Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Better Off Ted, "Battle of the Bulbs": The nude Bhamba

A quick review of last night's "Better Off Ted" just as soon as I take it back to the sarcasm store...

We're still not back to the level "Ted" was regularly hitting in season one, but "Battle of the Bulb" felt like a step in the right direction. There were a lot of very funny lines like Veronica's lightbulb joke, Rose's reaction to hearing Ted say "suck" ("So, 'suck' is okay to say now? Because I have some thoughts on the lunch you packed me.") and virtually every word out of Bhamba's mouth as he discussed sex with Lem's mom. (The return of Bhamba in general is always a welcome thing.) Khandi Alexander got to show off her comedy chops for the first time since "NewsRadio," Veronica trying to turn Linda into her sociopathic protege worked very well (and spared us from a third consecutive lame Ted/Linda storyline), and the popcorn popping in Lem's mouth was a wonderful sight gag.

Still, I hope we get another episode on the level of "Racial Sensitivity"(*) before the end comes - and make no mistake, it's coming. As I mentioned in the "Scrubs" review, ABC is going into Mid-Season Burn-Off Theatre mode with both comedies. They're going to air one "Scrubs" and two "Ted"s on New Year's Day after the Rose Bowl, and double-run both shows through January to get them off the air before "Lost" comes back. Considering how bad the ratings were last spring, and how surprised everyone was when ABC renewed the show, I suppose we should all look on this second season as an unexpected bonus (just like season two of "Dollhouse"). But like a lot of other TV critics, I'm wondering what, exactly, ABC would have to lose at this point by airing one of the remaining "Ted"s on Wednesday night. With "Hank" long dead, there's a hole there, and it's at least worth a shot. I recognize that the remaining Wednesday shows are all family comedies of various sorts, and their sensibilities are different than what "Ted" does, but funny is funny, and it seems worth a shot. This isn't a case of "Scrubs," a show that's been around forever, and where viewers have had a chance to decide if they care to watch it. This is a show that most people don't even know exists, and pairing it with some comedies on the rise instead of one living on borrowed time, even once, seems only fair, no?

(*) And thanks to all of you who either tweeted or e-mailed me links to the various stories about a racist Hewlett-Packard webcam. Always funny when life imitates art - especially art as good as "Racial Sensitivity."

What did everybody else think?

24 comments:

Vaughn said...

What is the significance of airing after the "Rose Bowl" (whatever that is. I'm not from the US of A)? It's been mentioned in quite a few places and seems to be accompanied by a "Yep, they're REALLY airing there. Ted/Scrubs are so boned" sort of tone.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Rose Bowl is a big end-of-season college football game. That ABC is airing the episodes there (when most people are going to change the channel or turn off the TV as soon as the game ends) suggests they're just dumping them.

Karen said...

Khandi Alexander's reactions to the popcorn flying out of Lem's mouth were PRICELESS. I've missed her in comedy.

Vaughn said...

Thanks Alan. And while I'm here, thanks for all your great reviews in 2009. Merry christmas, and here's to another year of splendid television. And more Chuck!

Roger said...

"Yes, I think you're sexy.
And yes, I don't often have grown-up drinks.
And yes, I wish I had a third yes.
And yes, I don't!"
...may very well be the funniest thing I've heard all year.

If "Ted" is this funny is not "up to par", I can not wait to see what it's like when it starts running on all cylinders, because this show is fantastic as it is!

Anonymous said...

Alan,

I disagree. I thought this was the weakest episode of the the three this season. I thought Lem being aghast at his mother's sexual relationship was cliched (Chuck, the Office, among others), and at least as unfunny as Ted's lie that got out of control. And Linda speaking confidently was already done when she took charge of the scientists after Ted ceased to exist.

There were really funny lines, so I still liked it, but I thought the plot, overall was kind of weak.

Ironically, I think this season the show has been trying some more traditional sitcommy plots, even though its fate seems decided.

Eric said...

I played the game through the episode of trying to predict your above-the-link tag. There were some great options:

...just as soon as I feast on chicken.

...just as soon as I drive an assault vehicle through a herd of seals wearing chum pants.

...just as soon as I get a third yes.

Bobman said...

Vaughn said...
What is the significance of airing after the "Rose Bowl" (whatever that is. I'm not from the US of A)?


Do they not have Google where you're from?

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=rose+bowl

Vaughn said...

Do they not have manners where you're from?

