Becker (TV series)
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Becker is an American sitcom that ran from 1998 to 2004 on CBS. Set in the New York City borough of the Bronx, the show starred Ted Danson as John Becker, a misanthropic doctor who operates a small practice and is constantly annoyed by his patients, co-workers, friends, and practically everything and everybody else in his world. Despite everything, his patients and friends are loyal because Becker genuinely cares about them. The series was produced by Paramount Network Television.
|Created by||David Hackel|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||129 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||approx. 22–26 minutes|
Paramount Domestic Television|
CBS Television Distribution
|Original release||November 2, 1998– January 28, 2004|
The show revolved around Becker and the things that annoyed him, although the supporting cast also had their moments. The relationships between Becker and Reggie (later, Chris) formed the key plots of many episodes. The show tackled more serious issues as well, such as race, homosexuality, transvestism, addiction, nymphomania, schizophrenia, cerebral AVM, and political correctness.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||22||November 2, 1998||May 17, 1999|
|2||24||September 20, 1999||May 22, 2000|
|3||24||October 9, 2000||May 14, 2001|
|4||24||October 1, 2001||May 20, 2002|
|5||22||October 6, 2002||April 20, 2003|
|6||13||October 8, 2003||January 28, 2004|
Cast and charactersEdit
- Ted Danson as Dr. John Becker: A Harvard Medical School graduate who runs a neighborhood medical practice. He is frequently annoyed by things such as a flickering street lamp, noisy neighbors and rubbish on TV. Becker is pessimistic and superstitious, believing that just about everything brings him bad luck. Always trying to quit smoking, Becker hides a packet of cigarettes in the cash register of the diner where he hangs out to control his intake and keep his habit from Margaret. An atheist, because he can't accept a God who lets bad things happen, he does not rule out the possibility that God is torturing him for his nonbelief. He has been divorced twice and is very stingy. Becker is politically liberal (especially in later series), though he hates political correctness. Despite his gruff nature, Becker exhibits moments of kindness and shows the utmost professionalism in dealing with his patients, accepting gifts from those who can't pay. Initially, the reason why he is working in a run down neighborhood of the Bronx is a sore point, though he later says he turned down a research job at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore because the neighborhood is where he's most needed. Danson, whose hair had gone completely white, dyed his hair brown to match his appearance as Sam Malone on Cheers.
- Hattie Winston as Margaret Wyborn: Becker’s nurse and office manager, and one of the few people who can tolerate Becker, Margaret is a motherly figure to Becker and Linda. She is married, at best rockily, to the often mentioned but never-seen "Lewis", who hates Becker (and vice versa). She once thought about becoming a singer instead of a nurse. Margaret is a Christian, specifically a Baptist, and often quotes the Bible. Margaret is generally the most level-headed character and acts as the voice of reason. She also appears to have liberal views; in one episode, she is asked what Florida is known for, and sarcastically answers “not counting votes?”, and once chastised Becker for what she perceived as homophobic behavior. She is also shown to be quite stubborn, a prime example being getting her job by not leaving till Becker hired her.
- Shawnee Smith as Linda: A flighty, uneducated young woman who works as Margaret's aide in Becker's office. Becker explains her presence there by saying that he owed her father a favor. Although often inconsiderate and slow on the uptake, Linda sees events from a unique perspective which can be helpful. Although she has a strained relationship with her alcoholic mother, her wealthy parents bought her a luxury penthouse. In season two, she invites Bob to live with her after he becomes homeless, and is too polite to kick him out. Linda is popular with some of the patients, due to her skimpy outfits and bubbly personality. She is good with kids and helps Becker out when they need shots. She is always deferential and calls Becker "Doctor" no matter where she is, and stuck up for him after a "sex talk" he gave to a school class didn't go down well. She has a soft spot for small animals and loves to go shopping, clubbing, and dating. She has an on-again/off-again ex-boyfriend Gil. She speaks Portuguese and learned some Mandarin from an ex-boyfriend, which prove useful when dealing with patients.
- Alex Désert as Jake Malinak: Becker's best friend, who runs the newsstand in the diner. Jake lost his sight in a car accident several years prior. He was close to one of his grandmothers who raised him before she died. Jake married a woman called Amanda (played by Lindsay Price), 24 hours after they met. They had the marriage annulled but lived together for some time until Amanda left - taking all his possessions with her. Jake competed three times in the National Scrabble Championship winning once. In the final episode, Jake decides to spend an inheritance on a college education. He enrolls to study in Chicago, where he can stay with a relative who teaches on campus.
- Terry Farrell as Regina 'Reggie' Kostas (seasons 1–4): The owner and operator of the diner where Becker hangs out. A former model, she moved back home after her career had stalled and her father fell ill. She inherited the diner, along with its grumpy customer Becker, and continues to run it despite all of the complaints about her cooking and her dissatisfaction with her situation. Reggie gets an 'A' in psychology, then has a panic attack thinking about her future after everybody jokes about the uselessness of the degree. Reggie has a love-hate relationship with Becker. At the end of the 4th season, she becomes jealous of all the attention Becker is paying to Chris and kisses Becker. However, as the actress playing Regina was let go after season 4, in the 5th season's premiere ("Someone's In The Kitchen with Reggie?"), it's explained that Reggie and Becker had slept together, but then Reggie regretted throwing herself at him, regarding it as hitting rock bottom. She rings the bar, and leaves a message with a customer for Jake, explaining that she has gone to Europe with some friends from modelling and is reassessing her life and career.
