Ted’s comedic value is lacking as the profane teddy bear sitcom fails to deliver any amusing jokes.
We are currently in a time where there is a trend of remakes, reinterpretations, and revivals. With the rise of multiple streaming platforms and the desire for immediate entertainment, the digging up of old intellectual properties with previous success has become increasingly frantic. This has led to successful reboots such as Cobra Kai, which has won multiple awards and is now on its fifth season with a sixth on the way. Other examples include the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks and the recent small-screen adaptation of Mr & Mrs Smith by Donald Glover, which has received positive reviews.
Occasionally, it leads to the creation of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (a revisit to Stars Hollow 25 years later that still brings fans to tears of anger and disappointment); Gossip Girl (which completely missed the chaos and charm of the original, leaving viewers in horrified fascination); and most recently, Ted.
Ted, though not as well-known as the others mentioned, was the main character in the 2012 movie that broke box office records for R-rated comedies. The film was written and starred by Seth MacFarlane, who also provided the voice for Ted. In the movie, Mark Wahlberg played John Bennett, a 35-year-old who owned a teddy bear that came to life when he made a wish on a shooting star at eight years old. Since then, Ted had become famous and John had enjoyed being in his company. However, as they grew older, John decided it was time to move on from their childish ways and find Ted a job, which proved to be a challenge due to Ted’s stubbornness. The movie was hilarious. Its sequel, Ted 2, wasn’t as successful, but we can overlook that mistake and move on.
However, MacFarlane, the mastermind behind the polarizing (I personally support) yet expertly crafted Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, has gifted us with a six-episode TV prequel to the movie, also titled Ted, in which he appears to have disregarded almost all of his (typically spot-on) comedic intuition and any insights he may have gained since the debut of Family Guy 24 years ago.
In the new series, the setting is in 1993. The main character, John Bennett (played by Max Burkholder), is 16 years old and has a relatively innocent personality, but he is determined to change that. He and Ted are partners in crime, obtaining marijuana and pornography, standing up to high school bullies, learning how to talk to girls, and, as expected, trying to have sex. John’s father, Matty (played by Scott Grimes), is a politically incorrect ranter, but unlike the sharp and edgy humor of Family Guy, his rants are tiresome. On the other hand, his wife Susan (played by Alanna Ubach) is the complete opposite: kind, nervous, and a stay-at-home mom who sometimes comes across as foolish, but Ubach’s subtle performance makes her intriguingly eccentric and the most captivating character in the show. Living with them to save money for college is John’s cousin Blaire (played by Giorgia Whigham), a loud and one-dimensional character whose main purpose seems to be to argue with Matty about his conservative beliefs. In previous shows by MacFarlane, Matty or Ted would cleverly counter Blaire’s arguments, but in this series, they mostly ignore her.
Next up is Ted. He remains consistent. He delivers all the top lines, although they are few and far between, and his timing is impeccable. While it may occasionally elicit a smile, none of the jokes stick with you after the show ends. This could be due to the fact that Ted suffers from a major issue of being overly lengthy. The show follows a sitcom format from the 1990s, but each episode runs twice as long as the expected 22 minutes. This is more than the format can handle, especially when there are very few jokes to rely on.
Furthermore, three out of the five individuals share similar traits. Ted, Matty, and John all possess varying levels of selfishness and intelligence. Unlike the older version of John played by Wahlberg, who initially wanted to leave his past behind but was ultimately enticed back by Ted’s hedonistic ways, both Ted and Matty now have the same goals. Matty’s self-centeredness and lack of maturity also align him with the other two characters. Creator and writer Seth MacFarlane does not allow for much character development or growth, although there are occasional moments of sentimentality that only serve to weaken the overall story. This, coupled with underdeveloped writing, gives the impression that MacFarlane may be afraid of criticism and is resorting to juvenile comedy instead of pushing the boundaries. Overall, it is a great disappointment.
The television show “Ted” was broadcasted on Sky Max and can now be accessed on Now TV.