Dec 23, 2009 Comments Off
I apologise, because you if you like to laugh, you should be watching it. You’ll need to be an American or able to convince the internet you are one to watch it, but it’s a great show that seems to find a happy medium between the three camera and single camera sitcoms.
Technically, it’s a single camera sitcom, but unlike most single camera shows of the last decade, it lacks decadence and is written with the economy of a three camera sitcom.
As great as Arrested Development was, the reason it failed was because it was too expensive per episode. The massive cast, the various locations and numerous outside shoots all added up. Same with My Name Is Earl. Better Off Ted feels like it’s learnt from those mistakes (and not just because Portia Rossi’s in the show too).
It’s a comedy about production development centred around a company called Veridian Dynamic who make anything and everything. Its level of absurdity calls to mind The I.T. Crowd and Dilbert somewhat, though the RPG nerds among you will probably see it as the rightful heir of the R&D gags from Paranoia.
The economy of the writing lies in that they tend to use only a few regular sets per episode (two offices, a meeting room and a lab), few-to-none outside scenes, and there are only 5-6 characters (the daughter doesn’t appear every episode).
Something else I’ve noted is that while they’ll use the 21st century’s favourite gag of “You remember the time…” they’ll tend to let the dialogue do the lifting on the gag, rather than cut away to flashback. And having seen cutaway gags far too often in the last 10-20 years, it’s refreshing to let the dialogue do the work.
Which is not to say it’s all dialogue heavy, there’s plenty of physical and prop gags, but they are in service of episode or character, rather than throwaway stuff put in to pad an unfunny story.