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Archive for the ‘Better Off Ted’ Category

So. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The GOOD news is that there are some fantastical, magical, should-be-riding-on-unicorns shows on television in 2010. Some of those babies are so adored and beloved that their safety is secure. The bad news is that because of your neglect (yes, you. It’s your fault. I have a TV blog, I watch enough to cause social services to take my kids away.) some of them may very well be canceled before 2010 is out.

Fact: Earthquakes suck. FACT: Being financially stable enough to help people is awesome. Fact: Good TV can be saved too. Let’s do this.

5.  Better Off Ted (Tuedays 8:30/7:30pm, ABC)


Ah, yes. My panicked warbling about ABC’s (dare I say it?) quirkiest show continues. Great, snug writing, fantastically weird and likable characters, a setting that is just bursting with possible story ideas, Better Off Ted is a dream of a workplace comedy, capable of cheerfully zinging the ridiculousness of massive conglomerates in the same beat that a crazily-coiffed magician named Mordor the Unforgivable gets shot with a harpoon gun. Even this show on its worst day is far-and-away better than the middling sitcom fare you’ll find on CBS these days. At least tell Charlie Sheen to take a hike for God’s sake. Clear up some programming time for Ted instead (see what I did there? Classic Lemon).

4. Parks and Recreation (Thursdays 8:30/7:30pm, NBC)

One of the all-time best turnaround stories for a network comedy. When Parks and Rec first aired last year, I made it through two episodes before I had to stop watching. Despite my love for Amy Poehler, watching her grating, Tracy Flick-esque Leslie Knope stumble, crash and burn amongst coworkers and townspeople who seemed to despise her was too much for me. (That episode where she’s flagellated in a town hall meeting in front of her mother? Just painful.) And then… and then someone (probably Beal) told me to take another look at the show when season 2 came around. So I did. A few weeks back, I sat down and caught up on Parks and Rec. And then I proceeded to watch every episode back to back in the span of three days.

What’s different? Leslie Knope is now completely lovable. Sure, she’s still got her high-falutin’ ambitions but it’s tempered with a lot more self-awareness, a healthy dose of idealism and hard work. Instead of her begging for Anne’s friendship, you can tell Anne adores her. And Louis C. K as her boyfriend-cop? Adorable. The episode with Megan Mulally as a slutty, malicious bureaucrat for the library? Fantastic. And that damned Christmas episode made me tear up.

3. Friday Night Lights (Fridays 8:00/7:00pm, NBC)


Here’s how good this show is and I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m talking to a wall when I bring it up. My dad, holed up for weeks after surgery, got the first season of FNL thanks to his third and doting daughter’s recommendation. Cut to three weeks later. My mother, who is incapable of staying up past ten minutes of any show (something about the lull of the voices, the softness of the couch? Or maybe the fact that she gets up at 5am every day) is rabidly asking me when the show is coming back on NBC (DirectTV has shouldered the production costs with NBC, so it gets the new episodes first. I love you, DirectTV). My dad reports that she is obsessed. He even caught her sneaking upstairs to watch an episode while he napped and rested. When I brought up the scene where Smash learns he’s going to college, she choked up. And my father is just as hooked.

Returns to NBC on April 30th. Rent the first three seasons on Netflix. Email me a nice thank-you card when you’re done.

2. Lost (Tuesdays 8:00/7:00pm, ABC)


If you’ve been watching this show, then I don’t need to convince you to do anything. You’ll watch. You might shake your fist at Obama’s State of the Union if it pre-empts it too. Lost for us TV geeks is the very definition of appointment television (and there is far too little appointment television these days.)

For those of you who haven’t watched it- look, don’t be turned off by the “mysteries” and the “clues” and the “LEXICON.” It’s a show. A damned good show. The acting is good, the twists are great and when Lost is good? It’s very, very, very good. I could personally give a damn about what the polar bear symbolizes. To me, this is a twisted, funky show about a whacked out, magical island and the very flawed people stuck on it. The end. Watch it because it’s fun. And because I think this whole plan to map out the story and end it this year was a brilliant one (and something serial dramas should always do. Hello, shows-that-spin-out-of-control-toward-the-end-because-they-have-no-direction! Yes, Alias. I am talking to you.)

