30 Days of TV – Day 08

Day 08 – A show everyone should watch

Oddly, with music, I find it impossible to pick a single “favorite” band or album, while it’s much easier to pick, say, things for other people, or things I didn’t think I’d like but did. With TV, it’s the other way around.

I don’t want to repeat my picks too often, or this whole list would be Galactica, Firefly, and Game of Thrones. And with the specifics of the show being something “everyone” should watch, I whittled it down to two sitcoms, one still on the air, one off.

In the end, it’s the one off the air that gets it, because it’s the better show in a lot of ways, even if it’s a worse sitcom.

I can blame Reuben and Matt for this one, since they turned me on to it. Better Off Ted is smart and savvy, an intelligent sitcom emphasizing wit and satire over the traditional style of sitcom plot creation. It’s not a laugh-a-minute show filled with fast rejoinders, uncomfortable situations, sight gags, or characters getting into trouble via mistaken assumptions/double entendres/lying, like Seinfeld or Friends or most other traditional sitcoms.

In fact, it takes itself awfully serious, which makes the weird background stuff funnier. The show follows Ted Crisp (Jay Herrington), single father and head of the R&D division of Veridian Dynamics, one of the most powerful corporations in existence (at one point it’s pointed out that there’s only three governments left in the world more powerful than Veridian). Veridian builds just about everything: octo-chickens, weaponized pumpkins, cyborgs, jetpacks.  Of course, the products don’t always work correctly, which is where a lot of the humor comes from: “Sometimes big companies make big mistakes. Like yesterday’s, which caused a million fish in Lake Michigan to grow fur.”

Ted’s boss is Veronica (Portia de Rossi), cold, calculating, and distant, while Andrea Anders is his on-off love interest. Ted has to keep his lab drones pacified and working (to develop more weaponized pumpkins and flaming plates and whatnot), while at the same time, being the moral compass for his young daughter.

In a lot of ways, it’s like Arrested Development… cancelled a bit too early, a big hit with its (few) pre-DVD viewers, fueled by an intellectual dry wit, starrring Portia de Rossi. And much like Arrested Development, its humor isn’t for everyone. Between its offbeat style and the lack of network support (I don’t think they even had commercials for it), Better Off Ted was cancelled after only two seasons; a shame. Maybe if more people had heard of it, it would still be on the air.

Well, come to think of it, they did have commercials for the show… the show-within-a-show-style ads for Veridian Dynamics. Great use of stock images combined with the show’s dry wit.

If you don’t believe me, go watch it on Netflix; they have both seasons on instant streaming.

Spoiler/Preview/Recap:

Day 01 – A show that should have never been canceled – Jericho
Day 02 – A show that you wish more people were watching – Fringe
Day 03 – Your favorite new show (aired this TV-season) – Game of Thrones
Day 04 – Your favorite show ever – Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Day 05 – A show you hate – various micro-rants
Day 06 – Favorite episode of your favorite t.v show – The Oath/Blood on the Scales
Day 07 – Least favorite episode of your favorite t.v show – Black Market
Day 08 – A show everyone should watch – Better Off Ted
Day 09 – Best scene/episode ever
Day 10 – A show you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A show that disappointed you
Day 12 – A TV show you’ve watched more than 4 times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood show
Day 14 – Favorite male character
Day 15 – Favorite female character
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure show
Day 17 – Favorite mini series
Day 18 – Favorite title sequence
Day 19 – Best t.v show cast
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite relationship
Day 22 – Best pilot episode
Day 23 – Most annoying character
Day 24 – Best quote
Day 25 – A show you plan on watching (old or new)
Day 26 – OMG WTF? Season finale
Day 27 – Favorite series finale
Day 28 – First t.v show obsession
Day 29 – Current t.v show obsession
Day 30 – Saddest character death


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