If you had paid attention to the question, I was enquiring as to why airing after that event was considered significant for the future of the shows. Knowing what the event was wouldn't have really fully answered the question.

Maybe next time you should just keep your sarcasm to yourself and allow the polite people to answer the question.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, everybody, settle down, please. It's almost Christmas (or New Year's, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate this time of year), so let's remember that Rule #1 around here is to Be Nice.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I thought Lem being aghast at his mother's sexual relationship was cliched

I think it was less that his mom was having sex than that she was having sex with Bhamba, and that distinction transcended the cliche, for me, and made it something specific to BoT.

GersonK said...

The Dollhouse comparison seems a little off. I was under the impression that its renewal was highly unusual given its ratings, and that the final axe was dropped after S2 had aired a few episodes.

Wasn't Ted's S1 performance was within range for a renewal? ABC's decision to jump ship seems to have come after a single episode of S2 actually aired.

amyp3 said...

Wow, Alan and some of the commenters are hard to please. I thought this was very funny.

It's like the sitcom gods giveth and then taketh away for me. I hoped for a full season of P & R and got it. But now the other really clever new show of '09 is threatened with a quick end.

On TWOP I mentioned how I'd like to see BOT in NBC's Thurs. night lineup. I've never been an Office fan, so I'd put it in that slot. But with the reality that Office still anchors Thurs., I guess I'd have to dump Leno instead and add more sitcoms.

BTW I've heard that getting a slot after the Super Bowl was a big deal for a show. Why not the same WRT the Rose Bowl?

Bobman said...

Do they not have manners where you're from?

Maybe next time you should just keep your sarcasm to yourself and allow the polite people to answer the question.


Polite? You're new to the Internet aren't you? I was just messing around with you, no need to get all crazy on me.

Merry Christmas!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wasn't Ted's S1 performance was within range for a renewal?

No. Everyone was just as flabbergasted at the time about the Ted renewal as they were about Dollhouse. And in both cases, the season 2 ratings have proven us unfortunately correct to have been flabbergasted.

cadfile said...

I tried to enjoy this show both last season and this one and I just don't get it. The line readings just came off flat to me. I think the only time I laughed a lot was during the meeting when Linda chastised that guy for saying the bulb smelled like rotting meat.

I guess I'm biased because I liked the first version of "Ted" when it was called "Andy Richter Controls the Universe".

As for airing after the Rose Bowl - New Years Day is full of football games and the Rose Bowl is the last one for the night so by then people will be turning the channel or turning the TV off. The Super Bowl is the only game when it is on so the post game slot has become a hot spot as people tend to leave the TV on after the game.

GersonK said...

Everyone was just as flabbergasted at the time about the Ted renewal

I sit corrected.

Oaktown Girl said...

I am so going to miss this show when it's gone. Glad we're at least getting enough episodes to have a DVD.

Paul Outlaw said...

"It takes a village to kill a village!"

Ted Frank said...

I don't understand why airing after the Rose Bowl is necessarily a bad thing: for a long time, it was considered a great opportunity to have the spot on the schedule immediately after the Super Bowl. That's how "A-Team" and the first iteration of "Family Guy" were launched...

lambertman said...

Ted, the Rose Bowl at one time may have been analogous to the Super Bowl, but those days are gone (and I'm a Big Ten alum). Football fans will likely switch over to the Sugar Bowl the second the Rose Bowl is over. Rose is the 2nd-most important game out of 5 airing on January 1, and under the current system has no bearing on any championship.

srpad said...

I just wanted to say I love this show and it will be sad to see it go. At least we got this second season.

I love that fact that I was thinking Linda may get a live chicken a momment before Veronica said it.

I also love that as sociopathic Vernoica is, she gave her underlings credit on the project. In a more cliched show, she would take all the credit until things went bad.

I also love that my "word verification" for this post is Chiah...perfect for this holiday season. Cha-cha-cha-chia!

(that a reference to Chia pets for thsoe who can't read my mind or watch a lot of day time TV).

dez said...

I am so sad this show is headed for Burn-Off Theater, but glad that to have seen it at all. And peeved that I will have to actually watch part of the Rose Bowl so I will know when Scrubs & BoT will be on!

BTW, part of me wanted to see Dr. Bhamba's clapper...heh heh heh!

Buchholz Surfer said...

What was the exact wording of Veronica's line, something like "That's a fact, and facts are just opinions, and opinions can be wrong."

This is a very funny show, it's sort of a cross between 30 Rock and The Office. They need to have a new Veridian Dynamics commercial every episode though.