“Our True Lies”
“Lust in Translation”
January 19th, 2010
There really isn’t a whole lot substantial to say about Scrubs and Better Off Ted right now. The two shows are effectively dead in the water, and while this is an unfortunate circumstance it isn’t going to change any time soon. However, the best possible compliment I can pay the shows right now is that when I watch them, I’m not sitting there stewing with rage over their impending doom, and instead I just sit back and enjoy shows that make me laugh.
And so, after the break, don’t expect much in terms of critical commentary: it may not quite be a list of lines I found funny, but that probably wouldn’t be a terrible way to approach the shows (especially Better Off Ted) at this point.
I’ll tackle Scrubs first, since it isn’t going for as much humour and is simply playing out its character rhythms. And I think there were a lot of clunky elements here that should have been more detrimental than they were, which says a fair bit about how I’m warming to the new set of characters. The Turk/Cox story didn’t quite work both because (as Alan points out) I didn’t buy Turk being quite so thrown off my having a lesbian as a patient and because the story felt too disconnected from the “Med School” side of things, Drew’s marriage came out of nowhere and went nowhere, and the episode is a bit too late in offering characterization to the other two med students. But yet, at the end of the day, I thought the chemistry between Coupe/Muhney sold the “I love you” story extremely well, and Cole’s awareness surrounding Lucy’s anxieties helped provide some nice nuance to the cheating plot. No, none of it was particularly revolutionary for the show or sitcoms in general, but I buy these characters enough that I thought it came together as a solid half-hour of television comedy.
As for Better Off Ted, I’d say this was one of the strongest episodes of the season so far, but not for any particular reason. It just seemed like it had just the right combination of “silly things that happen in this universe” and “witty things that people in this universe say and do.” I’d argue that Ted’s story with the attractive German CEO was perhaps the funniest story that has been primarily about Ted, although primarily because of Phil’s involvement as the official voice of both sides of their sexual activity, and while Phil and Lem’s “everything we do kills people” story wasn’t fully developed I thought it was well utilized in terms of giving their characters humorous things to say and do in relationship to the episode’s other two plots (enhancing rather than distracting). And when those other two plots involve Jay Harrington reacting to Phil’s voice seducing him (like I say, one of Harrington’s better comic performances) and Portia de Rossi falling out of the ceiling while collecting her winning Lindabagel bagel, the episode has a whole lot of absurdity that somehow feels perfectly tapped into their characters (questioning Ted’s hubris/cockiness, Veronica’s hyper-competitiveness, Linda’s search for a way to make her job more interesting by inventing a quite fantastic game, etc.).
It’s an hour of television that I’m going to miss, if to different degrees between the two shows, but right now they’re strong enough that I’m not constantly thinking of that while watching them. Of course, once I sit down to write a review, the sadness takes over.
- Just a week after an extended riff on the Dutch, Better Off Ted gets some greater humour out of the Germans. Yes, the furor joke was too easy, but there was some nice subtle nods to more obvious jokes later on that really connected for me.
- Lesson learned: the bad taste of 97% high-density carbon can be masked, but 98% is a losing battle.
- If nothing else comes out of Better Off Ted, I hope it’s fantastic pilot roles for Andrea Anders and Portia de Rossi: make it happen, casting directors.