Becker (1998) s02e02 – Imm-Oral Fixations

This episode has a really strong guest star performance from Marjorie Monaghan. She’s an old model friend of Terry Farrell’s, in town for a few days, wants to hang out. Except Farrell’s trying to get her greasy spoon’s freezer fixed and she’s got to deal with people in New Jersey, which is what passes for a joke in Ian Gurvitz’s script after a while.

It’s too bad because the opening sequence has a lot of funny jokes during Ted Danson’s rant to Alex Désert and Farrell, ending with him deciding to quit smoking. Again. Most—maybe all—of the rant jokes are mean-spirited, but it comes off amiably enough. Andy Ackerman directs the episode better than Gurvitz’s script deserves, especially once we get to the main plot development.

Monaghan’s decides to help Danson out with the quitting smoking, revealing she used sex to get through her quitting and she’s apparently down to help him do the same. But since Monaghan doesn’t have a character or any motivation, there aren’t a lot of stakes. Actually, about the only thing with stakes in the episode is Farrell’s freezer. If the episode didn’t waste everyone in it—though Farrell gets a very good joke and has an excellent delivery on it; she’s not much funnier than usual, but she’s a lot more comfortable in the show.

The problem’s Gurvitz’s script and how little it actually does with the cast. Hattie Winston’s funny, Shawnee Smith’s funny, they’ve got a decent team-up scene when they don’t believe Danson’s sleeping with ex-model Monaghan… but they’re just there. Gurvitz has got the A plot of Danson quitting smoking and the B plot of the broken freezer but everything else is just a bit. Like whiny patient William Sawyer or Danson making fun of an patient’s old person body.

This episode’s doing nothing to reassure me the second season’s going to be the one where things get better. I’m scared to look how many more episodes with Gurvitz script credits.

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