on the street with cries of ''Sam Malone!'' he has heard a ''Becker!'' or two recently.

''Another thing I like,'' he says, ''is that I play my real age.'' But that's not all he has in common with Becker, Mr. Danson admits. In the last few years, he says, he has ''become a little bit more judgmental.''

''It's the little stuff I have opinions on, about nearly everything,'' he explains, but not about the big issues. ''And you can ask my fellow actors, you can ask my wife, it flips across my face with less charm the older I get.''

An Article from the Deseret News

'Becker' hires one, fires one

By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News television editor
Published: August 8, 2002 12:00 am
Updated: Aug. 8, 2002 3:56 p.m.

PASADENA, Calif. — This fall on the CBS sitcom "Becker," Nancy Travis is in — and Terry Farrell is out.

But, despite the fact that she was, well, fired, Farrell didn't do anything to prompt her dismissal, said executive producer David Hackel.

"It was a totally creative decision, not a punitive one," Hackel insisted. Which didn't make it any easier.

"My conversation with Terry, as you might have imagined, was a difficult one," Hackel said. "I ended with us making plans to go to dinner so I could meet her fiance. She's been nothing but incredibly gracious and wonderful."

"Incredibly gracious," repeated series star Ted Danson.

Hackel said the reason for the change is "fairly straightforward." And it had nothing to do with the fact that Farrell, along with the rest of the supporting cast, staged a work slowdown of sorts last year in an attempt to increase their salaries.

"When you get past year five of a show . . . what happens is you're looking for a way to shake up the show. Something new to write about," he said.

And by adding Travis as a potential love interest for the title character, cranky Dr. John Becker (Ted Danson), Hackel hopes to provide not only a surprise but a lot of new stories.

But, while there was always attraction between John and Reggie, there was never any romance. So why did one character (and the actress who played her) have to leave to make room for another?

"My feeling was that if you have two strong women that you then have to service, not just financially, but with the script," Hackel said, "the show begins to be weighted too much in the wrong direction. This is still the story of a doctor in the Bronx. If I made it a triangle for the rest of the show's run, I believe it would turn the show into something different. So I decided to choose."

He chose Travis, who appeared in the last three episodes last season — a story arc that was supposed to have ended. The plan was that when Becker went to see her in this fall's season premiere, her character would be gone. And that when he went back to Reggie she would say, "I came to my senses" and that Becker "would be right back where we always had him."

"I thought, well, what would happened if I did just the opposite? What would happen if he went where no one expects him to go? And the stories started to happen.

"And, quite frankly, if I had had Ted pursue Reggie romantically, it's you folks who would have just run to your typewriters and said, 'Boy, didn't we see that coming.' Well, hopefully, you didn't see this coming. And hopefully the audience won't see it coming. And, hopefully, it will be interesting to you."

For the first time, Becker will pursue romance.

"I can't wait to see Becker chase a girl," Danson said. "He's never done that, and he'll be terrible, I imagine. . . . But I love all the possibilities."

Hackel said that, in light of the skirt-chasing character Danson played for 11 seasons on "Cheers," he "studiously avoided any kind of romantic entanglement" for John Becker. "We just thought to invite that comparison would be silly." But the feeling is that, as the show enters its sixth season, it's now OK to go in that direction.

And Danson, who went through a major cast change in "Cheers" (Kirstie Alley replacing Shelley Long), thinks the change will help "Becker."

"Different circumstances, but I don't think 'Cheers' would have lasted as long as it did if there hadn't been a change like that," Danson said. "I think it just naturally energizes the show."

"You said that when that change was made, it gave an excuse to shine a light on all the other characters again," Hackel said. "Sort of retell their stories."

Which, coincidentally, he thinks might be a good thing given that the show is moving from Mondays at 8:30 p.m. to Sundays at 7:30 p.m. in the fall.

"Maybe we can get new people as well who need to meet these folks," Hackel said. "And I can't think of a better way than to let the characters explain who they are."

Reggie's sudden disappearance from the show will be explained when "Becker" returns in the fall. But Hackel isn't giving any hints.

"You have to watch the first episode," Hackel said. "It will be dealt with in the first episode. And it will be dealt with, hopefully, in a way that surprises you."

An Article from CBS

By Rome Neal CBS October 27, 2003, 3:07 PM
Ted Danson's Durable 'Becker'

Mark Burnet hasn't the only Survivor on network television.

Ted Danson's "Becker" has outlasted three time slot changes, a lawsuit by its cast members and a change in the leading female actress.

Danson jokes, "I'm not sure we should even be talking about 'Becker' because if CBS finds out we're still on, we could be in a lot of trouble. They still don't know. We're under the radar here."

For a number of years, the show was consistently in the top 20, and one week in 1999 it finished 9th for the week in total households. But, although it averaged over 16 million viewers two years ago, "Becker" has struggled recently — losing almost half of that total audience in its current spot in CBS' primetime lineup.

Danson says, "We've mourned our loss and now we're back with this What-are- they-going-to-do?-Cancel-us attitude and it's a fun way to work."

The actor notes the good news is, "We have a great staff and a wonderful new actor, Jorge Garcia, who is very funny."

Through it all, Danson says, he is grateful and loves going to work. But he tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "I felt definitely obsolete. It was a real check-your-ego-at-the-door time, which is not bad, it's not a bad thing. It's nutritious for your soul. Being in films, I got nominated nine times and lost every time. I've learned how to be philosophical."

This year, love is in the air for Dr. Becker, as the surly physician reveals a new, more romantic side.

Danson says, "This is how I like Becker best is when he's actually trying, when he's really, really stepping up to the plate and is still totally miserable at it."

You can catch "Becker" Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/ 8:30 Central on CBS.

To see some clips of Becker go to

For a Website dedicated to Becker go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

To find out why Terry Farrell left Becker go to

For some Becker-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

For a great review of Becker go to
Date: Sat July 10, 2004 � Filesize: 176.8kb � Dimensions: 580 x 725 �
Keywords: Becker: Cast Photo


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