Better Off Ted

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Better Off Ted
Botlogo.png
Better Off Ted's logo
GenreSatire[1]
Science fiction[2]
Sitcom[3]
Dark Comedy
Created byVictor Fresco
StarringJay Harrington
Portia de Rossi
Andrea Anders
Jonathan Slavin
Malcolm Barrett
Isabella Acres
Theme music composerChris Alan Lee
Scott Clausen
Composer(s)Chris Alan Lee
Scott Clausen
Country of originUnited States
Language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Victor Fresco
Producer(s)Marc Solakian
Skip Beaudine
Editor(s)Lisa Bromwell
Robert Bramwell
Peter Beyt
Location(s)Los Angeles, California
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time21 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture formatHDCAM-SR
Audio format5.1 Surround sound
Original runMarch 18, 2009 (2009-03-18) – January 26, 2010 (2010-01-26)
 
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Better Off Ted
Botlogo.png
Better Off Ted's logo
GenreSatire[1]
Science fiction[2]
Sitcom[3]
Dark Comedy
Created byVictor Fresco
StarringJay Harrington
Portia de Rossi
Andrea Anders
Jonathan Slavin
Malcolm Barrett
Isabella Acres
Theme music composerChris Alan Lee
Scott Clausen
Composer(s)Chris Alan Lee
Scott Clausen
Country of originUnited States
Language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Victor Fresco
Producer(s)Marc Solakian
Skip Beaudine
Editor(s)Lisa Bromwell
Robert Bramwell
Peter Beyt
Location(s)Los Angeles, California
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time21 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Picture formatHDCAM-SR
Audio format5.1 Surround sound
Original runMarch 18, 2009 (2009-03-18) – January 26, 2010 (2010-01-26)

Better Off Ted was an American satirical situation comedy series, created by Victor Fresco (known for his other television series Andy Richter Controls the Universe and the short-lived show Life on a Stick), who also served as the show's Executive Producer. The series premiered on the ABC network on March 18, 2009.[4]

Better Off Ted focuses on the titular protagonist, Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington), a single father and the well-respected and beloved head of a research and development department at the fictional, soulless conglomerate of Veridian Dynamics. Ted dictates the series' events by regularly breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the audience as the show's on-camera narrator. Supporting characters include Ted's supervisor Veronica Palmer (Portia de Rossi), co-worker and love interest Linda Zwordling (Andrea Anders), his daughter Rose (Isabella Acres), and laboratory scientists Phillip Myman (Jonathan Slavin) and Lem Hewitt (Malcolm Barrett).

The series received critical acclaim, with particular praise going towards its witty and satirical humor. Its second season holds a score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic. However, despite such positive feedback, the show's debut only drew in 5.64 million viewers and continued to have extremely low ratings.[5] Although many expressed skepticism towards whether or not it would return, the show was renewed for a second season.[6] On May 13, 2010, ABC officially canceled the series due to low viewing figures.[7] Two episodes were unaired in the United States, but are available to view on Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Xbox Live Marketplace, and iTunes.[8]

Contents

Conception

Origin

Victor Fresco, the show's creator, has cited his being a new parent as inspiration for the show.[9] In an interview with NPR, he discussed how having a kid piqued his interest to develop a show about the disconnection between a person's public and personal lives, such as how parents teach their kids to be moral, yet work for giant corporations.[9] According to Fresco, Ted Crisp is the single father and his daughter serves as his moral compass.[9] Fresco stated that since he's worked for a few giant companies, he didn't base Veridian Dynamics on any specific corporation.[10] The show's name was based on the idea that a person is better off if they are Ted, that essentially the average person wants to be Ted.[11] Fresco has stated that he wasn't a fan of the show's title, but hadn't spoken of changing it.[11]

Casting

Actress Portia De Rossi smiling on the red carpet.
Fresco was convinced Portia de Rossi (pictured) was perfect for the role of Veronica.

