Other than 30 Rock, I haven’t seen a good network comedy in a long time so I had no expectations when I tuned in for the pilot of ABC’s Better Off Ted, a new sitcom from Victor Fresco (Andy Richter Controls the Universe). It wasn’t genius but made me chuckle. Then I tuned in again last week and the second ep made me laugh out loud. The humor is definitely absurd and may not be for everyone but it worked for me.
The setting is at a corporation, Veridian Dynamics, that claims it can make anything, like turning a pumpkin into a weapon (by growing deadly mold on it) or beef without cows (by growing it in a lab). Jay Harrington stars as Ted, a research & development executive, and Portia de Rossi is his hilariously pompous boss. The strong supporting cast includes Andrea Anders (Joey) as a sweet but slightly nutty co-worker and Jonathan Slavin & Malcolm Barrett as a pair of bickering scientists.
Samples of funny lines from the first two episodes:
- “Developing the next generation of food and food-like products…chickens that lay 16 eggs a day, which is a lot for a chicken. Organic vegetables chock full of anti-depressants. At Veridian Dynamics, we can even make radishes so spicy that people can’t eat them. But we’re not—because people can’t eat them.” —narration for a Veridian promo video
- “Julie in Employee Services asked for my autograph. That’s right, Julie with those breasts in the front!”–Phil (Slavin) bragging to Lem (Barrett) about how he’s more popular at the company
- “They originally suggested Lem, but freeze the black guy? They’re not stupid.” — Veronica (de Rossi) to Ted about the decision to cryogenically freeze Phil just to see if they can
- “My mother once killed a bat with a People magazine.” — Lem about how tough his mama is
- “The food division just told me that the Extra Fun Mac & Cheese…causes blindness if eaten more than twice a week.” —Veronica to Ted about the failure of one of their products
If you find any of this funny, check out the show tonight (Wednesday) at 8:30 p.m. on ABC and let me know your thoughts. You can also see the first two eps on ABC.com.