Becker was a television series which ran on CBS
from November, 1998 to January, 2004. A Sitcom
about an angry, loud, opinionated doctor
named John Becker (played by Ted Danson) with a small practice in the Bronx and a loose group of petty, self-centred "friends", who seemed to be the only people who could actually stand Becker for more than a few moments. Nevertheless he seemed popular with his patients, despite the fact that Becker generally hated people.
At work, head nurse Margaret (Hattie Winston) was in charge, and the practise was assisted by Linda (Shawnee Smith), who could be The Ditz
but was very popular with the patients. Becker spent most of his time at Reggie's Diner, owned by ex-model Reggie Kostas (Terry Farrell). Other characters included blind newspaper seller Jake Malinack (Alex Desert) and Bob (Saverio Guerra), an annoying old schoolfriend of Reggie's who referred to himself in the third person
After Season 4, Reggie was suddenly written out of the show after Farrell was fired, and new character Chris Connor (Nancy Travis) took over for the final 2 seasons. Bob left in Season 6 and was replaced by Hector (Jorge Garcia).
The show seemed determined to outdo Seinfeld
's level of human depravity.
It will come as no surprise, even to anyone who's never seen the show, that Becker Pets The Dog
This show provides examples of:
- Accentuate the Negative: Becker's personality.
- Actor Allusion: In one episode, George Wendt stars as a bartender at an airport bar patronized by Becker.
- Kelsey Grammer appears as a patient that needs help with his drinking - reversing a dynamic from Cheers.
- The Alleged Car: Becker's car.
- Annoying Patient: Becker's patients, and Becker himself in one episode.
- Blind Black Guy: Jake.
- The Brainless Beauty: Linda.
- Although she has moments of brilliance, however fleeting.
Linda: You're mad about $20 you loaned her over four years ago? That's only $5 dollars a year, that's less than ten cents a week!
Margaret: You worked that out in your head? You can't even handle daylight savings time!
Linda: Think about it Margaret, where does that hour go?
- Breakfast Club
- Brick Joke: In one episode, everyone questions Becker why he's carrying around an air horn. After the joke is abandoned for the rest of the episode, he uses it at the very end to blare it into the phone after a telemarketer calls.
- Buffy Speak: "Quit hovering over me like... help me out, what hovers?"
- Deadpan Snarker: Becker, oh yes.
Becker: The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.
- Dirty Old Woman: Becker gets stuck with one who wants to be his girlfriend after he helps her open her stuck door. Doubles as an Abhorrent Admirer.
- The Ditz: Linda.
- Dr. Jerk: Guess who.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Maybe more “annoying” than “bad”, but for whatever his other faults, Bob is shown to love his mother, and she seems to love him back. Becker gets a little of this too.
- Flanderization: After a while, Becker was either an unbelievable jerk or a kind but ridiculously put-upon chap, never a balance of both.
- Friends Rent Control: Averted. Despite being a private practice Doctor, Becker still lives in a modest apartment. He also mentions that his car is "Held together with duct tape".
- The Ghost: Margaret's husband, Lewis.
- Greasy Spoon: Reggie's diner.
Reggie: I don't really cook so much as I defrost and reheat.
- Grey and Grey Morality: In one episode, a twin brother of one of Becker's patients uses his brother's insurance to get cancer treatment. Becker spends the episode debating giving him the treatment (resulting in insurance fraud and possibly risking his license) or denying him the treatment (condemning a sick man to die because he is uninsured). Ultimately, Becker decides against committing fraud because he's the only practice in a poor neighborhood, so more people would die if he got caught.
- Homemade Sweater From Hell: In one episode, Margaret wears a "swest" that her husband, Lewis, made; it's hilariously bad. Linda feigns a compliment on it, and ends up getting her own "swest" from Lewis.
- Hypochondria: One patient had it and kept going to different doctors who kept giving him prescriptions. Ironically, all the medication he was taking was actually giving him actual medical problems, which other doctors would solve just by giving him more medication. Becker eventually straightens it all out.
- Hypocritical Humor: It's a Running Gag to have Becker decry things in the diner for being dirty, disgusting, and unhealthy right before buying a pack of cigarettes.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Many of Danson's old Cheers co-stars.
- The Internet Is for Porn: After Bob said that he was looking up something online, guess who replied, "Yeah, it must have been shocking to discover the internet wasn't just porn."
"One crisis at a time."
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: One segment has Linda pronouncing "Asperger Syndrome" as "ass burgers". Margaret starts correcting her on it, but later in the episode starts giggling about "ass burgers" herself.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: It's all but outright stated that Becker was once a lot more idealistic before adopting his viewpoint of Humans Are Morons. And see the trope just below this...
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much of a jerk as Becker is to Linda et al., he truly seems to care for most of his patients. That is, the ones that aren't stupid.
- He's got a surprising amount of patience even with some of the stupid ones. Such as the woman who asked—after being told to only drink clear fluids until she got better—whether orange juice and milk would be okay. And then asked if vodka would be good for her, being a clear fluid.
- One episode states that the reason why Becker's office is where it is is so that he can help people that otherwise wouldn't have access to medical help.
- He also frequently accepts gifts such as baked goods and Sports tickets instead of money as many people usually don't have much.
- Subway Story has his patience tested where he guides an old lady to where she wants to go, before he starts to figure out that she was going to Ground Zero. When she explains the reason why she can't the realization hits Becker hard, and he stays with her as she talks about her son on September 11.
- Last Name Basis: Everyone but Margaret and sometimes Jake call him Becker.
- Local Hangout: Reggie's Diner.
- Long Bus Trip: At the start of Season 5, Reggie left a note saying she was leaving town for Europe. Worse, at the start of Season 6, Bob was said to be on vacation. Apparently, he never came back, as that was the last we ever heard of him.
- Mood Whiplash: See the Tear Jerker entry. An otherwise funny episode turns into a beautifully tragic and one in the span of about 2 minutes.
- Must Have Caffeine: Becker.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Bob is their own personal Zoidberg.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Reggie's last words with her father were an argument, which she always regretted.
- No Name Given: Linda and Bob's last names were never revealed.
- Pet the Dog
- Real-Life Relative: Mary Steenburgen appears as one of Becker's patients. Irritated by her, Becker says he pities whatever guy that winds up marrying her.
- Scrabble Babble: Subverted.
Jake: Yeah, xebec.
Bob: That's not a word.
Jake: Sure it is. It's an antiquated, tri-masted Grecian vessel.
Bob: None of those are words!
- Side Effects Include...: The side-effects list was used as the main reason why a split-personality patient didn't take his drugs — the "nice" personality was deathly afraid of the side effects.
Becker: It also says it causes irregular periods. Are you afraid of that too?
Jim: Now I am!
- Smoking Hot Sex: Referenced when Becker tries to quit smoking by having sex every time he gets the urge:
Becker: I just remembered another cigarette I miss.
- Subways Suck: Averted; the subway did not break down.
- Such a Phony: Reggie.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Chris, for Reggie; Hector, for Bob.
- Third-Person Person: Bob.
- Ultimate Job Security: Linda.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Becker.
- Will They or Won't They?: Becker and Reggie. When they finally do, Reggie is so consumed with regret and humiliation that she leaves the city (since the actress wanted to leave the show).