Ted Danson plays Dr. Becker in one of the most unusual medical shows ever to air on television. It is now shown in reruns on most Wednesday nights on WGN. Two programs are broadcast together. Of the people I talk to, it’s more popular now than when it was first produced between 1998 and 2004.
The caustic doctor spreads contempt, mainly in his office and in the nearby restaurant. Yet he exudes it wherever he goes. In the first episode he decides not to open the office in New York after all. She has recently been divorced, has little money and little self-esteem. Margaret (Hattie Winston) interviews to be her office manager. She persuades, or takes over, as is her forte, John Becker to stay and open the practice. Margaret continues to function after many disasters. A continuing disaster is Linda, played by Shawnee Smith. Basically she’s there because they can’t find anyone else, but she brings some great comedy to the office and to the show.
In the restaurant we have seen the owners come and go, but Jake (Alex Desert) stays. His blindness is an interesting aspect of the show, offering insight and laughter. Reggie (Terry Farrell) runs the restaurant first and a part of Becker’s life, followed by Chris (Nancy Travis). Dr. Becker and Chris’ relationship almost rivals that of Sam and Diane from CHEERS. Then there is Bob (Saverio Guerra) who is the thorn in everyone’s flesh, but a lot of fun.
With all of Dr. John Becker’s failures repeatedly pointed out by others, his redeeming virtue is that he cares. Sometimes characters have to dig deep to find it. He becomes obsessed if he cannot find the problem or cure it with his patients. Bedside attitude aside, he’s the kind of doctor you’d like to have. I know a lot of people expect a return.