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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    May 2018 One Week Challenge  ›  Becker: Pilot - OWC Moderators: DanC
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Don
Posted: June 2nd, 2018, 11:18am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Becker: Pilot by ? - Series, Comedy - Same old Becker only older and meaner shows his hatred for life and everything around him in a retirement home. 23 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work


Becker - IMDB, Wiki, Video/Trailer



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grademan
Posted: June 2nd, 2018, 3:04pm Report to Moderator
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It's too easy for me to call this BECKER THE BITTER YEARS. The writer knows Becker well and handles the reboot well. It tales about seven pages for the Becker we remember - grouchy and funny with a heart that keeps him from the dark side --  to start being B. The writer plays to Bs known triggers like a cute seven year old, his hatred of relying on others, a retirement home full of senior patients and his own financial troubles. The ending is great for the start of the next chapter.  
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Posted: June 2nd, 2018, 4:28pm Report to Moderator
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I never watched Becker regularly, so there might've been some things that I missed.

Maybe considered a reboot, but I think it's safe to say this Becker is a continuation of the series. At first I didn't care for the retirement home angle. But the premise of Becker, much older, a prisoner from one nursing home to the next almost makes him his own prophet. I didn't find the first 10 pages very funny, even though the author nailed Becker's wise cracks.

It took a more interesting turn when we get to the rope. After that transition, there was some very humorous lines, a couple laugh out loud moments, one being the sexual exchange between Becker and the dentist. The ending was good, I liked the reveal w/ the newspaper. By the end it felt much more like what I can remember.

The staffs' approach to get him to stay didn't convince me. Also, this pilot leans on lots of medical stuff, I feel like there's a lot of stuff these days for Becker to bitch about and it would've been fun to see his take on today's world. But I really liked this pilot and its dialogue!
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LC
Posted: June 3rd, 2018, 3:13am Report to Moderator
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Hmm, very much hit and miss for me.

You did manage to write some pretty good wisecracks and some decent, grumpy-arse, sardonic humour ala Becker's character.

The story overall was a little bit all over the joint and unfocused for me though.

A few points:

Becker always boasted about being a Harvard graduate so I think you should have gone specifically with that when he's boasting about his medical experience.

A seventy year old going through menopause? The ringworm jokes? Tended to get old for this reader.

Louis is head nurse? And she's a female? Is this her surname?

In the series from 1999 onwards, Margaret's husband (he never makes an appearance on screen, but is often spoken of) is named Lewis, so another Louis here in your revamp kept making me think of Lewis. Lewis and Becker did not like each other, apparently.

I did not like the suicidal Becker at all. He might talk one of the other residents out of it, but to me he's too much of a tough nut and I can't go with that re his character at all. I know, I know, it's a revamp but even so.

On  a technical note, for a two week project there are punctuation probs throughout.

I think you have something here, but not enough to really grab me.

Overall, like I said: some of the dialogue and barbs landed with me so good job on that, but I'd say story wise it needs developing.


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Cam Gray
Posted: June 4th, 2018, 7:28am Report to Moderator
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Hey writer,

So Becker, it's always kinda been a daytime tv fill in for my generation in the UK, never really cementing itself with the classic sitcoms. That being said it was always on so there's gotta be something about it, and there's a lot of good in this script.

The first half read well, it was clean and quite professional. You're clearly a writer who knows their way around the typewriter,  and the initial scenes worked exceptionally well. The briefest of time I saw Becker on tv, he struck me as a bit of a rude and snappy individual, and the wisecrackery is clearly evident here.

In the second half it starts to blow out into massive dialogue runs, which is a shame as if you'd kept the initial balance it would have scanned much better, but again it was readable and just slightly poorly executed.

In light of the challenge, you've definitely met the reboot requirement, so well done, and as I say the writing just about got me through it, but it was touch and go towards the end. I quite liked it, but it could be worked on and improved.

Overall you're somewhere in the middle for me,

All the best,

Cam


23 Mu Muís in an ice cream van...
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hawkeye
Posted: June 4th, 2018, 12:33pm Report to Moderator
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My two cents:

ďBeckerĒ was never a show I watched, either during its original run or in syndication. Ted Danson I know well from Cheers and other films and tv shows (isnít he on one of the CSI shows now?) and so Iím familiar with his work. Watched some of the Becker show that Don supplied us with. Seemed like a fairly formulaic comedy. Grouchy doctor yells at the world.