In casting his crew, Fresco and his team worked fairly quickly.[10] "You don't have a lot of time to cast, unfortunately, and it's the most important thing in the show, I think." says Fresco, "Good casting can transcend mediocre material but the best material in the world cannot transcend the mediocre casting. It's all about casting and I think we got really lucky in all five of these regulars."[10]

Fresco approached Jonathan Slavin, with whom he had previously worked on the sitcom Andy Richter Controls the Universe, about playing the role of Phil. Being a fan of Slavin's work, he thought he'd be great for the role.[10] Andrea Anders, whom Fresco previously enjoyed on The Class, and Malcolm Barrett were cast for the roles of Linda and Lem respectively.[10] Portia de Rossi met with Fresco about the role of Veronica. Fresco assessed during their meeting that de Rossi was completely convinced that the role was perfect for her and that she was born to play it. He thought de Rossi nailed the role and cast her.[10] When asked what drew her to the role, de Rossi replied, "I'm really attracted to strong women."[12] De Rossi further went on to say, "I kind of had to throw myself at [Fresco]. I told him I'd played this character who had similar qualities, very work driven, strong, insensitive, slightly chilly. I had to convince him I could play this character well and could play a character of this nature."[12] Jay Harrington was the first person Fresco met with when trying to cast someone as Ted Crisp. Although Fresco really liked Harrington, he decided to see more people before casting the role. After five weeks, Harrington was cast.[10]

Plot

Better Off Ted revolves around the concept of characters working for a stereotypically evil company. The company, Veridian Dynamics, experiments on its employees, twists the truth, and will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. It has been mentioned that Veridian has swayed presidential elections, created killer pandas and robots, weaponized pumpkins, and that there are only three governments left in the world which are more powerful than Veridian. Although not promoted as such, and rarely the focus of storylines, the show's frequent references to futuristic technologies, killer robots, sentient computers, etc., places Better Off Ted at least partially in the science fiction genre.

The characters are fully aware of Veridian's nature, and often try to manipulate the system in order to stop bad things from happening to them (and sometimes to mitigate the evil effects of some of Veridian's projects). They are also all susceptible to the potential rewards the company can offer despite the consequences of their actions, such as the company's attempt to hire Lem's mother, or the company's introduction of scented light bulbs with known flaws. Much of the comedy of the show comes from the characters' navigation of these morally ambiguous areas.

Jay Harrington, who plays Ted Crisp on the show, serves both as a main character and as an on-camera narrator.[10] Throughout the show, he breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to viewers, offering inside information and observations while the action continues around him. Another plot element involves the use of mock commercials for Veridian Dynamics, thematically related to individual episodes and placed at the end or beginning of actual commercial breaks in all but a couple of episodes.[10]

Cast

Reception

Critical response

Critics have praised Better Off Ted's witty and satirical humour, as well as its cast. According to Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the show's first season holds a score of 68 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 21 reviews.[16] Misha Davenport of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote favorably of the show, comparing its characters to those of the highly-acclaimed show Arrested Development.[16] Linda Stasi of the New York Post gave the show three-and-a-half out of four stars, lauding the cast and simply referring to it as "a very funny comedy".[17] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the show a B+, stating "'Better Off Ted' is certainly the most original sitcom to come along in a while."[18] Robert Bianco from USA Today referred to the show as "well-cast and reasonably entertaining."[19]

After returning for a second season, the show became even more acclaimed and is considered by some critics to be a vast improvement on its first.[20] On Metacritic, it holds a score of 84 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 11 reviews.[20] Linda Stasi of the New York Post gave the show's second season a perfect score, calling it "hilarious and even funnier this year than last."[14] Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave the show's second season a perfect score, praising the show's return, saying it "means there's finally something good (and funny) on Tuesday nights."[21] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the show's return an A-, stating "Thank goodness Better Off Ted has returned intact. I love everything about this show, from star Jay Harrington's delivery of Ted's straight-man lines with WASP ramrod posture to the show's up-front critiques of corporate capitalism."[22]

Ratings

The show's pilot episode averaged a total of 5.64 million viewers,[5] which made it ABC's lowest-rated comedy debut since 2005.[23] The show's first season continued to experience both a drop and mild fluctuation in ratings, taking in only 2.41 million for its finale.[24] After being renewed, the show's second season premiered to a low 3.82 million viewers.[25]

Accolades

On TV.com, editorial assistant Anna Hiatt included the show in the website's list of The Best TV Shows of 2009.[8] Josh Bell, a writer from About.com, ranked the series second on his list of The Best TV Comedies of 2010.[26] In 2009, the show was nominated for an Ewwy Award for Best Comedy Series.

