Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Better Off Ted, "Beating a Dead Workforce" & "Change We Can't Believe In": Never gonna give you up

A quick review of last night's "Better Off Ted" double feature coming up just as soon as I talk about drawer elves(*)...

(*) Good lord, were these episodes awash in "just as soon as" candidates. Eventually, I just had to stop jotting them down, and I let "fun Steven," "talk about drawer elves" and "know what a beard of fingers would feel like" battle it out to the death. The lesson: never bet against an elf - especially one in a drawer.

Much like "Scrubs," "Ted" finally regained its footing with its post-Rose Bowl episode, then followed that up with two more very strong ones last night.

Both episodes featured plenty of wordplay (again, see all the potential "as soon as" candidates, which also included "unsubscribe to whatever you're doing right now" and "demonstrate irony"), great physical comedy (Veronica sweeping the leg Cobra Kai-style, Lem and Phil trying to communicate without speech), examples of technology run amok (the noisy sleep machine, the terrifying PA system), random pop culture digressions (Veronica's Rick-rolled elevator music), corporate satire (the company turning the late Jenkins into a religious figure to keep the employees working so hard), and the usual disturbing bits of Veronica psychology (Ted: "The version of Linda you heard in your head was right!").

Plus, the second episode finally gave us another Veridian ad, which taught us, "Friendship. It's the same as stealing."

They finally got the show clicking again, and I'm gonna really enjoy the rest of this run while I can.

What did everybody else think?

33 comments:

J said...

Despite the lack of a VD commercial, "Beating a Dead Workforce" was a total classic. Quotes? I'm tempted to paste the entire script below.

FunintheSwan said...

Better Off Ted is the only comedy I've enjoyed without fail for over a year, and these two eps were no exception! THANK YOU for keeping this excellent show's name up front.

belinda said...

Damn. I was hoping for "as soon as I go to a strip club and throw naked women at money".

Alan Sepinwall said...

Too many to choose from, Belinda. Way too many.

Fortran said...

I am still laughing at lines from these eps. Lem's other thing he knew about cowboys: Beans! The beard of fingers.

But for some reason, Veronica's "eulogy" with it's vaudeville intro just cracked me up:

Veronica: "Carl Jenkins."
Ted: "Gordon."
Veronica: "Carl Gordon."
Ted: "Jenkins."
Veronica: "Carl Gordon Jenkins."
Ted: "Gordon Jenkins."
Veronica: "Carl Gordon Jenkins Gordon Jenkins. Are you sure that's right?"

bsangs said...

Veronica's "sweep the leg" came so far out of left field that it gave me the giggles for about five full minutes. Wonder how many people watching understood the reference. Hopefully more than I think.

Wonder if FOX would consider picking up "Ted" once ABC is finished with it. I mean hell, it's so much better than "Til Death" and "Brothers." I know it won't happen, but think about it Rupe!

LeeZy said...

I'm seriously thinking about bringing up the episode "Change We Can't Believe In" to the time suck talker at my office, so he might get the hint.... too forward...? Should I just tell him to talk 20-25% less like Ted did?

Ben S said...

Alan, I'm surprised that you're giving BoT such short shrift, with so little Veronica, Lem and Phil left I think the show deserves a bit more attention.

Frederick said...

After all your positive buzz Alan about BoT my wife and I gave the first episode a try last night.

In short it was unwatchable we turned it after 15 minutes. I am all for giving a show multiple chances so I may watch again but wow not even a chuckle.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, I'm surprised that you're giving BoT such short shrift, with so little Veronica, Lem and Phil left I think the show deserves a bit more attention.

If you'd like to write one of the 16 other stories I have to do today so that I may go on at greater length, be my guest.

Ben S said...

"If you'd like to write one of the 16 other stories I have to do today so that I may go on at greater length, be my guest."

OK, OK, no need for the attitude.

Steve Wirzba said...

Because I Tivo'd these, I was able to watch them back-to-back a bit later in the night.. I think these were two of the strongest episodes of the series ever; they strung together ample amounts of hilarity at a furious pace, in many ways akin to 30 Rock at its peak or Arrested Development.

Jim said...

I haven't seen much of this show, I was just too lazy to do anything else last night, and I was pleasantly surprised. Portia di Rossi is a hoot.

(WV: Mulallis: Megan Mullaly's new personal line of mood enhancer?)

js said...

never watched this show last season, don't care for SCRUBS and perhaps the association-by-timeslot scared me away. But started watching this season and have been enjoying it greatly. last night's episode were the best so far this season. how the hell is ABC screwing up this show so badly?

Emily N. said...

Well, since no one's mentioned them yet. Two of my favorite quotes from last night:

"Together, we're like Ghandi. I'm skinny and you're tan."

"Sarcasm. The first sign of Spider Madness."

Anonymous said...

Quite a bit of viral video humor between the two episodes.

We've seen Ryan, and even Sheila again, but where's Debbie?

Paul said...

