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RIP: Ted

That didn’t take long. Beating the odds for an intelligent sitcom, Better Off Ted got itself a second season. If scutlebutt is to be believed, the network executives’ real belief in the show might have something to do with getting a second season, though it never saw a complete airing.

Sadly, that real belief wasn’t substantiated by the ratings. I don’t know why people didn’t tune in. Ted was novel and clever enough to deliver real laughs—special thanks to Portia DiRossi’s role as Veronica—but not so weird or experimental as to confuse a general audience. The dynamic between lab geniuses Phil and Lem was new material, too, grounded in a widespread re-evaluation of the nerd that began with the computer billionaires of the ’80s but is only now approaching humorous accuracy. It was satirical enough for the jaded palate of generation X yet cutsey enough not to feel threatening and uncomfortable. But people just tuned out. Too busy enduring the pointless tease of Lost, I guess.

So, like Firefly and Middleman before it, Better of Ted developed a core of fanatically loyal fans and not much else, the kind of show that could be a big hit in the niche markets of cable, but simply couldn’t meet the block-buster-or-bust demands of network television.

Someone ought to do a Veridian Dynamics spoof ad explaining how this kind of disappointment happens.

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