Thursday, January 28, 2010

Better Off Ted - the awesome show that no one watched

This week, the quirky and awkwardly brilliant work place comedy Better off Ted quietly aired what will probably be the last episode of the series, after being burned off two episodes a week after a stale and wobbly retooled version of 'Scrubs'.

The episode itself, entitled 'Mess of a Salesmen', displayed the usual dynamics of the employees of Veridian Dynamics. Ted, our empathic corporate middle man, tried to give his slacker brother a job, but only suceeded in causing more workplace shenegigans, when his rebellious inspired Ted's socially awkward scientists to act out by ordering extravagantly - including a corpse-of-the-month-club. Meanwhile, boss Veronica and cubicle drone Linda raised money for young women, but upon discovery that their company kept 95% of the money, headbutted the president of the foundation. Literally.

It made perfect sense. And it was hilarious.

With a regular 2.1 over all rating, and none of the attention and hooplah that have been given to ABC's Wednesday night comedies (Modern Family, CougarTown, The Middle), Better Off Ted and its fantastic cast will probably go the way of other critical darlings like Arrested Development. Appreciated by few, watched by even less.

Frankly, the show deserved better.

Yes, I'm bitter. Maybe the show's quirky comedy wasn't funny, but I found BoT brilliant, insensitive, hilarious, and genuinely FUNNY, unafraid to take on work place issues like gender, race, sexual harassment and mock them and our instinctive reaction to them in a delicious way. It took workplace comedies and spun them on it's head. The cast shone, and Portia Di Rossi's ever evolving Evil-Boss-With-A-Heart Veronica Palmer was played with such deadpan perfection it's emmy worthy.

The rest of the cast is just as capable, and even Linda, who existed in the first season merely as Ted's love interest and therefore remained the unfunniest member of the cast, has found her footing as the loony soul and concious of both Ted and Veronica. Mad Scientists Lem and Phil are both charming and hilarous in their bromance and geekery, and really, it's just too soon to lose them.

Why, ABC, why? Why not give Better Off Ted an actual chance, instead burning off episodes behind an ailing Scrubs?

How else am I going to find gems of quotes like this?

Phil: We can't leave work in the middle of the day. We're not Somali pirates.

Veronica: The forest will run red with the blood of woodland creatures who doubted little Veronica and will now pay with their furry little lives.

Lem: Maybe we should take a stand. Maybe we should say this is the one thing that must not be used for evil.
Phil: Or maybe we say that the next thing we make must not be used for evil, but this one with we're fine with. And maybe the next one after that. But someday, they will push us too far, and the next time after that..
Lem: No, the time is now. 12:35. Maybe we should discuss this for another 20 minutes and then commit to something.

Ted: What are you afraid of? If you... if you throw a game, it's gonna keep you out of the time-wasters hall of fame?
Linda: No. My position there is secure from getting my art history degree.

Veronica: Oh, God, we have unhappy Germans. Nothing good has ever come from that.

For a taste of what you've been missing if you haven't been watching this show, check out last week's episode here:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snow: The Better For Crashing Into

"You're budding into such a wordly adult!" a friend enthusiastically exclaimed to me, on a tail end on my New Years trip to Mammoth. She hugged me like a proud parent.

"Yes," I agreed sagely. "I can ski now! I'm no longer a poor latin kid from the ghetto!"

All of the above is a complete exaggeration. Not the actual conversation, but the content. After all, my 'worldly' expertise comes mostly from books, and a poor kid from the ghetto, I never was. I was never rich, but I was always provided for, thanks to a hard working mother and father. And I may have grown up in the inner city, but I spent most of that time being bussed to private schools or at summer camps or afterschool jobs.

But none of that takes away from the very exciting reality that I can ski now! Sort of. I can stand up wearing skis, and I can more or less inch my way down a bunny slope with my arms spread out in front of me for balance.

That counts, doesn't it?

My first trip to Mammoth wasn't without mishaps, but I can't imagine a better way to begin a new year. And quite honestly, it's quite a mirror for my life until now. A heck of a lot of unbalance, the occasional plunge into a white, powdery cloud of snow or the unrelenting smack against a fence (I had literally almost impaled myself, at one point), or the free falling jerk out of my skiis, with a finale of literally flipping over my head before landing on my knees laughing, and finally, the feeling of nervous accomplishment when, just for a moment, I was actually SKIING.

Triumphant moments coupled together with the occasional skids, setbacks and bruises, but always the help of a caring friend or loved one to help pull me back up or record the moment for posterity.

The weekend was not without it's quiet adventures. There was a point where I was walking a mile along a gravel highway in nothing but socks, looking for a car that had been parked further away than anyone wanted. But even as I trudged along the icy road, feet freezing, with a car key in my hand, I had within me a satisfaction that came from the accomplishment of FINALLY doing that thing I always meant to do.

I'm by no means good at skiing. But dammit, I did it. And that's a small success, if there ever was one.

What more can you ask from a New Year?