Better Off Ted: “The Lawyer, The Lemur And The Little Listener”
B+

Better Off Ted: “The Lawyer, The Lemur And The Little Listener”

B+

Better Off Ted

“The Lawyer, The Lemur And The Little Listener”

Season 2, Episode 2

Hey there, Bloopity-bloo!

While last week’s Better Off Ted was all about using downtime at work to pursue a personal agenda—namely finding a mate—at the company’s discretion, this week’s is all about Veridian Dynamics extending its tendrils even further into its employees’ private lives.

Consider Lem, who’s apparently ventured outside Veridian’s compatibility list and found someone else at the company to fool around with: one of Veridian’s house lawyers, Nadine. Nadine's advantage? She has an office door that closes and a closet where she and Lem can hang their clothes so that they’re crip and fresh when the two are done soiling each other. The disadvantage? Veridian considers any engagement of their legal team to be billable, so Lem’s having his paycheck docked every time he hooks up with Nadine, even though “we haven’t been doing anything legal.” Yet rather than being appalled by the idea that she’s essentially selling sex to Lem, Nadine’s turned on by it—as is Lem, for a while.

Also consider Linda, who's drawn some interest in a children’s book she’s been working on in her spare time, which raises her hopes that she “may have a whole new career entertaining children instead of working for a place that uses them to assemble munitions.” But even as Linda’s anticipating a potential escape from her demoralizing job, the shadow of Veridian looms. For one thing, the main character of her story is a lemur who looks a lot like Phil (but with different markings). Phil’s thrilled by the marketing possibilities of himself—“I could have my own capade!”—but he and Lem feel obliged to warn Linda that anything she creates could be considered Veridian property, even a mournful ballad or a hearty fish chowder. So she excuses herself—“I need to go home for a few days and use the bathroom”—and retreats to her apartment to come up with an ending for her book. But while she’s absent, a corporation in Japan gets its hand on Lemur Phil and uses the character to sell beer to children. (Veronica: “Companies over there can just shoot a man in the street. I heard that at a conference about why you should move your business to Asia.”) Linda has to call on Veridian’s insidious intellectual property claims to get Lemur Phil back from the beer-shilling Japanese.

Meanwhile, in the episode’s third standalone story, Veronica is fretting over the rash of layoffs hitting her department. (Of one such dismissal, Veronica gripes, “They’re just going to throw him out in the street without any consideration for how weak that makes me look?”) When Ted finds out that Rose has a classmate with the inside scoop on who’s being fired, he and Veronica pump her for information. It goes against Ted’s principles to let his work life intrude on his family life, but it also goes against his principles to see worthy employees fired. Unfortunately, Rose isn’t always the most reliable source. Like when she says that one of her classmates is going to Seattle, when if fact they were going to “see cattle.” Turns out the Ted’s original instincts were right: it's best to keep work and home separate.

All in all, this was another solid outing of Better Off Ted, and although the jokes didn’t pop quite as much as last week’s, the satire was a little toothier. I like that this season so far has been exploring that intersection of work-life and life-life more. Too many workplace sitcoms (The Office being a major exception) proceed under the premise that “we’re all a big family,” and never consider that there might be something a little depressing about that prospect. Better Off Ted has a core five characters who interact just like good little sitcom characters should, but aside from Lem and Phil, I get the sense that none of these people would be friends if they weren’t working together—not even Ted and Linda—and unlike on other shows of this type, “the gang” doesn’t often hang out after quitting time either. As absurd as Better Off Ted can be, it’s also awfully true.

Grade: B+

Stray observations:

-I also found a lot of truth in the scenes of Rose recounting long, complicated stories about her day, in which seemingly every kid is named “Grace” and they’ve all ranked their favorite fruits. Sounds like the conversation in the backseat of my car on the drive home from school any given day.

-Do you think you’d look cooler with tails or antlers? Or a blowhole?

-You can’t call him “Taco Tony” after he moves to the salad bar. It just sounds racist.

-“Tased flesh smells bacony.”

-“War just keeps getting better.”

-“The only time I’ve ever been naked in this building is that time I was deloused.”

-“They make it crazy-hard to kill people here. I want my country back!”

-“People always like to get their picture taken with me. I’m like a sunset.”

-“I know you don’t like to eat children but it’s that kind of talk and your cottage in the woods made of candy that keeps those rumors alive.”

-“You can’t just say purr. You have to make the sound.”

-“Everyone’s happy to wake up for pizza. Or candy. Or a signed photograph of Zac Efron.”

-“Somebody out here isn’t using hushaboom technology.”

- “I make no apologies. I’m sorry.”

-“Don’t let it worry you, but Daddy’s going to turn and run away as fast as he can.”