Cancellation

The series was officially canceled by ABC on May 13, 2010.[7] In an interview with New York Magazine, Victor Fresco, the show's creator, was asked why he thought the show didn't catch on. He responded, "I think not enough people knew about it. It wasn’t like we had a lot of people watch it and they didn’t come back to it. If anything, I think we were building slowly, but to me the way TV works is you spend a lot of money advertising and promoting, or you have to let a show stay someplace for a long period of time and an audience slowly comes to it. And I don’t think we got either of that".[11] Fresco also added, "I still feel there’s an audience out there for it, because I know that the people who liked it, liked it a lot."[11]

At the time of its cancellation, two episodes of Better Off Ted had yet to be broadcast by ABC. The network announced on May 27, 2010 that it would air the two episodes back-to-back on June 17, 2010, contingent on the 2010 NBA Finals not requiring a seventh game.[27] Ultimately, however, a seventh game was needed, and thus ABC did not air the final two episodes of the series.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
Season premiereSeason finale
113March 18, 2009August 11, 2009
213[28]December 8, 2009January 26, 2010[note 1]
  1. ^ This is the final date an episode aired on ABC. Two episodes left unaired by ABC later aired internationally.

DVD release

Better Off Ted: The Complete First Season
Set details:
  • 12 episodes
  • 2 disc set
Features:
  • Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1 aspect ratio)
  • 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
  • Language: English and Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Release dates:Region 1Region 2Region 4
December 1, 20092011[29]

As of November 2011, no release of Season 2 on DVD has occurred. Also, it was initially announced that a Blu-ray edition would be released of Season 1, but this likewise has yet to occur.

Music video reunion

In mid-2011 series co-star Malcolm Barrett released his first single, "Revenge of the Nerds" under his alternate performance name, Verbal. The official music video for the song, released in June 2011, reunited all the major cast members of Better Off Ted, although only Barrett, Slavin and de Rossi reprised their original series characters (Harrington and Anders appear as a high school jock and a cheerleader, respectively, while series creator Victor Fresco also appears in the video).[30]

