Becker’s P.C. World and how it is just as if not more relevant today.
It was one evening on January 25th 1999 when the hit CBS sitcom aired P.C. World written by Michael Markowitz and directed by Jeff Melman.
Becker was a late nineties sitcom starring Cheers alum Ted Danson as the irritable, opinionated and forever crabby Dr. John Becker who ran a small medical clinic in The Bronx and contended with crazy patients and idiots of the world in general. The show also starred Hattie Winston as his Nurse, the intelligent, no nonsense and sassy Margaret Wyborn, Shawnee Smith as the quirky, air headed Nurse’s assistant Linda, Terry Farrell as Reggie Costas, the beautiful and strong willed patron of Reggie’s Diner, Becker’s number 1 hang out spot, and Alex Desert as Jake Malinak, the blind, suave guy that runs the newspaper stand at Reggie’s Diner and is Becker’s closest if not only friend. Later additions like Nancy Travis as Chris Connor, Reggie’s replacement and eventually Becker’s beautiful and chipper girlfriend, and last and certainly not least is Saverio Guerra as the slimy, oily sex crazed leech Bob. The show ran from 1998–2004 and has had many wonderful episodes but it was P.C. World that truly shined brightest out of all 129 episodes.
The episode starts off with a typical morning for Dr. Becker at Reggie’s when he enters screaming out at the street to loud rap music blasting from a boombox and he rants about the loud music. Then a driver who happens to be Asian hits Becker’s car and enters the diner and the two argue but eventually switch insurance numbers with Becker making a smart remark toward the driver. He then takes a jab at his blind friend Jake and leaves. Nosy and self serving reporter Tetzloff played by Robert Joy happens to overhear all of this and this is where Becker’s troubles begin. After Tetzloff writes a scathing story about Becker in his column, the good doctor starts losing patients like one of his favorites, Mr. Kimsey played by Earl Billings who is a black man who seems genuinely hurt about what he thinks Becker is. However Becker has had enough when he comes into the diner and his friends are listening to Tetzloff on the radio dogging Becker out once again. He storms into the radio interview and we witness one of the the all time greatest scenes in television history!
End of episode. This scene was the exact perfect way to end this episode; Becker didn’t solve anything and everything didn’t magically resolve itself, all that really mattered was that Becker defended himself and spoke his piece. That’s all he needed and that’s all we as an audience needed. Now of course next week it’s like this never happened, but the impact of this episode is why I’m writing this article today. It’s still relevant!
We’re living in a toxic time right now where social media could be used to destroy someone or “cancel” someone with very little to no real evidence and someone’s tweet can be misconstrued and twisted to serve the own false moral initiative under the guise of political correctness but it’s really being used as a way to “punish” someone or someones who happened to piss off the wrong entitled, self righteous brats. This episode of Becker is amazing considering that it aired 22 years ago and this is basically what happened to Dr. Becker. He was “cancelled” by a self serving narcissist who didn’t like what Becker had to say and twisted his words to serve himself and get himself some clout. Tell me that, that isn’t happening to many celebs or regular people online today. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some folks that deserve to be criticized and “cancelled” for some genuinely heinous things that they’ve done or said take Harvey Weinstein for example, Bill Cosby, our last president etc. that’s a whole different ballgame. But what this episode of Becker shows us is how one person can cause horrible disruption of another person’s life just by twisting a few words and how with no real evidence or proof of intent can wreak havoc. Dr. Becker was lucky that this happened back then where his main problem was just losing a few patients, today his practice would probably be taken from him and all the sick poor people in the neighborhood would lose a affordable clinic with a doctor that genuinely cares about them despite his gruff way of showing it.
The episode’s denouement with Becker proving Tetzloff’s hypocrisy was not only the most satisfying moment but also a very revealing moment of the type of people Tetzloff represents. The writing and acting in this scene was to put it mildly, incredible. You can see the passion everyone had for this specific material because it was around this time that political correctness was starting to really take a hold in society. In fact, creator Dave Hackel created Becker because of this specific thing:
“Everybody in this room has had it up to here about something,” Hackel recently told a gathering of TV critics. “I’ve been on the planet for almost 49 years and a lot of stuff (ticks) me off. And there’s not a form to say that. . . . I think that political correctness has taken us to a point where you have to dance so lightly you can’t have opinions.”So I created this character — and Ted gave voice to it — that can say a few of these things… We got to the point, certainly in half-hours, where you couldn’t write about anything without offending someone. And it got a little silly,” Hackel said. “I did a show once where we made a joke about a massage therapist and the next morning the National Association of Massage Therapists called and they didn’t like it. A couple of years ago on `Frasier’ we did a joke about someone ordering a mail-order bride from another country and their embassy called the next morning — they didn’t like it…. These are jokes. These are observations. I was so frustrated with it that it was time to just write about everything and let the chips fall where they may.”
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All this doesn’t mean that Becker’s some kind of saint, however. No, he is cantankerous and he is pompous and a loud mouth, and his friends do a great job on a regular basis busting him about his less than desirable qualities, but the point isn’t that Becker is opinionated it’s that Tetzloff was the type of person who had no real interest in political correctness or speaking for the people Becker may have “offended”, it was all about serving himself and making a name for himself and that’s the problem we’re still seeing now; in fact it’s even worse today.
Thanks for reading, and if some of you don’t like this article, then that’s your right. You won’t see me cancelling you for it ;) ’Til next time, folks!