This is a big year for Lost. The last season. And there’s still time! Hole up for a few weekends, catch up and don’t get bogged down in all the extra stuff.

Returns to ABC on February 2nd.

1. The Tonight Show with CONAN O’BRIEN (Mon-Fri 11:30/10:30, NBC)

I have seen every single episode of Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show, which would be a laudable feat if it had lasted the usual tenure of 10-15 years on air. It looks as if Coco’s run, however, will be capped at a measly 7 months. Catch up on the whole story here, just in case you’ve been on Mars for the last week and missed it.

I’ve tweeted and Facebooked and languished over every bit of news and every awkward and hilarious and awful and painful late night segment about the debacle since it all started with Heir Zucker’s announcement to move Jay Leno back to 11:30pm. I am, quite frankly, too sick at heart to talk about it for much longer. Suffice it to say, my perspective of the situation is merely one of a devoted fan. Like so many others, I’ve been watching Conan O’Brien for years and years, for so long that when he saw his dream of hosting The Tonight Show realized, I was beyond thrilled for him. He’s talented, he’s paid his dues and he deserved it. To see it taken from him just hurts.

I don’t care to dissect the reasons or the secret reasons behind the lineup changes or why we hate Jay and love Conan and what it means for comedy and for NBC. It’s all been said to death. Suffice it to say, Conan did not have enough time to secure his legacy with The Tonight Show or to prove himself in the ratings. We’ll miss him and we hurt for him. And wherever he goes, we’ll go. Simple as that.

The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien could very well end on Friday Jan. 22nd. Watch it until the fat lady sings or I will stab you in the face.

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NOTE 1: Hi, I’m back. I know, I’m excited too and wondering how I ever lived without myself.

NOTE 2: Today’s Character Spotlight choice is no accident. I am in an absolute panic that ABC might cancel Better Off Ted. And I’m already heartbroken over what’s currently happening to my precious Conan, it’s been a VERY STRESSFUL WEEK.

NOTE 3: I usually only have one cup of coffee a day, that’s it. Today I’ve had two and I tossed in a packet of sugar-free hot chocolate to make some kind of hybrid-mocha-instant cup of dark goodness. The effects are what you’d imagine. My heart is racing, I feel cold in strange places (like my ears and my right foot) and I just acted out all eleven episodes of “Being Bobby Brown” in my head. I MIGHT be dying. So this should be fun for you.

Show: Better Off Ted

Character: Veronica Palmer

Played By: Portia de Rossi

Keep It Succinct, People: As a big-wig in a massive conglomerate, Veridian Dynamics, which makes everything from weapons of mass destruction to plates that cook your food and then also feed you, Veronica is our narrator Ted’s boss. Don’t let the smiley photo fool you. She’s uber-professional, sleek and ice-cold. Kind of life if you worked for a robotic sports car. She calls her employees “drones”, she doesn’t have time to treat the people around her like, erm, people as much as individual money-making machines. She’s brutally efficient, keen to what makes VD (not an accident, that acronym) profitable and willing to hack you off at the knees if it means that the powers-that-be are kept happy.

The Juicy Tidbits We Know About Veronica: She once slept with Ted, her father is her greatest business rival and she used to feed her sister in her sleep and give her steroids so that Veronica would remain the slim, pretty one. Oh, and in the AMAZING Season 1 ender last year, it was revealed that Veronica’s only means for relaxing is by working as an assistant to a hilariously cheesy magician named Mordor the Unforgivable. A-mazing.

