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October 6, 2015

Better Off Ted -- An early look

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Mar 17th 2009 10:01AM
[L-R]: Lem (Malcolm Barrett), Ted (Jay Harrington), and Phil (Jonathan Slavin)
Better Off Ted, ABC's new workplace comedy, debuts Wednesday at 8:30PM ET. However, the timing of the show's release couldn't be more fortuitous... or disastrous, depending on how you look at it. The show revolves around an ethically inept conglomerate, Veridian Dynamics, and as a result, viewers will unavoidably end up thinking about everything that's wrong with our economy - from Bernie Madoff to AIG to Enron (a stretch yes, but still relevant). As a comedy, it's a decidedly glass half-full approach. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when most viewers will probably have more in common with a glass half-empty mantra. Will it work? I'm thinking yes.

While the cynic in me can't help but worry (it's scary because some corporations probably have far more in common with Veridian than we'd like), I couldn't help but laugh either. By the end of the second episode, you're guaranteed to have different views on everything from office furniture, to cryogenic freezing, to daycare, to - wait for it - weaponized pumpkins.

Better Off Ted stars Jay Harrington as the charismatic head of R&D for Veridian. However, his role at the corporation is challenged daily as he has a hard time rationalizing some of the things that he's forced to do. His snippy, air-headed boss Veronica (Portia de Rossi, in a role that pales comedically in comparison to Lindsay Bluth Fünke) is always in his face, making matters worse. Plenty of laughs do exist - between Veronica, lab rats Phil and Lem, and single-dad-Ted's daughter Rose.

Even the awkwardness Ted experiences when he's around co-worker Linda (Andrea Anders) creates some humorous undertones and if anything, it leaves you craving the inevitable moment when they finally do consummate their budding romance only to have it go horribly awry in some way, shape, or form, by one of Veridian's many gadgets.

However, the one hurdle that will give the show a problem earning renewal is... well... Ted. He's just too nice and his innocent, optimistic attitude, while clearly intended to foil all the misdeeds occurring around him, backfires more often than not. One can't help but wonder why, in one scene, he doesn't run off with Linda to go live with her in her Oregon cabin, leading a simpler, more wholesome lifestyle.

Overall, Better Off Ted certainly could do well. But after screening the first two episodes, it's clear that like most of the gizmos made by Veridian Dynamics, the show may need a version 2.0 before it's consumer ready.

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I watched lastnight....if ONLY because I wanted to support Portia, I do want her to do well. I laughed out loud quite a bit, and I can't get enough of Ted's daughter. She is perfectly cute, and very clever. I enjoyed the show and I'll watch again.

March 19 2009 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Am I the only one who doesn't apply the current economy to every single facet of life? I've been watching and laughing at the promos for this show for weeks, looking forward to the premier, and never once did I ever make the slightest connection between the fact that this show is about a company and there are some really crappy companies in real life. Who cares? I mean, is anyone really worried about that? Am I the weird one for not getting that connection at all?

March 17 2009 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

From the previews this looks like a very funny show. I'll give it a look. Might be worth it.


March 17 2009 at 12:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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