Thursday, July 16, 2009
Better Off Ted
Situational comedies, a.k.a. sitcoms, are slowly dying. Every year as the major media networks unveil their new lineups we see more and more carbon copy criminalist dramas (do we really need 3 CSIs?), cop dramas (Law and Order: Electric Bugaloo) , the growing trend Hospital/Nurse Dramas (HawthoRNe, anyone?), and the latest reality tv atrocity.
Whatever fresh programing arrives is quickly gobbled up by the onslaught of this year's latest "Is he or isn't he?" contestant on American Idol and/or McTasty from Grey's Anatomy. More often than not, the literrally "best" shows on television are sucker-punched by the mindless conventional fare (a la Arrested Development).
Even comedies that were once laugh powerhouses are slowly fading into the background (i.e. The Office and My Name is Earl), or fizzling out entirely (R.I.P. Scrubs).
Enter Better Off Ted. The screwball ABC comedy performed mediocrilly in the spring and now finds itself airing new episodes in the summer with an unclear future in the fall.
The show centers on the title character, Ted, a middle-management man's man at a soulless american supercompany, the drones that work for him, and his near robotic immediate superior (Development's Portia de Rossi as stark raving mad as ever).
It's not groundbreaking stuff, and far from perfect but it's highly underrated and deserves much more attention for how funny it actually is. Most of the laughs come from the poor treatment that these employees receive; in one episode new motion detectors are installed that don't register African Americans and in another employees are assigned cubicle-decoration personalites of 4 approved themes: Kittens, Space, Classic Cars, and The Green Bay Packers, instantly creating a warzone amongst the ensuing cliques.
There is no need to watch from the beginning, the underlying story is fairly basic and picked up immediately and each episode is complete in itself a la 30 rock. Most can be found on ABC.com or other internet venues (or you could even be crazy enough and watch it on actual television).
You don't have to love it, but give it a try. For all we know it could be the last new sitcom we ever watch.