Better Off Ted is our smartest comedy buy-in since 30 Rock. It's about an evil corporation, chirpy middle management, scientists with low self-esteem and a boss who, if she could express emotion, would weep ice. Dastardly conglomerate Veridian Dynamics makes everything--from edible metal to killer gourds. Big business, frosty females and geeks are easy, obvious targets for comedy writers but the Better Off Ted team poke fun in ways that will make you shoot more than one mouthful of beverage from you nostrils per episode. So watch with a napkin.
Everyone loves Veridian's handsome, witty head of development, Ted (Jay Harrington), and Ted loves Veridian. He’s the go-to man if you need a shoulder to cry on, sensible advice or a task force assembled to weaponise a pumpkin. Ted’s a stand up guy with morals, though he does tend to prioritise the wrong ones. He’s adamant, for instance, that he should only allow himself one office affair. But it takes a child (his own) to persuade him to stand up for Phil--the employee The Company wants to freeze for a year. Also here to remind Ted that, for the right money, their executive overlords would put bombs in kittens is his attractive colleague and underling, Linda. She pricks Ted’s vigorous corporate optimism with her bitching and quiet rebellion.
Veronica (Portia de Rossi) is Ted’s blonde-bunned, not quite human boss. She gets the best lines and de Rossi’s dispassionate delivery, especially when she’s volleying with Harrington, is millisecond perfect. Without her weighty comic presence you’d say BOT was merely Scrubs without syringes.
Also in charge of laughs are Veridian’s harangued staff scientists, Lem and Phil. They’re kept in a basement lab and it’s their job to create ethically dubious wares to order. Their genius goes largely unrecognised and the only positive reinforcement they get is from Ted. In recognition, they’ve made him their... whatever scientists have instead of God. And they’re not worshipping a false prophet. Without Ted, you suspect the company would have sacked the staff and replaced them with orphans. In fact, a later episode reveals what becomes of kids entrusted to Veridian’s staff nursery.
Better Off Ted may have a lazy pun for a name (we're convinced it's a working title they forgot to change) but that’s its only downfall. This sitcom toils for your laughs and you’d have to be a Veridian-issued android to come away without a pair of split sides and a liquid induced sinus ache.
Better Off Ted starts on FX at 9pm on Tuesday, July 27.