Yes, that's right. In today's Why You Should Watch I'm actually writing about a show which is relatively new. Currently occupying the summer burn off schedule over at ABC, Better off Ted has unusually been confirmed with renewal for a second season. That alone piqued my interest enough to decide to find out a little about it; and when I read the cast list I felt it was certainly worth giving a try.
Better off Ted stars Jay Harrington as Ted Crisp, head of R&D at Veridian Dynamics a company dedicated to making Life. Better. His boss is Veronica (Portia de Rossi) and the research team working under him includes Linda (Andrea Anders), Lem (Malcolm Barrett) and Phil (Jonathan Slavin). Veridian Dynamics is a company dedicated to improving life in a myriad of ways. Including such wonderful creations as cowless beef, the focus master (a chair so irritating it increases productivity) and the light sensitive
The show is a single camera sit-com which focuses around Ted, a relatively straight laced business man who vaguely reminds me of Don Draper from Mad Men - Ted also narrates the show, but instead of a voice over he actively breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the viewers during scenes, making the whole thing feel somewhat like a mock-umentary. Ted's the one who makes sure that things work and get done, and he enjoys a very personable relationship with both his boss Vernoica and the people under him, at home he supports his daughter Rose as a single father (Isabella Acres). Linda works under Ted in the testing department and while there is some obvious chemistry between Linda and Ted he hasn't acted on it yet.
Phil and Lem are the primary 'making stuff' scientists, they have a highly disfunctional relationship with each other but are clearly close friends despite this. While they are both capable of delivering results they are also rather prone to goofing off. They also have a fairly high risk job as Viridian Dynamics prefers to use staff members for product testing over other kinds of "volunteers". Phil and Lem are both funny individually, but together they're on another level - there's great synergy between the pair.
The show is genuinely quite likable and often funny, it really deserves the time it needs to grow and develop its charaters properly. Each episode is stuffed to the gills with storylines and funny moments - there's just about the right balance there, keeping things funny and pacey without being overwhelming or forced. It's on par with 30 Rock or Chuck in the comedy stakes and benefits greatly from experienced comedy actors (Portia in particular is great, her time on Arrested Development and Ally McBeal shows through here). Ted's tendency to talk to the camera instead of using voice overs is a little unusual and a tad jarring initially, but you get used to it quickly enough and it does deliver some real corking gags at times.
Better Off Ted is up to it's eighth episode right now and the remaining ones from the first season are being delivered until the 28th of July so there's a lot to watch and catch up on. Fortunately each episode is around twenty minutes to half an hour long. This means it's light enough to sit back and watch a few of at once, and you should seriously consider giving this show a try. Because it's original, fresh and most importantly good enough to deserve support and viewership.
Viridian Dynamics on Presidents:
Genetic Improvement (Check out the list of side effects!):