So I came into reading this, not expecting much, and to be honest, I got a bit concerned because there were quite a few typos on the first page. Wasnít a good sign, I thought.  I was almost ready to bail, but Iím glad I hung in there. This isnít a bad script at all. Becker is still Becker, it appears, mean old man that he is, but he seems to have some foils that can take him on (or who are so out of it they couldnít care what heís saying).

The humor and overall writing are fairly solid and the characters that you have surrounded Becker with are fairly interesting. Not sure the suicide attempt (was he really serious about it though?) fit in well with the rest of the story but Iím willing to overlook that.

One thing I donít get is why is Becker there?  Is he ill?  Can he not take care of himself? Does he no t have any money saved up from all those years of practicing medicine? Just seems unusual for him to be in this place as a resident. Iíd rather see him as the doctor assigned as the chief physician to this facility. That way heís still interacting with the patients but leaves out having to provide a plausible explanation of why heís a resident there.

Good overall effort here.

Best of luck,
Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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CameronD
Posted: June 5th, 2018, 1:03pm Report to Moderator
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Never watched the show. Knew it was a Ted Dansen vehicle, he was cranky, and Butter's Future Self from South Park watched the show. lol One thing I've been noticing from a lot of the entries is the difference between fan fic and a actual reboot. What I mean is some scripts I've read are more additional episodes than new shows based off the old ones.

And this is just fan fic. No plot, no conflict. Just Becker riffing on life in his retirement home as far as I can tell, but I only got maybe 5 pages in. Not for me, but again, I don't know any of these characters. Rebooting a sitcom is hard which is why we see it so rarely. Spin offs are much easier because you aren't stuck doing something that hasn't already been done. . Mary Tyler Moore Show, Fraiser, Leverne and Shirley, Xena, Angel, Maude, The Jeffersons etc.

Keep writing!


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ChrisBodily
Posted: June 6th, 2018, 5:46am Report to Moderator
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Am I (and the writer) the only ones familiar with this show? And even I needed a refresher by watching the pilot. Dr. Becker was always a misanthropic asshole, but (like All in the Family) the show was never mean-spirited.

No title page? No clever pseudonym? Interesting...

You know, Ted Danson actually is 70 (71 in December). He'll soon be old enough to play your late-70s Becker.


Quoted Text
Becker walks to the cabinet, tries it[. I]tís locked.


Avoid run-on sentences whenever possible.


Quoted Text
Hey, what a tenant has to do to get his prescription filled around here?


I think you mean...


Quoted Text
Hey, what does a tenant have to do to get his prescription filled around here?


Sounds much more natural, especially with a question mark.


Quoted Text
A nurse, LOUIS (60s), motherly type, hurries toward the cabinet. She grabs a medicine bottle, extracts a pill, hands it to Becker.


Margaret had a never-seen husband named "Lewis."

Wait... MOTHERLY type? SHE??? LOUIS??? Is Louis transitioning, by any chance? I have NEVER, EVER heard of Louis being a woman's name. Louise, yes. But never Louis... unless it's her last name. I'll go with the possibility that Louis is transitioning.


Quoted Text
Should have been here me go ten minutes ago. What if my life depended on this Serranat Forte?


Huh? "Me go"? Like the cancelled Bronson Pinchot sitcom, Meego? Slang for "amigo"? And what the hell is "Serranat Forte?" Google is stumped, and only three of the top results are in English. Apparently, it's some kind of prescription drug or something? Or did you make the name up?

This is the best I could find.

http://inova-healthcare.com/en-katalogac/26.html

Moving along...


Quoted Text
If youíre saying Iím so pumped that this wonít calm me down[,] youíre absolutely right.



Quoted Text
I made a living helping people and how [did] that [pay] off?


It's very clear that English isn't your native language. This looks like it was put through Google Translate. Actually, that's an insult to Google Translate. This is almost as bad as Greets from Counter-Earth. And this is just the first page. Not a good sign at all. I'll see how much more I can muster.

Pink Panther. Peter Sellers, the cartoon, or Steve Martin?


Quoted Text
A reality star leads a country of losers into whatever heís leading us to. All heís lacking is [a] French accent[,] for crying out loud.



Quoted Text
Whatís worse[,] you start sharing your thoughts.


"Ok" should really be "okay."


Quoted Text
This is not a retirement [home], this is a home for mentally[-]disabled people rejected by their non-caring folk.


This sounds stilted and unnatural. Definitely non-native English.


Quoted Text
The remote here doesnít work[,] thatís for sure.


Lots of comma issues. That's the last one I'm gonna point out.


