Becker (1998) s01e07 – City Lights

Once again… I’m wondering how long it takes for “Becker” to start getting really good. I remember it being really good at some points. Like whole seasons.

This episode’s all about the streetlight outside Ted Danson’s apartment flickering and him trying to get it fixed. He’s not going to get the city to do anything because bureaucracy, am I right, and he can’t get his neighbors to help him because he’s been so terrible to them. Meanwhile, Shawnee Smith brings her dog to work; she and Hattie Winston get that very strange subplot. Though I guess it does give Winston more to do than sit around and react to Danson. She gets to walk around and react to Smith.

Second-billed Terry Farrell (and whatever billed Alex Désert) don’t show up five or so minutes in, long enough you forgot they were supposed to be in the show. Désert doesn’t get a subplot but Farrell gets a classical music concert one with Danson. It’s dropped in, not relating to Danson’s main plot.

If the subplots played the cast to their strengths, it might make sense. They don’t. Ostensibly Danson all riled up over city bureaucracy is a slam dunk but no. Russ Woody’s script lacks any of the charm Danson’s been finding in the character to this point.

Smith and Winston get different kind of comedy to do than usual but nothing like what they’re best at doing. Farrell’s just around, Désert’s less than around, the butt of jokes. It’s also unclear how the “Becker” timeline works because Désert seems unfamiliar with Danson’s relationship with Farrell’s (dead) father. The father owned the diner where Danson went so when Farrell takes it over, Danson keeps going. But apparently Désert wasn’t part of the diner… or Danson and the dead father were just terrible to him.

It could be either one, but where’s the show bible. Désert’s the worst-defined character; he needs all the consistency he can get.

It’s got to start getting better soon. Otherwise… I’m not sure I can make it.

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