Things a geek should [see] – Better Off Ted

Throughout the geek-years (gears?) a number of shows have become favorites of geeks even if they weren’t necessarily overly geeky themselves. Shows like Seinfeld (You know, the friends rip-off? HA), Bob Newhart (For older geeks who remember it), South Park, and the Simpsons (The original Geek-toon). These shows, however, have something a lot of geek-cult classics do not, which is the ratings and ravings from the main-stream audience to keep the show on the air.

Yes, us geeks have had to deal with some large amount of idiocy ignorance when it comes to great shows not being understood by the rest of the world, causing us to endure short-lived shows ending abruptly and leaving us wanting OH so much more. Why should we endure tacked on seasons of Lost when Dollhouse ends after 2? Why do we only get one season of ‘My So Called Life’ while Saved By The Bell goes to college and gets married? (Note, MSCL is not really a geek status show in my eyes, but just a left over empty hole from my teenage Angst years.) And finally, why do we get more Parks and Recreation when a great and fairly original sitcom like Better Off Ted goes unnoticed and cancelled after 2 seasons.

The Show

Better Off Ted followed the working life of Ted Crisp who would narrate through the business life of the R&D department of one of the largest (fictitious) companies in the world, Veridian Dynamics. One of the ‘cutting edge’ portions of the show was that rather than just narrate the entire time, Ted would often break the ‘4th wall’ of television and talk directly to its audience. (Think Malcom in the Middle) Rather than coming off as cheesy it worked seamlessly into the satirical theme of the shows look at corporate America.

The episodes often tackled some of the over-the-top things that a corporation in America does to maintain itself as always on top, correct no matter what, and cutting edge; up to and including that whatever memo’s come out of HR, even if a typo and not what was originally intended, were correct and could not be contested. Anyone who has worked in a big company office setting will relate to some of the shenanigans that occurs during the course of the show.

The Cast

Show Star(Stopper)s - Ted and Veronica

The real draw of any show is its cast and characters and BoT was no exception. 4 people stand out in every episode as some of the funniest players and characters I have ever enjoyed watching on TV. Besides the aforementioned shows namesake Ted, they include:

Veronica – Teds boss was played by talented actress Portia de Rossi and is one of the best ‘power females’ in any show you can name. Move over Roseanne, get out of the way Lois (Wilkerson, not Griffin) a modern day woman is the new face of Power in TV America. She tells her employees what they think, admits when everyone else is wrong, and draws you into her world whether you want to be or not.

Science Greats - Phil and Lem

Phil and Lem – Every R&D department needs a great scientific team, and Veridians comes in the classic Duo of Phil (Jonathan Slavin of Andy Richter Controls the Universe) and Lem (Malcom Barrett). While some of the personality traits of Phil and Lem are typical cliche, (nerds, socially inept, over think everything) these two actors take the roles to a level not seen in nerds on almost any other show.

Honorable Mentions

I would like to say that while these 4 people steal the scenes they are in, that is not to undermine the two other main actresses in the show. Teds assistant and underling, Linda played by Andrea Anders, is always solid and quite funny. And even more amazing still is Teds daughter Rose, the incredibly funny and talented Isabella Acres. She could almost be considered Teds conscious as he often discusses with her what is going on at work (Her mother left the family while she went off to go ‘save the world’) and she often points out the evil side of the company that makes Ted reconsider what he is going to do. (Like a good father should, he’s always trying to teach AND act out the differences between right and wrong.) While I did mention the 4 ‘scene thieves’ earlier, Rose definitely does her best to steal them back.

The Episodes

Of 2 seasons, 26 episodes, there is really not a ‘bad’ episode. I have re-watched the 2 seasons about 6 times so far and still laugh at jokes I remember, and some I don’t. One episode shows HR having messed up Teds name, showing it as Ted Chips, and insist that they did not make the mistake, maybe he doesn’t know his own name. Another episode touches on some of the issues with Sexual Harassment in the work place. However one of the best episodes is when the company installs new motion sensors on everything (I mean everything, even the water fountains). The only problem? The new high tech system doesn’t sense Black people. While black employees like Lem try to get the company to acknowledge and fix the problem, hilarity ensues as the company tries to save face. A must see episode.