- Saverio Guerra as Bob (recurring, seasons 1–2; main, seasons 3–5): Bob is an old high school classmate of Reggie's who is short, hyperactive, annoying, and refers to himself in the third person. Bob largely serves as the larger-than-life comic relief of the series, bringing levity to many of the serious issues encountered. A recurring character for the series' first two seasons, he replaced a similar, but more toned down, character Manny (played by James Lorinz) in episode 6. Bob is a sex addict, who initially continually hits on Reggie, who ignored him in high school, despite being married and Reggie making it abundantly clear that she still detests him. In season two, Bob becomes homeless after his wife cleans him out in a divorce. Linda kindly invites him to stay at her place, but is soon trying to find him a job so she can get rid of him. He became a regular character for seasons 3–5 and worked as the lazy superintendent of Becker's building. Bob's middle name is Benito but his surname is never given. One of his few talents is that he is an excellent cook. Guerra did not renew his contract for the shortened season six. Bob's absence is explained by his going on vacation and he is never mentioned again.
- Nancy Travis as Chris Connor (guest, season 4; main, seasons 5–6): Becker's new neighbor who moves to the Bronx after traveling the world. Chris, originally supposed to be in the show for only four episodes, joined the show at the end of Season 4 and became a regular cast member in Season 5. Chris takes over the diner and begins a love-hate relationship with Becker. She is his total opposite – always nice and cheerful, but they eventually get together by the end of the series. Travis had previously worked with Danson in Three Men and a Baby and Three Men and a Little Lady.
- Jorge Garcia as Hector Lopez (season 6): The little brother of one of Jake's childhood friends. Jake said that Hector would do anything to make money, including selling his parents' condoms, to which he responded, "Hey, those weren't scams, they were business ventures. Besides I got a baby sister out of it." He was a cast member only during the sixth season, serving as a replacement of sorts for Bob. In the last episode, Hector takes over control of the news stand after Jake announces he will be moving to Chicago for college.
Terry Farrell's departureEdit
Terry Farrell had asked Paramount to be written out of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (where she played Jadzia Dax) due to her mistreatment by one of the producers, and later left the show altogether. Soon after, Farrell got the role of Reggie. According to Farrell, the original plan was for Reggie and Becker to have a relationship with romantic tension over the course of the show; the show's ending would be them going on their first date. However, the producers became worried that this would be compared to Sam and Diane's relationship on Cheers, so they backed away from it.
At the end of season four, Nancy Travis was introduced for a short arc playing Chris, Becker's new neighbor. Chris was a cheerful and optimistic character, the opposite of Becker, and would serve as a rival for Reggie. The season ended with a cliffhanger as Reggie kissed Becker and then left. However, Farrell was dropped at the end of season four, which came as a shock to her. Creator and EP David Hackel and Farrell have both stated that it had nothing to do with Farrell supporting the cast in claims for a promised pay raise after season three. Hackel said that Chris and Becker's relationship would "shake things up a bit," which the network wanted, and that instead of having Reggie do the usual thing and return to patch things up, she would just decide to leave.
The show was offered in syndication between 2003-2006, after its network run on CBS ended. In the U.S., the show has previously aired on WGN America until 2010. ReelzChannel added the show in fall 2010. From January 2017 it is on Antenna TV.
CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released all six seasons of Becker on DVD in Region 1. Season 4-6 are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases, available exclusively via Amazon.com's CreateSpace program.
On June 6, 2017, CBS DVD released Becker: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.
In Region 4, Paramount Home Entertainment released the first three seasons on DVD in 2008/2009. These releases have been discontinued and are out of print. In 2013, Umbrella Entertainment acquired the rights to the series and subsequently re-released the first three seasons. Season 4 was released on February 5, 2014. Season 5 and 6 were released in August 2016.
|DVD name||Ep#||Originally aired||Release dates|
|Region 1||Region 4|
|The First Season||22||1998–1999||April 1, 2008||May 1, 2013|
|The Second Season||24||1999–2000||February 3, 2009||July 3, 2013|
|The Third Season||24||2000–2001||January 12, 2010||November 6, 2013|
|The Fourth Season||24||2001–2002||July 3, 2012||February 5, 2014|
|The Fifth Season||22||2002–2003||June 11, 2013||August 3, 2016|
|The Sixth Season||13||2003–2004||December 17, 2014||August 3, 2016|
|The Complete Series||129||1998–2004||June 6, 2017||N/A|
Becker debuted as part of CBS' highly rated Monday night lineup as a midseason replacement for the cancelled sitcom The Brian Benben Show, taking over the timeslot at 9:30 PM Eastern time. The show performed well for its first four seasons, piggybacking off the ratings of its lead-in, Everybody Loves Raymond; in its first four seasons, Becker ranked in the top 20 and peaked at #13.
Despite the ratings wins they were getting with the series, CBS decided to try and find a new home for Becker and relocated the sitcom to lead off its Sunday night lineup. The ratings unexpectedly tanked as Becker fell out of the top 50 in the ratings and CBS was set to cancel the series. The network relented and gave Becker a sixth and last season, but was only willing to order thirteen episodes and intended to air it as a midseason replacement. Once again the network changed its mind and the last season launched in the fall. Moving to Wednesday nights and airing in tandem with former Monday staple The King of Queens, Becker aired its 129th and last episode on January 28, 2004.
|Season||Episodes||Timeslot (ET)||Season premiere||Season finale||Rank||Viewers|
|November 2, 1998||May 17, 1999||#18||13.9|
|1999–2000||24||September 20, 1999||May 22, 2000||#19||15.26|
|2000–2001||24||October 9, 2000||May 24, 2001||#16||16.1|
|2001–2002||24||October 1, 2001||May 20, 2002||#13||16.3|
|2002–2003||22||Sunday 8:00 (Episodes 1-14, 21)
Sunday 8:30 (Episodes 15-20, 22)
|October 6, 2002||April 20, 2003||#51||10.43|
|October 8, 2003||January 28, 2004||#46||10.29|
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