References

  1. ^ a b c Kilcoin, Brigid (March 22, 2009). "ABC's 'Better off Ted' succumbs to an unoriginal premise". Michigan Daily. http://www.michigandaily.com/content/na/better-ted. Retrieved December 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ Woerner, Meredith (February 5, 2009). "Could Better Off Ted Save The Science Fiction Comedy Genre?". io9. New York: Gawker Media. http://io9.com/5146791/could-better-off-ted-save-the-science-fiction-comedy-genre. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ Ken Tucker (December 8, 2009). "Better Off Ted". EW.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20325967,00.html. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ "ABC Announces New Thursday Night Comedy Block With "In the Motherhood" and "Samantha Who"". The Futon Critic. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspxid=20090126abc01. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Mitovich, Matt. "Ratings: All-Time Low Harshes Lost's Mellow". TV Guide. http://www.tvguide.com/News/Ratings-Lost-Idol-1004202.aspx. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  6. ^ "ABC Picks Up V; Renews Better off Ted: Also ordering Eastwick and much more for next season.". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/983/983807p1.html. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Report: FlashForward, Romantically Challenged, Better Off Ted, Scrubs Canceled". http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/05/13/report-flashforward-romantically-challenged-better-off-ted-scrubs/51371. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Lee, Stefanie. "The Unaired Better Off Ted Episodes are Now Available!". TV.com. http://www.tv.com/the-unaired-better-off-ted-episodes-are-now-available!/story/23828.html. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c Raz, Guy. "Series Creator, Star Weigh In On 'Better Off Ted'". National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121140006. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Halterman, Jim. "INTERVIEW: VICTOR FRESCO ON BEING "BETTER OFF TED" FOR ABC". The Futon Critic. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/rant/2009/03/17/interview-victor-fresco-on-being-better-off-ted-for-abc/20090317_betteroffted. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c d Lynch, Joseph. "Better Off Ted Creator Victor Fresco on Why His Cult-Favorite Show Likely Got Canceled". New York Magazine. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/03/better_off_ted_victor_fresco.html. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Goldman, Eric. "Portia de Rossi Talks Better Off Ted: The Arrested Development star on her new series.". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/946/946003p1.html. Retrieved September 12, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d Goodman, Tim (March 18, 2009). "TV review: 'Better Off Ted' develops laughs". Hollywood Reporter. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/17/DD6P16G9SJ.DTL&type=entertainment. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Stasi, Linda (December 15, 2009). "An office comedy with benefits". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/an_office_comedy_with_benefits_OkHu1feB5871niIJqN39sO. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (March 18, 2009). "'Ted' has a mean sense of humor, but a good heart". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2009/03/18/ted_has_a_mean_sense_of_humor_but_a_good_heart/. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Better Off Ted: Season 1 – ABC". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/tv/better-off-ted/season-1/critic-reviews. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  17. ^ Stasi, Linda (March 18, 2009). "'Ted' Ringer: New Office Comedy Is 'Better Off' Than Most". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/item_obnSW4wbLsYAXp9uHSY1oN;jsessionid=787F54150B9814A526B5E188159BC2D8. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  18. ^ Tucker, Ken (March 11, 2009). "Better Off Ted (2009):Reviewed by Ken Tucker". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20264843,00.html. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  19. ^ Bianco, Robert (March 18, 2009). "'Ted' profits from funny lines, first-rate cast". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2009-03-17-better-off-ted_N.htm?csp=34. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Better Off Ted: Season 2 – ABC". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/tv/better-off-ted/season-2. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  21. ^ Goodman, Tim. "TV review: 'Better Off Ted' is best on ABC". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/04/DDQ61AU2L4.DTL. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  22. ^ Tucker, Ken (December 9, 2009). "Better Off Ted (2009):Reviewed by Ken Tucker". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20325967,00.html. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  23. ^ Seidman, Robert (March 19, 2009). "Wednesday Ratings: Better off Ted ABC's lowest-rated comedy debut since 2005". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/03/19/wednesday-ratings-better-off-ted-lowest-rated-comedy-debut-since-2005/14872. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  24. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 12, 2009). "TV Ratings: Talent, reality rule, ABC not better off with Ted". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/08/12/tv-ratings-talent-reality-rule-abc-not-better-off-with-ted/24657. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  25. ^ Gorman, Bill (December 9, 2009). "TV Ratings Tuesday: Biggest Loser Finale Wins Large; Leno Bulks Up; Ted Premiere Weak". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/12/09/tv-ratings-tuesday-biggest-loser-finale-wins-large-leno-bulks-up-ted-premiere-weak/35710. Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  26. ^ Bell, Josh (2010). "The Best TV Comedies of 2010". About.com. http://tvcomedies.about.com/od/listsrecommendations/tp/bestof2010.htm. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  27. ^ Fienberg, Daniel. "'Better Off Ted' fans should pray for a short NBA Finals". Hitfix.com. http://www.hitfix.com/articles/better-off-ted-fans-should-pray-for-a-short-nbc-finals. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  28. ^ Ryan, Maureen (March 11, 2010). "A message from the creator of 'Better Off Ted' (and how to help this great comedy)". Chicago Tribune. http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2010/03/better-off-ted-abc.html. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Better Off Ted – The Complete 1st Season (817772)". EzyDVD. http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/817772. Retrieved January 11, 2011. 
  30. ^ "'Better Off Ted' cast reunites for Malcolm Barrett's hip-hop video". Zap2It.com. http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2011/07/better-off-ted-cast-reunites-for-malcolm-barretts-hip-hop-video.html. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 

External links