Why We Love Her: Ok, well, clearly all of the things I just listed should provide you with your first clues. But most of the credit goes to Portia de Rossi (a TV All Star with this being her third memorable character on a network show next to Ally McBeal’s Nell and Lindsey on Arrested Development), who portrays Veronica more like a finely-tuned machine than an actual human being. The deadpan delivery, the perfectly-timed, overdramatic reveals and sporadic moments of sensitivity make her incredibly fun to watch as she maneuvers her working relationships, studying her co-workers Ted and Linda as if they’re creatures in a zoo, tormenting lab scientists into proven productivity boosts by mentally torturing them with the sudden, inexplicable arrival of a red lab coat (you have to watch the episode. Brilliant), sleeping with her eyes open, shooting her cheating boyfriend with a harpoon, coaching Linda on how to be successful like her (eviserate someone in your vicinity and then demand a chicken sandwich. Linda flubs and demands a chicken but has so terrified the subordinate that Veronica muses, “I will get a chicken sandwich. You will very likely get a live chicken. Still, good work!”)

Glorious Better Off Ted Moments That Will Inspire You To Watch and Save This Show From Cancelation… Or Something Less Obvious

Veronica trying to be nice to her drones by decorating their workplaces for them. Isn’t that sweet?

The great Jabberwocky presentation. Veronica and Ted don’t have an actual product so they just make the world’s most kick-ass presentation… about NOTHING. (Obviously it works. I mean, check out those slides.)

Veronica has implemented a new automatic lighting system that, um, doesn’t register or turn on when her black employees enter the room.

Warning: N.S.F.W. AT ALL– And I don’t see how this can last on YouTube so watch it while you can…

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by Judi

It might seem like we’re stuck in the past over here in NTO Headquarters, throwing around clips of Bewitched and Beverly Hills 90210 and references to My So-Called Life and such but make no mistake- we’re just as obsessed with the new TV shows as we are the classics. That’s why, today, we’re focusing on the Top 5 Best Comedies that are on right now (not literally this second but currently airing new episodes or in production.)

Ok, that’s one of the reasons why I picked this topic. The other reason is that I need a little help here. Last night, for my birthday, a friend and I decided to see a Second City show. Second City, as you may know, is a Chicago institution. It’s a sketch comedy/improv training ground that’s birthed the careers of most of the past and present casts of Saturday Night Live and comedy stars including Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Alan Arkin, Harold Ramis, Gilda Radner and Tina Fey SO I HAD VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. What I was NOT expecting was to leave before the third act because I could just not take the awfulness anymore. That skit that Millie puts on about how drinking is not cool in the Freaks & Geeks cafeteria? Better than what I saw last night. And apparently it was just me because the drunk Midwesterners who surrounded me ATE IT UP WITH A SPOON, the skit with the girl singing a song about Chicago club girls (“they’ll give you a blow job for a free drink”. Clever), the skeezy Italian guy trying to sell a Sopranos-esque health insurance policy (complete with gold chain, red sunglasses and shirt wide open- oh yes. Apparently, it’s 1985 again.), the fart jokes, FART JOKES…

I could go on about it but I’m honestly so depressed that THIS is where the best & brightest of our future comedy stars are heading that I just want to talk about something good before my head explodes. (Also the fact that the tickets were TWENTY DOLLARS EACH I WANT MY MONEY BACK). Cough-hack-cough.

Top Five Comedies to Watch Now Before It’s Too Late

5. Better Off Ted (2009 – Present)- Currently on Hiatus- ABC

better-off-ted

My favorite new show of the last year, Better Off Ted introduced us to the slightly off-beat world that exists within global corporation Veridian Dynamics. It’s a brilliant setting for a comedy that’s willing to zing off into bizarre directions, since VD (I’m sure that’s not a coincidence) is always working to create the newest must-have product, be it bullet-proof dinnerware or an untested “energy patch” that sends an unwitting colleague into La La Land. Narrator Ted is bland but a good, steady foil for the nuttiness around him, the lab guys are perfect, awkward and brimming with nerd-love for both their work and each other, the perky love interest is made interesting by being just a LITTLE too crazy in an all-too-believable way and, of course, Portia DeRossi as Veronica. She’s kind of like a young, hot Mr. Burns if Mr. Burns ever dumps the power plant and sets up shop in corporate.

