Creator/Producer: Victor Fresco
Starring: Jay Harrington, Portia de Rossi, Andrea Anders, Jonathan Slavin, Malcolm Barett, Isabella Acres
You could call it a cross between The Big Bang Theory and The Office and you wouldn’t be half wrong, but you would only be a little more than half right.
The eponymous Ted Crisp, Jay Harrington, is head of Research and Development at Veridian Dynamics, a large multinational with fingers in anything and everything which means Ted’s team works on projects as diverse as cryogenics, weaponized pumpkins, cowless beef, perfume, baldness cures, and image search engines. Luckily Ted has two brilliant scientist/engineers working for him; Phil Myman and Lem Hewitt, played by Jonathan Slavin and Malcolm Barrett respectively. On the administrative side of things he has Linda Zwordling, Andrea Anders, helping him out and he reports to Veronica Palmer, Portia de Rossi.
Ted is a single dad raising his eight year old daughter Rose, Isabella Acres, alone since his wife left him to go save the world. He takes great pride in his team at Veridian and relishes solving the day to day issues that come up. Lately Ted has found himself attracted to Linda but is frustrated by his strict observance of his one office romance rule, he’s already had his one. Ted also acts as the on camera narrator for the show. Frequently turning aside and addressing the audience directly to give us background information or to provide insight.
Linda takes care of testing the stuff that Lem and Phil come up with. This puts her at odds with the company every now and then when products don’t quite work out as expected, but her main purpose on the show is to provide a possible live interest for Ted, of course nothing can actually happen till at least the third or fourth season.
Lem and Phil are stereotypical TV scientists, brilliant but socially inept and awkward. They seem to have no specialization. One week they are working on cloning filet mignon without the rest of the cow, the next an energy drug and after that a jet pack. While providing comic relief, the two and their relationship are an essential part of the show. Jonathan and Malcolm have a real chemistry together. Watching the two of them be Lem and Phil is one of the more enjoyable parts of the show.
“Money Before People, that’s the company motto… It just looks better in latin” explains Veronica, Ted’s near psychopathic boss. Lem and Phil actually have better social skills. The only explanation for her success is her good looks, drive and sheer ruthlessness. An unrepentant narcissist her only concession or even admission that her co workers have feelings come as she realizes these are hooks that she can use to manipulate them. As the other characters learn little life lessons or get over personal hang-ups each episode Veronica is a rock showing no personal growth or any change whatsoever over the season. Strangely this makes her the most interesting character of the show.
The company Veridian Dynamics is as much a character of the show as Ted and the gang. A large portion of the humor of the show is derived from parodying work at a large corporation. One episode revolves around Ted trying to convince Human Resources that he actually works for Veridian. Another deals with the fallout after Veridian installs motion sensors for all of the doors and lights that don’t recognize black people. The solution, hire white people to follow all of the black employees around all day. Some of the episodes like the one just mentioned move beyond parody and into satire. A form of humor not often encountered anymore. Some of the funniest bits of the show are the fake Veridian Dynamics commercials that appear in each episode.
The characters are quirky and the world they live in is more than a bit surreal, The cast is strong and the show well written. It’s strong right out of the box and keeps its momentum through all thirteen episodes. There is none of the searching around trying to find its pace for the first several episodes that most new shows deal with. The first several episodes Ted makes sure to reintroduce all of the characters and kind of explain what’s going on, but it’s not really necessary, all of the episodes will stand up on their own. There is no story arc beyond the potential relationship between Ted and Linda. All in all good solid TV.
The video is presented in wide screen format. Nearly all of the shots have a deep focus so the backgrounds are as crisp as the foregrounds. I never noticed any compression artifacts or other problems with the video beyond some mild moiré and a bit of aliasing.
The English track is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital with a Spanish track in Dolby Surround. There are English, Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles. The mix is right on, the dialog is always clear and easily heard. The producers wisely choose to forgo a laugh track; instead the score is used to punctuate jokes and punchlines. It nice and bouncy and reminds you not to take what you’re watching too seriously.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two DVDs come packaged in a single width Amaray case. The cover artwork consists of the stereotypical Photoshop mashup of the regular cast. The menus are simple and easy to navigate, but since there are no extras this is not that much of an accomplishment. Did I mention that there are no bonus materials or extras.
Even though the show’s title sets up a nonexistent joke, I enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for the surreal and Better of Ted provides a nice little dose to go along with the quirky characters.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10