Ever wonder what would happen if the employees at Dunder Mifflin sold something more interesting than paper (weaponized pumpkins, perhaps)? Well congrats, your daydreams might look quite a bit like ABC’s new workplace sitcom “Better Off Ted,” a science fiction-laced take on life in the research and development department of a ubiquitous corporation.
Fronting the team, and the series, is Ted (Jay Harrington), a good-natured single dad with a serious knack for his job, whether that means growing meat in a test tube or convincing employees to cryogenically freeze themselves. Joining him are his robotic boss Veronica (Portia de Rossi), an office love interest named Linda (Andrea Anders) and two bickering, dweebish scientists (Malcolm Barrett and Jonathan Slavin). The whole thing plays out like a comedic behind-the-scenes of a kinda evil mega corporation, which is even funnier when you realize its being brought to you by Disney.
The buzz: If Neil Patrick Harris and John Hamm were capable of producing a slightly less charismatic lovechild, the product of their glorious union might very well be Jay Harrington. He steamrolls every scene of “Ted,” flashing a charming smile at his female costars and the camera and winning over pretty much everyone. Whoever cast this show deserves a serious pat on the back.
The verdict: There’s just nothing harder than comedy, so even a moderate success is something to write home about. “Better Off Ted” may be the funniest debut of 2009, and its heaps of potential—when so many other midseason additions have absolutely none—makes it one to watch.
Did you know? Portia de Rossi has never been on wife Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show—until now. Her promotional tour for “Better Off Ted” marks the first occasion she’ll appear as a guest. Cute!
‘Better Off Ted’ premieres Wednesday, March 18, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.