I’ve had some trepidation about “Becker” season two. Season one did not impress as I remember it (eventually) doing—worse, it made me worry the only reason I liked it the first time I watched it was because I was able to go with all the blind jokes and white guy doctor Ted Danson punching down far jokes. And seeing Michael Markowitz on the writing credits for the second season opener did nothing to reassure me.
Though Andy Ackerman directing certainly did. “Becker” (on CBS) is very much the red-headed step-child of the (all NBC) “Cheers”-verse sitcoms and not just because of Danson.
Anyway. Second season opener… pretty solid. There’s a lengthy joke at blind guy Alex Désert’s expense but it’s not particularly mean-spirited and the script kind of implies it’s okay too because Désert’s just trying to make jokes at someone’s expense, which is additionally problematic because jokes at someone’s expense is the show’s point and the subject is objectively terrible person Saverio Guerra’s expense and Guerra’s literally just on the show to give everyone an okay target.
Guerra’s a regular now (I think), semi-stalking old high school crush Terry Farrell in the diner where everyone hangs out. Guerra’s great and adds the necessarily flash to the diner. Désert gets no real second season changes, other than getting to mock Farrell and Danson’s lack of love lives in the opening joke, but it’s better than Farrell. Apparently the big note the network had on Farrell for season two was no bras and less midriff coverage.
Back at Danson’s office, Hattie Winston and Shawnee Smith are just around for punchline duty, which isn’t great but it’s fine because they’re both good at it. Winston gets a little more to do because it’s “we don’t say the A-word” atheist Danson freaking out at religious lady Kim Darby being nice to him after he saves her life in the diner. She’s choking and he does the Heimlich.
Darby’s really, really good. She stands off quite well—at least a foot shorter too—against Danson.
It’s a simple enough sitcom plot. Danson thinks she’s stalking him, she escalates, there’s a resolution, fade out. Thanks to Guerra, the B plot about him bouncing a check is magically not too flimsy—Ackerman probably helps a lot, just making sure the thing is running smoothly.
I’m not sure the episode would’ve gotten me watching back in 1999 but if it certainly wouldn’t have kicked me off.
Though I went through the entire first season waiting for “Becker” to all of a sudden get quite good and every episode was surprised when it didn’t so we shall see….