Office Space started it all, (the original) British version of The Office perfected it, and IT Crowd played around with the idea. But when it comes to corporate/office environment shows there’s one often overlooked gem – Better Off Ted. Ricky Gervais’ The Office was absolutely hilarious, but underneath the comedy, there was something extremely dark about it.
On the contrary, Better Off Ted is an upbeat, rather lighthearted take on the genre, with some really witty quirks thrown in here and there. Recently I re-watched the two seasons which came out, and it really left me craving more. It’s not an ‘ambitious’ kind of show, with the word used in the meaning the critics use it, but it has plenty of clever jokes and running gags which will make you laugh your ass off.
The titular Ted, played by Jay Harrington, is the stock straight guy who works in a big corporation, (which oddly finds a military use for seemingly innocent inventions) and his interactions with other wacky characters make the show going.
One person who really shines among the cast is Portia de Rossi who stars as Veronica, Ted’s immediate boss. I liked her in Ally McBeal, and the actress was one of my favorite people in Arrested Development, here again she proves that she has an immense talent for comedic portrayals. There’s this impeccable aura around de Rossi that makes her the excellent choice for the role of perfectionist Veronica, who’s successful in everything she does and possesses a larger-than-life ego. It’s all for the sake of laughs, but it does make me think that you ought to have a particular mentality to reach the top dog positions. Her confidence and the ease to put moral principles in the backseat in order to achieve success are disarming.
Veronica doesn’t know defeat and she feels completely lost when she’s overcome with any human feelings like jealousy or happiness, and it’s pretty funny how people attempt to explain those notions to her.
Wall Street Bankers do sex and cocaine, Veronica has this sweet gig to release the built-up tension. Assisting a magician named Mordor.
Phil and Lem are two nerdy scientists from the research department Ted is in charge of, who all in all do a good job inventing new stuff, but are incredibly awkward in social situations, and get quickly intimidated by anyone who shows a bit of assertiveness.
Evoking Jim Carrey’s face of eternal torment.
Linda is a new hire who does not yet fully understand nor accept the rules present in the huge company like Veridian Dynamics. She tries to fight with the drastic measures the firm undertakes to control its employees by utilizing methods which are adorably naïve. Even so, her meddling often backfires. She’s usually the one saying what would be the ‘right thing’ to do.
Finally there’s Rose, Ted’s elementary schooler daughter. She’s the youngest, yet probably the sharpest person around. She’s not afraid to point out to Ted or even Veronica for that matter, when they make bad decisions. Later on in the series Veronica surprisingly grows fond of her. Perhaps it’s because she considers her a sort of device for manipulating other people.
You drop a bunny from an airplane…? This is my face when someone’s talking crap.
Only 26 episodes of this TV show were produced and it’s pretty sad, as Better Off Ted is a kind of comedy series that could have gone on far longer and I don’t suppose there would have been a drop in quality.
Some of my favorite TV things ever were the mock Veridian Dynamics ads featured in several episodes. Since I’ve seen those, the moment a commercial appears, all I hear is ‘you might think you know better but we’re gonna rip you off anyways’.
This lady seems to be sitting in each office you ever walked into to get some paperwork done. Patience is a virtue.
The power of the PowerPoint presentation does not lie in the content but in the packaging.