blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Becker (1998) s01e05 – My Dinner With Becker

It's Becker (Ted Danson) on a blind date. Danson lets himself get set up after some razzing from Terry Farrell, who's got a wonderful new boyfriend (Brian Cousins).

Cousins is a big sweetie, who treats Farrell and everyone else with respect and kindness. He does wear shorts–he's a UPS driver, apparently–and is just the kind of guy Becker would love to tease. So Becker teases him–Teresa O'Neill's teleplay has some great jokes–but then has to put up or shut up when it comes to his own dating life.

Enter Sandra Guibord, who he initially likes because she's hot, but then discovers she's into all sorts of basic things and he just can't. What makes the date scene interesting is Danson isn't mean to her, in fact he does his best not to be overly cruel. He understands himself well enough to know he shouldn't be there. That scene's juxtaposed against Farrell and Cousins out on a date and Farrell seeing the world through Becker-colored cynicism. How will Cousins react? Who cares.

Even though Farrell's good on the episode, she's straight-man to the joke good. She's get in some sarcastic response to Danson good. She's not lead her own comic subplot good.

Similarly Alex Désert's timing is a little off; though Danson being cruel to him is kind of hard to time well.

Shawnee Smith has a great C or D plot. "Becker"'s got an odd structure with the days starting in the diner, then going to the office, then getting into Becker's out-of-work life, sometimes with return trips to the diner (because there's supposed to be building chemistry between Farrell and Danson, which sure ain't happening yet). But there's nothing more for Smith or Hattie Winston once Danson abandons work. Similarly Désert's cut off when there's no one in the diner.

The show feels a little cramped by limited locations. Though when they branch out it's problematic–the restaurant set for Danson's date is distractingly bad.

O'Neill's script is maybe the all-around best so far on the show. Not the most laughs, but she at least seems to get how to make Becker function believably with other people.

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