<p>Victor Fresco was involved with some of television's most eclectic cult sitcoms, from "Alf"( NBC 1986-90) to "My Name is Earl" (NBC 2005-09), along with the offbeat series he created himself,...
Garfield Grove Productions/20th Century Fox Television
If you haven’t seen Better Off Ted, you don’t know how you’ve been robbed. Much like Arrested Development, this series is a work of comedic brilliance that was never given a chance to grow an audience. Portia de Rossi plays the role of her career as an ice-cold executive. Plus, the series grasps the subtleties of the office work environment that will give even the most irate office worker the lulz.
Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) is the head of a research development team for Veridian Dynamics. They make everything from microwaves to nuclear weapons. His boss, Veronica (de Rossi) is blunt, sexy, self-absorbed and unable to be stopped. His love interest, Linda (Andrea Anders) is morally opposed to the company and steals creamer from the coffee station as her act of civil disobedience. His science team includes nerdy Lem (Malcolm Barrett) and high-strung Phil (Jonathan Slavin) who seem to share a brain. Ted tries to balance it all while raising a precocious daughter, Rose (Isabella Acres).
The series includes some hilarious commercials for the faceless corporation. There’s also really amazing ensemble chemistry. Each episode, the group deals with a new mishap in the lab or a crazy rule coming down from human resources. Better Off Ted is a perfect storm of different types of comedy: physical humor, dirty puns, and outrageous situations. The series is just wholeheartedly funny and enjoyable to watch. Here are a few choice moments from an episode:
The series is great to binge watch. Both seasons of the series are about 13 episodes and available on Netflix. Amazingly, series creator Victor Fresco is currently in charge of Sean Saves the World, which has a similar storyline (single father, crazy boss, selfish co-workers) but just isn't anywhere near as good.
If you missed out on Better Off Ted, shame on you. What was one of the funniest and smart television shows of the past three years (hell, five years) was regretfully seen by too few too late. Luckily, it is available for streaming on Netflix which you should be doing right now.
Also, the show's creator, Victor Fresco (BEST NAME EVER), has started developing a new show centered around suburban life called Sunnyside. If he can bring the same wit and charm to the suburbs as he did to the business meeting, I’m watching this show from start to finish. The unusual thing about this show, for Fresco at least, is that it is an adaptation of a Swedish television show Solsidan. Which honestly sounds like something Veridian Dynamics would create.
Also: this is the best picture I could find of Fresco and all things considered, I had to include Portia de Rossi to balance it out.
<p>Victor Fresco was involved with some of television's most eclectic cult sitcoms, from "Alf"( NBC 1986-90) to "My Name is Earl" (NBC 2005-09), along with the offbeat series he created himself, such as the corporate satire "Better Off Ted" (ABC 2009-10) and the slice-of-life teen comedy "Life On A Stick" (Fox 2005). No matter the setting, Fresco delivered an off-beat twist on everyday reality.</p><p>Fresco's first crack at television came along in 1987 when Columbia Television decided to cash in on the revival of the old '60s television show "The Monkees" (NBC 1966-68). They hired 29 year-old Fresco to produce "The New Monkees" (CBS 1987), a remake of the old idea with a new set of young unknown musician/actors. An immediate flop, the show barely lasted one season and was the laughing stock of the entertainment world, but it got Victor Fresco's foot in the door. Fresco's next venture into television comedy was as a staff writer for "Alf" (NBC 1986-90), moving up to story editor before the end of the series in 1990. Having proven his ability to corral writers and deliver comedy, Fresco moved on to executive story editor on "Dinosaurs" (ABC 1991-94),a Jim Henson-produced family sitcom that, like "Alf," was partially reliant on giant puppets controlled by animators. After a stint as writer and producer at the Burt Reynolds vehicle about small-town Arkansas life "Evening Shade" (CBS 1990-94), Fresco dipped into film by writing the movie "Weldon Pond" (1994) for producer Lee Shallet Chemel, but the film was poorly received and soon Victor was back to his first love, television comedy. As executive producer and a frequent writer on the witty romantic comedy "Mad About You" (NBC 1992-99), Fresco played a key role in the one of the most likeable and underrated sitcoms of the 1990s.</p><p>He went on to executive produce and write several other short-lived sitcoms, including the backstage comedy "Almost Perfect" (CBS 1995-96), and the early Leah Remini vehicle "Fired Up" (NBC 1997-98), before he created his first series. The quirky "The Trouble with Normal" (ABC 2000-01) had a solid cast featuring Paget Brewster, Jon Cryer and David Krumholtz, but its peculiar subject -- a therapist and her four paranoid conspiracy-theorist patients -- was the first indication that Fresco was not interested in a conventional sitcom. His next series, the surreal workplace comedy "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" (Fox 2002-04), was a critical success that was nominated for a prime time Emmy, but was doomed by low ratings. The same fate befell "Life On a Stick" (Fox 2005), a comedic look at the life of teenage working stiffs in a mall food court. Fresco then joined the producing staff of Greg Garcia's "My Name is Earl" (NBC 2005-09), a series that suggested that comedies with offbeat premises could work commercially. After that show ended, Fresco created the critically acclaimed workplace satire "Better Off Ted" (ABC 2009-10), a cult favorite about a morally-upright executive (Jay Harrington) working for a disreputable multinational corporation. The series didn't last, in part because its widespread critical reputation made the clever series sound like it was too smart for its own good.</p><p>The same could not be said for "Man Up" (ABC 2011-12), a broad sitcom about male gender roles executive produced but not created by Fresco, which was followed by his work on the Matthew Perry vehicle "Go On" (NBC 2012-13), a dark dramedy about a sports radio host dealing with the death of his wife as part of an eccentric therapy group. Fresco's next credit as show creator came with "Sean Saves the World" (NBC 2013- ), a combination home and workplace comedy starring Sean Hayes as a gay man who came out late in life, struggling to raise his 14-year-old daughter and deal with his dictatorial new boss.</p>