Five keys to saving Better Off Ted
by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 25th 2010 1:03PM
A couple of weeks ago, Kona wrote about the campaign to convince ABC to save Better Off Ted. Despite these grassroots efforts, the rating for Ted continue to be dismal and ABC probably has "cancel Better Off Ted" on the corporate to-do list.
That's a shame, because the more I watch of Better Off Ted, the better I think it is. Smart, funny, observant and surreal, Ted is an office comedy that makes deserves to survive. If more people gave it a shot, I think it would be a success. Maybe not a monster hit, but there aren't many of those in the sitcom field right now. Emmy winner 30 Rock is anything but a ratings hit.
But how do you make people watch a show like Better Off Ted? It has yet to find a large enough audience to warrant keeping it on the air, and time is running out on their chances of making it into season three. Here's a few ideas:
1. Give it a better partner. Pairing Better Off Ted with Scrubs might have seemed like a good idea. In tone, they're similar shows and in the best of all network situations, it might have work. However, it's been a disastrous decision. Perhaps viewers perceive that Scrubs is a dead show walking, a show that was brought back from for one last go round on ABC. Whatever the case, Scrubs has been an anchor, dragging down Better Off Ted, and they're both lost in the undertow. BOT needs to be airing alongside a better running mate...
2. What about Wednesday? Since Hank bit the dust, the Wednesday sitcom line up has needed a replacement. Why oh why didn't ABC move Better Off Ted into the slot between The Middle and Modern Family? That was the logical spot. There's no rule that says that a workplace comedy can't fit with a family sitcom. And, anyway, half of The Middle has Fran working at Elhert Motors. Wednesday has been a success for ABC comedy. Ted might have produced similar Nielsen numbers to the other shows broadcast on that night if given the chance.
3. Perhaps some stunt casting? Bringing on a big name guest star helps some shows get a shot of attention. But Ted needs more than just a typical guest star. Ted needs a stunt, someone who has the kind of following that would make them tune in to Ted. Three names comes to mind off the bat, and believe me, they're all off-the-wall choices: Sarah Palin, Paula Abdul and Conan O'Brien. Each one of them have been in the news and would draw a different viewer to Ted. Risky? Maybe, but at this point BOT needs shock therapy.
4. Promotion, promotion, promotion. ABC has done a great job promoting some shows. Lost is a prime example. Think of all the ways ABC has let the world know about Lost coming back on February 2. Another major promotion that worked was the one for V. Better Off Ted needs some major promotion that would force people to notice it and tune in. Right now I suspect that most people don't know when the show is even aired. It may be too late now, but promotion that raises the level of attention to BOT the way NBC has made The Office known would help. Maybe they can organize a bagel-vent competition like Veronica and Linda around the country, make it a real game and get Dunkin Donuts to sponsor it.
5. Mobilize. The fans have been doing their part with the web site and the Twitter, but there needs to be more. Maybe Better Off Ted stars should be doing commercial pods before and after hit shows, bracketing Grey's Anatomy and Lost and Desperate Housewives. Funny mini-eps like you see on USA Network for Psych, for example. If ABC really has the desire to save Ted, blanket the network with Ted people doing bits, phony PSAs, etc.
So, will it work? I'd say it's an uphill battle, but it's one worth fighting. It would be a shame if a year or so from now we're including Better Off Ted in a Gone Too Soon feature.