Danson prescribes a steady diet of 'Becker'
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HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- If laughter is the best medicine, then Ted Danson can probably write you a prescription: he plays an M.D. on his new sitcom, "Becker," which debuted on CBS this week.
The show is Danson's second post-"Cheers" whack at prime-time situation comedy -- "Ink," in which he played a journalist trying to work for his ex-wife, fell under the CBS ax last year after completing a single season.
But this year, things are looking up for Danson. His latest character, John Becker, is a Bronx doctor with opinions -- strong opinions, targeting anything from God, for allowing suffering in the world, to talk shows -- "You know what's killing this country? Those idiotic TV talk shows," he rants on the show's debut episode Monday evening. "You know, I watched one last night. I should have just stuck a fork in my eye."
"He's really, really bad as a human being."
Danson says his character, who has just opened a practice in a lower-income neighborhood in the Bronx, is supposed to be a good doctor -- but "he's really, really bad as a human being, just cannot shut up, cannot stop talking about what he thinks is stupid in society.
"The great thing is, he's a type of character that says everything you've ever thought, all the evil things that have crept into your brain. He's the one that will actually voice it for you, which is great," Danson says.
Co-star Terry Ferrell, who just finished a six-year stint in the "Star Trek" spinoff "Deep Space Nine," plays Becker's main foil, the owner of a coffee shop that has the dubious privilege of being Becker's podium.
"It's completely new for me, so that I don't feel like an expert yet," Ferrell says of her new role as a sitcom star. "But I'm having a good time, and I feel really lucky that they're giving me the chance to learn how to do this."
'Becker' bumped up
Becker was set as a mid-season replacement, intended to join the CBS schedule in January. But with "The Brian Benben Show"'s poor ratings came a speedy cancellation, just a few weeks into the fall season, and CBS found itself with an open slot. Danson said the network tapped his show as the fill-in because of the writing.
"From day one, the writing has been superb," Danson says. "Every day, you can't wait to come see what little goodies they've come up with overnight. So the writing is impeccable."
He faces stiff competition: His show, which comes on right after "Everybody Loves Raymond," competes for viewers against "Ally McBeal" in the same Tuesday night time slot that killed off "Brian Benben." But should his show climb to the top of the pack, he's prepared to stick it out for the long run.
"Sadly, not as adventurous a fellow as I thought I was," Danson says, evaluating the prospect of achieving long-running status. "I would love it, absolutely love it."
Correspondent Dennis Michael contributed to this report.
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