My comcast info page (as well as imdb) said that Creed Bratton would be guesting as Mr. Krebs. However, that clearly was not Creed Bratton. What gives?

paul said...

Although I thought "Beating a Dead Workforce" had a lot of good quick hit jokes it felt kind of off to me for some reason. I've thought that the greatest part about the shows so far this season is that they seemed to set so much up in the first half that you end up spending the entire second half of the show rolling on the floor laughing. I realize BoT is usually farcical by design but in this episode they seemed to dial the wacky to 11. While a show like "30 rock" often visits a cartoonish level (literally when through the eyes of Kenneth the page) they usually are able to pull it off. I kept thinking to myself that all these jokes should be funny but just didn't fit to me. They did bring in a new writer for "BaDW" so maybe that's what was different. I did think "Change We Can't Believe In" was a good episode and more balanced.

William said...

I loved them both, but "Change We Can't Believe In" might have been my favorite episode of the series. Maybe not, but maybe. The back-stairs spiders were hilarious, and Veronica and Ted singing together at the end was sweet in a way I wouldn't have guessed anything involving Veronica could ever be. Not to mention the original placement of the tuning dials for the new PA system.

Andrew said...

I really enjoyed both of the episodes, but wish they had gone even further into the deification of Jenkins. When the woman was dissapointed in Ted, especially since he was one of the eight "Finders" I thought we were going to go into some sort of religious frenzy with Ted as Judas and Lem as Paul. Still a funny episode, but once that idea hit my mind grapes, I couldn't lose it.

srpad said...

The good of ABC burning off two funny shows is two hours of hilarity for me. The bad is the shows will soon be gone :-(

But tonight we dine in hell!

(I may have gotten that line wrong, I was laughing too hard)

Jen said...

I'm going to be really upset if the show is cancelled before we get to meet Phil's wife, the former Mossad agent.

Scott said...

Veronica was so hilarious in the live in the moment episode. That was a great performance by Portia. I really like this show, and I'm happy it's getting a chance to be on tv airing all it's episodes. Even if it's only 2 seasons, they were 2 very good ones (so far) and will be fun to marathon on DVD in the future

Ted said...

And no one has mentioned Linda's failed attempt to duplicate the sweep-the-leg maneuver. An enjoyable 50 minutes on Hulu.

jst said...

as Veronica would say, I want to unsubscribe to whatever it is Bao is doing here.

Tyroc said...

I thought these two episodes were phenomenal. The speed and volume of the hilarious dialogue is SO impressive.

Hoping the ratings were a little better...?

Anonymous said...

@Andrew: I understand when an idea grabs hold of your mind grapes. I thought the two episodes were strangely evocative of Lost. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but once the thought occurred to me, many of the gags became that much funnier.

Noodles said...

Paul, my Comcast info page also said that Mr. Krebs was going to be played by Creed Bratton. It definitely threw me for a loop.

Maggie said...

I loved Veronica and Ted singing "I got you babe," also. I never would have believed at the start of this series that a scene like that would make sense or be in character for either of them, but it really was. I loved how much they were enjoying the moment (and seeing Veronica as the "in the moment" woman makes her so much more real), and you could tell the actors were loving every moment of it. Ted might still be a little one dimensional (or at least his character is somewhat too stiff for my liking) but Veronica rules.

Madame George said...

As J said, in the first post:

"Despite the lack of a VD commercial, "Beating a Dead Workforce" was a total classic. Quotes? I'm tempted to paste the entire script below."

The makers of a film comedy would die to have that many laughs in two hours.

My husband made a laugh I've never even heard before at the memorial scene when Lem And Phil decided on a chest bump.

And their communication with each other when they were forbidden to both talk to Veronica still has me smiling - I was guffawing then.

Comedy perfection.

To Lem.."You're just a shivering chihuahua , aren't you?"..which he is.

And a moment later in an exasperated tone... Phil:

"Talking about Drawer Elf isn't going to make this any less scary."

And her neck is a "flesh pedestal"..God, I can't begin to remember all the funny lines.

Thank God, I have Tivo.

stevehaze said...

The genius (and the downfall) of this show is its subversive worldview. Like Arrested Development, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Simpsons & a handful of other really smart shows, BoT's hilarity is rooted in its dead-on satirical critique of crazy consumer capitalism. I suspect it hasn't been better promoted because on some level it makes network execs & advertisers feel offended, stupid, pointless & small.

Or am I overanalyzing?

Toby O'B said...

It's rare when I laugh out loud during a TV show when I'm watching alone (although I still can find them hilarious), but when the cubicle drones heard Veronica over the PA: "I'm bleeding! Get out! Get the hell out!" and bolted for their lives, I was howling. I'm still chuckling as I type it up.

This is a show that has a guaranteed spot in the Toobworld Central library. If only it needed more space!

Cordy said...

We have a campaign to save this show going now and to get it moved to Wednesdays to give it some exposure.

Go to Savebetteroffted.com to help the situation in several ways!