Monday September 23rd 2019

[TV] Better off Ted – Season 1

Pros: Witty, excellent writing and acting, clever story lines

Cons: only 13 episodes in this season, some characters are stereotypical

Plot Details:

Season 1 of Better Off Ted first aired in the US beginning in March 2009 and quickly became one of my favorite half hour shows. The show stars Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development) and Jay Harrington as executives at a Mega Evil Corporation. The episodes center around a new product or office policy the company has produced and the evil side effects that result. The story lines are mostly unique and the comedy is dryer than most current shows. Season 1 introduced a show that is now on my permanent must watch list.

Spoilers: This review reveals plot details for some of the episodes.

Season 1 Plot

The show centers around Veridian Dynamics a huge mega-corporation with no apparent focus other than to make stuff and, of course, money. The products they make range from bio-weapons to cowless meat made with bovine cells. Their ethics are poor and humor comes from their ridiculous treatment of the employees. In one notable episode of the season the company tries to save money by designing and implementing a new “motion light” that detects people instead of motion. They do this by detecting the pigment in people’s skin. The downside is black people could not be detected by the sensors and therefor were stuck without lights. To solve the problem Veridian Dynamics calculated that it would be cheaper to hire a white guide to accompany every black person around the office rather than replacing the lights. This is just one of many unethical practices we see in each episode.

Characters

There are five major characters in season 1. Veronica, played by Portia de Rossi, is a Vice President at Veridian Dynamics and the leader of our group. Veronica is a company gal and fully supports everything the company does and creates. She exudes confidence, does not take “no” for an answer and has quite the quirky personality. Ted played by Jay Harrington is a single dad caught between loyalty to the company and his sense of compassion. Linda is a research analyst working for Ted and plays the cheery single 30-something gal. She is the token “normal” person in the group and frequently questions the company’s ethics as well as her future.

The two remaining characters are Phil and Lem. They are scientists and play the stereotypical geeks. Lem wears glasses that he constantly pushes up his nose and Phil whines, complains and frets in every episode. Phil was on the receiving end of one of Veridian’s most controversial experiments in season 1. He was volunteered (against his will) to be cyrogenically frozen. The experiment failed, like most do, and Phil was stuck with an involuntary tick that caused him to yell loudly like a distressed chicken.

Of the characters I enjoy Veronica and Ted’s story lines the most. Portia de Rossi steals the show with her portrayal of Veronica. Her lines are delivered with dead pan expressions and dry wit. The show is not funny because of jokes being made but because the most ridiculous ideas and concepts are being presented in complete seriousness. Ted is the guy you are supposed to like, he’s handsome, hardworking, and always trying (even if he does fail often). He is usually stuck as the liaison between Veronica and the folks lower on the corporate ladder. He has to deliver orders which he knows are ridiculous in a way that will make his employees believe they are not ridiculous. Perhaps this makes him the most relate-able character.

Linda, Phil and Lem are all stereotypes. There is a Linda in every office, decorating her cubicle with pictures and lights, unsuccessfully navigating the dating world, and sometimes pining after her boss. Phil and Lem are also typical – they are the geeks, they often be-moan life and their unsuccessful relationships while looking up to Ted and Veronica with rose colored glasses.

Genre/Style

This show is a half hour comedy but it is not your typical sit-com. It is an office parody and I am sure having some experience in the business world adds to the humor. But really, anyone will be able to appreciate it from the point of view of a consumer. We have all been stuck abiding by some ridiculous corporate policy or been awstruck by some crazy new product that a company has released.

As I mentioned earlier this show requires a dry sense of humor. Unlike most sitcoms there is no laugh track and there are not many obvious jokes. There is lots of clever dialogue filled with wit and sarcasm. You can watch the episodes over and over and pick up a new funny bit each time.

Episodes

Sadly, the first season was a spring replacement series and only had 13 episodes.

1. Pilot
2. Heroes
3. Through Rose Colored HAZMAT Suits
4. Racial Sensitivity
5. Win Some, Dose Some
6. Goodbye, Mr. Chips
7. Get Happy
8. You are the Boss of Me
9. Bioshuffle
10. Trust and Consequence
11. Father, Can you Hair Me?
12. Jabberwocky
13. Secrets and Lives

Conclusion
Better off Ted is a great show. It has unique storylines and a style of humor like nothing else currently on the air.

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