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HTF DVD Review: Becker - The Second Season

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#1 of 2 Neil Middlemiss

Neil Middlemiss

    Screenwriter

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  • Real Name:Neil Middlemiss

Posted February 07 2009 - 10:44 AM

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Becker
The Second Season




Studio: Paramount/CBS
Year: 1999-2000
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 8 Hrs, 46 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Stereo
Subtitles:




US Release Date: February 3, 2009
Review Date: February 7, 2009


The Show - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

"You guys are gonna be sorry when I'm just a bad smell coming from a crawl space"


The Show
Ted Danson is a likable guy. The handsome, quip-ready Sam Malone on Cheers was, oddly enough, the guy you related to the most in that cast. Surrounded by likeable losers, idiots and obsessive and unusual characters – on the long-running Cheers he was easy to tag onto and be invested in his success with his female co-star. It helped that Cheers was an extremely funny sitcom that worked in just about every way – quirky and easy to enjoy. How disappointing then that Becker is so painfully average and uninspired.

Ted Danson stars in the titular role as a grumpy, cantankerous and ego-centric doctor with a small practice in the Bronx borough of New York. He has a staff of two; a hardworking, sarcastic office manager, Margaret, played by Hattie Winston and a ditzy flake of an assistant, Linda, played by Shawnee Smith. He frequents a local diner run by the beautiful Reggie, played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Terry Farrell and deals with diner patrons Jake, a blind newsstand owner played by Alex Désert and the annoying and mouthy Bob, played by Saverio Guerra.

The cast dynamic is easily recognizable although centering the entire show around the rude and curt coldness of John Becker was an interesting choice. Besides that, however, all else is unremarkable. Farrell’s smart and beautiful Reggie brings the hints of sexual tension, though very slight in this season, Desert’s world wise Jake easily tolerates Becker’s brashness, Smith’s off the wall Linda seems oblivious to it all and Winston’s Margaret drops off the cuff one liners and Guerra ‘s Bob plays the irritant to the rest of the characters. Nothing new at all.

Where the show seems to go wrong, beyond the annoying transition sequences with graphic-warped stock footage of the Bronx, is the barrage of jokes that identify themselves ahead of time and then slowly walk into the dialogue. I don’t expect sit-com plots to break new ground but I do expect them to at least tailor tried and true plots to the cast assembled and to have the characters be defined enough in the confines of the shows premise to make it new enough for fresh jokes to come alive. Becker does not do that and for all intents and purposes, seems lazy.

Even Danson’s Becker is too gruff and aggravating with his singular self-serving, angry and annoyed-at-everyone persona making it hard to enjoy. While he gets to be politically incorrect in his rants from time to time, it isn’t sharp enough or consistent enough to make him worthy of being remembered. He could be considered a bit of a prelude to Hugh Laurie’s terrific Dr. Gregory House on Fox’s hit show, House, but the writer’s of that show at least know that to truly define him as something different he has to be bolder, brasher and afforded a reason, if not an excuse, for his unpleasant and arrogant disposition.

Becker premiered in 1998 and ran for 6 seasons. There are a few moments in the second season that indicate more could have been accomplished with better writing and a change in the mix of the show. But as it stands, these 24 episodes overall are lacking in originality, pace and wit.


The Episodes

Disc One
1: Point of Contact
2: Imm-oral Fixations
3: Cyrano De-Beckerac
4: Linda Quits
5: My Boyfriend’s Back
6: Shovel off to Buffalo
7: He Said, She Said
8: Stumble in the Bronx


Disc Two
9: Hate Thy Neighbor
10: Pain in the Aspirin
11: Blind Curve
12: Santa on Ice
13: The Hypocritic Oath
14: The Rumor
15: All the Rage
16: Old Yeller


Disc Three
17: The Roast that Ruined Them
18: For Whom the Toll Calls
19: The Bearer of Bad Tidings
20: One Angry Man
21: Sight Unseen
22: Crosstalk
23: Cooked
22: Panic on the 86th Floor



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Presented in its original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1, Becker doesn’t dazzle but isn’t bad either. Like the show, it is merely average. Colors are fairly bright, flesh tones are a little muted and there is noise in the image but it is in line with a late 1990’s show that didn’t rate among the standouts. A little soft, light on crisper details but ok enough for the show.



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An English Stereo audio track accompanies this 3 disc DVD set and does what it needs to. Front focused for dialogue, the laugh track reaches the surrounds a little and the front channels carry the weight of the guitar ridden musical interludes that join the stock footage scene transitions. I could not hear deficiencies in the audio which was clear of problems but not as sharp as more recent TV shows on DVD.



The Extra’s - No Stars out of Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

No Extras, No Stars


Final Thoughts

Fans of Becker will have good reason to pick up this set. Despite have zero extra’s, the show has a reasonable presentation of all 24 episodes and from what I can see, the price from online retailers is very good. For anyone else considering this show, perhaps looking to give a second look to a sitcom that debuted in the 90’s, I would have to caution that it breaks no new ground and comes with jokes that are stamped and mailed ahead of time making it hard to find much that will make you want to keep watching.


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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection

#2 of 2 Count Chocula!

Count Chocula!

    Agent

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Posted February 07 2009 - 07:49 PM

Nice review: I still need to purchase S1 of "Becker", but I'll probably get them both together now.