Quoted Text
First of all, Iím not a Doc anymore, havenít been for [a] good five years now. Second of all, why donít you ask Doctor Martin to do that for you? Heís not too bad[.] I mean, itís true they wonít employ anyone worthy here, but he knows stuff.


Cringingly unnatural and non-native. This was clearly put through Google Translate. Becker's next chunk of dialogue is no better:


Quoted Text
Woah, put that away, will you? A female may agree to see your heiny, Iím not interested. Georgine I hear used to be a dentist, true, thatís not a real doctor, but close. Maybe sheíll have something for you.


To quote Mark Hamill, "Who talks like this?" No native English speaker would talk like this (with a straight face). This makes badly-dubbed Anime sound like Shakespeare.

Apologies to the writer (I think I know who), but your English is too poor for me to continue. I'm out midway through page 3.


FADE IN:
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Spqr
Posted: June 6th, 2018, 1:15pm Report to Moderator
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The first time Becker met Dr  Martin I expected him to tell the doctor that if he was doing his job right, then the tenants wouldn't be bugging him. Of course, Dr Martin is doing his job right, and of course the tenants would bug Becker, regardless.
I don't know the Becker show at all, so maybe he would contemplate suicide by hanging himself with a rope. But when Louis calls him on it, maybe Becker should say something like: "You're right, hanging is too prosaic. What do you suggest?"
On page 18, the line "Don't go and help me as my assistant." sounds like Dr Martin is telling Becker to stop trying to be his assistant, rather than the reverse as is made plain in the next line.
This is the perfect script to reboot Becker!
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StevenClark
Posted: June 7th, 2018, 10:18pm Report to Moderator
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Writer,

Never saw Becker, but I get the gist of the show. You did a decent jog here, but I feel this could have been cut way down. It's Becker putting people down, complaining over and over again. It got weary after a while, but that said, I felt like you might have had a trick up your sleeve with a bit of a bittersweet ending, and you didn't disappoint there. Again, not too bad. Wasn't the best by any means, but it made me smile and I read to the end. Pretty good work.

Steve


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JEStaats
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No title page? What's up with that?

I don't normally do this but I'm on page four and need to stop. So many missing words and errors that it's a struggle to stay focused.

Good job getting 23 pages in. Needs a lot of work.

Edit - I just read previous comments and some people loved others bailed. I'll try to revisit this after I get through the others.
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realxwriter
Posted: June 12th, 2018, 9:14am Report to Moderator
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The interruption between I'm surprised you have a daughter and "So am I" is too long.

tries to change the TV
channel with a remote that works the doors. The doors open
and close, but Missy doesnít get it.

Loved this beat.

P4: I'm getting a little exhausted with the barrage of witty comments from Becker. I need the story to progress.

"Cut Becker some slack. He gave up
his practice after being wrongly
accused of malpractice. His patients
went berserk, found the accuser and
gave him hard time, but it was too
late, Becker left his apartment for
his daughter and moved to a nursing
home. Then another nursing home.
This one is his sixth."

That's just too much exposition, man. Like too much.

"the one that was coughing earlier in the lobby, starts coughing again."

This is the second time you remind us which character it is by mentioning his prior actions. You don't have to do that. Just the name.

I admire how vividly you managed to capture Becker's personality. Even though the scene with the fan and the rope is too dark, you still protected his sense of humor with deftness. Well done.

P16: I love the change in the mechanics of the story that just happened. Louis talking him into being nicer to the tenants since they really need it.

"About that. I know youíre leaving
us, but hereís the deal. Donít go
and help me as my assistant. In
return, youíll be getting a free
stay here as well as a small pay.
Itís a modest offer, but something."

Interesting! I love where the story is going.

Final thoughts:

I like it Becker character. Everything that came out of his mouth was gold. I think you did a pretty good job with his character. The story was good too. But it feels like the storyline lacked clear direction in the first half of the script. Even though I liked where things went after the first half, but I wished the first half hinted more toward where the story was going. Like putting Jim under a brighter spotlight so we understand his importance in the story better.

I really like what you did here with this reboot.

Well done 4/5
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PrussianMosby
Posted: June 13th, 2018, 12:17am Report to Moderator
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Hey you,

I'm a bit of a fan of American sitcoms, although not truly familiar with this specific one. The original show seems to be built around a cynical fellow, so let's see what your game here is...

no title page Ė never a good way to start; be professional

p2 some enjoyable dark humor so far

p4 thumbs up, the concept works

p15 up to this point I found your frequent punchlines were phenomenal, but somehow now I start to think it's too much too quick Ė same pattern of joke after same pattern of joke, as a spinning washing machine. You also need to build up some jokes differently and take some time with it. Also come back to some calm parts around his true inner conflicts, which make him a human being as well, instead of only a "clown".

