Spiritual son of Jonathan Price´s Sam Lawry in “Brazil” by Terry Gilliam, and of Norville Banes, played by Tim Robbins in “The Hudsucker Proxy” by the Coen Brothers, Ted Crisp is a young, dynamic and successful executive leading the R&D department of the almighty multinational company Veridian Dynamics. Stuck between Veronica, his cold-hearted amoral boss and one-time sexfriend (played with obvious pleasure by Portia de Rossi – Nelle from “Ally McBeal”), and Phil and Lem, his two desperatly social misfit and yet scientific geniuses, Ted tries to keep himself from falling in love with Linda. While she does her best to hook him up, she works in the testing department and remain the team´s uncompromising moral center.
For the most part, the stories evolve within the impersonal settings of the serie´s fictitious company Veridian Dynamics, which shoots in all directions as it produces the most unlikely thingamajigs with as little morality as possible, and preferably without legal consequences, such as : explosive pumpkins, unintentionally radioactive solar-powered owens, or GPS-integrated underwear for the Army. All episodes have an advertisement for the company, which always ends with a different motto. In the Pilot, that motto is: “Life. Better”. Which might be mistaken for altruism is in fact nothing else than a hidden way to say that they like to play God!
Joyful satire of capitalism, “Better Off Ted” can be compared to “Brazil” and “The Hudsucker Proxy” for its zany description of a dehumanizing bureaucracy plunging into craziness. Episode 6, “Good by, Mr Chips”, actually is a direct reference to Gilliam´s movie: Ted gets “erased” from the company´s system after a computer glitch, which causes some very absurd dialogues:
TED : “I can´t take it anymore, I work here – I EXIST!”
VERONICA : “I know you exist. The computer is the one you need to convince.”
Created by: Victor Fresco
Broadcasted on: ABC
Season 1: 13x22min
Season 2: En production/In production
Ted Crisp : Jay Harrington
Veronica Palmer : Portia de Rossi
Linda Katherine Zordling : Andrea Anders
Lem Hewitt : Malcolm Barrett
Phil Myman : Jonathan Slavin
Rose Crisp : Isabella Acres