The Company

This show does one other thing, a little out of the ordinary, that really catapults it to geek status and that is ‘Corporate Promos’. In each episode you will be treated to short Veridian Promo’s that talk about how great the company is and often tie-in to the theme of the episode. Using the classic ‘Corporate’ theme of using stock footage with narration, it takes the ‘narration script’ to sarcastic, satirical over-the-top hilarity and are a gem in and of themselves.

Overall, this show is a must-see for anyone who claims to enjoy great sitcoms. You can currently catch the entire series on Netflix.. Tell ’em the Geek sent you.


8 thoughts on “Things a geek should [see] – Better Off Ted

  1. Pingback: Geek eats humble pie – Declines Bacon Shake | Good Geek Ranting

  2. booksnob

    HA! The only dog I’ve ever had that was my dog, I named Mokey! She was born on my front porch on Valentine’s Day when I was 11.

    I won’t judge, promise. I have a crush on Samurai Jack. 😉

  3. booksnob

    I’m going to have to take umbrage with the fact that you said “why do we get more Parks and Recreation when…”

    Parks and Recreation is a great show. A GREAT SHOW! Ron Fucking Swanson is the man. Aziz Ansari is hilarious. I hated Amy Poehler on SNL (well, not hated, but she was never my favourite), but I LOVE her on this show.

    You need to take it back.

    Oh, but I agree, this was another show that got cancelled too early.

    1. g00dg33kranting Post author

      Honestly, I actually hesitated on this line as well for the mere fact that I like it too. Perhaps the line should have clarified a little better as this NBC show got called for more seasons the same time as the ABC show BoT got cancelled. A poor move on ABC’s part and a strong showing of why ABC falls short of primetime sitcom money makers NBC and CBS with respective lineups including P&R, 30 Rock (one of my favs), BBT and HIMYM, and newcomer New Girl… ABC makes bad sitcom decisions on a regular basis, in my eyes.

      In this, though, I liked BoT better than P&R, if I were to make a list. And, I will also say, I watched Saved by the Bell and Lost (Though some of those tacked on seasons were painful and SbtB the new class just wasn’t right.)

      Although I believe it WAS NBC who nixed another classic workplace sitcom in the same vain which was Outsourced.

      1. booksnob

        We watched LOST, too. My husband stormed off in disgust after the finale “Well, that’s six years WASTED!” I wasn’t too thrilled with it at first, but after watching it a second (and then third) time, I realized that I liked it after all.

        Outsourced is another one that did get cancelled too soon. I hated the movie, but the show was hilarious.

        Oh, and Saved by the Bell was awesome. I watched it every Saturday morning (yes, even the college years, although they sucked). I still crack myself up by doing a Jessie Spano impression every time anyone says “I’m so excited.”

        1. g00dg33kranting Post author

          OMG… Are you talking about the ‘drugged out on speed’ Jessie Spano where she sings I’m so Excited and then falls down in tears? LOL! I LOVE that… and yes I watched them all as well… Bell and Fraggle Rock defined my early years, lol.

          I had far fewer issues with the final series of Lost than I did the 3rd and 4th series seeming so tacked on (as they were, anyway) and just dreadful… After 2 of the best seasons of TV in recent years the 3rd and 4th just came up flat. And yes, the Outsourced movie was so bad compared to… well, lots of things, but especially the series itself.

          1. booksnob

            Yesssssssss, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!

            Fraggle Rock was the best. My dad got me Red and Wembley fraggles for Christmas a few years ago, and I was wearing a sweater that matched her. It’s one of my favourite pictures ever.

          2. g00dg33kranting Post author

            So then, Muppet fan too? I have already seen the new muppet movie like 7 times… Mahna Mahna …

            I am a total Wembley and had a thing for Mokey … (I was young, don’t judge muppet love.)

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