You know how there are some shows that last years and years even though no one really cares? And you know how there are some shows that are so smart and funny yet are cancelled before they really have a chance to shine? Better Off Ted fits into the latter category.
With a stellar cast and a sharp wit, this is a show that should have last forever.
Instead, we got two beautiful seasons and a lack of faith in the television industry.
Better Off Ted followed Ted Crisp, a single dad working for Veridian Dynamics, a "soulless conglomerate" that dabbled in scientific experiments including weaponized pumpkins and cryogenic freezing. Like one of my other favourite shows, Scrubs, BOT featured a narrator (Ted), only in this case, he broke the fourth wall, usually starting an episode by talking to the camera, bringing the viewers up to speed, and frequently interrupted the action to offer some other observations or remarks.
The episodes revolved around daily life working at Veridian. Apart from Ted, the main cast also included his two main scientists, Phil (Jonathan Slavin) and Lem (Malcolm Barrett), plus Ted's love interest Linda (Andrea Anders) who, as the newest Veridian employee, often had a bone to pick with the company's less than ethical ways.
My favourite character on the show, however, was Veronica Palmer, Ted's boss, who was played by the flawless Portia de Rossi. As the boss, she was cold and completely focused on her career, but did have a soft side, whether it was her friendly relationship with Ted's adorable daughter Rose, or her love for a magician named Mordor.
One of the reasons Veronica was so great was because she had some of the best lines (and probably the best delivery) in the show. And that's high praise for a show that revolved on witty repartee.
Another highlight of a standard episode of BOT was the "commercials" that Veridian produced. They were supposed to be motivational, but usually ended up falling short.
The ratings were unfortunately too low to keep BOT going for long. It also took nearly five years for the second season to be released on DVD, though it had been available on Netflix long before that.
I'm not sure why it's such an underrated show. The humour was a rare blend of hi-brow and low-brow; one episode dealt with racism in the workplace, though that racism was only brought into the company's focus after Lem was locked in the lab all night because the new motion sensors failed to recognize people with dark skin. Another episode saw an increase in swearing in the workplace because of a typo in a company-wide memo, showing how faithful (and somewhat mindless) the employees were.
In short, it was hilarious. Do yourselves a favour, and track this show down.