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Lemurs and Lovers: An Advance Review of Season Two of ABC's "Better Off Ted"

I have to give ABC credit: they've definitely gone the distance in investing in comedy this season.

Besides for their Wednesday comedy programming block (which houses the extraordinary Modern Family), ABC has also carved out a small niche on Tuesday evenings, which tonight sees the second season return of workplace comedy Better Off Ted.

I'm extremely pleased that ABC saw fit to renew Better Off Ted, especially after it burned off many of its freshman season episodes over the summer. And while I'd love it if it could somehow shift over to Wednesdays, I'm happy to have Ted, created by Victor Fresco, back where it belongs: on the airwaves.

Season Two of Better Off Ted continues the winning formula of the first season, offering its audience a deliciously acidic take on the workplace comedy. Better Off Ted isn't just a standard-issue workplace comedy but rather subverts the form, setting its characters in a duplicitous and often dangerous multi-national corporation whose purpose seems to be nothing short of world domination.

Tonight's episode ("Love Blurts") finds said corporation, the perfectly named Veridian Dynamics, setting up its employees based on DNA matches. But lest you think that Veridian has somehow turned benevolent and wants to find love for its worker bees, think again: the entire thing is a plot devised to save the company billions of dollars in insurance money for less than perfectly genetically-matched children. (Ouch.)

Starcrossed lovers Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) and Linda Zwordling (Andrea Anders) don't get matched up and make a pact to not date their Veridian-suggested matches... That is, until Ted falls for his perfect match and Linda decides to give it a go with hers (guest star Taye Diggs). But all is not happy in love land: Ted accidentally blurts something out following sex with his date and Linda learns that hers has a rather, um, unnatural predilection.

Elsewhere, Veronica (Portia de Rossi) demands sperm from Lem (Malcolm Barrett) after they're matched by Veridian and the company tells poor Phil (Jonathan Slavin) to have a vasectomy. (Again: ouch.) The latter spurs a hilarious subplot where Phil attempts to gain his medical file from Veridian.

While a low-key start to the season, tonight's episode is outshown by next week's fantastic installment ("The Lawyer, the Lemur and the Little Listener"), which finds Linda striking gold with her children's book about a familiar-looking lemur, Veronica and Ted realizing that Ted's daughter Rose (Isabella Acres) is a goldmine of intelligence about the company, and Lem learning that dating a Veridian lawyer comes with a hefty price.

There's a nice manic quality to the second installment that's more in keeping with with the loopy energy of the first season but the series wisely doesn't toy with its perfectly formed characters. Harrington's Ted is affable, Anders' Linda sour-sweet, Slavin's Phil hilariously pathetic, Barrett's Lem cowardly yet cerebral, and de Rossi's Veronica magnificently heartless. There's a lovely chemistry here among these oddballs and one of the single-camera series' main strengths is that it allows the characters to play it entirely straight even as chaos reigns around them.

All in all, the first two episodes of Season Two of Better Off Ted prove that this little gem of a comedy series hasn't lost its deft touch or its comedic footing in its sophomore outing. My only complaint: that more people aren't watching. Surely, Veridian Dynamics must have something they can do about that...

Season Two of Better Off Ted launches tonight at 9:30 pm ET/PT on ABC.

Comments

Hadley said…
Thank you for writing about Better Off Ted! It's one of the most unique and fun comedies on TV right now but it definitely has not gotten the attention it deserves.
Lauren9to5 said…
This show makes me happy! Jonathan Slavin (Phil) makes me laugh every time he's on screen and Portia de Rossi is excellent as the icy Veronica. Can't wait for tonight's episode!
Kat said…
I love Better Off Ted and was glad that it was renewed. It would be great if it shifted over to Wed just in the hopes that if it were part of that Wed comedy block, it might see an increase in viewers. Somehow I don't think being paired with Scrubs will help the show. I hope I am wrong. In any case, I will watch no matter when it airs.
Anonymous said…
So happy it's back on! But did they do away with the VD ads? Or did I just blink and miss it in last night's episode?
Jace Lacob said…
Anon,

No Veridian ad last night but there is one in next week's episode, I promise!
Unknown said…
I'm exhausted from laughing so hard. Better Off Ted is worth the wait. I missed the VD ad; looking forward to one next week.
Unknown said…
The VD ads were the best part. I still quote them.

Veridian Dynamics. We like to keep our employees.. gruntled.

That's just oomedy gold

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