Better Off Ted somehow slipped by me when the show first started, but once I saw it, I was hooked. The setting is Veridian Dynamics, a research a development company that embodies the idea of big corporation corruption–creating things like exploding pumpkins (a country had too many pumpkins and wanted some other uses) and weight loss toothpaste. The show’s standard format includes Ted directly addressing the audience and a commercial about the company relating to the show’s theme but often espousing contradictory or negative made to sound positive statements.
The characters are what make the show what it is, as big office corruption in itself isn’t particularly unique:
- The star of the show is Ted Crisp, head of Research and Development, a character of generally good moral standing who tries to do the right thing while running a productive workplace and raising his too wise for her years, seven year old daughter Rose.
- Linda Zwordling is also a morally strong character who works in the testing department. She and Ted having feelings for each other but Ted refuses to act on those feelings (except for the occasional slip) because he has a rule that a person can only have one office affair, which he has already had.
- Phil and Lem are research partners who are the minds behind most of the disturbing creations we see (potatoes growing hair for example). They are both socially unadjusted and easily intimidated, often forcing them into undesirable situations such as Phil being cryonically frozen and Lem finding himself unrecognized my the light sensors.
- Most notable of the cast is Veronica, played by Portia de Rossi, Ted’s matter of fact and domineering boss. She is typically emotionless and puts the company first (for example setting up Linda to be the scapegoat for a problematic invention). On occasion, her sensitive side comes out and she partners with Ted to solve some problems. Part of her charm is in the deadpan way she can say just about anything.
One thing I like about the show is that jokes get carried over from episode to episode. For example, a side effect of freezing Phil was that he occasionally let out random shrill screams. Though the freezing issue is dealt with, in the next episode the storyline spills over. Such attention to detail is always what stands out to me in a good show and Better Off Ted most certainly has that. Only seven episodes into the first season and the show was renewed for a second season, which tells you it’s good.