P16 yep. The first suicide/rope attempt in his apartment felt honest and empathic somehow, it even made the plot more multi-layered BUT now he even puts insanity upon that topicÖ

P17/18 that's what I'm talking about, writer!!!! There's some honesty and all that stuff I started to miss and addressed above. Nice.

P23 the beat with the kiss and Jim's last line doesn't work for meÖ The joke is very okay, but after that, Jim needs another last line "a final goodbye" - the audience simply invested and have a heart too Ė so sometimes you need to serve the cheese --- this feels too hard as it is.

All right: just when I felt this begins to feel unbalanced and a rapid fire of Becker spitting one-dimensional jokes, you eventually started to serve me the needed dramatic backbone which is soooooooo important to carry the humor. imo, as you may see from my notes, you were too late on that yet, and could get deeper on the drama front 2-3 pages earlier rather than on p 17, whatever, just my opinion of course.

The ending scene then is great; Jim's last words came across too dark/cynical to me Ė not sure how you want to have this pronounced, maybe I didn't get the exact charm of his speechÖ if so, be clearer there Ė it felt a bit like a sledgehammer.

All in all, the concept does work excellent, very interesting world for a sitcom. I also think, in the series future proceeding, you could tackle so many honest and deep themes around life within this concept, which actually concern everyone, old people, relatives etc. -- big target audience. The mixture, of having all these things about life, bound to a comedic delivery, is super effective I find.

I almost would have said this one is perfect until there was that certain imbalance that I hopefully could address understandably (<--to fix perhaps cut some jokes/one-liners of Becker to gain speed). You simply were a "little" late there, although you eventually did the job then for sure. A bit reshaping and better timing on the drama front and this is a damn good pattern for a show and especially your skill within the sitcom field. Great work, it was a lot of fun and finally even deveolped the important touchable momentum, beside the enjoyable humor.



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khamanna
Posted: June 13th, 2018, 10:49am Report to Moderator
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Hi, writer.

In your logline, you say he's meaner, but he's actually not from what I see here.

I'd also suggest you give it harsher storyline - make him sick, make him await his death and thus he wants to hang himself. Otherwise, I don't find that angle plausible.

Some jokes landed with me, I suspect there's more and I didn't get them for cultural reasons.

The gay joke at the very end is a bit of cheesy though, I'd let it go.

Quite a few grammatical mistakes at the beginning, but I'm thinking you were already told.

And checking out the reviews - you were.
Good luck.
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ReneC
Posted: June 13th, 2018, 2:40pm Report to Moderator
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This is a show I know about but never watched. Now that I checked out part of an episode, I want to watch more. He reminds me of Frank from Shameless but with heart (maybe that was inspiration for Frank's character).

You nailed Becker's voice. The consistency isn't always there, it strayed a few times, but overall I could easily picture Ted Danson and could easily see him reprising his role here. It's a great premise, Becker in a retirement home. It's a great setup for a series. Well done!

The writing needs polishing, but the dialogue is decent and the characters are solid. Surprisingly, your weakest character is the daughter, her dialogue is terrible and we get nothing about her except the necessary exposition to introduce the overall conflict. I was also surprised by how little regard Becker gave his granddaughter. He has a lot of heart underneath his gruff exterior, I would have expected her to be the apple of his eye, but he dismissed her right away. He has more feelings for the almost strangers around him, which seems odd for his character. His daughter, though, he clearly loves, which is why I wanted to know more about her as a character.

Becker contemplating suicide seems very out of place. You also don't strike the right tone with the subject matter. I have no problem with making light of heavy topics but you still have to treat the topics with respect and this doesn't cut it. It's too easily dismissed, it's all just a joke, and that will bother a lot of people. There are easier ways to accomplish the same thing, pick something else.

Another stumbling block is Jim's condition at the end. For two days Becker thinks he's simply leaving and nobody corrects him? They just let him go on running his mouth? It's all for the sake of a joke again, and it doesn't work. Better to have Jim not be around and Becker inquires about him, maybe even goes looking for him, than to give us smoke and mirrors. Then Becker's active too, and his change of heart is more genuine.

Right now, that change of heart is too easy, it's all convenient, but with a rewrite to set it up better and a few more pages, I could totally see this working as a show.


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