4. New Adventures of Old Christine (2006 – Present)- Wednesdays on CBS

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE

Of all the networks, CBS is the channel that has so stringently clung to the old-fashioned sitcom format (Two & A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother) while other networks drift toward striking comedy gold in newfangled formats like mockumentaries (NBC), high-concept (ABC) and cartoons created by Seth McFarlane (FOX). And while any of the CBS comedies will do in a pinch when you’re looking for a little laugh-track comfort (all except Two & A Half Men which is basically unwatchable), it’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Christine that’s the most underrated.  The writing is great, they don’t rely on the cuteness of little Ritchie at all to win scenes, and honestly, even without Julia, the supporting cast (Wanda Sykes, Hamish Linklater, and the guy from S.H.I.E.L.D.) could stand on its own just fine.

But really, you’ve got to watch it for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Her manic energy, her endless hang-ups and neurosis, the way she absolutely crushes every scene and every line in it. She’s always been a pro but her work here proves that she’s undoubtedly the best sitcom actor at work right now and that you need her in your life. Just watch her flop around in her airplane seat before takeoff, cranky for a glass of red wine (“Ma’am, we haven’t even closed the door yet), all but incapable of getting through the day as a functional adult. Comedy heaven.

3. 30 Rock (2006 – Present)- Thursdays on NBC

30-rock

It’s been tough for 30 Rock to stay consistent and it’s not all their fault. The first two seasons were so knock-out perfect and yet, despite all the award wins and critical love, the show still flounders in the ratings. So sure, they started relying on heavy-hitters Alec Baldwin, Kenneth the Page and Tracy Morgan, all but staying out of the writer’s room for the last season and tossing in A-List guest stars whenever possible (Jennifer Aniston! Salma Hayek! Steve Martin! Alan Alda! OPRAH!).

Now that the show has nabbed its third-straight Emmy for Best Comedy Series, maybe we can get back to business. Because the best of 30 Rock rests on Liz Lemon’s buckling shoulders as she tries to get her variety show out there every Friday night, despite the legitimately insane talent around her (Tracy & Jenna), the idiots (Kenneth, the writers) who launch milkshakes and fax machines at her and the meddling of her overwhelmingly Alpha Male corporate honcho boss/unlikely best friend Jack Donaghy.

2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 – Present)- Thursdays on FX

its-always-sunny_080827

For a while, I was worried about Sunny. How could a show so perverse, so dark and unwieldy  survive after we become so used to it? Will it still be as funny when it fails to shock us (accustomed as we are to not only the gang’s absolutely reprehensible moral code but also Charlie’s inability to read, Dee’s willingness to have sex with anybody, even an ancient Korean man for a microbrew recipe, Dennis’ extreme vanity and Mac’s delusion that he’s a macho tough guy).

If last night’s intervention episode is any indication- YUP. Still BLINDINGLY funny. Danny DeVito’s hacking on the sidewalk as he guzzles wine from a soda can, his hair all standing up, as he gets ready to nail a recent widow is funny in itself but it’s Mac’s reaction that just killed me. That’s why the show works- as AWFUL as they all are (at first, the cast was compared to Seinfeld’s but Jerry & Company would run in the other direction if they ever stumbled into Paddy’s Bar), they’re all deluded enough to believe they’re good guys, thus they get to act horrified by each other, superior to each other. It just works so well and you don’t even have to cringe because they always get their comeuppance and it’s always so so good.

1. The Office (2005 – Present)- Thursdays on NBC

office

While The Office isn’t really as good as it used to be, it’s still miles ahead of the competition, thanks to its supporting players. Carell, Fisher, Wilson and Krasinski are all fine and good but, for me, the best of the show remains with Phyllis, Kevin, Angela, Oscar, Andy, Kelly, Ryan, Stanley, Meredith and Creed. Without them, the show could get weighed down by Michael Scott’s gaffes, Dwight’s not-so-shocking-anymore one-liners, and Pam and Jim’s adorable smugness. Just think of last season’s fire drill and Angela throwing her cat into the ceiling and try not to laugh. Or the dance party episode as Kelly gets down. ANYTHING Meredith says and the immediate horrified expression on the person next to her. Creed’s serial-killer-like reveals to the camera. Stanley’s fits of rage and his deadpan, sour-faced indifference. Basically anything Andy says and does (thank you, Daily Show, for sending him to us and Carell too).

