Becker (1998) s01e20 – Drive, They Said

There’s a disconnect during the opening titles; it says, “Written by David Isaacs and Ken Levine” (or however they do it), but it’s not a particularly good scene. Jonathan Nichols is a patient who stiffs Becker (Ted Danson) on his bills so Danson is mean to him. Beating up on the patient… kind of weird.

Also… Nichols is not so good.

Once that scene’s over, however, it’s the best episode of “Becker” ever. Because it’s Isaacs, Levine, and Andy Ackerman (directing). It’s a sitcom dream team and the episode does not disappoint.

Nichols is a ticket scalper and ends up paying Danson in Mets tickets. Danson’s thrilled and so’s the entire supporting cast because they all have somewhere to go and it’d be easier for Danson to drive them there.

Hattie Winston has to get home to her husband’s surprise party and doesn’t want to take the cake on the train. Shawnee Smith doesn’t want to have to take the train to Queens to meet some guy she maybe once saw on the subway. Alex Désert is visiting his grandmother. And Terry Farrell agrees to go to the game with Danson.

So they all pile into the car—and show why the show’s at its best when the supporting cast all comes together and isn’t segregated between location and when it makes ruthless fun of Danson. There’s some phenomenal one liners this episode, especially the ones at Danson’s expense.

And getting to spend some of the episode in his beyond ramshackle death mobile of car is another delight. Finally someone’s got an idea for an episode outside the two and a half regular locations.

The setup alone ought to be enough for the episode, but then they all end up in the emergency room together and it just keeps getting funnier. Great acting from the cast. I’d forgotten what it was like for Farrell to get material; Shawnee Smith gets some great stuff too. It’s so well-written, so well-executed.

I just hope it’s a sign of what’s to come. I’d given up hope for the show getting as good as this episode.

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