Adding to all that, The Office remains in spirit as close as it can to the heart of its British forefather, not shying away from truly dark, difficult moments, crushingly sad realities or letting anyone forget that none of these guys (not even impish Jim) is perfect in the least. It’s still the smartest, funniest show on TV right now. Limitless paper in a paperless world.

Best Newcomer: Community (2009)

Best Recently Departed: Samantha Who? (Canceled 2009)

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by Beal

1133167644_LindsayShow:  Arrested Development

Character: Lindsay Bluth Funke

Actress: Portia de Rossi

Basically: Initially we believe Lindsay to be Michael Bluth’s twin sister (we find out in season three that she’s not only adopted, but three years older than Michael–making her 40–and that she was adopted only to spite the Bluth’s business rival, Stan Sitwell). To describe her parents as inattentive would be an understatement, but in efforts to gain their attention and to rebel, Lindsay marries Tobias Funke (David Cross) an “analrapist” (analyst/therapist) who is a nevernude pursuing a career in acting. Lindsay is the mother to Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), and pays little if any attention to her. Lindsay seems a bit of a lush, and although she pretends to be a liberal activist is essentially just interested in hosting the lavish parties associated with charity work. She’s about as deep as a puddle, but superficiality suits her well. She’s attractive, but fails at any attempt to be promiscuous. 

Check Portia Out In: Well, I guess any event that wife Ellen DeGeneres is involved,  in the new ABC sitcom Better Off Ted or as Nell Porter in Ally McBeal, which like it or not, was a really funny show. Oh and if there is a god (or anyone with a lick of sense working as an entertainment executive) in the upcoming Arrested Development movie.

To Know is to Love: Lindsay Bluth’s the kind of person you’d hate to know, but you love to watch. Her superficiality is more akin to extreme narcissism, and everything about her life is totally dysfunctional–relationships, career, family. I would love to have seen this character develop past three seasons (movie, fingers crossed) but props to Portia for making a beautiful cold and heartless bitch seem lovable. 

Favorites Moments: Lindsay, who has shown zero concern over her father’s recent incarceration, becomes extremely upset when she visits him in prison–not because her own father is in prison, but because the other inmates, whom she hoped would react rowdily to her presence, pay her no attention. She visits several more times, in increasingly slutty attire. She finally bonds with her somewhat estranged father when he asks her to quit visiting, because he has been paying the other inmates to behave in her presence, which is bankrupting his black market prison funds, which he needs to ward off stabbers and rapists.  Or how about when it’s easier for Lindsay to claim that she is shoplifting from a department store, than it is to admit that she is actually an employee there. How completely degrading/hilarious. Also the time when Lucille and Lindsay get trashed at the Country Club their family can no longer afford. 

YouTube is sadly lacking in great Lindsay Bluth Funke clips as well as Arrested Development clips. Apparently this show’s creators have enough self-respect to prevent copyright infringement of their show. Or maybe the fan-base is less technologically savvy than that of say, Gossip Girl, which is pathetic.

This clip, although not my favorite, at least features Lindsay at her most basic. Please enjoy:

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It’s official- my favorite new show of the 2008-2009 TV Season is ABC’s mid-season replacement Better of Ted.

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Veridian Dynamics. Competition–whether it’s animals, or this old woman and baby, fighting to the death. Competition makes us stronger. In business, that means better products–pills that look like candy, hands that can shoot lightning, and a new generation of hurricane-proof dogs. Veridian Dynamics. Competition. It makes everything better.

Beal pointed out last week that we both like it which, unfortunately, means it will probably get cancelled.

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